Each year, communities along Colorado’s Front Range — and indeed across the state — mark the transition from the ghouls of fall to winter vacation with a series of festive lights, tree illuminations, and other displays to get you in the mood.
Here are some places where you can enjoy the sights and sounds.
This is a growing list. Is there an event you know of that isn’t listed below? Email [email protected]
“Blossoms of Light” at Denver Botanic Gardens (and Chatfield Farms)
Nov 18 – Jan 7, 2023
For nearly 30 years, Blossoms of Light has been the hallmark of The Denver Botanic Gardens. The York Street location becomes a sparkling winter wonderland with an ever-changing display of light and color, including an immersive 360-degree light experience. The Gardens’ Chatfield Farms are also transformed into a winter wonderland with enchanted light displays and other holiday fun.
Denver’s Mile High Tree in Civic Center Park (and Christkindlmarket)
Nov 18 – Dec 31
Mile High Tree: Civic Center Park hosts one of Denver’s most popular holiday events. It’s all about a 110-foot-tall, tree-shaped colossus, magically lit with colorful lights and surrounded by giant Christmas ornaments. Organizers say it’s also the largest art installation of its kind in North America. This year, for the first time, you can experience two of Denver’s most popular vacation attractions in one place. America’s tallest digital tree and the Denver Christkindlmarket.
Boulders Pearl Street “Turn on the Holidays”
Switch on the Holidays takes place at Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall. It features live music and a Santa countdown to the big lights along Pearl Street Mall, the Civic Area and around the Boulder County Courthouse during Switch on the Holidays. After the switch, visitors can enjoy self-guided Christmas lights tours and the new Snow Much Fun virtual augmented reality experiences, offered in partnership with the City of Boulder’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Denver Zoo Lights
Nov 21 – Dec 2 (Members Only) and Dec 3 – Jan 15, 2023 (General Public)
Aurora borealis, a savannah sunset and an electric jungle are just a few of the new additions to the Denver Zoo Lights collection. The dazzling nature animations have transformed the Denver Zoo into Colorado’s wildest winter wonderland for decades. Ice carving demonstrations, warm fire barrels, and delicious seasonal treats are also available. More than 2 million lights twinkle across 80 acres amidst the 3,000 residents who call the zoo home. A low-sensory night is also available.
Catch the Glow by Estes Park
Estes Park’s annual Catch the Glow parade features carolers, ponies, hay carts, shopping and Santa and his elves beginning the day after Thanksgiving. The enchanted Catch the Glow Parade begins as night falls. Bands, floats and dancers perform during the 45-minute lighting ceremony.
The parade will have over 40 participants including handcrafted floats from the Town of Estes Park and non-governmental organizations, marching bands, fire engines and other special vehicles.
“An Extravagance of Lights” at Hudson Gardens”
Nov 25 – Dec 31
To amaze and delight visitors of all ages, Hudson Gardens has illuminated a forest of towering trees. Celebrate the holiday season with singing and dancing to popular Christmas carols in the grove of moving Christmas trees. Stroll through the Christmas light tunnel and visit some giant snowmen and glowing reindeer.
Grand Lake’s annual tree lighting ceremony
The event at Town Park includes a festive evening of Christmas carols, hot chocolate and cookies, a visit to Santa Claus and other festive treats.
Pueblo Parade of Lights
A 30-year Pueblo holiday tradition, this event is one of the largest Christmas parades in Colorado. Thousands of people line the streets as the parade moves from Mesa Junction down Union Avenue to Main Street and then west before ending at 6th and Court. It features colorful floats, school marching bands, drill teams, decorated saddle club horses and car club vehicles decorated with lights.
Light the Nights parade in Greeley
For 24 years, the city of Greeley and its neighboring regions have celebrated the start of the holiday season with a parade and lighting ceremony.
More than 40 lighted parades make their way past families queuing early to get the good seats. The parade will run along 9th Avenue from 14th Street down to Lincoln Park. After the parade, everyone gathers in Lincoln Park to sing Christmas carols and watch the park’s trees light up.
“Night of Lights” in Gunnison
The historic district of downtown Gunnison is also decked out in the ‘Night of Lights’ each year for the holiday. The art walk and live entertainment will keep the whole family entertained, while the campfires will warm your toes and the hot cocoa will keep everyone else warm.
Leadville’s parade of lights
The annual Chamber of Commerce Light Parade travels along historic Harrison Avenue in Leadville. On the march to the Lake County Courthouse, viewers can see Santa and Mrs. Claus and floats featuring scenes from various holiday movies. A festive decorating competition is held, with all the local businesses doing their best to make the town look festive.
Alamosa Celebration of Lights
In honor of the 15th annual Celebration of Lights in Alamosa, the city’s City Hall will be bathed in festive lights. Children can talk to Santa Claus and get to know one of his helpful elves.
Denver’s parade of lights
Arrive early so you can secure your spot to see this holiday extravaganza take to the streets of downtown Denver. Attractions range from simple floats to elaborately lit floats, giant character balloons, great marching bands, traditional horse units and lively cultural displays. And of course Santa Claus and Major Waddles the penguin will make an appearance. If you don’t like the cold or the crowds, it will be broadcast live on 9NEWS.
Illumination of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas
The Santa race begins on Breckenridge’s Main Street, then the organizers host a holiday dog parade, children’s elk march and holiday carolers. The whole thing is rounded off by a countdown to the tree lighting and the visit of Santa Claus.
Light parade in Lyon
The enchanting Christmas ambiance that makes Lyon seem like a Christmas fairy tale offers a parade starting at 18:30 along the main street (which will be closed for the parade). Theme of this year’s parade – “Starry Starry Night”. This year there is a new route for the parade.
Brighton’s annual tree lighting
The City of Brighton’s annual Tree Lighting event takes place a week before the city’s annual Festival of Lights Parade. The annual celebration begins at 2:00 p.m. in Founders Plaza at the intersection of Main and Bridge Streets.
Colorado Springs Festival of Light Parade
One of the Pikes Peak region’s most popular holiday traditions is the Festival of Lights Parade, now in its 39th year. Cultural and artistic programs, performances, floats, high school marching bands, horseback riding groups, and Santa himself help get the whole family in the spirit of Christmas at this annual celebration.
Grand Junction Parade of Lights
In honor of the 40th Annual Light Parade in historic downtown Grand Junction, more than a hundred floats adorned with lights and decorations will be on display from local businesses, performing groups and youth organizations. Seasoned festival-goers know to arrive early for the 11am start of the Winter Festival, when local charity groups line the streets offering seasonal treats and trinkets.
Holyoke’s Country Christmas and Parade of Lights
Experience the delights of the season, small town style in Holyoke, Northeast Colorado. The focus of this year’s celebrations is the story of “An Elf Christmas”. In addition to the parade of lights, there are hay wagon rides, a soup dinner, hot chocolate stands, various shopping and discounts, Santa and Mrs. Claus and more.
Aurora’s Christmas tree lights
The event features tree lighting, vendors, live entertainment and a visit from a special guest.
Christmas Eve torchlight procession winter park, Kupferberg and telluride
24th of December
Ski resort employees race down the mountains with torches, illuminating the slopes. View the lighted trail from one of Telluride’s many public roads, including Main, Pacific, and Columbia. Santa Claus is said to be visiting Telluride to relax after a night of giving presents around the world. If you’re lucky, you might see him there.