The snow has hit the ground more than once, which means it’s almost time for Christmas in Denver! Kids know that with the arrival of snow, it means all sorts of holiday events await from Christmas carol sing-alongs to Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo.
Whether you are a local or visitor, check out the fun Denver Christmas events for your family to enjoy. Updated for 2023!
Denver Christmas Events for 2023
ICE! featuring A Christmas Story™ at Gaylord Rockies
In December, the entire Gaylord Rockies Resort transforms into a magical land of holiday enchantment! From rotating Christmas trees to two million lights and a life-size gingerbread house, you will be completely immersed in holiday cheer at this resort.
20% off ICE! tickets with code VALUE23 for Trekaroo readers through November 16, 2023. Book your experience now!
This year ICE! featuring A Christmas Story will be at the Gaylord Rockies. Guests will enjoy favorite scenes from the movie brought to life in this colorful winter wonderland. More than two million pounds of ice transform into colorful, larger-than-life, story-driven holiday showplaces featuring characters and scenes from the classic movie.
Christmas at Gaylord Rockies runs November 17, 2023 through January 1, 2024. It features gingerbread house decorating, a scavenger hunt, photos with Santa, a light show, Naughty or Nice Escape Room, Elf Training Academy, ice slide, and so much more!
You also won’t want to miss the “Cirque: Spirit of Christmas” live stage show. This Cirque-styled live show features incredible acrobatics and high-flying stunts. The story centers around Noel, a child dismayed and distressed by the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
Denver Holiday Lights Displays
Denver has been ranked among the top U.S. cities for holiday lighting displays by CNN Travel. Every year, the Denver Post highlights the best light displays in the city and posts them on an interactive map. Take a look around the local neighborhoods and set your own sightseeing route.
Downtown Denver’s public displays are easy to find and stay lit throughout the month of December, following the Grand Illumination in late November.
You can enjoy the lights of downtown Denver anytime, but if you are looking for extra fun, the Parade of Lights takes place late November through the end of the year..
The Denver Zoo puts on its annual Zoo Lights event in the evenings December 2, 2023 through January 7, 2024, with nightly entertainment and Santa meet-and-greets. November 24 through December 1, Zoo Lights is open to members only.
During this event you will enjoy two million LED lights sparkling over 83 acres. There will be new installations this year including Aurora Borealis, Savannah Sunset and Electric Jungle.
The Botanic Gardens also has beautiful displays in two separate locations of the city. One is Trail of Lights at Chatfield Farms in Littleton, and the other at Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Blossom of Light runs November 17, 2023- January 7, 2024. Trail of Lights runs November 24, 2023 – January 1, 2024. Blossom of Light transforms their York Street location into a twinkling winter wonderland. Trail of Lights at Chatfield Farms takes you along a winding path glistening with lights that illuminate the Colorado countryside.
Finally, the Butterfly Pavilion, located between Denver and Boulder, has a special “Living Lights” exhibit running during the evenings through the holidays.
Christmas in Denver- Visit Santa!
Santa visits kids in both predictable and unpredictable spots around Denver! Call for a reservation and you can pair a family visit to the Downtown Aquarium with one of their Breakfasts With Santa on select dates in December.
Get some cute shots of your kids with Firefighter Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Denver Firefighter’s Museum during the Holiday Open House on December 9, 2023.
Visit the Colorado Railroad Museum to watch a theatrical rendition of The Polar Express and see Santa and Mrs. Claus on select evenings in November and December. Tickets sell fast so book early.
How about dinosaurs and Santa? Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Center typically has Santa events planned for several dates in December.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, Parker features Candy Cane Lane at Discovery Park, Toyland on Mainstreet and Santa’s Workshop at O’Brien Park. There is also a North Pole pass which gives kids a pony ride, visit at the petting zoo, games, and time with Santa.
Finally, one of the most popular Santas in Denver is Santa’s Flight Academy interactive Santa experience found at the Cherry Creek Mall through December 24th.
Denver Christmas Parades
Parades aren’t just for summer! Families in Golden are entertained by their Holiday Parade December 9, 2023. There will also be an Olde Golden Candlelight Walk on December 1 and a holiday character meet and greet called Jingle on the Avenue December 16.
The 9NEWS Parade of Lights is a downtown Denver tradition. This parade is one of the biggest in the state, featuring floats, light displays, marching bands, huge balloon characters, and more. The parade takes place December 2nd.
Pro tip: Park outside of downtown and take the RTD Light Rail to the parade route; you’ll lower your parking stress level and kids will enjoy the bonus train ride.
Look for the best prices on Family Friendly Hotels in Denver.
See the Nutcracker- A Popular Denver Christmas Event
For many families, watching the Nutcracker ballet is a yearly tradition. There is no shortage of opportunities in the Denver area to join in on the excitement. Don’t worry about little ones squirming or chattering during a long show.
Several of the venues listed below offer kid-friendly matinees, abridged performances, and audience-participation activities. Find specific schedules and ticketing information for the following venues: Paramount in Denver, University of Denver, Ballet Ariel in Denver, Boulder & Longmont, Littleton, and Lakewood.
For more culture, head to Boettcher Concert Hall for the Colorado Symphony and their performance of A Colorado Christmas.
Denver New Years Activities
If your kids are like mine, by midnight on New Year’s, they’re either zonked out or manic from too much soda and parade watching.
The Children’s Museum of Denver has a nice alternative called “Noon Year’s Eve.” Fun activities and ball drops run all day long on December 31st.
Another daytime activity takes place at The Rink at Belmar in Lakewood. Enjoy family ice-skating and celebrate in the daylight!
Finally, Downtown Denver has families in mind with its two fireworks displays on the evening of December 31st at 9:00 pm and midnight, so early birds can still get home to tuck everyone into bed.
Christmas in Denver- Winter Break Special Activities
Many Denver locations offer special activities during the winter break period. A favorite of ours is the Denver Art Museum (free for kids 18 and under!) which has TONS of hands-on activities set aside for those couple of weeks.
Similarly, The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has hands-on workshops for kids of all ages during winter break as well.
Check out our Top 10 Things to do in Denver to find more great ideas on what to do in Denver with kids.
Denver Christmas Shopping
If you are looking to get some holiday shopping done, head to Denver Pavilions to shop ’til you drop. You can coax the kids along on this shopping trip because they are sure to want to ride the mall’s holiday carousel.
For some extra special, visit Denver Ciivic Center Park’s Christkindl Market November 17th to December 23rd, 2023.
There are vendors from Germany and as well as local artists selling handcrafted items. Traditional German food and Glühwein (hot spiced wine) are available for purchase. The environment is extra festive with caroling and live German music.
Is there a Denver Christmas event we missed? Does your business have updated information to share? Email [email protected] and tell us about it!
Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.
Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly:
Many thanks to Cindi Brothers for the original version of this guide.
Featured photo by: Shutterstock