20 of the Best 2023 Denver Holiday Activities

Wondering what are the best Denver holiday activities in 2023 to fill your December with Rocky Mountain Christmas cheer? Denver, Colorado is one of those winter destinations it’s easy to adore, especially if you love holiday and Christmas activities! We’ve rounded up the best Denver holiday activities in this guide!

There are dozens of holiday activities this year right in downtown Denver or within a 2 hours drive around the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Whether it’s a charming light-strung holiday market or a snowy scenic train ride through the Rocky Mountains, there is a memorable magical holiday adventure for everyone in and around Denver!

Tim and I spent several Decembers in Denver before we moved to Colorado permanently. Was it the Christmas spirit of all the festive holiday activities in Denver that helped us find our dream home? Well, I might be starting to sound like a Hallmark movie, but you’re sure to feel holiday cheer in Denver each December!

Read more below for the best holiday and Christmas activities in and around Denver, Colorado for 2023!

Apres Ski holiday market in the Dairy Block of Denver
Welcome to a Colorful Colorado Christmas!

Denver Holiday Activities

Where to See Holiday Lights

Christmas in Color

2023 Dates: Now through December 30, 2023

Christmas in Color is our top recommendation to everyone spending Christmastime in Colorado. We went in 2022 and saw polar bears, trippy tunnels, and Santa and friends dancing in synchronization to feel-good music. It was delightful in that way that makes you feel like a kid again.

Note that these photos are all from the 2022 displays. 2023 will have different features, so even if you’ve been before, you’ll want to go again!

Christmas in Color is one of the best Denver Holiday Activities to do at Christmas Time in Colorado
Christmas in Color

There are a few reasons why we think Christmas in Color is the number one Denver holiday activity for seeing lights.

First, it’s a drive-thru light show, meaning you experience the entire show from within your own vehicle. Everyone can enjoy the lights, regardless of any mobility limitations. It also means you stay warm and comfy the whole time. All you do is set your car radio to a prescribed station to hear the music in sync with the light animations!

Want more of an open-air experience? While you cannot get out of your vehicle during the show for your safety, here’s a fun idea. We saw a family with a bunch of kids who set up the bed of the truck with loads of blankets. All the kids were bundled up with their hot cocoas enjoying the open-air light spectacular. If you have a truck and can bundle up warmly, this is a great way to immerse in the lights!

Christmas in Color is one of the best Denver Holiday Activities to do at Christmas Time in Colorado

Secondly, there are three locations throughout the Denver area (Federal Heights, Aurora, and Morrison), so you can go to the one that is closest to you. We live closest to the Morrison location at the Bandimere Speedway so that’s the one we went to.

Christmas in Color is one of the best Denver Holiday Activities to do at Christmas Time in Colorado

Lastly, proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes for chronically and terminally ill children. It’s a wonderful, life-changing cause that brings joy to kids and their families when they need it most.

Christmas in Color is a festival of lights, music, and giving. If that’s not what the Christmas spirit is all about, I don’t know what is!

Christmas in Color has locations in Federal Heights, Aurora, and Morrison, Colorado. Tickets start at $35 per vehicle and are available by reservation online in advance at https://christmasincolor.net/.

Denver Holiday Lights & Sights Tour 

2023 Dates: Now through December 31, 2023

Denver Free Walking Tours hosts this Denver Holiday Lights and Sights Tours, which visits all the best holiday-themed spots in downtown Denver to see Christmas lights. The two-hour walking tour visits the Denver Christkindlemarket, 16th Street Mall, the Parade of Lights holiday floats, the Mile High Christmas Tree, and more before ending at the festively decorated Union Station. This is a great way to see many Denver holiday highlights in a short amount of time! Plus, the guides are very knowledgeable about all of the sights and about Denver’s history in general, so you are sure to learn a lot while enjoying the holiday magic!

Tours start at Denver’s City & County Building (i.e. City Council Building), 1437 Bannock St, Denver, CO 80202. Tickets are $27 per person. Reserve your spot online in advance at https://www.denverfreewalkingtours.com/holidaylightstour.

Mile High Tree

2023 Dates: November 17 through December 31, 2023

The tallest digital tree in the United States, the Mile High Tree stands 7 stories, about 100 feet, tall, and is illuminated with a dazzling digital light show synced to festive and diverse songs. The music and lights show starts every 15 minutes from 5 pm to 10 pm nightly from mid-November through the end of December. The tree is located in Civic Center Park and is completely free!

While at the Mile High Tree, why not stroll through the Christkindlmarket German Christmas Market? It’s also in Civic Center Park!

Civic Center Park, 100 W 14th Ave, Denver, CO 80204. Light show nightly mid-November and December. Free and open to the public without reservations or tickets.

Mile High Christmas Tree in Denver, Colorado

Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens

2023 Dates: Now through December 31, 2023

Elitch Gardens amusement park has been a Colorado destination for over a century! In December the theme park transforms into a winter wonderland of over 4 million lights called Luminova Holidays. In addition to rides on limited attractions, there are interactive holiday features like light swings, a candy cane tunnel, and Luminova Glow Train Rides!

Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, 2000 Elitch Circle Denver, CO 80204. Tickets start at $34.99 and should be purchased online in advance to guarantee availability. https://www.elitchgardens.com/

Camp Christmas

2023 Dates: November 16 through December 24, 2023

Camp Christmas is a playful winter wonderland of lights at Stanley Marketplace (in 2022 it was at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park).

Camp Christmas Denver, Colorado Santa
Santa awaits his first visitor shortly after gates opened at 4pm

We love Camp Christmas because it is kitschy, creative, and diverse in its attractions. You can ride on a carousel, watch as masterful gingerbread house architects create works of art, sip hot chocolate (spiked optional), and tour through houses staged in various festive themes.

It feels like a holiday-themed modern art museum. Kids will love seeing Santa and playing in the life-sized exhibits, while adults will enjoy the elevated artistic creativity and quirkiness.

Tickets start at $24 per person and should be purchased online in advance at https://www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/camp-christmas/

Denver-Area Botanic Gardens Holiday Displays

There are several options for those who want to see local botanic gardens all lit up for the holidays!

Blossoms of Light

2023 Dates: November 17, 2023 through January 7, 2024

By far, the most popular (and hardest to get tickets for!) is the Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light at York Street. A classic Denver holiday activity for over 30 years, Blossoms of Light is considered by Fodor’s one of the best holiday light displays in the world. Don’t miss the mesmerizing 100-foot-long light tunnel, magical glowing orbs, tasty holiday sweets, hot chocolate, and more. Most visitors spend between 1 hour and 1.5 hours exploring this winter wonderland.

York Street Location, 1007 York Street, Denver, CO 80206. Tickets start at $24 for adults and $20 for kids, with children 2 and under admitted free. Tickets are available online WELL in advance at https://www.botanicgardens.org/events/special-events/blossoms-light.

Trail of Lights

2023 Dates: November 24, 2023 through January 1, 2024

Denver Botanic Gardens also hosts a Trail of Lights exhibition at Chatfield Farms, south of Denver amidst the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A meandering walking trail, just under a mile long, weaves its way through cottonwoods, box elders, and pine trees to the 1880s Hildebrand Ranch homestead. There is also a shorter trail available for those who don’t want to walk as far. Like the Denver Botanic Gardens, Santa also makes an appearance at Chatfield Farms on select evenings and hours.

Chatfield Farms Location, 8500 W Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton, CO 80128. Tickets start at $16 for Adults and $12 for Kids. Children 2 and under are free. Tickets are available online in advance at https://www.botanicgardens.org/events/special-events/trail-lights.

A Hudson Christmas

2023 Dates: November 24 through December 31, 2023; Light Up The New Year January 2 through 28, 2024

Lastly, the Hudson Gardens and Event Center also hosts a holiday light experience called A Hudson Christmas. Although the Hudson Gardens is somewhat small, this is a fun garden lights experience with fewer crowds relative to Denver Botanic Gardens. It is also therefore easier to get tickets, although Hudson Gardens also sells out on popular dates. This is the botanic garden we visited. It’s definitely nice, but we spent maybe a half hour there because it is so small. There is hot chocolate available for purchase and scheduled Santa visits as well.

Hudson Gardens and Event Center, 6115 S. Santa Fe Dr., Littleton, CO 80120. Tickets start at $15 for Adults and $12 for Kids. Children 3 and under are free. Tickets are available online in advance at https://www.hudsongardens.org/.

Regardless of which garden holiday light event you choose, we definitely recommend reserving your tickets online in advance. In general, the earlier in December you go, the better your chances of snagging tickets for your preferred date and time. Everyone rushes to these types of winter activities in the week leading up to Christmas when all the tickets are likely already sold out.

Denver Christmas and Winter Markets


2023 Dates: November 17 through December 23, 2023

Christkindl Market is a German Christmas Market in Denver and one of the best holiday activities

The Christkindlemarket authentic German Christmas market has been a Denver holiday activity staple for over 20 years, transforming Civic Center Park into Old World Europe. Wooden stalls sell traditional Christmas tree ornaments and holiday decor, food vendors serve up cozy Eastern European fare and Glühwein, and a festive beer hall has music and dancing.

While you’re at the market, don’t miss the Mile High Christmas Tree, which is also located in Civic Center Park!

Civic Center Park, 100 W 14th Ave, Denver, CO 80204. Free and open daily from mid-November until December 23.

Dairy Block Holiday Market – Mistletoe Market

2023 Dates: Weekends November 25 through December 17, 2023

A small but charming outdoor market in the alley of Denver’s Dairy Block, the Mistletoe Market has live music performances, festive decor, and stalls of unique gifts and holiday fare. Local businesses lining the alley serve up holiday drinks and food specials. Grab lunch and a beverage before or after your stroll through the market to make an afternoon of it!

Apres Ski holiday market in the Dairy Block of Denver
Tim at the Apres Ski holiday market

Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, Denver, Colorado. Free and open to the public on specific days starting after Thanksgiving and running through mid-December.

Holiday Art Market

2023 Dates: December 1 through December 29, 2023

Held for nearly 50 years at the Foothills Art Center, the Holiday Art Market features 3,000 unique items made by Colorado artists available for purchase. The market hosts an array of artisan crafts, including pottery, jewelry, food, holiday ornaments, greeting cards, and more. The market also stays open for a few days after Christmas, making it one of the few in Denver to do so!

Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden, Colorado, 80401. Free and open to the public daily from mid-November to the end of December, except on holidays.

Union Station. 1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado. Free and open to the public daily.

Active Denver Holiday Activities

Free Ice Skating at Downtown Denver Ice Rink

2023 Dates: November 20, 2023, through February 11, 2024

The Downtown Denver Ice Rink has free ice skating starting at the end of November each year. It’s a true Denver holiday activity icon. Over 40,000 people skated here in the 2021-2022 winter season! Skating is completely free, but if you need a pair of skates, you can rent a pair for $11 for adults or $9 for kids 12 and under. If you bring your own pair of ice skates, you are good to skate for absolutely free! Lockers are also available to hold your belongings. If skating isn’t your thing, you can still people-watch and enjoy watching the skaters zip around the ice rink while grabbing a drink or bite to eat at one of the on-site concessions.

Skyline at 1601 Arapahoe St., Denver, CO 80202. Free and open to the public daily. Skate Rentals are available.

Denver Holiday Food and Drink Experiences

Holiday Tea at Babe’s Tea Room

Babe's Tea Room Denver

Babe’s Tearoom feels like being in London, decorated with over-the-top floral arrangements and sophisticated, colorful pillows. While you could come in for just a cup of tea, we recommend indulging in the Holiday Afternoon Tea for two people. It’s a perfect date activity. You can choose “bottomless” teas, including their holiday blends, in addition to enjoying a tower of finger sandwiches and cookies. We especially loved the decadent macarons and gingerbread tea. This is a really fun experience and a must-do Denver holiday activity in our opinion! It’ll definitely be a tradition we enjoy from now on!

Reservations are recommended. Even with ours, they were a few minutes delayed in seating us. Babe’s stays quite busy!

Babe’s Tea Room. 2401 15th St, Denver, CO 80202. Make reservations online at https://babestearoom.com/.

Union Station Holiday Decorations

2023 Dates: November 28 through December 26, 2023

Union Station, in the heart of downtown Denver near the 16th Street Mall, feels like where you might catch a train to Hogwarts, but is actually a real, operating Amtrack train station dating from 1914! The historic building gets dressed up in lights and festive sculptures every December. Inside, a beautiful Christmas tree gives the entire space a beautiful atmosphere. Several restaurants and bars inside Union Station have holiday specials, so take advantage of the festive vibes and people-watching with a bite or drink!

Denver Holiday Performances

The Nutcracker Presented by The Colorado Ballet

2023 Dates: November 26 through December 24, 2023

Another Denver holiday tradition, The Colorado Ballet‘s annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker runs from the end of November through Christmas Eve. You’ll definitely want to buy your tickets in advance of this one, as there are limited performances throughout the holiday season!

Ellie Caulkins Opera House. 1101 13th St, Denver, CO 80204. Performances are Thursdays through Sundays starting in November. Buy your tickets online in advance at https://coloradoballet.org/The-Nutcracker

A Christmas Carol at Denver Center for Performing Arts

2023 Dates: November 17 through December 24, 2023

Another traditional Denver holiday activity is seeing A Christmas Carol at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. The opulent musical adaption of Charles Dickens’s classic novel is a longstanding tradition in Denver for many years. Shows run mid-November through Christmas Eve.

Wolf Theatre. Speer Blvd &, Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80204. Buy your tickets online in advance at https://www.denvercenter.org/.

Holiday Activities Near Denver

Two Below Zero Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride

In Frisco, Colorado, you can hop on a horse-drawn sleigh for a 1-hour round-trip ride through the White River National Forest. When we did the hot chocolate sleigh ride in November 2022, there was not yet enough snow on the ground to use the sleighs themselves, so ours was more of a carriage ride. We met at the Frisco Nordic Center to check in with the Two Below Zero team and socialize with the horses before boarding our carriages. They had plush, warm blankets on the wooden seat which is amazing since it can be very cold in Summit County in winter.

After about a half hour, we stopped at a little base camp in the forest where the staff served us hot chocolate with optional peppermint schnapps and cookies. On a small stage surrounded by seating and fire pits, a man sang and played the guitar. A replica Santa sleigh sits picture-perfect with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains inviting you to take a few photos! Soon, we were back on the sleigh returning to the Nordic Center.

In addition to the hot chocolate sleigh ride, they also offer dinner sleigh rides. You should book your reservation online in advance for either experience. Tours run from mid-November through April.

Sarah and Tim on Santa's Sleigh in a snowy forest
Cheesin’ it up on Santa’s Sleigh

Frisco Nordic Center. 18454 CO-9, Frisco, CO 80443. Book online in advance at https://dinnersleighrides.com/.

Mountain Town Holiday Parades

Every year, front-range towns like Golden, Idaho Springs, Nederland, Evergreen, and more hold Christmas parades through their downtown areas. Nestled in the mountains, each of these small towns has its own “Main Street, USA” that makes you feel like you’re walking through a bygone Western era. Dates vary every year for each town’s parade, but most are in late November or early December.

2023 Holiday Parades and Festivals:

  • Evergreen Holiday Walk: December 1
  • Olde Golden Candlelight Walk: December 1
  • Nederland Holiday Mountain Market: December 2-3
  • Georgetown Christmas Market: December 2-3
  • Olde Golden Holiday Parade: December 9
  • Jingle on the Avenue: December 16

Georgetown Loop Railroad

2023 Dates: November 10, 2023 through January 7, 2024

Georgetown, Colorado is home to one of the most iconic scenic train rides in the mountain west. The Georgetown Loop Railroad is beautiful year-round, and every winter they hold special holiday and Christmas rides starting in November. During the daytime, Santa’s Rocky Mountain Adventure is a train ride where Santa visits riders while the train rolls through the forest and over the railroad’s iconic 95-foot tall High Bridge. At night, 300,000 lights transform the forest for the Encore Train Lighted Forest rides. Santa will also be on these rides, so the main difference is whether you want to experience a nighttime holiday lights train ride or a snowy aesthetic daytime one! If you can’t decide you can always do both.

Also, don’t worry about being cold on the train. Unlike the open-air cars they use during the summer rides, the winter train rides are enclosed, cozy, and warm!

Be sure to book your train ride online in advance, as they almost always sell out. Tickets start at $35.

Georgetown Loop Railroad Devil’s Gate Depot: 646 Loop Dr. Georgetown, CO 80444. Book tickets online in advance at https://www.georgetownlooprr.com/.

Colorado Railroad Museum – the Polar Express Train Ride

2023 Dates: November 29 through December 23, 2023

Every year, the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden hosts The Polar Express train ride, a magical Christmas holiday activity near Denver. The exact storyline of the show varies each year, but in general, the experience includes a multi-part interactive and theatrical show that ends with a train ride to the North Pole. Tickets for the Polar Express go on sale in October and sell out for the entire season fairly quickly. If you want to put the Colorado Railroad Museum’s Polar Express Train Ride on your Denver holiday activity bucket list, you should definitely plan ahead!

Colorado Railroad Museum. 17155 W. 44th Avenue, Golden, Colorado 80403. Book online in advance at https://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/polar-express/.

Final Thoughts on the Best Denver Holiday Activities

We hope this post on the best Denver holiday activities and Christmas happenings have you feeling festive! There is so much to see and do around Denver at Christmas time, making it a perfect winter wonderland destination for out-of-towners and Coloradans alike.

By the way, while you’re in the Denver area, don’t miss the opportunity to get outside and explore Rocky Mountain National Park just under 2 hours from Denver! Even in winter, it’s a beautiful park (just make sure you pack for the weather!) for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and more. Emerald Lake and Loch Vale are especially beautiful frozen. We hope you’ll check it out!

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