December in Colorado brings about plenty of holiday cheer, snow festivals, and unique ways to enjoy the mountains. Ring in the holidays and the winter season with these special things to do in December in Colorado.
Warmer days are behind us and the upcoming holidays are on everyone’s minds. Unique Christmas festivals and celebrations are found throughout the state. We cover most of the best ones below, but you can find a few more events in December on our festivals page.
December blankets additional layers of snow over the Rocky Mountains, opening up the remaining ski resorts and terrain to play on. From snowmobiling to tubing, and ice skating to cross country skiing, the winter season is fully underway by the time Christmas and New Year’s Eve rolls around.
Here are some things to do in CO during December 2021:
Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens
Celebrate the holiday season with thousands of dazzling lights set within Denver’s Botanic Gardens. This is the garden’s signature annual event that showcases a twinkling winter wonderland, including a 360-degree immersive light experience. Top off the evening with holiday treats, a cup of hot cocoa, and a holiday dinner. Must purchase tickets online.
Where: Denver Botanic Gardens, York Street location only
When: November 19, 2021 – January 8, 2022 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Denver Parade of Lights
In its 46th year, the Denver Parade of Lights will take to the streets once again for their two-mile downtown route. Spreading the Christmas spirit, the parade features marching bands, decorative floats, and Santa himself. Plus, a special appearance of the parade’s mascot, Major Waddles the Penguin completes the evening of festivities. The event is free to the public with options to purchase seats in the grandstand in front of the City & County Building.
Where: Civic Center Park in Denver
When: December 4, 2021
38th Annual Festival of Lights Parade
Celebrate 38 years in the making with the holiday favorite, the Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Colorado Springs. Watch as floats dance by, listen as the high-school marching bands play Christmas tunes, and see Santa Clause himself make his way through the streets bringing all the holiday cheer. The parade will run on Tejon Street, starting at St. Vrain St.
Where: Downtown Colorado Springs, CO
When: December 4, 2021
The Lighting of Breckenridge & Race of the Santas
Come see as Breckenridge is transformed into a holiday winter wonderland with the Lighting of Breckenridge and the ever-popular, Race of the Santas. This year’s event schedule includes a snowman building competition, holiday dog parade, the moose march, free holiday concert, and of course a chance to meet Santa at the Barney Ford Museum.
Where: Breckenridge, CO
When: December 4, 2021
Breckenridge ULLR Fest
This year will mark the 59th year of the Ullr Fest in Breckenridge. The event is filled with a downtown parade, a talent show, the Ullr Ice Plunge, ice skating, and a fat bike race. Plus, don’t miss the biggest bonfire in town as the streets fill with thousands to watch the parade make its way downtown.
The floats aren’t your typical parade floats, with participants skiing off jumps or soaking in a hot tub as they glide down the street. Or help take back the title of World Record Shot Ski attempt (currently held by Park City, UT) and register for the Ullr Shot Ski competition.
Where: Downtown Breckenridge
When: December 8 – 12, 2021
Dillon Ice Castles
In addition to the many castles in Colorado, none are as unique as the Dillon Ice Castles that make their appearance every winter. Bring your camera as you walk amongst 25 million pounds of ice with a colorful LED light display to accompany the experience. Discover ice caves, slippery ice slides, flowing fountains, and a mountain of fun as you uncover new passageways.
Where: Dillon Town Park
When: December 2021
Vail Snow Days
Welcome in the ski and snowboard season in style with Vail Snow Days. The event hosts free concerts at Ford Park, not-to-miss après parties, and a colorful street fair in Vail Village. Events throughout the festival include the Pray for Snow Pub Crawl, a block party in Vail Village, Bluegrass and Bloodies at The Tavern at Arrabelle, plus so much more!
Where: Vail Village, Ford Park
When: December 2 – 5, 2021
Holiday Chocolate Festival (postponed until 2022)
What better way to celebrate the holidays than with chocolate? Attend the Holiday Chocolate Festival in Colorado Springs and sample from over 100,000 samples of chocolate! Get some holiday shopping done for those on your list or indulge yourself this holiday season.
Bring the kids to meet Santa and let them harness their creativity at the free holiday craft station. Entertainment is provided along with gift booths selling jewelry, clothes, crafts, and more. Admission is $10.
Where: Colorado Springs Event Center
When: Postponed until 2022
12 Days of Aspen
For twelve days in December, the charming ski town of Aspen becomes a hub of holiday cheer with its 12 Days of Aspen event. Enjoy free ice skating, carolers, concerts, a showing of The Polar Express at the Wheeler Opera House, cookie decorating, a Christmas Day buffet, a visit from Santa, all ending with a New Year’s Eve extravaganza over Aspen Mountain.
Where: Aspen, CO
When: 2021 dates TBD
Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade
While most Colorado mountain towns host their own version of a torchlight parade on the mountain, Telluride might be one of the more beautiful places to witness this unique event. Stand amazed as the slopes light up with nearly 100 people gliding down the mountain, in the dark, with lit torches in hand. This scene can be seen from almost anywhere in town, but the best viewing spots are found along Telluride’s Main Street. This is one Christmas Eve you won’t soon forget.
Where: Telluride, CO
When: December 24, 2021
Those are some of the most exciting activities to enjoy this December in Colorado. Stay tuned for more fun to follow in January.