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.
Warmer days are behind us and the upcoming holidays are on everyone’s minds. Unique Christmas festivals and holiday celebrations are found throughout all of Colorado. 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 roll around.
Here are some things to do in CO during December 2022:
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 special dinner. Tickets must be purchased online in advance.
Where: Denver Botanic Gardens, York Street location only
When: November 18 – January 7, 2023 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas), 4:30-9 p.m.
Denver Parade of Lights
In its 47th year, the Denver Parade of Lights will take to the streets once again for its two-mile downtown route. Spreading the holiday spirit, the parade features marching bands, decorative floats, and Santa himself. Plus, a special appearance from 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, CO
When: December 3, 2022, 6:00 p.m.
38th Annual Festival of Lights Parade
Celebrate 39 years in the making with a local holiday favorite, the Festival of Lights Parade, in downtown Colorado Springs. Watch as floats dance by, listen as the high-school marching bands play holiday tunes, and see Santa Claus make his way through the streets bringing all the holiday cheer. The parade will run on Tejon Street, starting at St. Vrain Street.
Where: Downtown Colorado Springs, CO
When: December 3, 2022
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, a holiday dog parade, the moose march, a free holiday concert, and of course a chance to meet Santa at the Barney Ford Museum.
Where: Breckenridge, CO
When: December 3, 2022
Breckenridge ULLR Fest
This year will mark the 60th 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 after 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. If you want to go down in history, 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: Breckenridge, CO
When: December 8 – 11, 2022
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: 2022 Dates TBD
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, and a visit from Santa. The festivities come to a close with a New Year’s Eve extravaganza over Aspen Mountain.
Where: Aspen, CO
When: 2022 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. Watch in wonder 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 forget.
Where: Telluride, CO
When: December 24, 2022
Lace-up at a Local Ice Rink
Whether you’re experienced on the ice or a newbie looking to test the waters, there’s something special about skating outdoors on a snowy Colorado day. There are several rinks scattered around the state that generally start to open their rinks in mid-November, and by December they’re in full swing. Make sure to bundle up, bring thick socks, and be prepared to take a few tumbles as you get your bearings on the ice. Most rinks have ice skate rentals.
Those are some of the most exciting activities to enjoy this December in Colorado. Stay tuned for more fun to follow in January.