‘Tis the season for holiday lights and festivities. Sure, shortened winter days mean less sunlight. But throughout the next few weeks leading up to the holidays, Colorado turns the lights on in a big way. From the Denver Zoo to Telluride’s ski slopes, Leadville’s Harrison Avenue and many state halls, don’t miss the festive energy that keeps these local traditions lit year after year.

December 1, 2017

1. Leadville Parade of Lights

Leadville Parade of Lights - USFWS Leadville - Flickr - OutThere Colorado
Leadville Parade of Lights. Photo Credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie (Flickr)

Watch Santa and Mrs. Claus amble down Harrison Avenue, followed by a parade of festive floats accompanied by holiday tunes. Businesses in the area will be competing for the best holiday decorations, so expect enough sparkles and holiday cheer to rival 14,000-foot Mt. Elbert’s presence in the backdrop.

2. Denver Parade of Lights

You’ll want to snag a curbside spot early for this two-mile, 60-minute-long parade tradition. Get ready for marching bands, intricate floats, dancing groups, and local celebrities to grace the two-mile stretch between Union Station and the City and County building. Think big, expect bold, and prepare for bright; downtown Denver puts on the biggest show of the holiday season.

3. Golden Candlelight Walk

This 30-year tradition is a constant on many family calendars, in part due to its feel-good simplicity: families gather, holding candles, and then sing a variety of songs while walking through town. The community night culminates with Santa and Golden’s mayor joining forces to illuminate the town’s lights and line-up of live music.

December 2, 2017

4. Lighting of Breckenridge

Timeless sing-along carols, hot cocoa, and cookies aren’t the only extras paired alongside this mountainside Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. The Bernese Mountain Dog Parade will make its appearance, guaranteeing your yearly dose of puppy cuteness.

5. Colorado Springs Festival of Lights Parade

This year marks the 33rd winter that community floats, horses, and the high-school marching band will parade down Tejon Street in order to kick start and light up the city’s festive spirit. With artistic performances and food sprinkled throughout the evening, it’s an easy bet another 33 years are to come.

December 4, 2017 

6. Holyoke’s Country Christmas and Parade of Lights

Photo Credit: Krystian Nawrocki (iStock)

Connect to the humble spirit of this small-town holiday lighting celebration. Replete with a hot chili supper hosted by the local fire fighters and a chance for kiddos to give Santa their wish lists, this is sure to be a family favorite for years to come.

December 23, 2017

7. Alamosa Parade of Lights

Christmas Lights - aaron007 - iStock - OutThere Colorado
Photo Credit: aaron007 (iStock)

This year, there will be lights, lots of lights, but a new activity will kick off the day of festivities. Lace up for the inaugural Round-UP Rudolph 5K Run for a chance to snag an all-star spot in the parade — race winners get to take a ride on San Luis Valley Sports & Wellness’ float and wave on the holiday cheer.

December 24, 2017

8. Telluride’s Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade

Watch the slopes light up after the sun goes down as dozens of Telluride Resort employees ski down the darkened mountain and into town while holding fiery, glowing torches. Bring your own hot chocolate to the streets and let the hypnotizing stream of lights mesmerize you.

Ongoing Events Not to Miss

9. Denver Botanic Gardens’ Blossoms of Lights

Take a stroll through this urban sanctuary anytime between now and January 1, 2018 (including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve), and you’ll catch over a million colorful lights — nearly as many as the flowers and botanic specialties that grace the grounds year-round.

10. Denver Zoo Lights

During the entire month of December, lions, giraffes, and zebras grow a bit more exotic in their Denver home. Across the 60-acre zoo, animal light sculptures will accompany the living creatures, in addition to extra live entertainment, food and drinks, and even visits from Santa.

11. Westminster’s Holiday Lights Mini Golf

Along the 54 holes of mini-golf, you’ll pass features like “Woody, the giant talking tree,” “erupting volcanos,” and “a booming fireball from [their] very own temple god” — all lit up in festive holiday lights. Open daily from December 15-31, 2017, enjoy the festive snack and drink offerings, too.

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