Winter Holiday lighting festivals throughout Colorado

The Winter Christmas Holiday season brings some spectacular lighting ceremonies, events and long traditions to several communities throughout Colorado.

From small town gatherings to the spectacular Parade of Lights and the lighting of the Civic Center in Downtown Denver, each has a job and special significance all it’s own.

Enjoy this list of Holiday Lighting Celebrations and please comment below if we’ve missed your favorite event.

denver civic center christmas holiday lighting ceremony

Photo courtesy of Visit Denver

Denver is often dusted with snow throughout December adding to the holiday spirit as you see the lights from the City and County Building all lit up and the crazy Black Friday crowds have quieted down. JM has listed for you our favorite sights, sounds and things to do in Denver during the holiday in a list below. Please let us know if we have missed your favorite in the comments below.


Santa lives at the North Pole just North of Denver so that’s always a treat for the kids but if you don’t want to leave town there are a few other options.

Santa Claus Special
Colorado Railroad Museum
December 7, 14, 15, & 21
Trains have been in the backdrop of the holidays for generations…but this year, Santa has decided to replace his sleigh and reindeer with Colorado Railroad Museum’s locomotive and a team of historic passenger cars all decked out for the holidays. Santa Claus Special rides, free with admission, depart every 20 minutes.

Admission rates: Museum Members and Children under 2 are free, Children $5, Adults $15, Seniors $10 and Families $30. Purchase your Special Event tickets today!

Photos with Santa Claus at Cherry Creek
Cherry Creek Shopping Center has always been one of our favorite malls in the Denver Metro area and a perfect spot to stop before or after heading downtown to see the lights.
Santa will be available for visits during all mall hours through December 24th. There will be a wide range of photo packages available including options with a CD and a free photo book offer from Snapfish. All creatures great and small are invited to get their photo taken with Santa — so you can bring your, pet, too.


Downtown Denver features beautiful lighting displays at the City and County Building turns on nightly at 6 p.m. with 600,000 lights. The bell tower plays carols nightly as well. Larimer Square, Denver Pavilions, Union Station, Skyline Park, the 16th Street Mall and the historic D&F Tower are also a beautiful sight to see each year.


November 29 – January
Denver’s mile-long pedestrian promenade, the 16th Street Mall, is decorated with more than one million white lights. Skyline Park, located at 16th and Arapahoe, will feature nearly 26,000 lights and a 22 foot tall Christmas tree complete with LED lights choreographed to a variety of holiday songs. Denver’s historic D & F Tower, at the center of the park, will also be adorned with holiday lights. More than 400,000 energy efficient LED lights will turn the 16th Street Mall and Curtis Streets between 14th and 16th into an enchanting holiday promenade. Giant holiday snowflakes will also be hung along California and Curtis Streets. Two of Downtown Denver’s major retail destinations, Larimer Square and the Denver Pavilions, will also be illuminated with festive décor on this night and throughout the holiday season. Unique holiday entertainment and special events will take place separately at each destination.



Denver Botanic Gardens
November 29 – January 1
Warm drinks and tasty treats will also be available. Seasonal entertainment will be available on select evenings.

9NEWS Parade of Lights
Downtown Denver
Friday, December 6, 2013 at 8 p.m. Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 6 p.m.

Trails of Light 
Denver Botanic Gardens, Chatfield
November 29 – January 1

Living Lights
Butterfly Pavilion
December 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, January 3-5

Zoo Lights
Denver Zoo
December 6 – January 5


The Nutcracker
Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex
November 30 – December 28

A Christmas Carol
Stage Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts
November 29 – December 29

The SantaLand Diaries
Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts
November 29 – December 24

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Buell Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts
November 30 – December 1

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Buell Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts
December 10-22

Stories On Stage: Making Merry
Seawell Ballroom, Denver Center for the Performing Arts
December 15


Southwest Rink at Skyline Park
Skyline Park (Arapahoe and 16th, next to the D&F Clocktower)
November 30 – February 16
The Southwest Rink at Skyline Park (Arapahoe & 16th St., Downtown Denver) returns with ice-skating and family fun. The rink is FREE and open to the public with the option to bring your own skates or rent a pair at a minimal cost.

Denver Christkindl Market
Skyline Park, Downtown Denver
November 22 – December 21

Georgetown Christmas Market
Downtown Georgetown, CO (6th and Rose St.)
December 7-8 & 14-15, 10am to 6pm

Holiday Chocolate Festival
The Broadmoor Hotel
December 14 11-6 p.m.
The 2013 Holiday Chocolate Festival will be an all around great experience for couples, friends and families to sample & shop.

Parker Country Carriage Parade
Saturday December 14 at Noon
Old fashioned fun in historic downtown Parker with the traditional sighting of Santa Clause at the end of the parade. It will be accompanied by reindeer, kids attractions and an outdoor market.

A Brown Family Christmas Tour 
Molly Brown House Museum
December 14 – 15
The “Unsinkable” Molly Brown treasured the holidays as a time to be family and remember the joyful moments. Enjoy her holiday traditions with a special tour of their decorated home at night.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Downtown Denver
December 31
Ring in the New Year with Denver’s annual New Year’s Eve Fireworks with viewpoints along the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. The two spectacular fireworks shows will occur at 9 p.m. and Midnight, taking place simultaneously at two undisclosed sites along the 16th Street Mall.


A Broadway Christmas With Brian Stokes Mitchell
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex
December 6

Handel’s Messiah
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex
December 13-15
The Colorado Symphony and Chorus join forces to exalt Messiah to new heights.

Christmas with the Children’s Chorale
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex
December 14-15

Colorado Christmas
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex
December 20-22

Holiday Brass
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex
December 8

Skyline Park (Arapahoe and 16th)
December 22
An Annual TubaChristmas Concert at Skyline Park, featuring 300 tuba players from all over the region will entertain crowds again from 1 p.m.-2 p.m.

The Brass of Christmas Past
Newman Center
December 21-22

Too Hot To Handel
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex
December 28-29

A Night In Vienna
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex
December 31

You are sure to find some wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones in the list above. If we have missed your favorite way to spend your time during the Christmas season please let us know in the comments below. We will add it for next year.

Photo Credit: Visit Denver

Festival of Lights Parade:
Dec. 3, 2011, 5:50pm
Downtown Colorado Springs is the place to be for the 26th annual parade and lighting ceremony. Floats, high-school marching bands, groups on horseback and Santa Claus himself bring the holiday spirit at this family favorite. Bring a dollar to give to Santa’s elves as a donation to this year’s charity, The Empty Stocking Fund.

Holyoke Country Christmas and Parade of Lights:
Experience the delight of the season’s small-town-style in the northeast Colorado town of Holyoke. The most popular activity of the night is the Parade of Lights, which features floats decorated according to the annual theme. There are contests for best float, tree and window display. Children can give their wish lists to Santa at the Vets club where the local fire fighters serve up a hot chili supper.

Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade:
Dec. 24,
The slopes light up as nearly 100 Telluride Resort employees glide gracefully down the dark mountain, torches in hand. Watch the glowing trail from town; popular viewing spots are Main Street, Pacific Street and Columbia Avenue. Rumor has it, that after a long night of delivering presents around the world, Santa comes to Telluride for some much needed R-and-R — so you might just catch a glimpse of the man in red.

 Mayors Tree Lighting Ceremony 

OBrien Park Parker CO Christmas Decorations

Copyright Colorado Bucket List 2014

Friday November 25, 2014 at 5 p.m.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving is always the festival occasion in historic downtown Parker when citizens gather for the annual Mayors Tree Lighting Ceremony. The Parker Chorale and local high school choirs lead the community in a moving candlelit Christmas Carol time, the Horse Drawn Carriage rides begin and all of the lights in O’Brien Park and along Mainstreet and in the Victorian district are lit. There is food, hot cocoa and plenty of warm holiday glow each year.

Castle Rock Star Lighting
Nov. 19, 201 – 5:00 p.m.
This year is the 76th annual Star Lighting on the Rock ceremony where the giant star atop the castle shaped rock is lit for the residents and everyone driving through Castle Rock from Denver to Colorado Springs to enjoy. The event starts at 5:00 and the star will be lit promptly at 5:30 p.m.

Other Popular Holiday Lighting Festivals in Colorado

Pueblo Parade of Lights: Saturday,November 26 beginning at 5:30

• Greeley Lights the Nights: Dec. TBD

• Denver Botanic Gardens’ Blossoms of Light: Dec. 2–Jan. 1

• Dillon’s Festival of Lights: Dec. 12–Jan.15

For other fun free things to do this winter in Colorado be sure to read this post