With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be hard to slow down and enjoy time spent with your family. Getting away from the city for long weekend in the mountains is a great way to unwind and experience the magic of the season. Here are nine picks for family-friendly ways to spend the holidays in Colorado’s high country.
To kick off New Year’s Eve in Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Snowsports School will parade down the mountain lit only by torches, followed by fireworks. Families can countdown to 2018 at the Family Fun New Year’s Eve bash in the main ballroom of the Steamboat Grand Hotel, which will serve a buffet dinner and host entertainment like magic, juggling, and comedy. Entry into the bash, which includes dinner and entertainment, is $51 for adults, $25 for kids ages six to 12, and free for kids five and younger. Enjoy children’s activities and face painting before the bedtime friendly 9 p.m. countdown.
The North Pole is hitting the road this year and heading to Snowmass Mall and Base Village, where kids can give their last minute Christmas requests to Santa from December 21-24 and take a free photo with the jolly old elf. Carolers will stroll through Snowmass Mall and Base Village on December 23 and 24. On New Year’s Eve, kids age eight and up can ski and snowboard in the Snowmass Torchlight Parade, which begins at 6 p.m. Fireworks over Snowmass start at 10 p.m.
Meeting Santa doesn’t have to include a trip to crowded malls. On December 24, Santa Claus and his elf will hand out candy to kids from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Santa’s journey will start at the A-Frame lodge where he’ll take gift requests, then he’ll mosey over to the Molly Hogan and Pika Place Learning Areas to meet with kids in lessons. He’ll finish off his holiday trek at the Black Mountain Express Lift, where he’ll ski down the mountain. Pictures with Santa are encouraged and employees of Arapahoe Basin can assist in photographing your family with your personal phone. Listen to carolers from The Summit County Choral Society sing festive songs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the base area.
Break out your ugliest sweater on December 24 for Eldora’s third annual Ugly Sweater Party and Holiday Dance contest. Head to the Timbers Deck near Eldora’s lodge to show off your ugliest sweater in this informal contest and get your best moves out. Prizes include Under Armour gear and wireless earbuds. Santa will hand out candy on the slopes all day. Afterward, stop for hot chocolate at Indian Peaks Lodge, which overlooks Challenge Mountain.
Purgatory hosts enough festive activities to keep families busy all holiday season. On December 23, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit in a horse-drawn sleigh to deliver candy canes and take last-minute requests from kids. On December 24, Purgatory hosts a Build Your Own Gingerbread House event and a free Holiday S’mores Party, while Purgy’s Slopeside Restaurant in Steamboat Resort’s lodge hosts a family-friendly Christmas Eve dinner with seatings on the hour from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Purgy’s dinner will feature a hot cocoa bar, Christmas cookie making station, and a dessert buffet. Reservations are recommended, and is $48 for adults, $22 for kids ages four to 12, and free for children age three and under.
On December 22, the 11th Annual Vail Winterfest Ice Theater, Vail’s outdoor ice theater, will celebrate it’s grand opening ceremony at Gore Creek Promenade. The free and family-friendly ice cinema experience allows families to enjoy the scenic Gore Creek during the day and films projected on a screen of ice in the evening. On December 22, families can enjoy a screening of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, at 5:15 p.m. On December 23, check out the Alpine Arts Center at Vail Public Library for a holiday-themed art class where families can paint festive designs on wood slice to make rustic ornaments. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and the class is $20, which includes materials and instruction.
Families wanting to experience holiday cheer while avoiding I-70 traffic can take the Winter Park Express up to the nearby resort this holiday season. On Christmas Eve, Santa will be available at Winter Park’s Village for last minute Christmas requests, from 1-5 p.m. and carolers will sing out Christmas cheer beginning at 3:15 p.m. The Torchlight Parade begins at 5:30 p.m., with a procession of torch-bearing skiers and riders making their way down Lower Hughes trail, followed by Santa Claus and his helpers. The night finishes with a fireworks display and snowcats lit up with Christmas colors to form a Christmas tree shape on the slope.
If watching holiday movies in your pajamas doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, we don’t know what will. Take the pajama party off your couch and into Crested Butte’s Center for the Arts for a free screening of The Grinch. Santa will be on hand for photos and hot chocolate at 5 p.m. and the movie begins at 6 p.m. Another great option for a Christmas Eve torchlight parade is at “the Butte”at 5:15 p.m. Families can spot Santa in his sleigh pulled down the mountain by a snowcat from the Butte 66 deck. The jolly old man will hand out candy canes and afterward the Crested Butte Ski and Ride School will perform their torchlight parade down the front side of the mountain at 5:30 p.m. Stop at Spellbound Pizza for a selfie with Santa right next to Butte 66.
Santa needs fueling up before a night of delivering presents, and families can enjoy breakfast with Ol’ Saint Nick at Bighorn Bistro’s Jingle Bell Breakfast, located in Lakeside Village. Breakfast is from 7 to 11 a.m., with a special appearance from Santa from 8 to 10 a.m. Prices are $24.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids age five to 12, and free for kids under age five. Later, Santa will visit with kids at the Kidtopia Snow Fort at nearby Dercum Mountain, which is free with a lift or scenic ticket.