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holidays in Denver
Larimer Square photo courtesy of Bryce Boyer/VISIT DENVER

Magic in the City

Four magical holiday evenings for families in the Denver area.

From the city to the suburbs, there is no shortage of holiday cheer around Denver this time of year. To help make your holidays a bit more magical, we’ve put together four festive itineraries for a family night out on the town.

Go ice skating in downtown Denver

Avoid the hassle of finding parking by taking the Light Rail to Union Station, then ride the Free Mall Ride over to Skyline Park. Admission to the Downtown Denver Rink is free, and skate rentals are $6-$8 per person. After a few laps around the rink, warm up with a cup of hot cocoa and head across the street to the Denver Christkindl Market, where you can grab a bite to eat. From there (if your kids have the energy), take the Free Mall Ride down to the Denver Pavilions to ride the holiday carousel. End the night with a short—less than five minute—walk down the street to The Brown Palace and snap a family photo under the hotel’s stunning 25-foot holiday chandelier.

The Brown Palace
A 25-foot chandelier on display at The Brown Palace.

See a holiday show

Dress the kids in festive attire and treat them to an evening at the theatre with a performance of A Christmas Carol or Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Both shows run through December 24 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, with matinee and evening offerings. (Time-saving tip: Pre-pay for parking in the DCPA garage—up to 24 hours before showtime—to guarantee a spot.) Arrive early to dine at one of downtown Denver’s many restaurants before the show, or enjoy a pre-show dinner at Limelight Supper Club and Lounge, across from The Buell Theatre. After the show, hop aboard one of the horse-drawn carriages or pedicabs waiting outside the theater and take a ride through the twinkling holiday lights down 16th Street and Larimer Square.

Stroll through holiday lights

Festive opportunities abound in just about every neighborhood around the Denver metro area, so bundle up and head outdoors to experience the glow. Don’t have the time (or budget) to see them all? Pick just one venue this year, and make it an evening your kids will remember. Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo is a fun one for all ages. Purchase tickets online in advance, and arrive early to beat the crowd. Visit with Santa, ride the carousel, or simply admire the sights with a cup of hot cocoa in hand. (Bonus: adults can order their cocoa spiked.) Some of the animals are even out at night, so you might catch a glimpse of elephants, giraffes, or penguins among the glittering lights. When you’ve had enough zoo fun for one night, head to nearby Steuben’s in Uptown for dinner, then pop next door to Ace Eat Serve for a friendly game of pingpong. End the night with a drive down Colfax to Civic Center Park to see the City & County Building lit up in a colorful holiday display.

Zoo Lights
Animal sculptures light up the night during Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo.

Go on an evening hike

If you’ve been up to Boulder recently, you might’ve noticed a large star lit up on the side of Flagstaff Mountain. The lighting of the Boulder Star during the holidays is a 70-year-old tradition that dates back to 1947. To witness the spectacle up close, drive up Flagstaff Road and park near the Flagstaff House (1138 Flagstaff Rd., Boulder). From there, it’s just a short (but steep) hike up the hill from the road. Bring a flashlight and sit under the string of lights to enjoy views of the city below. From there, take a short drive to downtown Boulder to enjoy the holiday lights on display down Pearl Street Mall. Pop in the shops, have a bite to eat, or grab a sweet treat—try the hot sipping chocolate at Piece, Love & Chocolate or freshly-baked cookies at Boulder Baked—before heading back to Denver.

Family Food

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