Colorado is magical any time of year, but around the holidays, the Centennial State really comes alive. From festive train rides to jaw-droppingly beautiful ice sculptures and more, these are the best Colorado holiday experiences to take advantage of this year.
Frisco’s Wassail Days
This weeklong celebration takes place Nov. 25 through Dec. 3 on Main Street in Frisco. Enjoy wassail, a type of traditional spiced apple cider, from local businesses while wandering through the picturesque downtown, which is adorned with holiday lights. If you can, try to complete your “12 Sips of Wassail Card” to receive a commemorative Wassail Days mug, which this year has an original design created by Summit County-based artist Erika Donaghy.
You can get a head start on your holiday shopping, too, and take advantage of free holiday gift wrapping. There will also be Santa visits, carolers, a tree lighting with fireworks and other festivities to help you get in the holiday spirit.
Winter Wonderlights in Loveland
Every year, Loveland’s Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra shines under the glow of 200,000 holiday lights during Winder Wonderlights. This dazzling choreographed holiday light show takes place Nov. 18 through Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. each evening. Wander through the display while enjoying a light and music show that repeats every 30 minutes.
And on special “LIVE!” nights (Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 16), you can experience the light show with some extra holiday cheer, including live reindeer, ice sculpting, food trucks, dance performances on the state’s largest inflatable igloo stage and appearances by Santa in his 26-foot inflatable Santa Haus. On these special evenings, you can also enjoy rotating live entertainment, including an 18-piece Big Band orchestra.
The Polar Express at the Colorado Railroad Museum
Little ones (and the young at heart) will love experiencing the magic of the Polar Express at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden this holiday season. This multi-part theatrical event includes a pre-show inside the newly renovated the Polar Express Pavilion, followed by the dramatic arrival of the train itself, which has vintage railroad coaches pulled by a coal-burning steam locomotive. You’ll board the train, then watch Santa and his Elves present “the first gift of Christmas.”
The whole endeavor takes about two hours and includes song and dance, an opportunity to visit Santa in his workshop and tons of holiday cheer. It runs now through Dec. 23.
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Christmas at Gaylord Rockies
What can you do with more than 2 million pounds of ice? A lot, it turns out.
Gaylord Rockies in Aurora brought in 40 world-class ice sculptors to turn 1,000 tons of ice into 10 scenes from the beloved movie “A Christmas Story.” Over the course of six weeks (12,000 total man-hours!), they used a mix of clear ice, colored ice and LED lights to create their dazzling 17,000-square-foot display, which includes iconic moments like Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare and the triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole. You can experience ICE! for yourself while wearing a blue park to stay warm, as well as glide down two-story-tall ice slides and navigate ice tunnels and arches.
While you’re visiting Gaylord Rockies, also watch “Cirque: Spirit of Christmas,” a 75-minute gravity-defying production featuring aerial performances and beautiful costumes. There’s also a “Naughty or Nice” Escape Room, a gingerbread decorating corner, a gift-making area, a scavenger hunt, story time with Mrs. Claus and, of course, a chance to meet the big man himself, Santa Claus.
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Camp Christmas at Stanley Marketplace
Camp Christmas is an immersive holiday experience at Stanley Marketplace created by artist Lonnie Hanzon. Wander through the 15,000 square-foot 360-degree scene, visit with Santa and grab a cocktail from the Base Camp and Fairy Bars.
The Bridge of Lights
Venture down to Canon City to drive across the highest suspension bridge in America while it’s completely decked out in holiday lights. The Bridge of Lights experience, which takes place Nov. 17-Dec. 31, is sure to wow even the grumpiest Grinches in your crew!
Ice Castles in Cripple Creek
The beloved ice castles have returned to Colorado — with a new location in Cripple Creek. This icy winter playground includes tunnels, caverns, towers, fountains, slides and crawl spaces made entirely of ice! The ice is illuminated by color-changing LED lights for a whimsical experience.