The cold, dark nights of winter get a little bit brighter in December, when people string up their holiday lights. There’s no better way to celebrate the festive season than gazing at beautiful displays of dazzling lights—these are a few of our favorite holiday light experiences in Boulder, Denver and beyond.
Lights of December Parade in Boulder
Downtown Boulder is already magical at this time of year, when it becomes illuminated with thousands of holiday lights. But on Dec. 2, it gets even more festive during the Lights of December Parade. Don your warm clothes (and maybe an ugly sweater!) and come out to enjoy the creative floats created by local schools, churches, businesses and organizations. You can also watch high school marching bands and listen to carolers. Santa will also be making an appearance!
Lyons Holiday Parade of Lights
Also on Dec. 2, Lyons is hosting its Holiday Parade of Lights on Main Street. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and includes fire engines, horses, dances and floats. This year’s theme is “Small Town. Big Heart.” Santa Claus will be there, too.
Holiday Lights Trolley Tour in Longmont
Venture up to Longmont and climb aboard the BrewHop Trolley. Most of the year, this trolley shuttles people to and from Longmont’s various craft breweries and distilleries. But, come December, the team also rolls out a very special extra tour of the very best holiday lights in Longmont. Enjoy a 90-minute tour of the most festive neighborhoods in town aboard the toasty trolley Dec. 11-15 and Dec. 18-22. The tours start and end in Roosevelt Park, which is also decked out with tons of holiday lights, so be sure to give yourself some extra time before or after to stroll hand-in-hand around the park.
Learn more and get tickets online.
Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens
For six weeks every winter, Elitch Gardens transforms into a true winter wonderland. When you visit between now and Dec. 31, you’ll find 4 million holiday lights, plus a 65-foot Christmas tree, a 25-foot snowman, a 300-foot candy cane tunnel and 16-foot-tall presents and ornaments. There’s also a wall of lights measuring 300 feet by 70 feet, as well as light swings to glide on. As you marvel at the dazzling holiday display, you can also enjoy rides on some Elitch Gardens attractions.
“With more twinkling lights, more thrilling rides and more yuletide festivities than ever before, the holiday event promises to be a must-see and must-do for both new and returning guests,” says David Dorman, general manager of Elitch Gardens.
You can get tickets to Luminova Holidays online. Kids 2 and under are free. If you’ve got a 2023 or 2024 season pass, you can attend for free.
Christmas in Color
Don’t feel like getting out of your warm car? No problem. You can choose between three different locations of Christmas in Colorado drive-through holiday lights: Arapahoe Event Center in Aurora, Bandimere Speedway in Morrison and Water World in Denver. You’ll need one ticket per vehicle, which you can buy online.
Loveland has pulled out all the stops with Winter Wonderlights, which is a nightly light show featuring more than 200,000 lights. The show repeats every 30 minutes, so no matter which evening you visit between now and Jan. 1, you’re guaranteed to be dazzled. You’ll also find LED snowflakes, brightly lit African stone sculptures and a 23-foot-tall LED Christmas tree. This one is free to visit and takes place at the Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra.
Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens
Make your way south to Denver Botanic Gardens for Blossoms of Light, an immersive holiday lights experience. Every winter, staffers hang thousands of holiday lights all over the York Street location, creating a magical (and romantic!) setting. Wander through an illuminated tunnel, check out giant snowflakes among the water lilies and enjoy a kaleidoscope of colors on all of the trees.
Before or after, grab a warm drink and a snack at Offshoots Café or Hive Garden Bistro, which have special menu items for this festive event. You can get your hot chocolate or your hot cider “loaded,” which means they’ll be decked out with fun add-ons like whipped cream and chocolate or caramel drizzles, for example.
Get tickets online now for dates through Jan. 7 (the gardens are closed Dec. 23 and Dec. 25).
Denver Zoo Lights
You already know and love the Denver Zoo for its incredible animals and wildlife conservation efforts. But for the last 33 years, this beloved Colorado organization has also been a must-visit spot around the holidays during Zoo Lights. Here, you’ll be able to wander the 80-acre grounds under the glow of more than 3 million lights—some of which have been crafted into animated sculptures. There’s also nightly ice-carving exhibitions, seasonal craft cocktails, holiday treats and more. Zoo Lights runs through Jan. 7 and you can get tickets online.