14 familyfriendly events to take in this holiday season
All right, Colorado parents. Are you ready for this? It’s time to dust off the Elf on the Shelf. Hang those stockings. Put out your ridiculously awesome inflatable light-up lawn displays. Bake cookies. And burst to the seams with holiday cheer. Yes, the holidays are here. It’s time to make the magic happen for your kids. And, luckily, Colorado doesn’t shy away from all the festivities. From Denver up to Glenwood Springs, we’ve rounded up some of the best holiday family-friendly events that you and the littles can enjoy. We’re talking hot chocolate, caroling, ice carving, gift-buying, plays, productions and more.
Here’s a guide to this year’s holiday season.
Denver Christkindl Market
Hours: Nov. 18-Dec. 23, Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Extended weekend hours, Dec. 19-23 Price: Free Location: Skyline Park (16th Street & Arapahoe) in downtown Denver Website: denverchristkindlmarket.com/
Nothing brings out the inner made-for-TV Christmas parent in you more than taking a stroll through Denver’s Christkindl Market. Christmas markets are family traditions in Germany and throughout Europe, so instead of traveling overseas, all you have to do is head to the 16th Street Mall to get into the holiday spirit. Trust us when we say you’ll be singing Christmas carols before
you leave (or maybe that was just us after drinking too much mulled spiced wine). If you’re struggling on what to buy your hard-to-shop-for aunt, the gifts and decorations are original and unique. Did we mention they have spiced wine?
Dolls’ Tea Party at the Oxford Hotel
When: Sunday, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m. Location: The Oxford Hotel, 1600 17th St., Denver Price: $59/adults (13+) plus taxes and fees; $44/children (under 12) plus taxes and fees Website: theoxfordhotel.com/ourhotel/dolls-tea-party/
The Oxford Hotel’s Dolls’ Tea Party is a classic tea with hot cocoa for children and a light snack of tea sandwiches and assorted treats. It’s a great way to not only make memories but also enjoy the joyful winter celebration with siblings, friends and family. The kiddos will love a ballet performance by the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities that is designed especially for children — with a chance to meet the ballerinas and take photos with them.
The Polar Express™ Train Ride
Hours: Nov. 10-Dec. 23 Show Times: 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. Price: $35-$75 (for children ages 2-11); $45-$100 (adults) Location: Colorado Railroad Museum, 17155 W. 44th Ave., Golden Website: coloradorailroad museum.org/the-polar-expresstrain-ride/
The Polar Express Train Ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum has quickly become a holiday tradition for Colorado families. You and the family will feel like you’ve stepped into the North Pole as the story “The Polar Express” is brought to life. Kids receive “golden tickets” at the entrance and once aboard the train, dancing chefs and waiters arrive to serve cookies and hot chocolate to kids. The story is performed in its entirety during the trip. The only thing missing? Well, Tom Hanks. But we’ll take it.
Winter on the Mountain
Hours: Daily Dec. 18-Jan. 3, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (closed Christmas Day) Price: Winter FunDay Pass (includes tram, cave tours and attractions). $40/adults; $35/children ages 3-12 Location: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs Website: glenwoodcaverns.com/ winter-mountain-glenwood-caverns-adventure-park/
If you’re wanting to dodge the city for a weekend, head up Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs and enjoy one of the largest lights displays on the Western Slope at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. It’s bound to become a family favorite in no time, since it’s perfect for kids of all ages. You’ll be dazzled with a half million lights, lighted thrill rides, a giant musical Christmas tree, tram rides, fire pits for roasting s’mores, live music, Santa visits and more.
Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Hours: Nov. 26- Dec. 24 (visit website for show times) Price: $30-$120 Location: Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1385 Curtis St., Denver Website: Coloradoballet.org
You’ll feel like a kid again when you walk into Ellie Caulkins Opera House for a performance of the Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker. The dresses. The tights. The giant Christmas tree. The grandmas yelling at the kids to stop running down the stairs. Ahhh, holiday memories. Colorado Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker is a larger-than-life tradition that brings the story to life with lavish costumes, dancing, magical sets and a little bit of magic. As long as your kids don’t mind giant rats dancing in tights, you’ll be in for a pleasant treat.
(Pro parenting tip: You can place your drink orders before the production and have a glass of wine waiting for you during intermission.)
Wassail Days in Frisco
When: Dec. 2-11 Location: 1 Main St., Frisco Website: townoffrisco.com/
If the holidays are stressing you out, put the kids in the trusty minivan and head up to Frisco for Wassail Days. Wassail is a hot spiced cider, and is the perfect way to warm your Scrooge spirit. During Frisco’s Wassail Days, local vendors serve up their secret recipes. The kids will love receiving a “12 sips of Wassail Card” and visiting 12 different locations. Once the card is filled out, they’ll receive a commemorative Frisco Wassail Days mug. While you’re in town, enjoy the lighting display along Main Street.
Golden’s Hometown Candlelight Walk & Fireworks
When: Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m. Location: Foothills Art Center, 809 15th St. Price: Free Website: cityofgolden.net/event/ candlelight-walk/
This has to be on your holiday season bucket list. The whole family will enjoy walking down Washington Avenue in Golden with a candle in hand, singing holiday carols and enjoying a fireworks show that will light up the cold winter night sky. After the walk, you’ll enjoy hot beverages, cookies and entertainment provided by local businesses.
Christmas with the Children’s Chorale
When: Dec. 3 at 1 p.m.; Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. Price: $19-$75 Location: Boettcher Concert Hall at Denver Performing Arts Complex Website: childrenschorale.org/
If hearing 400 young singers with a crazy amount of holiday cheer doesn’t lift your mood, well, then, you may need to talk to your doctor. This year’s concert will include all the old Christmas classics and some new ones, a visit by the big guy in red and a special surprise visitor. The concert’s sure to get you into the groove of the holidays and humming carols for days.
Castle Rock Season of the Star Event Series
When: Every Saturday through Dec. 31 Price: Free Location: Festival Park, 199 Perry St., Castle Rock Website: crgov.com/2622/Season-ofthe-Star
Castle Rock doesn’t shy away from the holiday season -- and we like it. On Dec. 3 , 8 a.m.-1 p.m., enjoy WinterFest with ice carving, The Cold War Classic Cyclocross Race, WinterFest 5K, Bye Bye Bonfire and enjoy food and beverages. On Dec. 10, 2-5 p.m., enjoy Storytellers and s’mores: Kids will love sitting around a campfire while listening to stories and making s’mores (make sure to bring a blanket or chairs). On Dec. 17, 2-5 p.m., the kids will enjoy the Castle Rock Winter Express train rides around Festival Park, which will be transformed into the North Pole with Santa. On Christmas Eve, various churches will be at Festival Park from 4-5 p.m. hosting a series of candlelight services.
OK, we had you at S’mores, didn’t we?
Carriage Rides in Olde Town Arvada
When: Saturdays, Dec. 3-17, noon3 p.m. Location: 57th Avenue and Olde Wadsworth Blvd. Price: $10/adult; $5/child ages 2-16 Website: arvada.org/about/newsevents/events-during-theholiday-season
When you watch those tearjerker Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, doesn’t it always seem like the main characters fall in love in the tiny town’s park while riding a horse-drawn carriage? If you’ve ever watched those scenes and thought, “Hey, I want to fall in love on a carriage ride,” well, here’s good news: Arvada offers carriage rides through Dec. 17. You can fall in love all over again as you take the kiddos along for the ride.
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer: The Musical
When: Dec. 16-18 Price: Starts at $20 Location: Boettcher Concert Hall at The Denver Center for Performing Arts Website: rudolphthemusical.com/
OK, is it cool if we jump up and down like Will Ferrell did in the movie “Elf” for a second? YASSSSSS. This looks like so much fun, and we’re so happy it’s coming to Denver. (Rudolph! We know him!) This national tour is taking the beloved TV classic “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and bringing it to life on stage. All the favorite characters will be there, from Mr. and Mrs. Claus to Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph.
Holidays in the Hangar
When: Dec. 11, noon-4 p.m. Price: $12.50/adults; $9/seniors, active military members and vets; $6/kids ages 4-16; free for kids 3 and under Location: Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, 7711 E. Academy Blvd., Denver Website: wingsmuseum.org/holidays/
Planes, Santa, mimosas and live reindeer? Say no more. It’s as if the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum read our minds. On Dec. 11, the whole family will enjoy the 2nd annual Holidays at the Hangar with carolers, live reindeer, mimosas (holla!), cookie decorating, a holiday movie in the theater and, of course, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The kids can even write a letter to Santa!
Santa Express Train
When: Nov. 18-Dec. 24, up to three daily departures Price: $30-$60 Location: Royal Gauge Railroad, Santa Fe Depot, Hwy 50 & 3rd St., Canon City Website: royalgorgeroute.com/special-events/santa-express-train/
All aboard! Chug along the Royal Gauge Route Railroad on the Santa Express Train. The family will travel to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus while wearing cozy pajamas and relaxing. Along the way, kids will get to sing Christmas classics, eat cookies, sip on hot cocoa and be entertained by Santa’s elves.
Decorate Gingerbread Houses
When: Dec. 11, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.; Dec. 18, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. Price: $10/members; $20/nonmembers Location: Children’s Museum Denver Marsico Campus, 2121 Children’s Museum Dr., Denver Website: mychildsmuseum.org/
Enjoy decorating gingerbread houses with the kiddos and then visit the hands-on exhibits with the kids. They can explore, learn and create. Talk about family bonding time.
The Polar Express Train Ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum aims to make kids feel like they’ve stepped into the North Pole. “The Polar Express” is performed in its entirety during the trip. Provided by The Polar Express
Russian/Ukrainian souvenirs, wooden carved dolls and Santas were among the items for sale at a recent Denver Christkindl Market.
The Colorado Ballet’s 56th annual production of “The Nutcracker” returns to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House starting Nov. 26. Provided by Colorado Ballet
During Frisco’s Wassail Days, local vendors serve up their secret recipes, and you can enjoy the lighting display along Main Street and a Christmas Tree lighting. Provided by Todd Powell, town of Frisco