It’s no secret that we love Denver. Like, really love it. The 3 of us have called Denver home for as long as we can remember. It’s where we planted our roots for both our families and businesses.
Naturally, we’ve picked up more than a few traditions over the years. From light shows to snow tubing and tea, we’ve compiled our favorite Denver holiday traditions that we think you’ll love.
So grab a cup of hot chocolate and keep on reading. We hope you and yours will love these great Denver holiday traditions as much as we do!
1. Blossoms of Light
The Denver Botanic Gardens are the gift that keep giving year round. We love visiting during every season, but the holiday season is extra special.
For over 3 decades the Blossoms of Light holiday extravaganza has turned the York Street location into a twinkling winter wonderland. Enjoy a wonderful mile high evening as you stroll through the gardens, each display wrapped and covered in thousands of lights.
The event typically runs between Thanksgiving and New Years, but check their calendar for exact opening and closing dates. Tickets are only sold online and are for specific days and times. You can only enter the gardens during your assigned time block, but once inside you can stay until closing if you want.
We recommend going during the earliest block to get the most of your time and avoid the crowds. Bring a wagon and plenty of warm clothes and blankets for smaller kids, as the Blossoms of Light is an all weather event.
If you do need a warm up, stop into the cafe for some hot chocolate and treats. There are also a couple of vendors around the gardens that usually sell just hot chocolate.
Don’t miss this absolute holiday treasure that has become a staple for our family every season. If you love festive holiday lighting displays, this one definitely cannot be missed!
Beautiful home decor delivered every 3 months!
2. Afternoon Tea at Brown Palace Hotel
While the world famous Brown Palace hotel offers its afternoon tea service year round, it is not to be missed during the holiday season.
They offer a variety of teas, scones, and finger sandwiches, all enjoyed in a beautifully decorated dining room. With Devonshire cream shipped directly from England and the sounds of a live pianist or harpist filling the room, the only thing missing is an English accent.
Afternoon tea at the Brown Palace is a great holiday tradition for families, as well as for a sophisticated girl’s day out. And it makes for the perfect complement to a holiday show at the performing arts center.
But you’ll need to plan ahead.
The holiday season at Brown Palace fills up quickly. They open up for online reservations in June, and will typically be filled within a few days. So set your calendar and make sure you’re ready to book in a hurry.
3. Fraser Tubing Hill
Although technically not in Denver, this has become a yearly tradition for our family!
The Fraser tubing hill is located about an hour and a half west of Denver, a few minutes past the Winter Park ski resort. Weather along the I-70 corridor can change fast, so check ahead before you head up.
The business has been family owned and operated since 1971. And definitely don’t be fooled by imposters: this is the original (and best) tubing hill in the area!
Tube rentals are 60 and 90 minutes, and kids aged 3-6 must ride with an adult. They provide all the tubes, but you’ll want to bring your own winter gear (gloves, goggles, boots, etc). Helmets are recommended, but not required. And make sure you arrive about 15 minutes early to sign waivers and properly suit up for your rides.
Worried about climbing up hill in the snow? Relax! The Fraser tubing hill is equipped with 2 tow ropes to casually pull you back up hill once you’re at the bottom. You will have to walk a little ways while towing your tube, but for the most part the heavy lifting is done for you.
If you get hungry while you’re there, they do offer a handful of snack and drinks. You’re also welcome to bring your own outside food and drinks and enjoy on the picnic benches.
The Fraser tubing hill is a great spot for families, as well as large groups. We love reliving our favorite childhood snow memories up here!
And before you head back home, make sure you stop in to another favorite place. No trip to Fraser is complete without a stop at Hernando’s Pizza Pub.
They have a full service bar and serve up amazing Colorado mountain style pizza, along with pasta and other Italian delights. If you have a large group, make sure you call ahead because they will fill up quickly, especially on weekends.
4. Stanley Marketplace Giving Wall
The Stanley Marketplace is a relatively new addition to our Denver holiday traditions. We’ve talked about it before, and it’s still one of our favorite spots year round.
The Stanley is already a gathering place that celebrates inclusiveness, but during the holidays they take it up a notch. Every holiday season they host the giving wall, where families in need are able to connect with other families to help deliver Christmas gifts they might otherwise not afford.
We’ve started a tradition of taking our kids every year and letting them pick out another child to help. They really love reading about other kids and finding common interests. We then take them shopping to pick out a gift for the family and return it to the Stanley.
It’s a small gesture, but we know it can mean the world to a family in need. And we hope by having our children participate that they will develop a life long love of helping others.
5. North Pole, Colorado
About an hour south of Denver, nestled in the foothills west of Colorado Springs, is a little amusement park called the North Pole. Although it’s open year round (weather permitting), this cute old school amusement park has become a mainstay of our holiday planning.
As the name suggests, this park pays homage to all things Christmas. There is a candy cane coaster, Christmas tree ride, peppermint slide, and so much more. During the Christmas season they also get a special visit from the man in red himself, which make checking off a visit to Santa even easier for your busy family.
What we love is that every ride is kid friendly, including plenty of rides for smaller kids. Their website has a full list of rides for different age groups, but in general we find there are rides for everyone in our extended family from two to teenager.
Before you plan your trip, it’s important to know that they offer coupons! Check their website before you go, as there is almost always a discount to be found.
Parking is free and generally not a problem, but still plan to arrive early. There is usually a line that forms about half an hour before opening, but once the doors open it moves pretty quickly. And if there is bad weather, it’s more likely to show up in the afternoon.
There are multiple places inside to grab food that is most traditional carnival fare. You can also bring your own food inside, with the exception of glass containers and alcohol.
Also be aware that cell phone reception at the park can be incredibly unreliable. If you’re planning to meet others there or use a coupon, make sure you plan ahead and assume your phone will not work once you arrive.
Denver is an amazing city with lots to offer, and the holiday season is no different! We love this time of year and celebrating the season with family and loved ones. We hope you’ll find some of our favorite Denver holiday traditions to be just as enjoyable as we do!
Let us know in the comments how you and yours celebrate the holiday season in the mile high city!