It’s holiday time in Denver, and it’s one of my favorite times of the year! There are so many amazing free, cheap and unique Denver holiday activities, that all you have to do is choose the best fit for your family!
Whether you are visiting Denver for the first time or planning the ultimate Denver staycation, I’ve rounded up some of our family favorites Christmas activities in Denver. And one special bonus New Year’s event that you won’t want to miss!
In no particular order, here are our top 18 picks of things to do in Denver with kids at Christmas time.
Image © Denver Botanic Gardens. Photo by Scott Dressel-Martin
The Denver Botanic Gardens spend countless hours converting into magical Christmas nights for the whole family. Hundreds of thousands of gorgeous lights, food and drink for purchase. Fun for the whole family- all ages will enjoy this event. You can bring your own snacks and drinks too!
The entire Denver Zoo is transformed into a holiday wonderland throughout December. Visit Santa, enjoy the Festival of Lanterns and more. Presale tickets save $5.
I love taking photos with Santa! We generally go to three places:
-Bass Pro Shops in Northfield for a free photo
-Santa HQ at Flatirons Mall
-Cherry Creek Mall
Disney on Ice is not technically a holiday event, but since it comes to Denver the first weekend of December each year, we just roll it in with our holiday events.
This event is great for the whole family, and takes over the Pepsi Center!
Punch Bowl Social Stapleton
The Stapleton area is full of fun things to do for the holidays- and we love the Putt Club at Punch Bowl Social! Weekend evenings before Christmas you can enjoy delicious bites and a round of putt putt golf. Fun for the whole family! (Oh, and they do have heat lamps!)
Afterward, head to the 29th street plaza to see the Stapleton holiday tree, then hed to the corner of 33rd and Trenton to see the BEST Christmas lights set to music!
Visit an immersive Christmas experience by Colorado-based installation artist Lonnie Hanzon at the Stanley Marketplace. Over 10,000 square feet of Christmas fun, this is an artistic take on Christmas!
The Nutcracker is a time-honored Christmas tradition and the Colorado Ballet does it the best! Visit the historic Ellie Caulkins Opera house to experience the Nutcracker ballet throughout December.
Photos - courtesy Matt Gale Photography 2019
The Arvada Center for Performing Arts has an exciting rendition of A Christmas Carol.
Please note that this version of the play may not be suitable for very young children.
Buy your Christmas candy and learn how it is made! While you won't see Christmas candy actually being made at holiday time, kids love to see how candy is made, and this is a perfect daytime activity during Winter Break.
Visit the Union Station Christmas Tree and have a cold brew or a hot toddy. You can visit the Grand Illumination of the Christmas tree and building, and visit Santa on weekends. Check out their event page for more details.
Denver International Airport has a completely free ice skating rink. We love to take the A train out and skate and picnic at the airport. A super fun Winter Break activitiy.
I absolutely adore the Colorado Symphony's Christmas in Colorado program ever year. Handel's Messiah never fails, but everything else changes each year. Santa arrives, sometimes even the Grinch, and singing along is encouraged. This event is a great introduction to the Symphony for young children, and the atmosphere is relaxed and family friendly.
Christmas in Color AJ.Mellor
Water World Denver and Bandimere Speedway are decked out with tons of lights. "It's a mile longe electric extravaganza!" Starting at $27 per car.
Mile High Holidays is an effort by Visit Denver to celebrate the holidays throughout Downtown Denver. Visit the lights at the justice center, visit the Mile High Christmas tree, find out about exclusive accommodations packages and more!
I think the Parade of Lights is the official kickoff to the holiday season in Denver. A longstanding Denver tradition sponsored by 9 News, you can see this event live or watch it from the comfort of your home on channel 9!
We love the Gaylord! In addition to their gorgeous grounds, super comfy rooms and amazing water park, at Christmas there are more activities than you can count. ICE! cirque. Tubing. Bumper Cars. Character breakfast. Oh, and awesome packages on all of it!
Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge transforms into Snowland! Read stories in the lodge in your Christmas pjs, actual snow falling in the lobby and more! The earlier you book, the better the deals.
The holidays aren't over until we ring in the new year. Two of the best events in Denver are selling tickets now- and they will sell out! If fancy is your thing, try the New Year's Eve Black Tie Party. If you are into beer, NYE on Tap is your event.