Gaylord Christmas Celebration- Gaylord of the Rockies

I felt a tiny tugging on my coat as we were standing in the ice tubing line this weekend at the Gaylord of the Rockies. We were ending our second full day of family fun, and we were all tired and happy. 

We had seen a million pounds of ice sculpted into gorgeous holiday scenes. We had seen a Christmas Circus that left me jubilantly in tears. We had breakfast with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And now we were getting ready to tube down a huge hill.

My four year old looked up at me and said, “Mami, I’m going to miss this when we go home.”

My heart exploded with simultaneous sadness and joy, as I knew exactly how she felt. Every single time I visit the Gaylord of the Rockies I feel like I’m in a perfect version of home. 

As we packed up our car and drove away from the Gaylord of the Rockies, we watched the gorgeous Christmas lights in our rearview mirror and I thought “We’ve just found a new family holiday tradition.” 

I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about Gaylord of the Rockies Christmas Celebration- how long to stay, what activities to do, and more. But I’ll just spoil the whole thing here and now by saying- just go!

 

Gaylord Rockies Location

The Gaylord of the Rockies Resort/Convention Center is located off of E470 and Pena Boulevard in Denver- just southwest of the Denver Airport.

It’s also close to the Pena Boulevard train stop, so if you don’t want to rent a car you could just fly in and take the train. There’s a free shuttle from the train to the hotel.

Otherwise, the Gaylord of the Rockies is located about a 20-minute drive from downtown Denver. It has an amazing mountain view of the Rocky Mountains and the Front Range.

The resort is 486,000 square feet of rustic Alpine charm- there’s even a train car and a lake inside! Whenever I go to the Gaylord I feel like I’m in a perfect version of Colorado- I can’t get enough.

What Is The Gaylord Christmas Celebration?

Traditionally, the Gaylord has been a set of hotels/convention centers. However- over the holidays, no one books conventions! The brand got creative and decided to make some extra money in creating Christmas-themed programming. And now- well the Gaylord Christmas is so amazing that people flock to the hotels just for the celebration.

They basically explode Christmas inside their huge convention center- there’s a Cirque, a huge ice sculptures exhibit, and more. And it’s just steps from the hotel- which still has all of the normal fun stuff you expect from the Gaylord (read: water park, baby!)

Denver got the whole Christmas Village in its inaugural year, and I loved it. Here’s a list of what is offered in Mistletoe Village:

Free Activities

  • Light! 
  • Father Christmas Library
  • Mistletoe Village 

Shows:

  • ICE! (This year you can enjoy ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)
  • Cirque Dreams Holidaze
  • Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions

Ticketed Activities:

  • Naughty or Nice Escape Room
  • Rudolph Character Breakfast

Paid Activities you can do on your own:

  • Gingerbread Decorating Corner
  • Ice Skating
  • Ice Tubing
  • Ice Bumper Car
  • Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt
  • Build A Bear Workshop

Should I Book A Room?

You can definitely experience the full extent of Gaylord Christmas and not stay at the resort. If you plan your day well and get your tickets in advance, there’s no reason you have to stay at the Gaylord to enjoy all the Christmas offerings.

Except- it’s the Gaylord! The guest rooms are amazing, and when you spend the night you have access to the water park. Which is super fun- I mean floating through a hot lazy river in the middle of winter? Yes, please!

So- while you don’ thave to spend the night, I highly recommend it. It’s the perfect staycation, and you can find good deals on rooms too. Or use your Marriott Bonvoy points to splurge!

How Many Day Should I Stay?

If you are local and want to experience all the Christmas fun, I think you can just stay over one night. I would, however, get to the Gaylord early on the first day (like 9 am) and plan to stay until after dark on the second day. 

You can use the water park from open to close on both days of your stay, and the hotel will hold your luggage while you do the activities. For us, the room was literally a place to sleep. We never even had time to turn on the tv we were so busy having fun. 

If you are coming in from out of town to experience Gaylord Christmas, I’d stay 2-3 nights. That way you can spread out the activities a bit and still spend lots of time at the pool. Or the spa. Or in the fitness center. Or at the bars and restaurants… you get the idea.

Looking for other Denver holiday activities? We’ve rounded up 18 Things To Do With Kids In Denver For Christmas!

What Tickets Should I Buy For Gaylord Christmas?

Good question. We did every single activity on the menu, and I will tell you what we loved and what we didn’t. Then I’ll tell you how to get the best deal on the activities that are right for your family. Sound good? Here goes:

What we LOVED:

Cirque Dreams Holidaze– This was the standout favorite activity of the entire weekend for us. We LOVED it. Loved. The caliber of the show for the price is outstanding, and it’s a great family show or the perfect date night. Why did I love it?

  1. The costumes are magical. All the colors of the rainbow, glitter, candy, feathers… loved it. Also- you know how some Cirque shows are a little risque? None of that here.
  2. The soundtrack. The music is perfectly Christmas- with a twist. I actually am trying to find out if I can buy the soundtrack because it ould be the perfect background music for our holidays at home. I’ll keep you posted.
  3. The talent! Each act is better than the one before- acrobats, juggling, tight rope.  I have to admit that I missed part of it because I was watching my kids’ faces. They were in rapture. 

ICE!– Over two million pounds of ice have been carved into Rudolph themed ice sculptures. It’s all beautifully on display in a 9 degree F tent. And honestly- you do not want to miss it.

You get huge, warm Gaylord parkas and walk through a gorgeous winter wonderland. We loved it. You can light up Rudolph’s nose, take a ton of cold selfies, and race your way down a two-story ice slide. The entire exhibit ends with a gorgeous Nativity scene, which I loved. 

LIGHT!– We loved wandering through this immersive show of lights and sounds outside of the hotel. The colors are beautiful and the girls loved pressing the music buttons. It’s free- no reason not to walk through. 

Naughty or Nice Escape Room– I’ve never done an escape room, and I gifted this experience to my nieces who are tweens. They loved it. It was the highlight of their stay.

The premise is that Jack Frost has hijacked the naughty or nice list and you have to complete the puzzle before the time runs out our you’ll be on the naughty list. Good for all ages.

Ice Bumper Cars and Tubing:

Outside there is yet another awesome winter wonderland with ice skating, ice bumper cars and ice tubing. We LOVED the ice bumper cars so much! And the tubing was super fun.

When you buy your tickets for this event just know that the ice skating and tubing are unlimited, but the bumper cars are single ride. We didn’t love the ice skating, it seemed a bit expensive for the small track we skated around, and the ice was super rough.

Did you know you can go ice tubing in the year round in Colorado? We did it! 

What We Liked:

Reindeer Games Scavenger Hunt– you get a booklet and do a scavenger hunt all over the hotel in order to win a prize. It takes about an hour, and it’s the perfect way for kids to run off some steam after sitting in the Cirque. 

The prize is a cute activity book that my girls have been doing this morning while I write this post. I really enjoyed it- it is best for kids who can read and write.

Rudolph Character Breakfast– The Gaylord offers a regular breakfast buffet extravaganza, and for a bit more money you can have breakfast with Rudolph in a separate room (The Monte Jade restaurant) with a fancy dessert bar.

I didn’t expect to like this event that much, but my four-year-old LOVED it. We were in the restaurant for over 2 hours while she followed around the characters.

I loved bottomless Diet Pepsi and endless trips to the dessert bar. If you choose this even, definitely go early. It was a madhouse later.

Wandering Mistletoe Village– It’s easy to get lost in all of the activities at the Gaylord, but don’t forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses. It’s super fun to wander Mistletoe Village, see the decorations and take photos.  We really enjoyed our time there.

What We Didn’t Really Like:

Mrs. Claus Holiday Traditions-  this show is super cute- you go into Mrs. Claus’ house and she and her elf do some of her favorite holiday traditions. It’s like storytime with Mrs. Claus- she reads a story, you get cookies and milk, and there are songs. It was fine, but by no means that highlight of the trip. 

Gingerbread Decorating Corner– With all the fun activities available, the Gingerbread corner was not top of our list. You can purchase a gingerbread decorating kit and create it in the candy shop while a gingerbread man dances around.

Cute- but we like the water park better. We did get our kit to go, and will enjoy doing it at home.

How To Get The Best Deal On Gaylord Christmas Tickets

So there are about 1,000 ways to buy tickets and book rooms for the event this year. I spent a bunch of time tracking down the bset way to see the most for the least amount of money. 

You can book a room and activity package on the Gaylord site, but I did play around a bit and saw that you can actually get a better deal when buying the Play and Save passes and booking your room separately. There are three tiers of passes- silver play save pass, a gold play save pass, and a platinum play save pass.

Here’s what to do:

1. Go to the Gaylord of the Rockies website for play and save pass tickets.

2. Put in the dates are you planning to go. Know that weekdays are cheaper than weekends, and earlier shows are cheaper than later shows. As soon as you change your date and time, your price will also change.

3. You can save up to 30% on the packages, but you still have to play around with showtimes. So if you are planning your whole day and you are on a budget, you can put the Cirque Dreams show in the morning and most likely get a better deal. 

4. Our family would do the Gold package in the future, as it has all the activities we loved. 

Please do let me know if you have more questions about the Gaylord Christmas, and definitely let me know if you go and love it! 

Disclosure: I was provided a Media Rate for my stay the the Gaylord of the Rockies, and all activities mentioned here were provided to my family for free. 

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