My family started our own holiday tradition before my daughter could even walk. Every year, before the madness of the holidays (2 BIG families, 2 jobs, lots of Park Hill friends = LOTS of madness) ~ we hop on the bus from Park Hill, get a hotel room downtown (staycation at its finest), have a nice dinner out with just “us”, and go to the Parade of Lights. Once of our most talked/laughed about memories happened when my daughter was about 3. It was very cold that year, so when we got back to the hotel room, we decided to splurge on a room service snack and a movie. My daughter ordered chicken noodle soup (as she sat like a princess in her bed with the huge comfy robe provided), and when it came she took one bite, put down her spoon and said , “Oh Mommy! You must get this recipe!” Its such a great way to kick things off and it remains a special time for our little family. The parade has gotten better every year ~ the bands, the floats, the hot chocolate, oh and yeah, the Big Guy ~ Santa! Some years it has been unbearably cold, some years 70 degrees, but always gets us into the spirit of the holidays! There are terrific deals on hotel rooms throughout the holiday season (many rooms available for $52.80! Check out www.downtowndenver.com/parade-of-lights-2013 and click on lodging options) and some even offer hot chocolate and cookies to take to the Parade! Best of all, the Parade is free! Here are many more wonderful holiday options that are mostly free or very low cost. Pick one and start your own family holiday tradition! You’ll talk about it for years, but you probably wont get the Hyatt’s chicken noodle soup recipe!
FREE HOLIDAY FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Grand Illumination of Downtown November 29 http://downtowndenver.com This year’s Grand Illumination of Downtown Denver features beautiful lighting displays at the City and County Building, Larimer Square, Denver Pavilions, Union Station, Skyline Park, the 16th Street Mall and the historic D&F Tower. Downtown’s unique holiday atmosphere is sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Festivities at Denver Union Station begin at 5:30 p.m., with a countdown to “light the lights” live with 9NEWS at approximately 6:30 p.m.
LoDo Aglow November 29 – January 1 www.lodo.org The LoDo District Inc.’s LoDo Aglow window design contest sees local business owners, designers and art students letting their imaginations run wild in creating holiday themed window art in Lower Downtown. A panel of guest judges will choose the winners based on the originality and presentation of the design.
Visits With Santa on Larimer Square November 30-December 24 www.larimersquare.com It’s the happiest season of all at Larimer Square, where historic charm meets holiday cheer. With festive dining options and boutiques filled with treasures for everyone on your Nice List, Larimer Square help you celebrate in style. There are also carolers, carriage rides, and Santa on any given day. Santa will be on the block from 10AM-6PM Saturdays and Sundays during December, as well as 10-3PM on Christmas Eve. Stop by for a picture, pets are welcome too!
Savor the Season at Denver Pavilions Throughout December www.denverpavilions.com
- Santa’s Here with Special Guests The Mistletones Denver Pavilions, November 29 and December 21, 2PM-4PM– Jolly Ol’ Santa will be at the Pavilions taking photos with shoppers and wishing Holiday cheer to all. Santa will be joined by the enchanting sounds of The Mistletones a cappella group.
- Live Holiday Music-Rocky Mountain Steel Band & The Mistletones, November 30, 12 PM-4 PM– The Rocky Mountain Steel Band will be entertaining guests with holiday steel drums from 12:00 PM-2:00 PM. Followed my the roaming a cappella group the Mistletones from 2PM-4PM.
- Horseshoe Holiday Market & Live Holiday Music, December 7 and 14, 10 AM-4 PM – Denver Pavilions is proud to host the first-ever Horseshoe Holiday Market — an upscale, outdoor shopping marketplace featuring over 40 vendors selling vintage and handmade wares, antiques, arts and crafts and more. Holiday entertainment will be provided by Urban Island Steel Drums from 12-2 followed by The Mistletones a cappella group from 2-4. www.horseshoemarket.com
City & County Building Holiday Lights November 29 – January The largest lighting display in Denver comes on nightly at 6 p.m. at the City & County Building, where 600,000 lights deck the neo-classical building. The bell tower plays carols nightly as well.
9NEWS Parade of Lights December 6 (8 p.m.) and Dec. 7 (6 p.m.) www.denverparadeoflights.com The 9NEWS Parade of Lights is the signature event of the Downtown Denver holiday season. The countless sparkling lights, marching bands, giant balloons, majestic floats and delightful characters will once again wow hundreds of thousands. Viewing along the parade route is free, and grandstand tickets are sold for seating in front of the beautifully illuminated City & County building.
Georgetown Christmas Market December 7-8 & 14-15, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. http://historicgeorgetown.org/Christmas_Market.html Come celebrate 50 years of an Old World Christmas in quaint Georgetown. Georgetown has been hosting this marvelous outdoor European-inspired Market featuring handcrafted gifts, horse-drawn wagon rides, carolers, roasted chestnuts, appearances by St. Nicholas in his traditional robes, and the Santa Lucia Children’s Procession.
Four Mile Historic Park: Hay Bales & Tall Tales Dec. 7 www.fourmilehistoricpark.org Four Mile Historic Park offers a story time for all ages! This family-friendly event takes place on the first Saturday of each month. While enjoying the unique setting of Four Mile Historic Park, guests will be invited to gather around a camp-fire or picnic table and be transported through stories of an earlier time with a fun activity to follow. These exciting activities rotate between horse-drawn wagon rides, corn-husk doll making, tin punch ornament making, feeding farm animals and other great pioneer games.
TubaChristmas December 22 www.tubachristmas.com Hundreds of tuba players play holiday classics at the annual TubaChristmas Concert in Skyline Park (Arapahoe and 16th).
New Year’s Eve Fireworks December 31 www.downtowndenver.com Ring in the New Year with Denver’s annual New Year’s Eve Fireworks with viewpoints along the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. There will be two displays, one at the family friendly hour of 9 p.m. and the other at midnight. Costumed entertainers will interact with crowds between shows, featuring magicians, costumed characters, balloon artists, stilt walkers, comedians and more.