Want to go see some holiday lights? Here’s a big list of where you can go and when

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
People gather at the menorah, part of a holiday light display for Hanukkah and Christmas, at The Green in Denver’s Central Park neighborhood, Dec. 9, 2021.

Each year, communities along Colorado’s Front Range — and indeed all over the state — mark the transition from fall’s ghouls to winter’s holidays with a range of festive lights, tree lightings and other displays to get you in the spirit. 

Here are a few places you can go to take in the sights and sounds.

This is a growing list. Is there an event you know about that isn’t listed below? Email [email protected].

Camp Christmas at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Nov. 17 - Dec. 24

Denver's campiest, quirkiest holiday adventure returns in 2022. Explore a six-acre winter wonderland at Camp Christmas. This family-friendly event will include a classic carousel, steaming cocoa, visits with Santa, and sweet goodies every night. Campers can enjoy handmade cocktails at one (or all) of three themed bars, shimmering light shows, and interactive exhibits.

Camp Christmas is open Nov. 17 – Dec. 18, and Dec. 19 – 24, from 4 pm to 9 pm, except for Nov. 17, which is open from 5 pm to 9 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Nov 24.  New for 2022 VIP Camp Christmas Experiences are available Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 6 pm and 7 pm.

Courtesy of Denver Botanic Garden

“Blossoms of Light” at the Denver Botanic Gardens (and at Chatfield Farms)

Nov. 18 – Jan. 7, 2023

For almost 30 years, Blossoms of Light has been The Denver Botanic Gardens’ trademark event. The York Street location becomes a sparkling winter wonderland with an ever-changing display of light and color, including a 360-degree immersive light experience. The Gardens' Chatfield Farms site is also transformed into a winter wonderland with enchanted displays of light and other holiday fun.

Holiday lights on Denver's City and County Building in December 2018.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Holiday lights on Denver's City and County Building in December 2018.

Denver’s Mile High Tree at Civic Center Park (and Christkindlmarket)

Nov. 18 – Dec. 31

Mile High Tree: Civic Center Park hosts one of Denver's most popular holiday events. It’s all centered around a 110-foot-tall, tree-shaped colossus magically lit with multicolored lights and ringed by enormous holiday ornaments. Organizers say it's also the largest art installation of this type in North America. This year is the first time you can experience two of Denver's most popular holiday attractions in one place. America’s tallest digital tree and the Denver Christkindlmarket.

Winter Wonderlights at Centerra in Loveland

Nov. 19-Jan.1

Winter Wonderlights returns for the 2022 holiday season at the Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra in Loveland, east of the Promenade Shops at U.S. 34 and I-25. Every night, guests can wander through the park and experience 150,000 lights, including seasonal string lights, glittering bulbs, LED snowflakes, and illuminated African stone sculptures. The 23-foot tall LED Christmas Tree contains eight songs and moving lights. There are also Winter Wonderlights LIVE nights feature special programming, an inflatable igloo stage, and local merchants (dates listed below).

Winter on the Mountain at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Nov. 19-Dec.31

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park offers gondola rides to the top of the mountain for Winter on the Mountain through December 31st. Visitors can see over a half-a-million holiday lights, visit with Santa, warm up by the fire pits with s'mores and hot specialty drinks, explore the new North Pole area and Tunnel of Lights. Guests can receive four free gondola tickets (a $100 value) by donating a $25 City Market gift card to LiftUp. Gift card sales at the 2021 Winter on the Mountain raised $6,825 for LiftUp.

Courtesy of Boulder

Boulder’s Pearl Street “Switch on the Holidays”

Nov. 20

Switch on the Holidays takes place on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall. It offers live music as well as a count down by Santa to the grand illumination along the Pearl Street Mall, Civic Area and around the Boulder County Courthouse during Switch on the Holidays.   After the switch, visitors can enjoy self-guided holiday illumination tours and the new Snow Much Fun virtual augmented reality experiences, provided in partnership with the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation department.

Denver Zoo Lights

Nov. 21  – Dec. 2 (members only) and  Dec. 3 – Jan. 15, 2023 (for general public)

Aurora borealis, a savannah sunset, and an electric jungle are just a few of the new additions to the Denver Zoo Lights collection. The dazzling animations of nature have been transforming Denver Zoo into Colorado’s wildest winter wonderland for decades. Ice-carving demonstrations, warm fire barrels, and delicious seasonal treats are also available. More than 2 million lights sparkle across 80 acres amid the 3,000 residents who call the zoo home. A low-sensory night is also available.

Courtesy of Estes Park

Denver's Light the Lights celebration

Nov. 23

Denver's annual tradition of Light the Lights returns after breaking for the pandemic, beginning at 4:30 p.m., Nov. 23. The festivities will feature live holiday music from the Denver Municipal Band. At 5:15 p.m., Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will flip a giant switch, turning on the lights on Denver's City and County Building. An 8-minute choreographed light and music show will happen every night from Nov. 23 through Jan. 22 except for select dates.

Estes Park’s “Catch the Glow”

Nov. 25

The Annual "Catch the Glow" Parade in Estes Park features carolers, ponies, hayrides, shopping, and Santa and his elves starting the day after Thanksgiving. The enchanted Catch the Glow Parade begins as night falls. Bands, floats, and dancers perform during the 45-minute illumination ceremony.

The parade will feature over 40 participants, such as hand-made floats from the Town of Estes Park and nongovernmental organizations, marching bands, fire trucks, and other specialty vehicles.

Courtesy of Hudson Gardens

“An Extravaganza of Lights” at Hudson Gardens”

Nov. 25 – Dec. 31

To amaze and delight visitors of all ages, Hudson Gardens has lit up a forest of towering trees. Celebrate the season by singing and dancing among the grove of moving Christmas trees to favorite seasonal tunes. Stroll through the holiday light tunnel and visit with some enormous snowmen and illuminating reindeer. 

Grand Lake’s annual tree lighting ceremony

Nov. 25

The event in Town Park includes a festive evening of carol singing, hot chocolate and cookies, a visit with Santa, and other holiday treats.

Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens

Nov. 25 - Jan. 1

Over 4 million lights will make up Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens. The attractions include a 65-foot Christmas tree, a 25-foot snowman that never melts and a 300-foot candy cane tunnel. Interactive activities include light-up hopscotch, light swings and Santa! Reservations are required.

Courtesy of Pueblo

Pueblo Parade of Lights

Nov. 26

This event is a 30-year holiday tradition in Pueblo and one of the largest Christmas parades in Colorado. Thousands of people line the streets as the parade travels from the Mesa Junction down Union Avenue to Main Street and then west before ending at 6th and Court. It features colorful floats, school marching bands, drill teams, decorated saddle club horses, and car club vehicles adorned with lights.

“Light the Nights” parade in Greeley

Nov. 27

For the past 24 years, the city of Greeley and its neighboring regions have celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with a parade and a lighting ceremony.

More than 40 lighted parade entries make their way past families who line up early to get the good spots. The Parade will run along 9th Ave starting at 14th St down to Lincoln Park. After the parade, everyone gathers in Lincoln Park for carols and to see the park's trees light up.

Holiday tree lighting at Silverthorne Pavilion

Dec. 2

The Silverthorne Pavilion will host the holiday tree lighting and art market for First Friday. Silverthorne's annual lighting ceremony features Summit Chorale Society carolers, photos with Santa, a Christmas art market, the Summit Community Orchestra, dance acts, and plenty of hot chocolate.

Candlelight Walk and Holiday Parade in Golden

Dec. 2, Dec. 10

Golden’s charming downtown lit up the walking paths along Clear Creek for the 100-year anniversary of Golden’s holiday lights. The Candlelight Walk returns on Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m., with holiday revelers meandering down Washington Avenue, holding candles and singing carols, pausing for warm cider and hot chocolate along the way.

Golden's Holiday Parade returns on Dec. 10 at 10:30 a.m., with marching bands, floats, horses, Victorian carolers, antique cars, elves, Buffalo Bill, the Grinch, fire trucks, and, of course, Santa.

“Night of Lights” in Gunnison

Dec. 2

The historic district of downtown Gunnison is also decorated for the holidays each year with “Night of Lights.” The art walk and live entertainment will keep the whole family entertained as the bonfires warm your toes and the hot cocoa keeps everyone else toasty.

Demenina Diana via Leadville

Leadville’s Parade of Lights

Dec. 2 

The annual Chamber of Commerce Parade of Lights winds down historic Harrison Avenue in Leadville. In the march to the Lake County Courthouse, spectators can see Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as floats depicting scenes from a number of different holiday films. There is a holiday decorating contest going on, so all of the local businesses go all out to make the city look festive.

Alamosa Celebration of Lights

Dec. 2 

In honor of Alamosa's 15th annual Celebration of Lights, the city's municipal building will be bathed in festive light. Children can have a conversation with Santa Claus and get to know one of his helpful elves.

Denver’s Parade of Lights

Dec. 3

Arrive early so you can claim your spot to watch this Christmas extravaganza take over the streets of Downtown Denver. The attractions range from simple floats to elaborately lit floats, to huge character balloons to superb marching bands to traditional horse units to vivid cultural exhibits. And, of course, Santa Claus and Major Waddles the Penguin will make an appearance. In case you’re not up for the cold or the crowds, this one is broadcast live on 9NEWS.

Courtesy of Breckenridge

Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas 

Dec. 3

The Race of the Santas starts on Breckenridge's Main Street, then organizers hold a holiday dog parade, the Children’s Moose March and holiday carolers. It’s all topped off by a countdown to a tree lighting and Santa’s visit.

Lyons Parade of Lights

Dec. 3

The charming Christmas ambiance that makes Lyons feel like a holiday fairytale features a parade that begins at 6:30 p.m. along Main St (which will be closed for the parade) The parade features illuminated, colorful floats, many of which will be decorated in the theme of this year’s parade — “Starry Starry Night.” There is a new route for the parade this year.

Brighton’s annual tree lighting


The City of Brighton's annual Tree Lighting event takes place a week before the city's annual Festival of Lights Parade. The annual celebration will begin at 2 p.m. in Founders Plaza at the intersection of Main Street and Bridge Street.

Colorado Springs Festival of Light Parade

Dec. 3

One of the Pikes Peak region’s most beloved holiday traditions is the Festival of Lights Parade, now in the 39th year. Cultural and artistic programs, performances, floats, high school marching bands, groups on horseback, and Santa Claus himself all help get the whole family in the holiday spirit at this annual celebration.

Devon Balet via Grand Junction

Grand Junction Parade of Lights

Dec. 3

In honor of the 40th annual Parade of Lights in Grand Junction's historic downtown, more than a hundred floats decorated with lights and decorations from local businesses, performing groups, and youth organizations will be on display. Seasoned festivalgoers know to arrive early for the 11 a.m. start of the Winter Festival, where charitable groups from the area line the streets offering seasonal treats and trinkets.

Holyoke’s Country Christmas and Parade of Lights

Dec. 5

Experience the delight of the season small-town-style in the northeast Colorado town of Holyoke. This year’s festivities will center around the story of "An Elf Christmas." In addition to the Parade of Lights, there will be hayrides, a soup supper, hot chocolate stands, several shopping opportunities and discounts, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and more. 

Aurora’s holiday tree lighting

Dec. 6

The event will feature a tree lighting, vendors, live entertainment and a visit from a special guest.

A Christmas light display at the Pueblo Zoo.

Pueblo Zoo's ElectriCritters

Dec. 16 - 23, 6-27. Closed Dec. 24 - 25.

Thirty years of ElectriCritters at the Pueblo Zoo will feature a Christmas light display in the Southern Colorado area. The annual tradition at the zoo features thousands of lights and over 150 imaginative designs and animated displays. The money raised helps take care of and feed the more than 400 animals at the Pueblo Zoo. Open 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with the last admission by 8 p.m.

Courtesy of Winter Park

Christmas Eve Torchlight Parades at Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Telluride

Dec. 24

Staff from the ski resorts race down the mountains with torches, lighting up the slopes. View the illuminated trail from one of Telluride's many public streets, including Main, Pacific, and Columbia. Supposedly, Santa visits Telluride to relax after a night of distributing presents around the world. If you're lucky, you might see him there.