Sparkling lights, falling snow, gift exchanges, Santa sightings and cheerful songs — is there anything better than the holiday season? While this year is bound to look different than seasons past, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate this magical time of year.
From Fort Collins to Loveland and Greeley to Estes Park, our Northern Colorado communities are continuing age-old annual traditions and starting some new ones this year— all filled with holiday cheer. Take a look at some of the best holiday festivities and events in Northern Colorado, from ongoing seasonal celebrations to one-off events you won’t want to miss. No matter how you ring in the season, we hope it is filled with lots of cheer!
NOTE: Due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, please check each event website before you go, and follow all guidelines outlined by the CDC, including face mask wearing and social distancing.
Early November–February 14
Downtown Fort Collins comes to life during the winter months under the brilliance of twinkling lights. Each evening, more than 22 block faces in Old Town are illuminated by tens of thousands of twinkling LED lights. No matter what your holiday festivities entail, they’ll be made all the more magical with this ever-present light display.
November 20–December 20
Each year, the Downtown Santas Quest invites families to explore downtown on a quest to discover Santa Claus figurines cleverly hidden in storefront windows of participating businesses. Collect all the unique Santa names and enter for a chance to win $1,000 in Downtown Gift Cards!
Santa has joined the Zoom phenomenon! This year, visit with Old Saint Nick from the comfort of your own home. Check the Downtown Fort Collins website for more information about these virtual Santa visits as the season goes on.
November 1–December 31
This November and December, shoppers and diners may enter for a chance to win thousands of dollars in Downtown Gift Cards with the Old Town Spree! All you have to do is shop or dine at any of the participating Old Town Spree businesses and spend more than $10. Each time you do, you’ll receive a card with a unique code, which you can enter for a chance to win. Hundreds of dollars of Downtown Gift Cards will be drawn weekly, in addition to the Grand Prize drawn on January 4! This is an excellent opportunity to win a gift card for your holiday shopping and dining — all while supporting local businesses.
Rather than waiting for a chance to win, you can cut straight to the chase by purchasing a Downtown Fort Collins Gift Card, which makes the perfect gift for someone on your list! The recipient will be able to use it at any of these 150+ businesses, which includes dining, retail and entertainment. This is an easy-to-use, flexible one-stop-shop program that supports our local economy!
November 6–January 18 (Closed Thanksgiving Day)
The ice rink is a winter tradition at The Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland. Before or after you go shopping or enjoy a meal, bundle up and skate around the open-air rink. Your admission is good for the entire day, and includes complimentary skates and skate assistants, if needed. Tickets are just $8.50 for children 12 and under and $10.50 for ages 13 and up.
November 14–January 1
From November 14 all the way through January 1, experience holiday magic at Winter Wonderlights at the Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra in Loveland. Each year, the 26-acre park is illuminated by holiday string lights, twinkling bulbs, LED mappable snowflakes, illuminated stone sculptures as well as a music and light show every single night. And the best part is it’s all free and open to the public! This year, the event is designed to keep families physically distanced from each other to adhere with health and safety protocols. Don’t miss the special COVID-friendly live celebrations November 14, November 28 and December 4, featuring live entertainment, reindeer (November 14 and December 4 only), food trucks, and more.
Some things might be different this holiday season, but don’t worry — the Old Town Square Skate Rink is back, starting in November. And even better news: admission and rentals are FREE! Enjoy some time outside on the rink under the magical twinkling lights.
November 27–December 31
Admire spectacular holiday lights without leaving the comfort and warmth of your car! Colorado Youth Outdoors created a Winter Wonderland experience benefitting a number of nonprofits, including UCHealth Northern Colorado Foundation, Respite Care and local Boys & Girls Clubs chapters, who have been unable to hold their fundraising events this year. From November 27 through December 31, drive through this magical display of twinkling lights and wildlife-themed light sculptures on a 1-mile path. Reserve your 15-minute time slot here!
December 1–January 31
The Christmas Walk in the Woods is returning to The Savage Woods just west of Loveland for Lights Only Nights, featuring stunning twinkling light displays under the stars. This year, the event extends from December 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. For a total of $45, you can reserve a pod for up to 15 people (and pets!) for a half-hour private reserved time to enjoy the Christmas Walk in the Woods. All evenings will be lights only (no carolers or Santa). Check the website before visiting for updated information as the holiday season progresses!
December 9–27 (Closed Christmas Day)
Photo Courtesy of The Gardens on Spring Creek
Each holiday season, The Gardens on Spring Creek transforms into a whimsical twinkling winter wonderland illuminated by hundreds of thousands of LED lights. And with the garden’s recent expansion, The Garden of Lights will be bigger and more magical than ever before. This year will feature an expanded number of nights, more light sculptures and music playing throughout the grounds.
COVID NOTE: The gardens will be limiting the number of people allowed to enter each night and utilizing timed admissions to promote social distancing. Live entertainment and interactive experiences, including Santa visits, have been postponed and parties are limited to eight people. All tickets must be purchased in advance online and will not be available at the door. Face coverings must be warn throughout the gardens. Click here for hours, tickets and more information about The Garden of Lights, including COVID-19 policies.
November 27–29 + December 4–6
Kick off the season with the 32nd Annual “Catch the Glow” Festival of Lights in Estes Park, a multi-day event with a special COVID-friendly twist. Instead of the traditional mobile parade, the festival will be stationary and hosted on the grounds of the Town’s Events Complex. The public can drive through the decorated floats and other lighted displays over several weekend nights. As always, this event is free!
Courtesy of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce
The Greeley Chamber of Commerce created a brand new event for 2020: Holiday Lane at Island Grove! On the evenings of November 27 and November 28, you can enjoy a one-stop-shop for holiday lights. Just pay $5 per car (and $10 for passenger vans over 10 people) and drive by the beautiful holiday displays along the loop at Island Grove.
The Loveland Downtown Business Alliance and participating retailers work together to host a monthly Shop Local Saturdays event on the last Saturday of every month, which happens to fall on Small Business Saturday in the month of November! Each participating independently owned business will offer a promotion, discount or free gift with a purchase. This is the perfect opportunity to get some holiday shopping done! Follow Shop Local Saturdays on Facebook to see fresh seasonal inventory, learn about special events, sales or discounts, and see what’s new with participating shops.
Enhance your holiday shopping and dining with a healthy dose of art with First Friday Art Walk! This is a monthly self-guided walking tour celebrating creativity, culture and community in downtown Fort Collins on the first Friday of each month from 6–9 p.m. The event showcases a spectrum of artistic styles to entertain and engage amateurs and art aficionado of all ages, interests and backgrounds.
Photo Courtesy of The Lincoln Center
Canyon Concert Ballet is presenting a full-scale production of The Nutcracker, the most well-known ballet adventure of all time! The Nutcracker has the magic, joy and sweetness the whole family will love — enhanced by talented professional ballerinas, magnificent sets and backdrops, and enchanting music. There will be several performances, both in-person and virtual, throughout the weekend, including December 4 at 7 p.m., December 5 at both 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and December 6 at both 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Whip out your favorite ugly, outrageous, bulky and unforgettable sweaters for the Sweaty Sweater Race! This fun 5K run/walk ends with beer and hot chocolate at the finish line. And more importantly, the race benefits Adopt-A-Family, an outreach ministry run by Serve 6.8 that partners with local churches, businesses and the community to help meet the tangible needs of local families at Christmas. The money raised will be used to buy holiday food baskets or grocery gift cards for local families. They will also be collecting toys at the race for families in need, so bring new unwrapped toys to help make Christmas extra special for the kids!
On the third Friday of each month, downtown Fort Collins comes to life with the Fort Collins Foodie Walk, a self-guided tour of 12 of Old Town’s finest culinary shops. Each shop stays open late that evening for interactive showcases, seasonal flavors and exciting taste experiences. Don’t miss the December edition of this event so you can grab some gifts for the foodies on your holiday shopping list!
How are you celebrating the season in Northern Colorado? We’d love to know!