Downtown Boulder twinkles with lights, the Flatirons often have a powered-sugar-cookie dusting of snow, and a lighted star glows above Boulder from Flagstaff Mountain every evening. There's no question that the holiday season is special in Boulder, no matter how you celebrate. Here are a few favorite local traditions.
Boulder was named in this list of the 20 Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA.
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Veteran’s Day Through Second Sunday in January
Boulder’s holiday star has shone from atop Flagstaff Mountain every year for over seven decades. Its 365 bulbs are energy-saving LED lights that can be seen from anywhere in Boulder. Over the years, pranksters have changed the shape of the star to form letters representing rival teams or towns, or to make political statements, but the star has been lit every year since 1947. The Boulder Chamber is the proud steward of the star, and each year they sell holiday cards featuring a rendition of the star, painted by a local artist.
Photo: University of Colorado Boulder
Nov. 22, 2020–Jan. 10, 2021
During Snow Much Fun, hundreds of thousands of colorful LED lights illuminate Boulder’s Civic Area, next to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, and throughout downtown Boulder, including all along historic Pearl Street. This year will feature fun, themed light displays (like a candy cane forest and gumdrop lane) and a map to guide you through downtown and Central Park. Grab a hot cup of cocoa and enjoy a wonder-filled stroll outside. Check here for updates.
Photo courtesy of Downtown Boulder
Dec. 11, 2020-May 1, 2021
Take a walk around Chautauqua Park to see 15 bear cub sculptures, each personalized by a different local artist and adorned in lights. You could also do this in the evening as a drive through the park. Don't miss the new 8-foot bear installation near the Chautauqua Auditorium, too. Check Colorado Chautauqua's website for more information.
Ask any local, and chances are good that their Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Days start with a refreshing winter hike. Try it and see what it’s like! There’s no better feeling than enjoying the crisp air on the trails in the morning and later sitting down to dinner knowing you’ve earned a feast. Each year, there's a guided hike, led by a City of Boulder naturalist, on Christmas Day. Many of Colorado’s State Parks host free, guided First Day Hikes on Jan. 1, too.
Shopping on Pearl Street — a historic, brick-paved pedestrian lane that twinkles with holiday lights — is the picture-perfect way to tackle your holiday gift list. Stop for lots of hot chocolate warm-ups and to watch street performers (including school children playing their instruments to earn a little cash over the holiday break), and enjoy free parking at city garages downtown. Over at Twenty Ninth Street, more shopping awaits — and spectacular views of the Flatirons. Plus, don’t miss Boulder’s artisan markets to support local craftspeople.
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Stop in for a gander at this massive tree that towers two stories under the Hotel Boulderado’s famous stained-glass mezzanine.
Nov. 28-Dec. 19, 2020
Find Freezie is a fun annual event in which you dash into downtown stores to try to spot a small, hidden stuffed snowman to win a gift card. This year, get your Holiday Freezie Bingo card online and then head to participating downtown Boulder businesses to Find Freezie (a little stuffed snowman) hidden in stores Nov. 28-Dec. 19, 2020. Share your completed bingo card for a chance to win gift cards. Learn more.
Photo courtesy of Downtown Boulder
Dec. 4-6, 2020 - Online
Each year for 40-plus years, Macky Auditorium, located on the CU campus, has hosted one of Boulder's most beloved holiday concerts as part of the CU Presents program. The College of Music's choirs, orchestras, ensembles and soloists perform the Holiday Festival in the beautifully decorated, historic auditorium. In 2020, a film edition of the concert will be available, featuring new performances by faculty and staff.
Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado
The City of Boulder is making it easier — and more affordable — to celebrate the holidays downtown with its "$3 for 3 to 3" parking program. Park in any city parking garage after 3pm and leave before 3am and you'll be charged a flat rate of just $3 for your entire stay. No special tickets or codes are required, and anyone who leaves the garage after 3am will be charged the normal hourly rate ($1.25/hour for the first 4 hours, $2.50/hour after that). As always, parking in city parking garages is free Saturdays, Sundays and city-recognized holidays.