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    Pearl Street

    Favorite Boulder Holiday Traditions

    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.

    Flagstaff Star

    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.

    Flagstaff Star on mountain side

    Photo: University of Colorado Boulder

    Snow Much Fun – Lights in Central Park

    Nov. 24, 2019Jan. 26, 2020
    During Snow Much Fun, 275,000 colorful LED lights illuminate Boulder’s Central Park, next to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. The lights come on at 4pm daily. Enjoy seasonal treats at Seeds Café in the Boulder Public Library and holiday programming at the library, too.

    Christmas lights at Snow Much Fun Lights

    Holiday Hike

    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.

    Person and Dog taking a winter hike at Flatirons

    Holiday Tea Service

    Indulge in all the delicate little finger sandwiches, tiered plates of sweets, and steaming pots of tea you’ve dreamt about:
    Hotel Boulderado – Choose from Teddy Bear Tea, a special afternoon tea accompanied by a children’s choir or pianist, or the Nutcracker Tea to benefit Boulder Ballet — all on the beautiful mezzanine of this historic hotel
    St Julien Hotel & Spa – Every year, the Gingerbread Tea benefit event invites families to enjoy tea and goodies, with live entertainment gingerbread man decorating.
    Chautauqua Dining Hall – Sunday tea service happens in front of the cozy fireplace.
    Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse – An elegant afternoon tea is available daily, by reservation. English-style white linens accompany all the tea time accouterments.

    Hotel Boulderado Christmas Tree

    Outdoor Skating Rink

    Dec. 19, 2019–Late Feb. 2, 2020
    Skate into the New Year with Chautauqua WinterFest Skate! Boulder’s only outdoor synthetic-ice skating rink is open to the public 1pm to 7pm every Wednesday through Sunday during the season. Purchase tickets at the rink, which is located behind the playground east of the Chautauqua Dining Hall main entrance. $8 to skate and $4 for skate rental.


    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 with spectacular views of the Flatirons. Plus, don’t miss Boulder’s wildly popular artisan craft fair, Firefly Handmade Market, featuring booths from more than 100 local Colorado artists.

    Shop Boulder’s Gift Markets

    Person shopping at Peppercorn upstairs

    Hotel Boulderado Christmas Tree

    Stop in for a gander at this massive tree that towers two stories under the Hotel Boulderado’s famous stained-glass mezzanine. While you’re here, have a warm drink at the lobby bar, Corner Bar or downstairs at License No. 1.

    Switch on the Holidays

    Nov. 24, 2019
    See downtown Boulder come alive with sparkling lights and a visit from Santa during Switch on the Holidays. The Boulder Chorale performs and the crowd counts down to the grand illumination of downtown Boulder — including the iconic art-deco Boulder County Courthouse. Stick around for free visits with Santa until 7pm.

    Switch on the Holidays

    St. Nick on the Bricks

    Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturdays, Nov. 30Dec. 21, 2019
    On the Pearl Street Mall in historic downtown Boulder, kids of all ages can visit with Santa during St. Nick on the Bricks. Have your camera ready!

    Santa hugging a child at St. Nick on the Bricks

    Boulder Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

    Nov. 29Dec. 1, 2019
    America's favorite ballet is brought to life by the Boulder Ballet and a live performance by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra in a grand, 100-year-old theater. This full-scale production features a professional ballet company and live orchestra.

    Lights of December Parade

    Dec. 7, 2019
    Boulder's annual hometown parade meanders through historic downtown. During the Lights of December Parade, hear marching bands, watch floats go by and get a feel of Boulder's distinctive lifestyle during this night-time parade. The grand finale includes an appearance by the jolly old man himself — Santa Claus!

    Lights of December Parade

    CU Presents’ Holiday Festival

    Dec. 68, 2019
    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.

    CU Presents Holiday Concert

    Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado

    Chanukah on Pearl Street

    Dec. 23, 2019
    Boulder's annual outdoor Menorah Lighting event, hosted by the Boulder JJC, draws over 300 attendees each year. This year, there will be singing with the amazing Steve Brodsky, hot latkes, fresh sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), hot cocoa and coffee, and Chanukah gelt will literally fall from the sky into your waiting hands (with the help of the Boulder Fire Department’s ladder truck). No need to make a reservation, just join in the fun at 5:30pm at the 1300 block on Pearl Street in front of the courthouse.

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail Christmas Screening

    Dec. 25, 2019, 7pm
    Celebrate the Dairy Art Center's Christmas tradition and watch this classic comedy on Christmas night — a tradition now in its fifth year! Come in costume, get a selfie with Sir Robin's minstrels and newbies get coconuts. Tickets here.

    Special Holiday Beverages
    • Celestial Seasonings, one of the largest tea manufacturers in North America, puts out a series of holiday teas every year. Take a tour to taste them all or just look for them in any local grocery store.
    • West Flanders Brewing declares happy hour all day if the temperature dips below 20 degrees.
    • Avery Brewing’s Old Jubilation Ale has notes of hazelnuts, mocha and toffee to warm you up on a winter day.
    • Piece, Love and Chocolate’s sipping chocolate is the warm, ooey goodness you need on a cold day.
    $3 Parking in Downtown Garages

    Nov. 25, 2019–Dec. 31, 2020, 3pm–3am
    The City of Boulder is making it easier — and more affordable — to celebrate the holidays downtown with its new "$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.