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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.

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    Please check official event websites or call to verify schedules before making plans to attend an event. Conditions can change due to COVID-19 safety measures. Listings on this site may not reflect the most recent updates.

    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 Light Displays

    Nov. 22, 2020Jan. 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.

    Snow Much Fun Light Displays Downtown Boulder

    Photo courtesy of Downtown Boulder

    Art in the Park at Colorado Chautauqua

    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.

    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


    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.

    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. 

    Find Freezie Bingo

    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

    Find Freezie

    Photo courtesy of Downtown Boulder

    CU Presents’ Holiday Festival

    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.

    CU Presents Holiday Concert

    Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado

    Special Holiday Beverages
    • Celestial Seasonings, one of the largest tea manufacturers in North America, puts out a series of holiday teas every year. The factory tours aren't currently available due to COVID-19, but you can look for their tea 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

    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.