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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.

    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

    Ice Skating in Central Park

    mid November–mid February
    Giggle and glide around an ice rink under strings of lights during Winter Skate. The rink has held various locations over the years, and it is currently in a sweet spot right next door to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse at the edge of Central Park. In winter, Central Park is decorated with dazzling light displays (see below). Make an afternoon of it — skating, viewing the lights, sipping warm tea at the teahouse and stopping in Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) next door, too.

    People ice skating at Winter Skate Boulder

    Snow Much Fun – Lights in Central Park

    mid November–mid February
    During Snow Much Fun, 225,000 colorful LED lights illuminate Boulder’s Central Park, which is right next to the ice skating rink and the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse (see above). The lights come on at 4pm daily. Enjoy seasonal treats at Seeds Café in the Boulder Public Library and seasonal 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. Many of Colorado’s State Parks host free, guided First Day Hikes on Jan. 1.

    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.


    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.

    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. 18, 2018
    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

    Nov. 23, 2018 and Saturdays Nov. 24-Dec, 22, 2018

    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. 23-25, 2018
    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. 1, 2018
    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!

    CU Presents’ Holiday Festival

    Dec. 7-9, 2018
    Each year for 40 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

    Menorah Lighting on the Pearl Street Mall

    Mid December
    Boulder's annual outdoor Menorah Lighting event, hosted by the Boulder JJC, draws over 300 attendees each year. Enjoy music by the locally loved Sheldon Sands, Chanukah favors to first 100 participants, fresh sufganiot and hot chocolate, small menorah and candle sets to take home and, of course, the menorah lighting.

    Klezmania at the Boulder Jewish Community Center

    Dec. 24, 2018
    Every Christmas Eve, the Boulder JCC hosts Klezmania, featuring a pre-show Chinese buffet, followed by a rollicking klezmer concert with the area’s best musicians.

    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.
    • Decadent Saint winery’s Spiced Dark Chocolate Mixer, when combined with red wine, is fruity, chocolatey and fragrantly spiced enough to get you in the holiday spirit pretty quick.