Holiday events to enjoy in Colorado in December plus easy ways to give

Nov. 22, 2022
Holiday lights at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. Holiday lights are among the many festive things to do in Colorado in December.
Holiday lights reflect in a lake at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. Photo courtesy of Hudson Gardens.

While the month of December in Colorado tends to be a bit chilly, family time, traditions, good food and holiday cheer warm us up as we enjoy fun activities and festive events around Colorado this month.

December in Colorado is also the perfect time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new one, while practicing gratitude and giving to others. Whether you’re able to donate time, goods or money, giving to others and practicing gratitude for what you have is more powerful than you may think. Acts of kindness can have mental and physical health benefits, including boosting self-esteem, enhancing empathy and helping you sleep better.

So, we encourage you to reap the benefits of giving back this season and take some time to do something you enjoy. Here are some ideas for things to do in Colorado in December, including some ways to give back.

Check out a holiday light display

Live in northern Colorado and looking for holiday light displays near you? Visit the Garden of Lights at the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado, for an amazing display close to home. Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Collins.
Visit the Garden of Lights at the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado, for something to do in December. Photo courtesy of the City of Fort Collins.

Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like walking through a holiday light display with a hot chocolate in hand. From zoos to botanical gardens, there are many unique and festive experiences across the state. Check out holiday light shows throughout Colorado or explore a dazzling light display near you.

Ice skate under the city lights

Enjoy the winter wonderland Colorado has to over in December by heading out on the ice like these two girls.
December in Colorado is a great time of year to lace up some ice skates and enjoy its winter wonderland. Photo: Getty Images.

The Denver Downtown Ice-Skating Rink offers fun for the whole family this holiday season. Skating is free if you have your own skates, or skate rentals are $11 for adults and $9 for kids 12 and under. The location on Arapahoe Street in downtown Denver can be conveniently accessed via bus or light rail, with just a short 5-minute walk to the rink from the nearest stop. You can also explore fun places to ice skate outdoors.

Warm up in a natural hot spring

Hot springs in Colorado provide a great place to relax and recharge in December.
Check out hot springs throughout Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and beyond this December. Photo: Getty Images.

Colorado’s 30+ hot springs are some of the best in the world. Soak in the mineral-rich, thermal pools while taking in the beautiful mountain views. If you are looking for a relaxing getaway from the holiday hustle and bustle, this is the one for you. Some of our favorite hot springs destinations include Glenwood Springs Hot Springs, Strawberry Park Hot Springs, The Springs Resort and Spa and the Ouray Hot Springs.

Attend a free admission day

Kids at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Free days in December are a fun way to enjoy this month in Colorado. Photo courtesy of Denver Nature and Science.
Kids enjoy exhibits at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Free days in December are a festive way to enjoy this month in Colorado. Photo courtesy of Denver Nature and Science.

Is the whole family home for the holidays looking for something to do on a snowy day? Take advantage of free days at museums, National Parks, zoos and botanic gardens across the state. For example, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science has free admission on Dec. 5 and the Denver Art Museum has free admission on Dec. 13. Some organizations are free every day including Peterson Air and Space Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado Music Hall of Fame in Morrison and the Aurora History Museum in Aurora.

Visit the North Pole, home of Santa’s workshop

A visit with Santa is one of many fun things to enjoy in Colorado in December. Photo courtesy of North Pole, Design Rangers.
A visit with Santa is one of many fun things to do in Colorado in December. Photo courtesy of North Pole, Design Rangers.

This Santa-themed amusement park is nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs and offers two-dozen family-friendly rides. Share a sweet treat while exploring the vintage shops and even meet with Santa himself. It is recommended that you dress in layers with comfortable shoes. Reservations are required during peak days in December. 

Attend a holiday show

Dancers with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance ensemble perform the holiday show, "Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum," in December in Colorado..
Treat yourself to a holiday performance during the month of December in Colorado. Here, dancers with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance ensemble perform the holiday show, “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum.” Photo courtesy of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance ensemble is putting on their annual holiday performance, Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum, which is a multi-cultural celebration that inspires audiences both young and old through the universal language of dance.

It is the story of Granny’s grandchildren, NaKia and TiSean, visiting her for the holidays on the magical and peaceful island of Karamazaam. After many years of traveling around the world, Granny shares her stories of dances she performed around the world in many traditions—especially during the winter holidays.

The show blends dance, live music, spoken word and seasonal celebrations and customs from around the world into a memorable holiday tradition like none other, you don’t want to miss it. Tickets are now on sale and special group rates are also available; contact [email protected] to book your group.

Volunteer or donate

Volunteering your time is a great way to give back. Photo: Getty Images.
Volunteering your time is a great way to support your community. Photo: Getty Images.

One of the most rewarding things you can do during this season is to give back. Colorado Gives Day is on Dec. 6 and donations made will get a boost from the incentive fund, which means every donation counts for a little extra. You can find over 3,000 non-profits to donate to on the Colorado Gives website. If volunteering or donating goods is more your cup of tea, here are some of our favorite non-profits currently looking for volunteers:

  • WeeCycle: Buying everything your baby needs is expensive, so WeeCycle provides gently used baby gear to low-income families through their network of community-based organizations. They are always looking for dedicated volunteers for everything from graphic design to warehouse help. In addition, you can also donate gently used baby gear to one of their many donation locations.
  • Road to Recovery: Every day thousands of cancer patients need a ride to treatment, but some may not have a way to get there. The American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves. As a volunteer driver with the Road to Recovery program, you’ll be providing critical service and helping your neighbors get the care they need.
  • Christmas Unlimited: During the holiday season, Christmas Unlimited collects and distributes toys to families in need in El Paso and Teller counties in a store-like environment, empowering parents to select gifts for their children. What sets Christmas Unlimited apart from similar programs is its method of gift distribution. The Christmas Unlimited Distribution Center is set up like a retail store. Parents are issued shopping passes (points are allocated based on the number of children they have) to shop at the distribution center and pick out Christmas gifts for their children. This allows the client to select what they want for their children and empowers them to be the most important part of the process. You can donate toys or sign up to volunteer here.
  • Innocent Puppy Rescue: In the U.S., only half of the 3.3 million dogs entering a shelter environment each year escape euthanasia. The Innocent Puppy Rescue is devoted to helping mother dogs and their puppies move out of overcrowded shelters and into loving homes. They prevent the likelihood of the pups returning to the shelter through education and community resources and help pay spay and neuter costs for community members who may not be able to afford it. You can help by donating, volunteering or fostering.
  • Young Invincibles Colorado: Amplifying the voices of young people in the political process, especially those furthest from power and privilege, has a real impact on decision-makers. That’s why Young Invincibles Colorado educates, trains and empowers young people to come together to create policy and social change. They also provide professional development training and give young adults the opportunity to meet with elected officials at the state capital. How can you help? Consider donating professional attire. They accept any size blazers and are currently holding a blazer drive. Drop-offs can be made in Denver and Pueblo, please contact Cameron at [email protected] to coordinate your drop-off.
  • Stable Strides: Connecting with a horse can be incredibly therapeutic for anyone. Horses can teach you how to stay in the moment, problem solve, manage anxiety and improve communication skills, just to name a few. Stable Strides is always looking for volunteers to help with their adaptive riding and physical, occupational and speech therapy programs. You will need to attend an orientation that takes place on the first Saturday of each month.

About the author

Megan Jansson is a Social Media Communication Strategist at UCHealth with a passion for all things health. She worked as a certified personal trainer for many years, earned her bachelor’s degree in strategic advertising at the University of Colorado Boulder and earned her master’s degree in public health at Colorado State University. Always having a big passion for writing, she’s written numerous articles and stories for Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Public Health.