6 holiday activities to enjoy in Colorado in December, plus ways to give back

Nov. 21, 2023
woman enjoying holiday lights in December in Colorado.
Photo: Getty Images.

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.

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 back 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 and gratefulness can have mental and physical health benefits, including boosting self-esteem, enhancing empathy and improving sleep.

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

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.

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 kindles the holiday spirit quite like walking, with hot cocoa in hand, through a holiday light display. From zoos to botanical gardens, there are many unique and festive experiences across the state. Check out 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.

Looking for things to do in Denver in December? 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.

Go dog sledding

Dog sledding is a relaxing and unique way to explore the Colorado Rocky Mountains in December. Photo by Getty Images.
Dog sledding is a relaxing and unique way to explore the Colorado Rocky Mountains in December. Photo by Getty Images.

Forge a special bond with man’s best friend and experience the thrill of dog sledding in Colorado’s beautiful backcountry. Many Colorado mountain and ski towns offer a variety of tours, ranging from one-hour to full-day trips.

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 nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak offers two dozen family-friendly rides for anyone looking to get in the Christmas spirit.  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. Tickets are now on sale.


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 give back. Colorado Gives Day is December 5, and donations made will get a boost from the incentive fund, which means every donation counts for a little extra. You can find more than 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 to provide everything from graphic design to warehouse help. In addition, you can also donate gently used baby gear to one of their many donation locations.
  • Brent’s Place: Brent’s Place provides a safe and clean home away from home to thousands of families who are experiencing life-threatening medical crises far from home. From food security programs to financial support, Brent’s Place offers community support to families going through a challenging time. This holiday season, you can sponsor a family by signing up to become a holiday helper. You will get paired with a resident, and then you can shop, wrap and deliver a personalized gift to Brent’s Place families.
  • The Gathering Place: The Gathering Place (TGP) offers services to combat poverty and address the impacts of marginalization and oppression that are often contributing factors to poverty or homelessness. By offering low-barrier access to a broad range of necessities and wrap-around care options, TGP guides individuals and families living in poverty from a place of crisis and instability to one of stability and security. There are individual and group opportunities to volunteer.
  • House of Neighborly Service: House of Neighborly Service provides assistance and resources such as food, clothing, utility assistance and resources for families and individuals experiencing homelessness in Northern Colorado. You can donate food or clothing or give back as a volunteer. To volunteer, please contact Volunteer Organizer Tayler Besch at [email protected] or Community Relations Coordinator Annie Hummel at [email protected].
  • 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.
  • 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.