Where to See Festive Christmas Lights in Colorado
The best thing about the festive season (aside from the presents).
The Rocky Mountains that bump their way across Colorado come alive in winter. Covered in thick layers of snow, the luxury resort towns of Aspen, Telluride, Vail and Breckenridge – which are packed with stunning Plum Guide rental homes – seem to have a magnetic pull, with a who’s who of affluent and celebrated people making their way to the slopes, resorts and spas. And in the weeks leading up the festive season, gorgeous twinkling lights add an eclectic palette of colour to the white of the snow. They signify that you’re allowed to start celebrating the season of presents and mirth. And the best part about being on holiday here is that you don’t have to start putting lights up at home for your family. With luck, you’ll be able to make sure you’re always away for the holidays, so you’ll never know the dreaded chore of untangling the wires of Christmas lights. Instead, admire the handiwork of others, with our guide to the best Christmas lights in Colorado.
If you’re in one of the most exclusive and upscale skiing hubs in the world, the least you could expect is a decent light show. And Aspen has you covered (in snow). Wander down the main street between the trees adorned with fairy lights to get a feel for the season. You’ll be even more aware it’s Christmas when you weigh up your receipts for the endless toys and what-not that your kids have demanded of you. That’s the spirit. Check for carol singers, Santa and reindeer in the Little Nell lighting area set up in the courtyard of a hotel. There are other lights too – head to the St. Regis Aspen Menorah lighting, where a rabbi will be lighting candles for Hanukkah. It may not be Christmas, but the commercial present-buying tradition makes it seem a lot like it. See Santa ski down the slopes and go ice skating at night beneath a sea of Christmas lights.
If you want to lose yourself beneath a Vail (sorry) of Christmas lights in Colorado, come to the Magic of Lights Festival that runs from near the beginning of December until late January. It is like a little village of buildings, trees and Christmas symbols, all illuminated brightly for the season. It lies in the scenic Ford Park Lower Bench and Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, so come early for some snacks and drinks to keep you warm into the night. Pass through a corridor of lights on a half-mile (0.8-kilometre) looped trail of lights that help to illuminate the stunning surroundings. Huge elves, candy canes and other Christmassy images made up of lights make for an unforgettable trip for you and the whole family. Wander through the town centre to see the shops and hotels draped in festive illumination, before spending everything you have on presents for your unappreciative little ones.
Another stunning ski resort in the Rockies, Telluride has something for everyone. It has all sorts of slopes for beginners and experts, as well as a fine après-ski selection and plenty of great shops and restaurants, such as Cosmopolitan, Chop House Restaurant and 221 South Oak. Now, how about those lights? Wander through the town centre to see its huge, illuminated Christmas tree. On the first Wednesday of December, head to the annual Noel Night to see a Christmas tree fashioned from skis, chat to Santa and listen to the sweet tunes of carol singers. Don’t worry, they won’t go on too long and it’ll be a Silent Night once again soon. Just kidding, we love a bit of carol singing. See the Santa at the North Pole in the wonderfully named Mountain Village. It has train rides, holiday movies and ice skating performances …and some of the best Christmas lights in Colorado, of course.
You might think it’s just a charming skiing village that just happens to contain a range of amazing Plum Guide rental homes. Well, it is sort of that. But it’s also the town made famous for its Race of the Santas. Watch countless red-costumed Santas running through the town centre, with the snow-capped Rockies forming a picturesque backdrop. Watch the official Lighting of Breckenridge to see the town illuminated in festive mirth. There’s also the Reindeer Race and the Holiday Dog Parade to check out.