There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays in Colorado Springs. Everyone has their favorite holiday traditions, and it’s great to make new memories and traditions with friends, family and the people you love. But when it comes down to it, some festivities are just quintessential COS, so we’ve set out to declare the best holiday traditions in Colorado Springs. In the spirit of the season, we’re giving you a Top 12. Try them all and you have a local sort of the 12 Days of Christmas.
But before we begin the countdown, one caveat about the music. It’s one of the best — and sometimes worst — parts of the season. And there are some truly classic, annual holiday concerts in Colorado Springs, like Wintersong, the Philharmonic’s Nutcracker, the Little London Winds Hanukkah Concert, Yule Be Naughty, Trace Bundy and many other favorite holiday shows. To read more about holiday concerts, head over to Holiday Concerts in Colorado Springs for a gift-wrapped collection of live seasonal sounds.
Now, give it your best little drummer boy drumroll. We present our list of the Top 12 Holiday Traditions in Colorado Springs.
12. Chasing Santa 5K/Cycling Santa 15K
We love our exercise here in Olympic City USA, especially running and biking. This fun run and ride combines both on the Pikes Peak Greenway/Legacy Loop. Forget the usual race T-shirt. You get a full Santa costume, beard included, to wear as you compete.
11. Christmas Tree Cutting
This time of year, you see a lot of vehicles driving down Ute Pass with Christmas trees tied on top. Going on a hike in the mountains to find and cut your own tannenbaum is so Colorado. Here’s Where and How to Cut Your Own Christmas Tree.
Nov. 26 – Dec. 15
10. Small Works Show at The Modbo
Dubbed the Saddest Small Works Show Ever, this year’s beloved exhibit will be the last. The seminal gallery will be closing for good at the end of the year. So you have one more chance to enjoy this artsy holiday tradition. Every piece is under 18 inches, created by local artists and for sale and perfect for collecting or gifting. The opening reception happens during First Friday Downtown, Dec. 3, 5-9 p.m. If you can’t make that, the gallery is open by appointment.
9. Madrigal Banquet
It’s kind of like Christmas meets a Renaissance festival in the historic and beautiful Glen Eyrie Castle that was home to the city’s founder, Gen. William J. Palmer. There is singing and dancing and feasting (a four-course meal), plus beautiful holiday lights illuminating the castle and grounds. This holiday tradition has a big following, so get your reservations early. It sells out fast.
Dec. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22
8. Flying W Christmas at the Ranch
The Flying W Wranglers ride again, performing a Western Jubilee Christmas in the rebuilt Chuckwagon venue. Steak is on the menu. Twinkling lights are in the trees. The Western spirit meets the Christmas spirit in this local favorite.
Dec. 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
7. Festival of Lights Parade
Welcome the holiday season—and Santa—with the festive parade down Tejon Street. Bundle up, and get downtown early for some shopping, ice skating and dinner. Thousands of people usually turn out for this big tradition with the hometown feel. This one is perfect for the kids!
6. Skate in the Park
You can make this one romantic, fun with friends or entertaining for the family. It’s especially magical to glide around the only outdoor ice rink in town at night beneath the twinkling lights of Acacia Park and downtown. There are always special events and themes, such as Skatefest with U.S. Figure Skating and Broncos Skate. You can also rent the rink for private events, or join the 3v3 adult pond hockey league.
Nov. 12 – February
5. The North Pole, Santa’s Workshop
Who knew that the North Pole was really in Cascade at the foot of Pikes Peak? Springs locals did, of course. You can ride the train, ferris wheel or peppermint slide. And you definitely have to visit Santa. It’s Christmas year-round at this vintage amusement park. Note that reservations are required during the holidays 2021.
4. Gingerbread Tradition at The Broadmoor
The Broadmoor pastry chefs are master artists. Their massive annual displays of gingerbread and sweet treats are amazing. For the record, they used 958 pounds of powered sugar and 960 peppermint sticks this year to craft a Gingerbread Chateau based on the resort’s “Heartfelt – Home for the Holidays” theme. Add 18,000 strands of tiny, twinkly lights all around the hotel and lake and the ambience is magical. Strolling among the festive scene will fill you with wonder and Christmas cheer. Staying at the hotel will pamper your holiday season.
Nov. 29 – Jan. 1
3. The Great Fruitcake Toss
How do you get rid of fruitcake after the holidays? Throw or catapult it as far as you can in Manitou Springs. There are contests for distance, speed, accuracy and balance at this classic event. It’s always fun and funky, and a perfectly Manitou way to close out the holiday season.
2. Electric Safari
Lights are everywhere at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Lights line the trees and walkways. There are animal sculptures and glowing inflatable creatures. The lights of the city spread out below and are especially scenic from the Sky Ride. Santa is in the house — well, technically in the Safari Lodge. The Electric Safari is a must-do for the kids. Sipping hot chocolate beside a warming fire while lions roar at night is the stuff of lasting memories.
Dec. 3-5, Dec. 10 – Jan. 1 except Christmas Eve
1. New Year’s Eve Fireworks on Pikes Peak
Fireworks over the city’s most iconic landmark. This is the Springs’ version of the Times Square ball drop, a celebration ingrained in the city’s identity. Since the “Frozen Five” made the first ascent in 1922, the AdAmAn Club has continued the tradition of climbing to the top of the Peak to launch fireworks at 14,115 feet. You can grab a seat almost anywhere in town to watch the show and ring in the new year with a sense of hometown celebration. This is true Colorado Springs.
Midnight, Jan. 1