The giant, glowing “Flagstaff star” on the mountainside points the way. Boulder is one of the best destinations in Colorado for the holidays.
Downtown Boulder is a twinkling winter wonderland, whether you’re strolling under the canopy of lights that frame the Pearl Street Mall or you’re watching a holiday performance at the Boulder Bandshell in a forest of rainbow-colored trees.
Here’s everything you need to know to do the holidays, Boulder style.
The Downtown Boulder Partnership and the City of Boulder both have their own special events, which you can mix and match and pair together to plan the perfect celebration. The events and decorations blend together, wrapping up downtown in one big, festive bow and making it the ultimate wintertime destination.
More info: boulderdowntown.com/light-up-the-holidays
Nov. 24: The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday, when more than 75 downtown businesses will feature great specials and free, community events. Holiday carolers dressed in period clothes will sing on the mall, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will return to their Boulder perch at the visitor center from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Meet Freezie the Snowman, take a free ride on the Snowflake Express and get a head start on your holiday shopping, supporting local businesses.
“What we’ve seen over past few years is even on Black Friday a lot of people come downtown as an alternative to rushing to the big-box stores,” says Terri Takata-Smith, vice-president of marketing and communications for Downtown Boulder.
Nov. 23-Dec.22: Starting Friday, Nov. 23 and running every Saturday from Nov. 24-Dec. 22, it’s time for St. Nick on the Bricks, a free, family-friendly event centered around (who else?) St. Nick. Visit him and Mrs. Claus at the visitor center from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Take pictures and pour your heart out. It’s all free and open to anyone with a wish.
Dec. 1: The 31st-annual Lights of December Parade kicks off at 6 p.m. in downtown. Watch this spirited parade as it marches from 15th and Walnut streets, west up to Walnut and Broadway, then north on Broadway and along Spruce Street. The parade is full of holiday cheer, from homemade floats to live music and of course, the big, jolly man.
Dec. 8: Here’s something new this year. Freezie Fest runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in downtown. Of course, Freezie the Snowman is the guest star, along with the Clauses. The Pearl Street Mall will be packed with reindeer games. You know, kid-friendly activities and crafts, face-painting, train rides, photos and free hot chocolate.
For adults, the popular Guerilla Fanfare will perform on the 1300 block starting at 2 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., the band will lead a mini parade off the mall and to the Civic Area (Central Park).
Here, there’s more free hot chocolate, more train rides, more live music (by the beloved local band Jeff and Paige) and more.
But the highlight at Freezie Fest is the Find Freezie contest (from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.). Nearly 30 downtown businesses will be hiding a small, stuffed Freezie snowman in their shop. Search these shops for the hidden Freezie, and if you find him, take him to the visitor center and you’ll get a $50 gift card to go shopping downtown. Everyone who finds a Freezie gets entered into a grand prize drawing for an additional $250 gift card (that means you have a one in 30 chance to win that). You can find the list of participating businesses online at FreezieFest.com to strategize your plan of attack.
“We want people to enjoy the holidays and to remind them about the amazing shops and restaurants and all the amazing businesses that make downtown so special,” says Takata-Smith. “Have fun, go explore, go in and out of shops to find Freezie and enjoy all of the cool stuff down there.”
The City of Boulder
More info: snowmuchfun.org
In addition to all the action in downtown, the city of Boulder is bringing the civic area to life this holiday season with its Snow Much Fun events. See hundreds of thousands of lights on display from through Jan. 28 in Boulder’s Civic Area (Central Park, at 1236 Canyon Blvd.); warm up with seasonal treats from the Dushanbe Teahouse and Seeds Café inside the nearby Boulder Public Library; and join weekly themed walking tours of the area offered by Walk2Connect.
Here’s a look at other special events organized by the city:
Dec. 1: See Holiday Harps with the Studio of Margot Krimmel at the Boulder Public Library. This annual holiday harp concert has been a Boulder tradition for 20 years. Imagine 20 different harp players from ages 7 to 18. This is a special event presented by the Boulder Public Library Concert Series.
Dec. 9: Listen to the seasonal music of the Boulder Children’s Chorale at the Canyon Theater in the library. There will be two performances: at 2 and 4 p.m.
Dec. 15: See a special screening of “A Christmas Story” at the Canyon Theater. This is part of the Cinema Program Holiday Social, and it includes Ovaltine and fortune cookies as snacks. Wear your best jammies. There will be a pajama contest before the screening.
Dec. 19: Join the community for Creekside Caroling in the Park at the Civic Area. This is a special edition of Walk with a Doc. You’ll learn about the importance of moving your body and how it makes you happy (and can help you survive the holiday blues). A doctor will guide the walk, which will end with healthy refreshments. Caroling starts at 5:30 p.m. and the walk starts fifteen minutes after. This is presented by the Boulder Parks and Rec department.