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 Sunday before Thanksgiving is when Downtown Boulder flips on the holiday lights along the Pearl Street Mall and in downtown. It centers around the Boulder County Courthouse at 5 p.m.
Nov. 30-Dec.21: Starting Nov. 30 and running every Saturday through Dec. 21, 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.
Nov. 30 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.
Dec. 7: The 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. 14: Freezie Fest runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in downtown. On this day, 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.
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. Downtown businesses will be hiding a small, stuffed Freezie snowman in their shop starting at 11 a.m. and then at the top of every hour (noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.). Search participating shops for the hidden Freezie, and if you find him, take him to store employees, who will reward you with a silver bell. Take the bell to the visitor center and you’ll get a $25 gift card to go shopping downtown. 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 event from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 6.
See hundreds of thousands of lights on display in Boulder’s Civic Area (Central Park, at 1236 Canyon Blvd.). Join weekly themed walking tours of the area offered every half hour. Get free hot chocolate and a free holiday gift (while supplies last). You’ll find busker performers and carolers. Kids can get free rides on the Tebo Train’s Snowflake Express around the “Candy Cane Forest.”