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Things to do in Denver in Winter

Colorado is a popular destination during the colder months, as people flock here to enjoy the winter activities this state has to offer. When you think about things to do in Denver in the winter, perhaps the first things to come to mind are skiing and snowboarding. While those are definitely things we recommend doing, there are other ways to have fun during the winter – without even leaving the city of Denver.

Times have changed, however, and some activities may be a bit more regulated to keep people safe and healthy. Some events and hours may be subject to change, so always check on updated details on specific activities. Other activities that we recommend are quite easy to do while maintaining a healthy, safe, “social” distance from others.

denver winter activities

We’ve created a list of things to do in Denver in winter:

Blossoms of Light at Botanic Gardens

  • Hours: Nov 29th – Jan 3rd; Mon-Sun: 5 – 9 p.m.
  • Location: Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street (East Denver/Cheesman Park)
  • Price: $14 – $21

The winter blooms with a million glittering lights at Denver Botanic Gardens, with Blossoms of Light. This holiday favorite features new displays, seasonal entertainment and events, hot drinks, and more. Don’t forget to ask for a pair of HoloSpex glasses, which turn the holiday lights into shapes as you stroll through the illuminated winter flora.

Christkindl Market at Skyline Park (16th Street Mall)

  • Hours: Nov 22nd – Dec 23rd; Sun-Tues: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wed-Sat: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Location: 16th and Arapahoe (Downtown Denver)
  • Price: Free entry

Looking for that perfect holiday gift, a delicious German pastry, or perhaps a warm cup of Gluhwein? The Christkindl Market offers a variety of shops, artisan gifts, food, and drinks that are ideal for making spirits bright. Have a seat under the warm tent and experience authentic German culture, complete with open benches, bier, Schnaps, hot chocolate and cider, and of course live music.

hockey games denver

Avalanche Hockey Games

  • Hours: Hours vary
  • Location: Pepsi Center (Downtown Denver)
  • Price: Prices vary

Get ready to be swept off your feet by the atmosphere of a live Avalanche hockey game. The season really starts to pick up during the winter, with everything to play for. With a vocal crowd, an fast-paced hockey team, and great seats no matter where you sit, you’re sure to get into the game. You’ll always know when there’s an Avalanche game, as the team’s colors are highlighted on the outside perimeter of the arena on game day.

Denver International Sportsmen’s Expo at Colorado Convention Center

  • Hours: Jan 9th – Jan 12th; Thurs-Fri: 12 to 8 p.m.; Sat: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sun: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Colorado Convention Center (Downtown Denver)
  • Price: $16; Free for ages 15 and under

Check out everything you love about the outdoors – indoors. The Denver International Sportsmen’s Expo offers a wide variety of outdoor gear, getaways, deals, and insights, with over 500 companies from Colorado and around the world. Shop and learn more about different outdoor sporting items, including fishing, camping, hunting, and even boats and RVs. The Expo also features some special activities like a climbing wall, a fly-fishing pavilion, as well as shooting and archery experiences (safe for kids). There are even contests to enter!

Denver Winter Brew Fest

  • Hours: Jan 25th, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Location: Mile High Station (East Denver)
  • Price: $35 – $50

One way to stay warm in Denver in winter is to drink. The Denver Winter Brew Fest is the event to attend for all beer connoisseurs, with over 100 beers, ciders, and more, from 40 different breweries. You’ll experience an intimate setting where lines for beers are short, giving you time to get to know better the brewery reps and the beer they’re pouring. Dress appropriately, as the event is both indoors and outdoors, but if you get too cold, there is a heated tent where you can also enjoy live music. The festival also benefits Swallow Hill Music, a nonprofit community for musicians, so you can feel good about having another beer. No pets or kids, though!

denver winter activities

Exhibitions at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

  • Hours: Mon-Sun, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Denver Museum of Nature and Science (East Denver)
  • Price: $15 – $18; Separate pricing available for the planetarium, special exhibits, and IMAX, $4 – $10

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will keep you warm during the winter months with both temporary and permanent indoor exhibits. Enjoy the combination of entertainment and education with exhibits on animals, the human body, dinosaurs, and mummies. The museum also offers a planetarium and IMAX theaters, featuring seasonal special presentations. Take advantage, as there are even a couple of free days at the Denver museum during the winter!

wall painting of Frida and vibrant colors

First Friday Art Walks

  • Hours: First Friday of every month, 5:30 – 9:30 p.m., year-round
  • Location: Denver Art District on Santa Fe (South Denver)
  • Price: Free

Rain, snow, or shine, Denver’s First Friday Art Walks are always happening – yes, even in the winter months. On the first Friday of every month, you can take a stroll down Santa Fe Drive among the vibrant mix of arts, culture, live music, food, and people. In fact, most recent updates to the Art Walks include the closing off of Sante Fe Avenue, so that people may be able to maintain “social distancing” and not have to bump into others on a crowded sidewalk. The wintertime never gets too crazy crowded at these events, though.

Pop into each of the many galleries along Santa Fe Drive, as they showcase different artists and themes. Experience rich traditions and cultures at the Museo De Las Américas and keep your belly full with plenty of restaurants and food trucks in the district.

ice skating in denver

Ice Skating at Skyline Park (16th Street Mall)

  • Hours: Nov 26th – Feb 3rd; Mon-Thurs, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fri-Sun: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Location: 16th and Arapahoe (Downtown Denver)
  • Price: Free; Skate rentals are $6 for kids 12 and under, $8 for 13 and older

Located behind the famous clock tower, The Denver Downtown Partnership has provided a large skating rink, free to the public. They charge for ski rentals, but you can bring your own pair of skates or donate a winter clothing item for a discounted price on skate rentals. Sundays are completely free. Enjoy the “cool” atmosphere with live bands and DJs on the weekends. There are also other special events that are hosted at the Downtown Denver Rink, like Broomball, Skate ‘n’ Flicks, free lessons, and even yoga in the snow – “Snowga.”

National Western Stock Show

  • Hours: Jan 9th – Jan 26th; hours vary by day
  • Location: Denver National Western Complex (Northeast Denver)
  • Price: Prices vary by day/event

Of all the things to do in Denver in winter, the National Western Stock Show is one of the most famous events. Starting with a kick-off parade that marches through downtown Denver, you’ll get your cowboy fix with 2 weeks worth of rodeos, livestock shows, trade shows, horse shows, and much more. Even if you just go for one event, you won’t want to miss being a part of a Denver tradition.

Nuggets Basketball Games

  • Hours: Hours vary
  • Location: Pepsi Center (Downtown Denver)
  • Price: Prices vary

Watching a live basketball game is sure to motivate you to get out in Denver during the winter. At Nuggets games you’ll get to watch elite players in the NBA compete – and trust us, there are some big players in this conference. Even our mascot, Rocky, is recognized as one of the best mascots in professional sports! You’ll always know when there’s a Nuggets game, as the team’s colors are highlighted on the outside perimeter of the arena on game day.

things to do in denver during winter

Parade of Lights in Downtown Denver (Civic Center)

  • Hours: Fri, Dec 6th, 8 p.m.; Sat, Dec 7th, 6 p.m.
  • Location: Starts and ends near Denver Civic Center Park (Downtown Denver)
  • Price: Free

The Parade of Lights provided by 9News will light up your night with this two-mile route of parading lights and music. Watch as over 40 units of helium-filled balloons, marching bands, traditional and cultural groups, and even Santa, march through the wintery Denver streets. Stay warm and cozy by bringing ear muffs, chairs, friends, family, and hot chocolate.

winter activities in denver

Sledding and Skiing at Ruby Hill

  • Hours: Mon-Sun, 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Location: Ruby Hill Park (South Denver)
  • Price: Free

Through a partnership between Winter Park Resort and Denver Parks and Recreation, Ruby Hill has turned into a free-to-use terrain park for both snowboarding and skiing. Skip the trip to busy mountains and enjoy an acre of man-made snow, complete with a “railyard” suitable for all levels (beginner, intermediate, expert). There are also other sides of the park that are designated for sledding and tubing, as well as areas for dogs.

Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo

  • Hours: Nov 29th – Dec 30th; Mon-Sun, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Location: Denver Zoo (East Denver)
  • Price: $15 – $20

Experience a wild and colorful winter wonderland with Denver Zoo’s special Zoo Lights exhibit. See the zoo a bit differently during the winter months, with more than a million lights flickering over 80 acres. If seeing the live animals, as well as animals made out of holiday lights, isn’t entertaining enough, you can enjoy other winter activities at the zoo. Check out the Grass Maze, the Festival of Lanterns, Ice Carvings, First Light Musical, Rainforest Dance Party, and plenty more.

Denver Trails

There are plenty of trails that wind through the city of Denver that offer a great view as well as a great deal of fun and adventure! Take the High Line Canal Trail, for example. This is one of Denver’s longest trails, stretching a total of 71 miles. Obviously, you don’t have to do the entire trail; you can start and stop wherever you’d like.

As Denver’s weather is very unpredictable and depending on whether there is snow on the trail or not, you can either snowshoe, cross-country ski, or ride a bike on the trail. Some trails in the Denver area are specific to snowshoeing, and there are plenty of stores nearby that will rent or sell snowshoes. Other trails like the Platte River trail and the Cherry Creek trail are also good ways to explore the winter wonderland that is Denver. All winter hiking equipment is allowed, we just ask that you be courteous to other passersby.

(Mostly) Always Sunny in Denver

Keep in mind that even in the winter months, Denver enjoys plenty of sunshine. In fact, Denver’s one of the sunniest cities in the US. That means that you may find yourself sweating in the middle of January, while jogging on a trail, or needing a strong pair of sunglasses to shield your eyes from the bright sun, even after the most recent snowstorm. Some activities you wouldn’t think of being able to do in Denver in the winter are actually doable, so plan accordingly. However, just because the sun is out doesn’t mean it will be too incredibly warm, so make sure you also dress accordingly.


Denver Winter Activities

If you’re wanting to make the best of a cold or snowy situation, there are plenty of things to do in Denver in winter. If you’re looking to branch out of Denver, consider some things to do in Glendale, which neighbors Denver and has plenty of bars and restaurants you’ll want to also check out. We know it’s not always easy to get out of a comfy, warm bed and travel up the mountain to ski or snowboard all season. If you’re looking to stay active a little closer to home during the winter, these activities will make it worth going out.

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