Deck the halls… and the city buildings, and the light posts, and every tree near an outlet.
Denver goes all out for the holidays, so it’s easy to find a pretty display as you wander through town. However, there are a few that are definitely worth seeking out.
The City and County Building, downtown at 14th Avenue and Bannock Street, is a can’t-miss vision. It’s been a decorating tradition since the 1930s. Lights illuminate this neoclassical structure, which can be seen from just about anywhere in the city.
The LED lights are synchronized to music for a multi-sensory experience. Walk up close to see the smaller scenes set up near the stairway, and enjoy the festive atmosphere on weekends as locals bring their families out to enjoy.
A few blocks away, the 16th Street Mall lights up the sky with the glow of the landmark D&F Clock Tower. Bathed in red, gold and green, it’s a nice complement to the mall’s golden-hued pedestrian walkways.
West of the mall, Union Station brightens up LoDo with 10,000 beaming lights and projections of snowflakes on its bricks. It can be seen from blocks away as you glance down 17th Street.
Larimer Square, which is always decorated to the nines, doesn’t let the holiday season pass by without adding its own flair. Drive beneath strands of lights, draped from side to side and twining down the nostalgic lampposts.
On a smaller, yet just as dazzling, note, many of the surrounding metro Denver towns, such as Littleton, Golden and Brighton, decorate their historic main streets with a hometown-traditional feel. You won’t fight crowds or traffic and will be able to linger a little while longer if you wish.
Interested in making an entire evening out of sparkling festivities? Many of the local museums and organizations jump in on the fun during the holidays.
With all the trees and plants just begging for strands of lights, it’s no wonder Denver’s Botanic Gardens gets into the act. The garden’s Blossoms of Light uses more than a million lights, creating a multi-colored winter oasis in the middle of the city.
South of town at the Gardens at Chatfield, Trail of Lights creates an old-fashioned feel as the historic homestead and equipment are decorated with lights galore.
And the Denver Zoo, in its annual tradition, has once again successfully bedazzled nearly 40 acres. Animal sculptures and other decorations transform the property into a well-lit wonderland.
Finally, travel south of town to Parker and check out the Wildlife Experience’s Winter Wonderlights. In addition to a trail of lights, you’ll find sparkling snowmen and animals, as well as a
brightly-lit Christmas villa. Bonus: the kiddos can pet a few of Santa’s reindeer – yes, real reindeer – in between light-gazing.
If You Go
Sheri L. Thompson of Denver is a freelance photojournalist and editor who regularly contributes to goworldtravel.com.