With its small-town charm, Golden, Colorado, celebrates the quintessential Christmas with festive events during December. From lighting the town to providing a convivial shopping atmosphere, the Olde Golden Christmas offers a variety of opportunities to join in the holiday cheer.

One of the highlights is the annual Candlelight Walk along Washington Avenue (Nov. 30 at 6pm), starting at the Foothills Art Center and continuing into historic downtown. The walk began years ago with just a few locals, but these days throngs of

Candle-bearing participants walk along Washington Avenue in Golden’s annual Candlelight Walk.

participants show up carrying lighted candles and singing carols as they walk into town.

When the group reaches Clear Creek near the Golden Visitors Center, a countdown begins for the mayor to flip a switch. When he does, the dazzling holiday lights along the creek illuminate.

Free hot chocolate and cider, sugary treats and entertainment are offered, as well as the chance to pet live reindeer after the walk at the Visitors Center.

The Holiday Art Market at the Foothills Art Center is another seasonal event and may be just the place to find that perfect gift for an art-loving friend or family member. Shoppers can peruse through a variety of handcrafted items from 140 Colorado artists, including ceramics, jewelry, wood, ornaments and paintings.

If shopping is on the agenda, First Fridays offer late hours at many shops, stores and restaurants every first Friday of the month. Several shops have treats and specials, as well as entertainment, to help make the shopping experience that much more enjoyable.

And visitors won’t want to miss the Olde Golden Christmas Parades, Saturdays in December from Thanksgiving to Christmas. These short, quirky parades feature floats with special Christmas characters, performers and bands, and free treats for children. Even pets can enjoy the antics at the parades – local businesses hand out dog treats and other goodies.

It’s not unusual to see elves on unicycles, dogs dressed like reindeer, alpacas and can-can dancers. And Santa and Mrs. Claus make a grand appearance each time in their sleigh, pulled not by reindeer but by a giant Clydesdale horse.

But the fun doesn’t end there – free horse-drawn carriage rides are provided every Saturday, all day long. And shoppers can enjoy treats from downtown businesses, as well as music from musicians strolling along the main street of Golden.

Children can also write to Santa Nov. 23 – Dec.15 by way of the North Pole Golden at the Golden Visitors Center. And, they can even expect an answer from the Big Man himself.

On Saturdays in December, Santa is seen traveling the streets of Golden.

If You Go

The Candlelight Walk is on Nov. 30 this year. It begins at the Foothills Art Center, 809 15th St. (at Washington Avenue), at 6 p.m. for caroling, with the walk starting at 6:30 p.m.

Olde Golden Christmas Parades are the first 4 Saturdays in December (1, 8, 5, 22) from 11 to 11:30 a.m. in downtown Golden along Washington Avenue.

The Holiday Art Market runs through Dec. 30.

For more details, visit visitgolden.com/events/olde-golden-christmas

Laura Hartgerink is a freelance writer who lives in Lakewood, Colorado.