How to Celebrate the 2020 Holidays

    The holidays may not be normal, but there's still plenty of festivity and cheer, including these 25 events, activities and local traditions.

    Chocolate elf at the Broadmoor gingerbread house
    A chocolate elf and gingerbread cog railway car at the Broadmoor. Photo by Amy Long.

    We can all use a little — OK, a lot — of holiday cheer this year. Fortunately, many of Colorado Springs favorite holiday traditions and events are still taking place, with a whole lot of social distancing and  pandemic-related modifications, of course. Here are some ways to tap into the holiday cheer and still make it the most wonderful time of the year. 

    Banning Lewis Ranch Light Up Your Neighborhood

    Dec. 8-18

    Take a drive-thru tour of festive holiday lights. More than 50 homes in Banning Lewis Ranch are part of the self-guided tour, and you get to vote for your favorite. Spectators are encouraged to participate in the Pikes Peak United Way winter coat and clothing drive and drop off letters to Santa throughout the 10-day event.

    Banning Lewis Ranch House, Begin at 6885 Vista Del Pico Blvd. and follow the digital map from there.

    Outdoor Holiday Concert Series

    Dec. 11, 12, 19

    The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Members of the Colorado Springs Chorale perform a series of free outdoor concerts featuring beautiful and inspiring holiday carols.

    Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m., Bancroft Park, 2408 W. Colorado Ave.
    Dec. 12, 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., Acacia Park, 115 E. Platte Ave.
    Dec. 19, 6 p.m., First Christian Church Labyrinth, 16 E. Platte Ave
    Colorado Springs Chorale, 719-634-3737, cschorale.org

    Electric Safari lights at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a holiday favorite in Colorado Springs
    Electric Safari lights up Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

    Electric Safari

    Dec. 11 – Jan. 1

    Explore 50 acres of twinkling lights, including 85 artisan-made light sculptures, at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. They’re especially spectacular from the Mountaineer Sky Ride. Warm up at cheery fire pits. Advance e-tickets are required, and most buildings will be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

    Nightly except Christmas Eve, 5:20-8:30 p.m., Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd., 719-633-9925, cmzoo.org, Free for members. For nonmembers: $14 adult, $10 child (3-11), $12 senior, $11 military adult, $7 military child

    Festival of Lights Family Fun

    Dec. 12

    Pick up your family activity kit from the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and sing along with the Front Porch Singers. Or download a virtual kit. Then create fun, family memories. The kits are filled with craft supplies, a historic holiday recipe, coloring sheets, nature passport and more to enjoy at home.

    Sat., Dec. 12, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St., 7189-385-5990, cspm.org, free

    Santa plays the trombone
    Trombonist unite in Old Colorado City’s Bancroft Park for the Trombone Christmas concert.

    Trombone Christmas

    Dec. 12

    Play trombone? Or just love, um, trombone music? Head to Bancroft Park in Old Colorado City for a brassy holiday, outdoor concert presented by the Bare Bones Trombone Choir. All are welcome to play along.

    Sat., 12 p.m., Bancroft Park, 2408 W. Colorado Ave., @BareBonesTromboneChoir, free

    Holiday Festivities at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum

    Dec. 12-13, 19-20, 26-27

    The Springs’ newest gem is festively decorated, and weekends are the time for Hanukkah dreidel game playing, Christmas and Solstice ornament making, and Kwanzaa bracelet creating. You’ll find prize giveaways, coloring sheets, games and more — plus all the regular Olympic and Paralympic exhibits and inspiration. 

    Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, 200 S. Sierra Madre St., 719-497-1234, usopm.org, $25 adults, $15 children 3-12, $20 seniors, military and first responders

    Wintersong

    Dec. 13

    This cherished candlelight concert continues with music, poetry, story and song to explore timeless themes of mystery, light and dark, and the beauty of the natural world. This year the format is virtual, live on Facebook and YouTube, with recordings by the Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble in indoor and outdoor settings, from cathedral splendor to shady glen to cozy living room.

    Sun., 7 p.m., Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble , virtual, 719-577-4192, cvae.org, free

    A Musical Celebration of Hanukkah

    Dec. 13

    Join Temple Beit Torah on Zoom for a virtual concert in celebration of Hanukkah. The evening features performances by local musicians, playing old and new favorites. Participate in the lighting of Hanukkah candles, stories and a singalong. 

    Sun., 6 p.m., Temple Beit Torah, virtual, 719-573-0841, beit-torah.org, $20

    Colorado Springs Holiday Vegan Market

    Through Dec. 15

    Shop for vegan, plant-based, cruelty-free clothing, shoes, food, jewelry, housewares, accessories, cooking classes, sweet treats and more as the holiday market goes online this year with 18 local vendors. Check out highlighted products and services on the Facebook event through Dec. 15.

    Daily, Colorado Springs Vegan Events, virtual, coloradospringsveganevents.com, free

    Cutting down a Christmas tree near Pikes Peak
    Cutting down a Christmas tree in Pike National Forest. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

    Christmas Tree Cutting

    Through Dec. 16

    Make it an old-school tradition by trekking into the forest to cut down your Christmas tree. Get your permit and map of cutting areas near Divide and Woodland Park from recreation.gov. Then head out into the wild. Just don’t forget your saw. 

    Pikes Peak Ranger District, 719-636-1602, fs.usda.gov, $20 per tree

    Holly and Ivy

    Dec. 17, 25

    The Air Force Academy Band takes its annual holiday concert virtual on Rocky Mountain PBS. The Academy Band, featuring ensembles Stellar Brass, Pegasus, Academy Winds, the Saxophone Quartet and more, will play rock to classical and everything in between. The concert airs Dec. 17, with a rebroadcast early on Christmas Day. 

    Thu. Dec. 17 8:30 p.m. and Fri. Dec. 25 1:30 a.m., U.S. Air Force Academy Band, 719-556-9916, music.af.mil, free

    Holiday Cabaret

    Dec. 17 – Jan. 3

    The Fine Arts Center Theatre Company is packaging up joy and merriment and sending it your way. Tune in virtually for a performance filled with love, light, laughter and a few surprises for the whole family.

    Unlimited access with ticket, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, virtual, 719-634-5581, fac.coloradocollege.edu, $25

    Winter Wonderland With the Wolves

    Dec. 19

    Enjoy breakfast burritos and a special holiday celebration with the wolves at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. Reservations required. 

    Sat., 9-11 a.m., Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, Divide, 719-687-9742, wolfeducation.org, $40 12 and older, $20 6-11

    The Nutcracker

    Through Dec. 19

    The Colorado Ballet Society and Colorado Youth Ballet host a series of small-capacity performances of the holiday classic. Performances are at Colorado Springs Christian School campuses in Colorado Springs and Woodland Park. 

    Dates and times vary. Colorado Springs Christian School, 4845 Mallow Rd. and 1003 Tamarac Pkwy., Woodland Park, 719-272-7078, danceinthesprings.com, $20 adult, $15 11 and under, free 2 and under 

    Christmas at the Flying W Ranch

    Through Dec. 20

    Join the Cowboy Christmas Jubilee at the Flying W Ranch. Enjoy the Flying W Christmas chuckwagon dinner and singalong with the Flying W Wranglers as they ride again at the longtime favorite. 

    Fri., Sat., Sun. through Dec. 20, Flying W Ranch, 3330 Chuckwagon Rd., 719-598-4000, flyingw.com, $60 adult, $30 children 12 and under

    Theatreworks Month of Joy

    Through Dec. 31

    Grab your favorite winter beverage, and tune into Facebook Live or YouTube every night of December for a 5-10 minute performance. Local artists share a song, poem, story, tiny puppet show or other moment of joy. Here is the complete list of artists and planned performances. Yes, you can watch the past performances. 

    Every night, 7 p.m., Theatreworks, virtual, 719-255-3232, uccspresents.org, free

    Santa Express Train and Holiday Train Experience

    Through Dec. 31

    All aboard the Royal Gorge Railroad for a scenic journey through the Royal Gorge. Bring the kids for the Santa Express, with Santa and the elves, Christmas carols and a magical journey to the North Pole that includes breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you prefer a more grown-up experience, catch the Holiday Train after Christmas for holiday cocktails and a relaxed dining atmosphere. 

    Daily, times vary, Royal Gorge Railroad, 330 Royal Gorge Blvd., Canon City, 719-275-2645, https://royalgorgeroute.com/contact-us/, $49 adult, $39 child

    Woodland Park Colorado Wind Symphony Virtual Holiday Concert

    Through Dec. 31

    Stream the Soundz of Christmas holiday concert, recorded by the Woodland Park Colorado Wind Symphony presents.

    On demand, http://www.woodlandparkwindsymphony.com, free

    Gingerbread Cog Railway car at the Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs
    The Broadmoor chef’s create a massive gingerbread cog railway car to celebrate the reopening of The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway in 2021. Photo by Amy Long.

    Broadmoor Gingerbread and Holiday Lights

    Through Jan. 1

    The pandemic couldn’t stop the over-the-top gingerbread tradition at the Broadmoor. This year is bigger than ever, with 3,188 pounds of ingredients — well over 1 ton — shaped into a cog railway car. To get the full experience, stay overnight as a guest — Winter Spectacular getaway rates start at $249 a night. But day visitors can check out the gingerbread and shop the boutiques and stores too. You can also see it virtually and download the Gingerbread 2020 Recipe Kit, including templates for your own cog railway car. You can also stream this year’s White Lights Ceremony, along with other videos from Santa and Mrs. Clause at the Broadmoor.

    The Broadmoor, 1 Lake Ave., 855-634-7711, broadmoor.com, free

    Holiday Headframe Lighting

    Through Jan. 1

    Head to Victor and Cripple Creek for a Gold Camp Christmas. Follow the self-guided tour map to decorated and festively lit 1890s mine structures. 

    Weekend nights till Dec. 24. Nightly Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. Cripple Creek and Victor, stcfg.com/GoldCampChristmas, free

    Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge

    Through Jan. 3

    With additional health and safety protocols into place, families can enjoy Great Wolf Lodge’s winter wonderland, with snow falling in the lobby, a mobile cocoa trolley, Santa visits, ’Twas the Night Before Snowland yoga and more. There’s also menorah lighting during Hanukkah. And, of course, you can splash in the always-84-degree pools and waterslides. Merry Splashmas!

    Reservations required. Great Wolf Lodge, 9494 Federal Dr., 844-553-9653, greatwolf.com/colorado-springs

    Holiday cocoa and whip cream at Great Wolf Lodge
    Sharing the fun of cocoa and whip cream at Snowland. Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.

    With My Gnomies

    Through Jan. 4

    Shop, play and add some creativity to your local holiday gift-giving downtown. Visit the Gnomie Home at 127 E. Bijou Street and activate the adventure game on your smartphone. The funny and mischievous Gnomies will guide you through downtown with clues, QR code window shopping options and, ultimately, a password-activated surprise. 

    Downtown Colorado Springs, 127 E. Bijou St., 719-886-0088, downtowncs.com/adventures, free

    Skate in the Park

    Through Jan. 31

    Lace up your skates, pull on your gloves, and hit the outdoor ice rink downtown. Just make your reservations ahead this year to allow for social-distancing limits.

    Hours vary. Acacia Park, 115 E. Platte Ave., 719-886-0088, downtowncs.com/skate, $9 includes skates, free for 4 and under with paid adult.

    The North Pole, Santa’s Workshop

    Year-Round

    You can still visit Santa at his Ute Pass North Pole Workshop and enjoy the rides. One family at a time can visit with St. Nick in his house. Advance tickers are required. 

    Dates vary, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., North Pole Santa’s Workshop, 5050 Pikes Peak Hwy., Cascade, 719-684-9432, https://northpolecolorado.com/contact/, $20 3 and older. 

    New Year’s Eve Fireworks on Pikes Peak

    It’s a Colorado Springs tradition. Once you see the first sign of the mountaineers on Pikes Peak — the flashing of mirrors at timberline — you’ll know the AdAmAn Club is making their final ascent up Pikes Peak. Grab a seat anywhere in the city with a view of the Peak to see the firework show. This year is extra special. At 9 p.m., the AdAmAn Club will launch 150 fireworks in honor of Colorado Springs’ 150th birthday and the Sesquiscentennial celebrations that will be happening throughout 2021. The group will also set off its normal New Year’s fireworks at the stroke of midnight from 14,115 feet.

    Thu., 9 p.m. and midnight, wherever you can see Pikes Peak, adaman.org, free


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