Manitou Springs is magical during the holidays. Strings of lights twinkle against the towering backdrop of Pikes Peak, and the merry sounds of strolling carolers and musicians fill the streets. Local shop owners greet customers and answer questions about their bespoke goods and gifts. And holiday events in Manitou Springs feel like small-town community gatherings, filled with warmth and the unique flavor of this mountain enclave. The season is filled with reminders that the small town has big character—and a big heart full of holiday cheer.
“The holidays in Manitou take you back to those more old-fashioned feels and experiences that you don’t really see in bigger cities anymore,” says Leslie Lewis, executive director of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau and Office of Economic Development. “Everything is so warm and friendly. It’s really a special time to be here.”
Manitou Springs has always had its own unique vibe at the gateway to Pikes Peak and the Front Range. And it’s a haven for small businesses serving locals and visitors with a wide variety of unique and creative gifts and experiences.
“Basically everything in town is locally owned, small business,” says Mackenzie Helms, marketing coordinator for the Manitou Springs Chamber. “The owners are there, serving you directly. Each business has its own personality and special touches this time of year, like serving cider and baked goods.”
At Anna’s Apothecary, you can enjoy a Tea of the Day, and you’re likely to run into owner Anna Foster. “I try to be really interactive with clients. They can ask difficult things about herbalism, and we can talk about how to customize products for their specific needs,” Foster says. “We try to create a really welcoming atmosphere. We want people to be blown away with the experience and feel like, wow, I was just in the most amazing place and saw the most amazing things; my mind is blown.”
Just down the street, you can step into the wonders of Theo’s Toys and Games. An independent toy store is an especially magical place during the holidays, and at Theo’s, you can find a scavenger hunt for the family to follow around town. You might also choose an Advent calendar to follow throughout the season.
“We personally select all of our products and concentrate on really unique stuff you can’t find anywhere else,” says owner Tony Mogck. “Visitors often refer to our town as something right out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. We love the comparison and feel really fortunate to have the town’s one and only toy store for kids of all ages!”
Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27, is a great time to shop local to support the hometown economy and find those unique gifts for friends and family. The shops of Manitou will be filled with discounts and deals throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. You can find a list of sweet deals here.
You’ll also find sales and special gifts all season long all around Manitou. At The Ten Spot, you’ll find fun and funky home and fashion accessories. You can buy—or make your own—artisan candles at the Skye Candle Co. La Henna Boheme has boho-chic fashion and gifts, and Piramide specializes in fair-trade fashion with global inspiration. The Olive Tap is the stop for gourmet, extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars—and, yes, you can sample.
The Whickerbill is full of unique kitchen gadgets and home goods. Galleries, such as the Green Horse Gallery, the Commonwheel Artists Co-op and Cherokee’s of Manitou, provide fine art in a full range of media. And, of course, Christmas in Manitou is the year-round stop for Christmas ornaments, collectibles and decor.
If you’re unable to shop in person, you can find a vast online collection of goods and gift certificates at ManitouMade.com. Think of it as the collective online store for the boutiques, shops, galleries, bakeries, restaurants, bars, outfitters, and cottage-industry makers of Manitou.
“Manitou Springs has an amazing charm that a lot of mountain towns don’t have,” Anna Foster says. “Everyone works really hard decorating the old, historic buildings so beautifully. It creates such a fun feeling that transports you back in time to that classic turn of the century charm, and it creates a fun experience for people.”
Christmas officially kicks off in Manitou this year on Nov. 26, with the town Christmas tree lighting. There’s a full schedule of holiday events in Manitou Springs, including visits with Santa Claus, the Manitou Christmas Parade, live music on the streets, and sales and specials at local shops and boutiques. From shopping and dining to joining the community gatherings and festivities, there’s a way for everyone to experience the holiday magic of Manitou Springs.
Don’t Miss These Holiday Events in Manitou Springs
Town Tree Lighting
Nov. 26, 5 p.m.
Gather around the historic Town Clock in the center of downtown and celebrate the arrival of the holiday season as the lights come on to illuminate the town Christmas tree.
Small Business Saturday
Do good by shopping small, supporting the local economy, and finding uniquely just-right gifts for everyone on your list.
Visits with Santa
Nov. 26, 3-5 p.m.
Nov. 27, 12-2 p.m.
Dec. 18, 12-2 p.m.
Jolly ol’ Saint Nick will be at the Town Clock on Nov. 26-27 and a location to be determined in December. Bring him your wishlist in person, or if you can’t make it, drop off your letters to Santa at the Town Clock until Dec. 17. Just be sure to include your return address, so Santa can mail a reply.
Live Holiday Music
Weekends Nov. 27 – Dec. 19, 12-2 p.m.
Get a dose of holiday cheer from the Holiday Brass band and Wassail singers, performing on the streets on weekends leading up to Christmas. You might just have to stop and sing along!
Manitou Christmas Parade
Dec. 11, 6 p.m.
The brightly lit promenade happens on Manitou Avenue, from Ruxton Ave. to El Paso Blvd. With a theme of “Christmas Begins in Manitou,” the parade is a community gathering. Of course, Santa will be there, riding along with the Manitou Springs Fire Department.
Shop and Ski
Save your receipts and redeem them at the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce, 354 Manitou Ave. For every $75 you spend between Nov. 15, 2021, and March 31, 2022, you’ll receive a voucher for 40% off of a lift ticket at Monarch Mountain.