Best Things to Do in December in Boulder

Boulder's Brightest, Most Exciting, and Most Beautiful Holiday Events and Attractions

Most cities are magical during the holidays. The twinkling lights, the carolers, and the hustle-bustle are enough to bring out the child in us all. Boulder, Colorado, however, holds its own special kind of magic during this time of year. With the snow-dusted Flatirons towering over the town, Pearl Street buzzing with events and shopping opportunities, and the mountains beckoning skiers and adventures, there's truly not a more stunning place to spend the holidays in Colorado. 

Topping out our list, St. Nick on the Bricks is the perfect opportunity for the family to see the sights of Pearl Street and visit Santa. Other festive events include, The Nutcracker and Boulder's famous Lights of December Parade where you can sip hot chocolate and watch 50 twinkling floats pass, as well as carolers, and marching bands. 

For skiers and outdoor adventurers, Eldora Mountain Resort offer some awesome powder days and exciting terrain. 

Interested in shopping and dining exclusively? Pearl Street Mall of Boulder and 16th Street Mall of Denver are the perfect spots for spending some cash and stocking up on your Christmas gifts.  


Perched above the small and quirky town of Nederland, Colorado, Eldora Ski Resort is a local favorite for families and powder hounds alike. Unlike the ski resorts on I-70 such as Vail and Breckenridge, Eldora is smaller, easier to access, and less expensive. However, that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice great skiing. Eldora has a variety of terrain and their longest run is 3 miles. Most runs are intermediate but, for those hoping to put their skills to the test, advanced terrain is available to be enjoyed. After skiing, be sure to stop off in Nederland for a slice of Backcountry Pizza and a beer at Very Nice Brewery.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The perfect holiday destination while visiting the area, Eldora Mountain Resort is just 30 minutes from downtown Boulder and offers some awesome terrain.

Hope's expert tip: If you're visiting and need transportation, RTD runs almost every hour and will drop you off right in front of the slopes at Eldora.

Read more about Eldora Mountain Resort →

Located on famous and romantic Pearl Street, Piece, Love, & Chocolate Company is the perfect place for dessert on date-night, Valentine's Day, or for couples who just want to treat themselves. Known for their truffles, decadent cakes, and in-store hot chocolate, this Chocolate Boutique caters to those with a sweet tooth. A local favorite you can't get anywhere else, their truffles made with beer from Boulder's microbreweries are sure to be a hit. Wanna relax instead of taking your chocolate to go? Many of PLC's cakes are served by the slice and can be eaten in their cozy sitting nook or on their Pearl Street Patio.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Piece, Love, & Chocolate Company offers the perfect opportunity to cozy up with hot chocolate, do some Christmas shopping, or share some decadent cake.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to purchase some of Piece, Love, & Chocolate's special truffles made with a variety of local microbrews.

Read more about Piece, Love, & Chocolate Company →

Music, film, and the arts collide at one of the most rustic and historical venues in the Colorado Front Range. Be sure to visit the Chautauqua Dining hall for brunch or dinner before your shoe or take a nature walk at Chautauqua Park. The auditorium is an intimate venue where you can catch a blue grass concern, watch the latest outdoor adventure film, or even attend book signing and academic lectures. Afterward, you can retire in one of Chautauqua's cozy onsite cottages. This is the perfect winter getaway for people who love the arts, the outdoors, and a vibrant city experience.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: This holiday season, treat your friends and family to music or a movie at the Chautauqua Auditorium and, perhaps, a snowy hike afterward.

Hope's expert tip: Chautauqua Auditorium is located next to the beautiful Chautauqua Park which is a perfect winter wonderland for a snowshoeing or hiking adventure.

Read more about Chatauqua Auditorium →


Named by the "Wall Street Journal" as among America's leading open-air pedestrian malls. Whether it's books, clothing, sporting goods, candy, or jewelry, there's a little something here for everyone. The area includes galleries, entertainment venues, historic sites, and architectural landmarks, while the extensive dining options range from Russian to Thai. The site of frequent outdoor concerts and community events, the Pearl Street Mall is frequented by locals of all ages. Big names such as Patagonia, Athleta, and Prana can be found on the mall, as well as local favorites like Boulder Art Mart, Peppercorn's, and the quaint Boulder Book Store.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: One of Boulder's most beloved attractions, Pearl Street offers Christmas shopping, dining, and numerous holiday events.

Hope's expert tip: Stop into Piece, Love, Chocolate for a sweet treat with your honey.

Read more about Pearl Street Mall →

This unique family favorite is tucked away at the end of Pearl Street and offers a relaxing and artistic experience for kids that is sure to kill a good 3 hours on a rainy day. Children pick their own ceramic figurine ranging from bowls and cups to piggy-banks and hair brushes, paint them, and then leave them to be fired by Color Me Mine's skilled staff. Art-made-easy, there's no clean up for you, the paint comes in a rainbow of colors, and many of the figurines are affordable or at marked-down prices. If you have a large group, there is a party-space to accommodate.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: An excellent opportunity to create spectacular gifts for Christmas, Color Me Mine is a great way to spend the afternoon or evening.

Hope's expert tip: Sharing a piece with a friend or child is fun and can help save money.

Read more about Color Me Mine →


The Boulder Ballet and Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra proudly present a beloved holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. Preformed in the elegant Mackey Auditorium, this intimate venue allows the audience the opportunity to be up-close and personal with the stage and it's dancers. Whether seated in the front row or balcony, no seat in Mackey is a bad one. This unique spin on an old classic, the Boulder Ballet utilizes traditional choreography and circus arts to modernize and energize the production. 80 dancers, full scenery, and elaborate costumes make this the Nutcracker you know and love. Tickets are one sale now and performances begin Thanksgiving weekend.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Thanksgiving weekend, enjoy a new adaptation of a beloved classic. The Nutcracker, performed by the Boulder Ballet Company is sure to delight.

Hope's expert tip: Tickets are going quickly, so get yours early!

Read more about The Nutcracker →

Parade of Lights
Photo courtesy of Downtown Boulder

Local businesses, schools, churches and many more participate in downtown Boulder's holiday shebang. This year, the parade will be held on December 5th at 6pm. Floats festooned with twinkling lights, music, and the Pearl Street Mall's shops all lit up with doors open wide to invite spectators to shop, sip coffee, or grab a bite. Other sights to see include fire engines, marching bands, and Santa Claus himself! Before or after the parade, be sure to grab dinner at one of Boulder's local restaurants or a beer at Mountain Sun Brewery, conveniently located in the heart of downtown. This event is great for children and the child in us all.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Beautiful floats adorned with lights, Christmas music and caroling, set against the backdrop of Boulder's Pearl Street makes for the perfect holiday event.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to arrive early and check out all of the shops and dining opportunities that Pearl Street has to offer.

Read more about Parade of Lights →

Love to shop but don't really care for all the walking involved? Never fear! 16th Street Mall of Denver offers a free trolly service that you will take you up and down the mall from store-to-fabulous store. This mall features the Virgin Records Megastore, Nikitown, the Gap. Awesome and funky places to dine and drink include, the Hard Rock Cafe, Maggiano's, Little Italy, and Rock Bottom Brewery, who got its start here in Colorado. This mall puts you in the epicenter of Denver and gets you within walking distance to Coors Field and the Pepsi Center, so you can shop before or after you catch a game or concert.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: 16th Street Mall of Denver is a great day trip for shopping, dining, and enjoying the sights of the city.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to stop of at some of the neighboring breweries in the area, including Great Divide.

Read more about 16th Street Mall of Denver →

St. Nick on the Bricks
Photo courtesy of Downtown Boulder

Meet Santa himself while shopping and dining in Boulder's charming downtown area. Located at the Visitor's Center and starting the week of Thanksgiving, kids of all ages are encouraged to bundle up, wait in line, and sit on the lap of St. Nick himself. Those who have been naughty, need not apply. After whispering your wish into Santa's ear, be sure to do some exploring, grab some hot chocolate at Pearl Street's Piece, Love, & Chocolate, shop at Into the Wind, a unique kite shop offering perfect gifts for the season, or Peppercorn's, offering plenty of gifts for kitchens and beyond.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: St. Nick on the Bricks offers an opportunity for children and adults to tell Santa Claus their deepest Christmas wishes all on lovely Pearl Street.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to get in line early, since this popular event draws a crowd.

Read more about St. Nick on the Bricks →

Not only will you find Victorian elegance at the Hotel Boulderado but, as one of the first Boulder hotels, you'll also find history and the perfect base of operations for all of your Colorado adventures. Interestingly, the hotel is a National Register Landmark as well as a member of the National Trust's Historic Hotels of America and Stash Hotel Rewards. Located in Boulder's downtown hub, you'll have no trouble walking to fine dining, entertainment, and shopping. Not to mention, many local breweries and pubs are nearby, so driving will never be an issue. 160 guestrooms and suites, many of which provide you with astonishing views of the Rocky Mountain Foothills, ensure that you'll stay in the lap of luxury. Should you feel the need to nibble but you don't want to step out for the evening, the in-house award-winning restaurant, gift shop, and lounges offer the perfect venues to grab a bit, peruse some souvenirs, and relax. Not to mention, HB's Holiday Teas, which typically take place every weekend in December, and their famed New Years Eve party are delightful events to attend during the Christmas season.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Hotel Boulderado offers cozy and quaint Holiday Teas perfect for celebrating Christmas with your family.

Hope's expert tip: Located in the heart of Boulder, you're going to want to explore the nightlife and fine-dining available on nearby Pearl Street.

Read more about Hotel Boulerado Holiday Teas and New Years Eve Party →


Meet Hope Gately

Hope Gately should have a bumper sticker proclaiming "Not a Native...But I Got Here as Fast as I Could!" A transplant from the Midwest, Hope has fallen in love with Colorado's mountains playing...  More About Hope