Colorado Tourism Office rounds up holiday festivities from railroad rides to ballet | VailDaily.com

Colorado Tourism Office rounds up holiday festivities from railroad rides to ballet

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The County Building in Denver is lit up every holiday season.

DENVER – Communities throughout Colorado are embracing the holiday season with special events and activities. Here's a collection of opportunities from the Colorado Tourism Office to explore in the coming weeks.

• Mile High Holidays in Denver (November to January) — Through mid-January, Denver will feature dozens of opportunities to celebrate the season, from the Parade of Lights and Santa Sightings to performances of "The Nutcracker" at Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Downtown Denver's Grand Illuminations, which includes the lighting of the City and County Building, Larimer Square, Denver Union Station and more. Visit http://www.denver.org/milehighholidays for a complete schedule.

• 29th annual Holiday Exhibition (Nov. 2 to Dec. 31) — Artists of Santa Fe Gallery + Studios will be displaying works of fine art, including paintings, ceramics, photography, jewelry and sculpture. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, plus 5 to 8 p.m. on the month's third Friday, Dec. 16. Visit http://www.artdistrictonsantafe.com to learn more.

• Nutcrackers, Tinsel, & Bears — Oh My! (Nov. 6 to Dec. 31) — This year's exhibit at the Buell Children's Museum in Pueblo is a celebration of two Children's Museum traditions: the Sangre de Cristo ballet's annual production of "The Nutcracker," as well as the Giant Teddy Bear Tree. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, military and children ages 3 to 16; children 2 and younger are free. Click on "Children's Museum" at http://www.sdc-arts.org.

• Santa Express Train on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (Nov. 18 to Dec. 24) — Take the kids on a real-life Polar Express experience this winter on the Santa Express Train. Children are encouraged to wear pajamas while sipping hot cocoa and nibbling on cookies aboard the train. After a 30-minute ride to the "North Pole," Santa will hop on the train to pass out special holiday bells to the kids. Tickets start at $40 for adults and $30 for children, with up to three daily departures. Visit royalgorgeroute.com.

• A Hudson Christmas (Nov. 25 to Dec. 31) — With dazzling displays of sight and sound, the outdoor walking path winds through Hudson Gardens in Littleton and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Open from 5 to 8 p.m. through Dec. 31 with some exceptions; tickets are $6 to $9. Visit hudsongardens.org.

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• Polar Express (select dates Dec. 1 to 31) — The award-winning book comes to life through the chefs, hobo, conductor, Billy, Santa and elves on the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad steam train. All passengers will be served hot chocolate and a treat served by personal chefs who will also read the "Polar Express" story on the way to the North Pole to pick up Santa. While Santa visits each car, chefs lead passengers in specially selected Christmas carols on the return to Durango. All the kids aboard the train will receive a special gift from Santa. Tickets start at $32 for adults and $22 for children. Visit http://www.durangotrain.com.

• Holiday Prelude 2016 (Dec. 7 to 18) — Telluride's Holiday Prelude features a lineup of festive events for the whole family. The two weeks include lighting of the Ski Tree, card making, sitting with Santa, train rides for kids and a Ride to the North Pole on the Gondola. View the complete schedule at http://www.visittelluride.com/holiday-prelude.

• Mesa Verde National Park Luminaria Celebration (Dec. 8) — Mesa Verde National Park will offer a special winter celebration at its ancient cliff dwellings. The pathways throughout the park will be lit up by luminaries (small paper lanterns) for this free event. The park will offer ranger-guided tours of Spruce Tree House, the third largest cliff dwelling in the park, along with self-guided visits from 4 to 9 p.m. There will also be food and music throughout the evening.

• Garden of Lights at Montrose Botanic Gardens (select dates Dec. 9 to 27) — The Montrose Botanic Garden's "Garden of Lights," an illuminated community and family event for the holidays, will include colorful, energy-efficient LED lighting placed around the Gardens, Santa Claus, caroling, refreshments and horse-drawn wagon rides. This event will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. nightly, Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 26 and 27. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for youth and $12 for families; children 4 and younger are free. Call 970-275-8902, or visit montrosegardens.org.

• 12 Days of Aspen (Dec. 20 to 31). For 12 days in December, Aspen's downtown will become a winter wonderland, bustling with free ice skating, visits from Santa's reindeer, hot cocoa, holiday drink specials, holiday lighting throughout the streets and more. Several events will take place throughout the 12 days, including making your own ornament event at the Limelight Hotel. The 12 Days of Aspen will end on New Year's Eve with fireworks over Aspen Mountain. Visit http://www.aspenchamber.org.

Find more online

Looking for more ideas for family events and activities across the state? Click on “Festivals & Events” at http://www.colorado.com.