As a Denverite, I see a lot of destination skiers scratch the surface of city before disappearing to Aspen, Vail or Breckenridge without truly discovering what Denver has on offer. You should stick around for a few days to soak in its vibe but don’t just wander around aimlessly on the streets – Here’s my checklist of local winter activities to guide you through the city.
Parade of Lights
One of the first events to kick off the winter season in Colorado, the Parade snakes through downtown from the Civic Centre to Skyline Park and back again on a two mile route. It's got everything you want in a holiday parade – floats, marching bands and more, all taking place after dark under the magic of twinkle lights.
When: December 1st and 2nd. For more information, click here.
National Western Stock Show
January is jammed packed full of activities starting with the National Western Stock Show. This truly western event brings together cowboys, ranchers, farmers, and their livestock from all over the country. If you enjoy cowboy movies, you're sure to have a blast at the rodeo events that take place during this festival. You’ll be surrounded by kids clinging on sheep, pro cowboys performing lasso tricks, professional bullfighting and more! Perhaps the most memorable event is the kick-off parade, where a number of ranchers on horseback march through downtown Denver alongside long-horned cattle – a sight to behold in a bustling modern city. Yeehaw!
When: January 6-18, 2018. For more information, click here.
Winter Brew Fest
Colorado has a long tradition of beer brewing which dates back to the 1800s when the first Coors Beer factory was built in the state. It’s the birthplace of Blue Moon and home to the largest single-site brewery in the country. It celebrates this heritage by throwing the Winter Brew Fest which draws together local and national breweries and microbreweries in one place so you can taste all their wares! If you like snow and beer, this is heaven on earth.
You’ll be overwhelmed with choice but you can’t go wrong with my personal favourites – Ska Brewing Company's Modus Hopperandi (IPA), Deschutes Brewery's Obsidian Stout, and New Belgium Brewing Company's Fat Tire (amber ale).
Tickets are limited to give the festival an intimate ambience, so make sure you book ahead; it’s just a few clicks online.
When: January 26-27, 2018. For more information, click here.
Denver March Powwow
Where the National Western Stock Show honours Colorado's cowboy heritage, the Denver March Powwowhonors its Native American heritage. The annual event draws Native Americans from roughly 100 tribes, from all over North America for a weekend of traditional dancing and drumming. You’ll get a glimpse into their culture as you watch performances in customary attire and browse handicraft booths with cultural paintings and jewelry.
When: the last weekend in March. For more information, click here.
Shop at 16th Street Mall
This place has got you covered if you’re looking for the perfect souvenir or stocking up on winter gear. The mall and its surrounding area has great shopping from well-known brands to local shops. If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, my favourite local hangout is the area near the Mayan Theatre on the corner of Broadway and 1st. It a bit more out of the way but here you’ll find a bunch of smaller shops lining Broadway selling everything from local antiques to vintage clothing, not to mention, local eats.
Skyline Park’s Skating Rink
Once you’re done with shopping, cross the road to the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park, where you can let the kids loose. You'll get a great view of the surrounding skyscrapers as you zip around. Best of all, admission is free, and skate rentals are available for $2 USD ($3 CAD) per pair!
Location: Corner of 16th Street and Arapahoe.
Watch a Hockey game at Pepsi Center
This is a multi-purpose arena hosting a number of professional and amateur sporting teams that call Denver home. I’m pretty sure you get the title of honorary Denverite if you cheer the Colorado Avalanche on in a National Hockey League game. Sure, they might be scraping by at the bottom of the league for many years, but that just means cheaper tickets!
Location: Pepsi Centre, 1000 Chopper Circle. Cost: varies by game; click here to find tickets.
See the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium
If you find yourself in Denver early in the season and want to wait a big long for the snow making machines to work their magic, why not check out a football game! The regular season runs until the end of December but you might get to see them play in January if they make the playoffs. Don’t worry if you don’t know the rules – just wear blue and orange and go with the crowd!
Location: Mile High Stadium, 1701 Bryant Street. Cost: varies by game; click here to find tickets.
Denver comes alive in winter and abuzz with local activity which will keep you out and about, whether you’re there for a day or a month. Make sure you start ticking off our list – your short stopover on the way to the mountains could be one of the most memorable parts of your trip! If you're planning to visit, check out our great packages to Colorado.