During the Christmas season, Aspen transforms into a magical wonderland of twinkling lights, holiday celebrations, and snowy streets filled with the jubilant sounds of Christmas shoppers. If you are looking for the perfect spot to experience a true Rocky Mountain Christmas, then look no further. Aspen’s seasonal events and activities combined with its surrounding snow-capped peaks will leave even the biggest Scrooge awestruck with its festive charm.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Christmas events and activities in Aspen. Seasonal events continue to evolve as the dates approach, so it’s always a good idea to check relevant websites for updates.
Christmas Tree Lighting Events
There’s nothing like an annual Christmas tree lighting to bring in the Christmas spirit. The annual lighting of the town’s tallest and oldest fir in front of Aspen’s Sardy House on Main Street is a time-honored Aspen tradition. This event traditionally includes caroling and music by Aspen’s high school and middle school bands. Of course, no tree lighting is complete without Santa, cookies, and cocoa for the crowd.
The Little Nell, in partnership with Aspen Animal Shelter, also hosts an annual tree-lighting event to usher in the holidays. Come join Santa and Mrs. Claus on December 10th for this much-loved community event and enjoy free cider, cocoa, and cookies made by Little Nell pastry chefs while listening to the festive songs from the Aspen High School choir.
12 Days of Aspen
Aspen’s last 12 days of December are known annually as the “12 Days of Aspen.” Downtown Aspen hosts a variety of activities for locals and visitors that include ice skating, meeting Santa (and his reindeer), eating s’mores, and enjoying art workshops, plus cookie, ornament, and stocking decorating. Adults can participate in the “12 Days of Après” for festive libations, dancing, and socializing at an Aspen hotspot.
The 12 Days of Aspen celebration wraps up on New Year’s Eve with a light show or fireworks display on Aspen Mountain. Check out the Aspen Chamber’s website for the most up-to-date information on the year’s activities and events.
Holiday Cabaret Series
Celebrate the season with Theatre Aspen’s Holiday Cabaret 2023 performance of A Christmas Carol. This holiday series at the Hotel Jerome features a seated multi-course chef’s dinner followed by a festive 60-minute performance starring the best of Broadway! Enjoy the best of Theatre Aspen while celebrating the season with friends, food, and fabulous entertainment.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Experience the magic of the holiday season at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. Featuring a stellar cast of performers, this production will delight and entertain audiences of all ages with ballet, flamenco, Chinese ribbon dance, circus artists, and more!
Enjoy this magical Aspen tradition and usher in the holidays with friends and loved ones. Check the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet website for event info and to purchase tickets.
Ullr Nights in Snowmass
Head up to Snowmass to celebrate Ullr Nights, the all-ages event packed with activities to honor the Norse God of Snow. Take an evening gondola ride to Elk Camp Restaurant to enjoy tubing, the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, snow biking, s’mores, and hot cocoa by the bonfire. If you want to start the evening out with some tasty treats, grab food at the a la carte culinary celebration from 5:30-7:30. Reservations are recommended to ensure availability.
Holiday Shows at the Wheeler
Celebrate the magical month of December at The Wheeler Opera House. With events ranging from an afternoon matinee performance by Native Pride Productions to An Appalachian Christmas with Grammy-winning fiddler Mark O’Connor to a celebration of Nat King Cole’s Christmas songs by Allan Harris and special guests, and the return of DanceAspen to the Wheeler stage for A Snowy Soiree, the Wheeler has something for everyone this holiday season.
Aspen’s “toast to winter” features four days of festivities across town that include on-mountain activities, concerts, a craft beer fest, Soupsköl™, a torchlight descent down Aspen Mountain, a bonfire, and fireworks. Wintersköl is well-loved by locals as it highlights what makes the winter season in Aspen so special.
Skiing and Snowboarding
The four resorts are the biggest draw to the Aspen Snowmass area. A single lift ticket unlocks 5,500+ acres of some of North America’s best terrain, meaning there is plenty to do and see if you hope to get knee-deep in some powder over the holidays.
While actual prices for tickets and passes change from year to year, you can find the most current rates on the Aspen Snowmass Tickets and Passes page. For the best rates, booking at least ten days before arrival is always suggested.
If you prefer cross-country to downhill, the Aspen Cross Country Center, which operates the Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System, will get you started with its extensive map of free groomed trails and tracks. Located just out of town on Hwy 82 at the Aspen Golf Course, the Cross Country Center offers gear rentals, lessons, cross-country ski tours, ski tuning and repair services, and men’s and women’s locker rooms.
Aspen has outdoor and indoor ice skating options if you are looking for some off-mountain fun. Skate under the stars and take in the magical outdoor scenery at the Silver Circle Ice Rink just steps from Aspen Mountain. This rink generally opens in December, and ice skates are available for rent at the rink.
For indoor skating or drop-in hockey games, check out the Aspen Ice Garden and Lewis Ice Arena, both operating under the Aspen Parks and Recreation Department. These rinks are open for public skating and special events.
Interested in exploring the Aspen Valley? The T-Lazy 7 Ranch offers winter snowmobile tours in the White River National Forest (including Maroon Bells) so you can enjoy the solitude of the amazing Aspen backcountry. Rent all equipment and gear before being taken out on a tour by one of their knowledgeable snowmobile guides. It’s a great way to experience the magic of the area without the hustle and bustle of the busy groomed runs. Make sure to make your reservation early as these tours are popular.
Snowshoe and Ski Tours
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) leads daily snowshoe and ski tours during the winter season. Partnering with Aspen SkiCo and the US Forest Service, ACES offers free naturalist tours for both children and adults. Check online for ticket information and to make a reservation.
A variety of tubing adventures are available all over the Aspen area with some of the best located around Snowmass. Tubing lanes are lift-served and nearby to Elk Camp where there are many holiday festivities to be found.
Tubing is open daily starting in late December through early April. It’s best to show up early for the best chance to hit the runs.
You can’t get much more festive than a sleigh ride through Aspen during the holidays. Aspen Carriage and Sleigh offers horse-drawn carriage and sleigh rides to truly give you the most iconic Rocky Mountain Christmas experience. Book early, as these spots are highly coveted.
If you are looking to make your holiday dining stress-free and take advantage of Aspen’s fantastic culinary scene, the Aspen Chamber’s Holiday Dining page provides curated and published dining options for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Several restaurants in Aspen offer holiday menus for lunch and dinner, with options suitable for everyone. Check the event page frequently for updates, and contact restaurants directly for reservation information.
Christmas and Hanukkah Holiday Services
Holiday services of every faith are available in Aspen throughout December. The Aspen Chamber website updates its Holiday Religious Services page as new events are confirmed, so continue to check there for information as the month progresses.
Your Christmas Holiday Home
At Alpine Property, we want your holiday vacation to be an unforgettable experience. Our vacation rentals offer all the comforts of your home plus the finest amenities. Expect ski-in, ski-out access, mountain views, elegant décor, comfortable furnishings, private hot tubs, pools, fully-equipped kitchens, wood-burning fireplaces, and high-speed internet. Light a Christmas tree, cook a holiday meal in the gourmet kitchen, or host your own holiday party in one of our beautiful condo rentals.
Explore our vacation rentals now to start planning your Aspen Snowmass holiday visit.