As with all things in 2020, Christmas in Aspen will be a little different this year, but magic and merriness will continue to reflect the season (as will skiing and snowboarding). The Aspen Square continues its dedication to our safety protocols and procedures. You can read about them in a special section on our website, Well-Being at Aspen Square, which addresses our COVID-19 procedures as well as answer any additional questions you may have. And now, here are our favorite Aspen Christmas activities and events (be sure to check the relevant websites for evolving updates to historically scheduled events and festivities):
And now, here are our favorite Aspen Christmas activities and events (be sure to check the relevant websites for evolving updates to historically scheduled events and festivities):
12 Days of Aspen
Each year, during the last 12 days of December (December 20–31), Aspen’s cozy downtown decks itself out in festive attire. During that time, the Aspen Chamber (ACRA) fills those 12 December days with an abundance of activities for everyone, and calls it the “12 Days of Aspen.” The Chamber posts each day’s activities and events on its website, with kid-friendly activities including ice skating, meeting Santa (and his reindeer), eating s’mores, art workshops, plus cookie-, ornament- and stocking-decorating. Adults can look forward to the “12 Days of Après,” and everyone enjoys the annual fireworks display at Aspen Mountain, on New Year’s Eve, the final day of celebration.
Seasonal Holiday Skiing
A Christmas holiday in Aspen (which is almost always white) won’t be complete without skiing and other snow sports. From snowboarding to downhill skiing to visiting the area Nordic cross-country skiing centers, anyone and everyone can choose their favorite means of sliding across the snow. Our four mountains plus the Nordic trails accommodate small crowds and social distancing naturally.
While resort prices for tickets and passes change from year to year, you’ll always find the most recent rates at the Aspen Snowmass Tickets and Passes page. You can walk to the Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen, across the street from Aspen Square, or take a free bus to the three other ski areas ― Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. For cross-country options, the Aspen Nordic Center will get you started on their extensive (and free) system of groomed trails and tracks.
Christmas Holiday Ice Skating
If you prefer seeing Aspen’s festive Christmas decor while sliding and gliding, the Silver Circle Ice Rink (right outside CP Burger and a short walk from the Gondola) is the perfect choice. The Silver Circle is generally open from December through February, with ice skates available for rent at the rink. If you’d rather skate indoors, the Aspen Ice Garden and Lewis Ice Arena — both operating under the Aspen Recreation Department —offer public skating and events.
Snowmobiling for the Holidays
If you’re eager to explore Aspen’s winter wonderland up close over Christmas break, but prefer to be driven by someone who knows the area intimately, the T-Lazy 7 Ranch offers winter snowmobile tours in the White River National Forest (including the Maroon Bells). You can rent all the equipment you’ll need (helmets, boots, extra layers) before being taken for a ride (literally) by experienced and knowledgeable guides. It’s a memorable way to see more of our valley’s natural beauty while you’re here.
Naturalist Snowshoe and Ski Tours
Snowshoe and ski tours usually occur daily during December on both Aspen and Snowmass Mountains. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) partners with the Aspen Skiing Company and the US Forest Service to offer these educational winter naturalist tours for both children and adults.
Ullr Nights near Aspen in Snowmass
If you venture a few miles downvalley to Snowmass, you’ll be able to celebrate Ullr Nights most Friday nights while in town. The family-friendly weekly celebration takes place at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola, and honors Ullr, the Norse God of Snow. Enjoy a bonfire, s’mores, and hot chocolate before or after you try snow tubing, ice skating, and/or snow biking (yes, it’s a thing!). You’ll be further entertained by live music and fire dancers until you feel your adventure is complete and you and the kids are ready for bed.
Winter Workshops at the Aspen Art Museum
The Aspen Art Museum offers six days of art workshops for kids ages 4-10 during each annual winter break. Children are invited to take inspiration from current works on display for their creative projects. Each day of these winter art workshops dives into a new creative challenge, supplemented by playful winter activities.
Holiday Shows at the Wheeler
The Wheeler Opera House celebrates each “magical month” of December with a thoughtfully selected series of holiday-themed performances. In past years, the series has been known to include a variety of live music, magic shows, holiday films, comedy performances, family-friendly theater, and more. You can find details on the official lineup (as it’s finalized) at Aspen Showtix.
The Nutcracker in Aspen
While the exact lineup and schedule of holiday shows at the Wheeler changes each year, The Nutcracker has been an annual staple. No authentic Christmas holiday can possibly be complete without a viewing of The Nutcracker ballet with its extraordinary music by Tchaikovsky. Each Aspen Christmas, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performs their own whimsical adaptation: The Nutcracker!, on the stage of the Wheeler Opera House. You can see the Wheeler performance calendar and purchase tickets at the Aspen Showtix website.
Aspen Christmas Tree Lightings
Each year, at 6pm on the first Sunday of December, the 93-foot fir tree — in front of Aspen’s Sardy House on Main Street — (one of Aspen’s tallest and oldest trees) will be lit by a long-time Aspenite. The Christmas Tree Lighting event traditionally includes Christmas carols, an appearance by Santa, and the always welcome free cookies and hot cocoa.
The annual Christmas tree lighting at Little Nell begins with live holiday music, followed by the tree lighting in the courtyard. You can expect to hear Christmas carols while taking photos with Santa. The Aspen Animal Shelter also often attends the event with “reindeer” pups for socializing.
The St. Regis lights up its 30-foot courtyard tree each year, accompanied by live music and Champagne sabering, the exciting “signature ceremony” of the St. Regis’ Evening Rituals.
Christmas Dining in Aspen
Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day holiday dining options are collected and published each year on the ACRA Holiday Dining page. The Hotel Jerome usually offers a Christmas Eve buffet, and AJAX Tavern presents a prix fixe menu for Christmas Day, but they’re far from the only dining events available.
Christmas and Hanukkah Holiday Services
No matter your faith, you’ll find a number of services taking place throughout December in Aspen. The Aspen Chamber website updates the Religious Services page as new events are confirmed, so be sure to check back again if you don’t immediately see what you’re looking for.
The Best Christmas Lodging in Aspen
To fully experience the joy of the winter holidays in Aspen, there isn’t a more magical place to stay than in the center of downtown. Book your stay with us at the Aspen Square Condominium Hotel — a luxury condominium hotel across from the base of Aspen Mountain. To make your reservation, call us at 1-800-862-7736 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.