“Next to filmmaking and stuff like that, skiing is my favorite thing. I go skiing in Aspen – everywhere. I have been skiing since I was 4. I just love it. I feel so free.” – Sage Stallone
Aspen, Colorado is known for its gorgeous ski town, mountainous beauty, and powdery slopes. Unsurprisingly, it is also the kind of town to visit during the holiday season — especially if you’re on the hunt for a White Christmas. Powder hound or not, anyone can enjoy the events around town in Aspen during the holidays. There is much more to this Colorado city than just its reputation for skiing.
The holidays are a big deal in Aspen, with what seems like the whole city participating in some element of the seasonal rituals. Free activities galore await you in Aspen should you visit during Christmastime. From snacks to sights, it will be hard to pinpoint the best time to visit.
In fact, there is so much to do that you might have to make time for skiing even in a town known for it. Ready for some Aspen Colorado Christmas adventures? Here are 16 things to do in that we know you’ll love this holiday season.
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BEST ASPEN CHRISTMAS ACCOMMODATIONS
- Perfect for a Multi-family Holiday Vacay: This gorgeous Aspen Golf Course home is pricey, but sleeps 18 so it’s great for bringing all the parents and kids together. You’ve got gorgeous views of the ski areas, a free shuttle into town, multiple living spaces, a private elevator for the grands, a hot tub, chef’s kitchen and so much more.
- Affordable w/Easy Ski Access: If you just need 1-2 bedrooms within walking distance of the lifts and gondola, the Aspen Core Condominium is your best bet. You can even see Ajax Mountain from the balcony.
- Quintessential Aspen Christmas: Nothing says Christmas like St. Regis Aspen Resort. Ski storage space, walking distance to everything you need, 5 on-site dining options, and a to-die-for spa. Coming from out of town? The free airport shuttle means you don’t even need a car.
- Ski-In/Ski-Out: If the 550 ft to the lifts at St Regis is too far, then try The Little Nell. While this hotel gives a completely different vibe, it’s not any less amazing. There are 1-and 2-bedroom suites or apartments, and the Deluxe room has a great fireplace and balcony. Pool and restaurants on-site.
12 DAYS OF ASPEN
You’ve heard of the song “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but did you know that song lives on as a dozen days event tradition in Aspen? The town has really embraced its wintertime finesse to bring everyone together in holiday celebration year after year.
** 12 Days of Aspen is not happening in 2022! We’ll keep you posted on this year’s events as we get them.
HIT THE SLOPES
Skiing in Aspen is one of the biggest draws to the city. That’s no surprise since Aspen Mountain has over 675 acres of skiable land and 64 skiing trails to enjoy. With so much ground to cover, there is plenty to see even for the most frequent visitor.
The four big ski areas around Aspen include Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. Staying at a ski resort gives you excellent proximity to the trails for primo skiing time for the ultimate holiday slope trip.
Snowmass is the second largest skiing area in the state of Colorado. As a matter of fact, it has a more skiable area than the other three areas in Aspen put together.
Ready to hit the slopes, but don’t have the equipment? We’ve made snowboarding a lifestyle, but before we owned our equipment, Ski Butlers was our ski (and boarding) rental service of choice. These guys deliver to your hotel or condo – and pick up- for only a few dollars more than the jam-packed shops just down the road. And the equipment? Best in the business! Check out Ski Butlers on your next vacation!
ENJOY CHRISTMAS EVE OR CHRISTMAS DAY DINNER
Spending time in Aspen for Christmastime can even mean enjoying the holiday itself in town. While visitors can always prepare their own holiday dinner in a rental home, food always tends to taste best when someone else prepares it — particularly big holiday meals. This is why Aspen has some excellent Christmas meal choices to choose from.
Aspen’s Hotel Jerome has an extensive Christmas Eve dinner menu for guests each year. This isn’t Grandma’s ham dinner either. Hotel Jerome’s five-course prix fixe dinner has, in previous years, cost $225+ per person.
Hotel Jerome also has regular service on Christmas Day, in addition to special entrees for the holiday during dinner service.
Just like Hotel Jerome, Element 47 also has a multi-course Christmas Eve dinner selection. The four-course prix fixe menu includes menu options like wagyu beef, lobster, hand-made pasta, and foie gras. Prices have been $300+ per person in previous years, with a $150 wine pairing option, and $50 per child.
On Christmas Day, Element 47 also has a four-course prix fixe menu featuring some of the same kinds of tasty options as their Christmas Eve dinner selection.
AJAX TAVERN – AT THE LITTLE NELL
For Christmas Day itself, Ajax Tavern has a more relaxed Christmas dinner vibe for guests. Though the three-course dinner has cost upwards of $200 per person with a $100 wine pairing option, it is a more casual environment for families looking to break that holiday season stress.
SPEND FRIDAYS AT SNOWMASS’ ELK CAMP
Snowmass’ Elk Camp is a chill place to grab some grub on the mountain. Found at the Snowmass Ski Resort, Elk Camp is known for its tasty bites during both the winter and summer seasons. Particularly their selections during the Ullr Nights in the winter months (after the holidays), and Farm to Table Tuesdays during the summer months.
If you’re flying into Aspen and can’t make it for Christmas, aligning with the winter festivities like Ullr Nights is a great alternative.
Ullr Nights is named for the Norse god of winter, skiing, and snow sports. At Elk Camp, these night celebrations include activities like tubing, riding their Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, making s’mores or hot cocoa, and even snowbiking! Guests can even take a charming gondola ride up to Elk Camp to enjoy the festivities.
CATCH A SHOW AT THE HISTORIC WHEELER OPERA HOUSE
Wheeler Opera House has been housing live music and entertainment options since it first opened in Aspen in 1889. These events change up during the holiday season just like much of the town, so expect to see some holiday favorites at the Wheeler.
In the past, some of those events have included A Very Electric Christmas, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy: A Celtic Family Christmas, and even showings of beloved Christmas films like The Polar Express.
CELEBRATE A CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING
Celebrating Christmastime in Aspen wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a ceremonial tree. One such Christmas tree lives at The Little Nell each December, with the lighting ceremony taking place for visitors early in the month of December. Lighting the tree is something the whole family can enjoy.
The Aspen Animal Shelter brings “reindeer pups” to see, while the event also has hot cocoa and cookies to snack on, song carolers to entertain, and even photos with Santa to kick off the season.
Meanwhile, the St. Regis Aspen also hosts a Christmas tree each year as well. The hotel invites guests to enjoy photos with Santa, cookies, holiday beverages, singers, and even champagne sabering, per the Aspen Chamber of Commerce.
TAKE TO TO THE ICE
Folks who want to partake in another wintertime sporting tradition, ice skating, are able to embrace three different rinks in the city.
Silver Circle is the outdoor rink while two indoor rinks: Aspen Ice Garden and Lewis Ice provide ice skating space even in the worst winter weather.
WATCH THE WINTERSKÖL PARADE
Though not technically the Christmas season, Aspen’s Wintersköl is a wintertime event, unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere in the mountains. Each January since 1951, Wintersköl is the city’s “toast to winter” that celebrates everything Aspen. Enjoy the parade, events throughout the town, snow sculptures, a torchlight walk down Aspen Mountain, fireworks and so much more.
Also part of the Wintersköl festivities is the Show Us Your Button Wintersköl contest, which gives visitors a chance to show off their favorite mountain pics while sporting their buttons for a chance to win hotel stays and dining credits.
GO FOR A SLEIGH RIDE
What else could be more quintessentially Christmas than taking a sleigh ride? Hop aboard a sled led by a gorgeous pair of Percheron Draft Horses to lunch or dinner at Pine Creek Cookhouse. Reservations are required, and sleighs can host 15-18 guests at a time for the 20-minute excursion to the restaurant.
MAKE TIME FOR TUBING
Tubing adventures can be found all over the Aspen area with some of the best being around Snowmass. The tubing lanes are lift-served and nearby to Elk Camp, which is where many festivities are held throughout the holiday and winter seasons.
Tubing is open every day starting in late December into very early April, but you’ll want to show before 1pm for the best chance to hit the runs…they fill quickly.
TREAT YOURSELF TO SNOWMASS SMORES
They say that the best things in life are free. That’s certainly true in the case of the Snowmass S’mores tradition. Beginning in late November each year, Snowmass Tourism offers guests free s’mores around Snowmass Base Village, Snowmass Mall, and Four Mountain Sports.
Beginning at 3:30 pm each day, kids, and kids at heart alike, can sink their teeth into some tasty sweet treats.
TAKE A SNOWSHOE TOUR
Snowshoeing doesn’t get enough credit. Not only is this winter sport much more relaxing than some of the others, but it’s also a heck of a workout. (Those snowshoes are heavier than they look!) Visiting Aspen might be a great chance to try out snowshoeing for the first time, or just take a break from the more intense skiing or sporting activities to see the sights.
Some of the snowshoe tours around the area include an Aspen tour, which is offered every day, twice a day starting in mid-December. This tour allows visitors to see the forests up close and personal along the Richmond Ridge, which is 2.5 miles round trip, according to Aspen Snowmass.
VISIT THE ANDERSON RANCH ARTS CENTER HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
An event highlighting the beauty of the season along with local arts, the Holiday Open House at Anderson Ranch Arts Center is another must-see tradition.
Explore candlelit paths around the arts center campus, check out the work of their artists-in-residence, see the center’s current exhibition, and maybe even get that holiday shopping out of the way.
TAKE IN THE HOLIDAY LIGHTS OF SNOWMASS LUMINESCENCE
Christmas lights are such a big part of the season, sometimes we forget what a big part they can be. But for more than two months each winter, long after the Christmas presents see their light of day, Snowmass Luminescence continues its inviting glow. Each evening from mid-December to the end of February, the event brightens up the night.
According to the Aspen Snowmass tourism website, the luminescence lasts from sunset to 9 pm each night, with a variety of interactive light and art displays to enjoy. These include The Tunnel, interactive illuminated walkways, and archways, plus large interactive installations by renowned artists.
WATCH THE WORLD SNOW POLO CHAMPIONSHIP
“We want polo to thrive here, and we want Aspen to be the summer polo destination in America,” said Melissa Ganzi.
If you would rather spend time seeing other folks enjoying winter sports, why not check out the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship at Rio Grande Park? This snow polo event draws guests from all over to enjoy seeing the best of the best take on the sport. Aspen’s championship is even known as one of the world’s top snow polo tournaments.
Aspen has hosted the event for several years thanks to Marc and Melissa Ganzi, who founded the Aspen Valley Polo Club in 2014. Per the club’s website, they offer weekly grass and arena tournaments, kids polo, The Polo School, and Polo On Demand.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO
- YOUR COLORADO VACATION
- BEAVER CREEK CHRISTMAS: Your Guide To Beaver Creek Colorado Christmas Fun
- GLENWOOD SPRINGS: 9+ Sensational Things To Do In Glenwood Springs
- VAIL: 33 Sensational Things To Do In Vail
- BRECKENRIDGE: Why We Love Breckenridge Ski Resort (+ 25 More Things To Do In Breck In Winter)
WHERE TO STAY IN APEN
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