Another dreamy Colorado resort town spotted by the majestic Rocky Mountains, Breckenridge is a holiday season paradise. Seriously, this place looks straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Right up with Vail and Aspen, Breckenridge, Colorado is a ski resort town with much more to offer than just powdery snow — especially during the Christmas season.
With less than 10,000 residents, Breck is a quaint town with myriad possibilities. Honestly, the views of the charming downtown strip are enough to evoke even the Grinchiest traveler to revel in the holiday spirit. Who could possibly resist snow-capped mountain vistas, sled dogs, and an excuse to drink your body weight in hot cocoa?
Ready to learn more about a Breckenridge Colorado Christmas? Here are 11 things to do during the holiday season that you and your crew are sure to love.
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WHERE TO STAY IN BRECKENRIDGE AT CHRISTMAS
- Best Slopeside Resort: We spent a week at Grand Lodge on Peak 7 and admit that it’s location made our Breckenridge stay sensational. When you’re not taking a run, you won’t want to leave the pool. Apartments as large as 3 bedrooms can hold up to 12 guests.
- Gondola Access and Stunning Views: This townhouse is stunning, with views to match. Two private hot tubs keep the entertainment going when the slopes close. For added luxury, all bedrooms have an oxygen system during the night with an additional cannula located in the living room that is available at all times.
- Ski-In/Ski-Out Studio Gem: Sleep at the base of Peak 9 in this cozy studio penthouse with a queen bed and fold-out sofa. It has a stunning view of the ski slope and mountains and its own personal ski locker, plus a slope side indoor/outdoor swimming pool, 4 hot tubs, sauna, steam room, fully equipped fitness room and locker rooms.
EXPERIENCE THE LIGHTING OF BRECKENRIDGE
One of the most festive parts of the holiday season is, undoubtedly, seeing towns and cities light up. Those glistening lights, shimmering against the night sky, make the long nights a little less burdensome in the chill of winter. For the folks of Breck, Downtown Breckenridge doesn’t hold off on their Christmas lighting tradition.
Early in December each year, Main Street and much of the town come alive with lights through the Lighting of Breckenridge. Downtown’s lit holiday decor is strung from over 13,000 feet of lights and over 250,000 LED bulbs. In fact, the tourism folks say that their holiday light display is one of the most photographed spots in winter.
For holiday season festivities like the Lighting, Blue River Plaza is the place to be. If you’re visiting Breck and need a dose of Christmas Cheer, head downtown to the plaza after dark just to take in the warm glow of the season.
RACE OF THE SANTAS
Before the tree lighting ceremony and downtown becomes a Christmas card, Breckenridge has another beloved Main Street tradition. The Race of the Santas takes off down the center of Main Street and ends in Blue River Plaza. Breckenridge Recreation says the race is limited to 800 people…that’s a lot of Santas!
Kiddos can also compete in the race starting at age 6. The top three racers from the men and women categories each receive a custom Ullr helmet. While Santa suits aren’t mandatory, they are certainly encouraged. Though rogue Buddy the Elfs can also be seen running amongst the Santas. (If you decide to dress as Buddy the Elf, don’t forget to smile — smiling is his favorite.)
ENJOY ULLR FEST
If you read the last section and asked yourself, “What the heck is a Ullr helmet?” you’re probably not alone. Ullr, the god of snow, is a somewhat unknown figure in Norse mythology. Son of Sif the grain goddess (also the stepson of Thor), Ullr represents much of what it means to be a Viking warrior. He was an accomplished hunter, skater, skier, and archer so Ullr Fest is celebrated in Breckenridge in the spirit of this Norse god.
Since 1963, Breck has been celebrating Ullr Fest as a means of bringing forth a powder-filled ski season. There is a parade, an annual attempt at the world’s longest Shotski (lines of people taking shots off of skis), bonfires, good food, and celebration.
What makes this a Christmas activity you may ask? Well, for one, it takes place every December. For another, the celebratory giant Ullr bonfire is lit using the previous year’s Christmas trees. So, in that way, it’s a bit like saying goodbye to the last holiday before ringing in the next one. Like the Race of the Santas, appropriate attire isn’t required, though helmets and Viking apparel are highly encouraged.
Minnesota Vikings fans, this might be your truest calling. Someone tell Viktor!
TUBE THE HILL AT CARTER PARK
Throughout the year, Breck’s Carter Park is a popular spot for recreation or just relaxation in the shadow of the nearby mountain range. Sledding and tubing on the hill at Carter Park is a favorite activity for residents and visitors alike during the winter months. It’s free to enjoy the park, which is only a few blocks away from downtown.
There is parking on-site, though it is limited and there are also accommodation shuttles at various lodges around town.
There are sledding/tubing opportunities elsewhere in Breck including the Runway Sledding Hill on Fraction Drive or extreme sledding at Country Boy Mine. And don’t worry about hauling a sled on the plane with you, there are places to purchase tubes and sleds around town. Otherwise, Runway has a Sled Shed where sleds can be borrowed for free.
TAKE A SLEIGH RIDE
When we said Breckenridge in the wintertime is akin to a Hallmark holiday movie, we weren’t kidding. No cheesy, Christmas rom-com would be complete without the iconic horse drawn sleigh ride. Breck’s very own Golden Horseshoe Sleigh Rides are here to fulfill those Christmassy dreams.
Romantic, private sleigh rides that include hot chocolate, blankets, and optional chocolate/champagne add-ons are a particular favorite. According to Colorado Sleigh Rides, the private sleigh is modeled after the well-known imagery of the Hudson Valley Sleigh (1850-1901). These black sleighs are often seen in Victorian imagery as representing the wealthy elite.
Another private sleigh ride option comes in the form of a cherry red (Santa red) sleigh made for 5-20 riders. Rather than a team of one horse, the big sleigh has a team of two to take you through the scenic trails.
Using the same red sleigh, though not a private ride, is the company’s Hot Cocoa Ride. The 40-minute excursion includes a ride, hot cocoa, and blankets. This Christmas-time favorite ride, pulled by two gorgeous draft horses, is a fantastic way to see the sights in comfort. What a unique way to take a scenic route.
The final ride offered at Colorado Sleigh Rides is also their most unique. For two hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the company offers a Dinner Theater Sleigh Ride option. These rides include the ride itself, hot cocoa, blankets, a three-course dinner, and an interactive dinner show to boot! In the show, you can travel back in time to 1859 when prospectors flooded the area looking to mine for gold.
Dinner is served in their mining camp dining hall. In the hall, you might see dancers, trappers, or miners looking to tell a story. Guests are invited to steak, bbq chicken, or fish (with vegan/vegetarian options as well), served with salad, chili, beans, corn on the cob, rolls, and finished with fresh apple pie.
*The company notes that, due to staffing shortages, they will not hold the Dinner Theater rides until January 2023. Also, there must be at least 25 people signed up for the ride for the show to go on.
ICE SKATE WITH SANTA
Have you ever wondered what Santa was up to before his big ride on Christmas Eve? You might think he would be doing last-minute preparations, but it turns out he’s actually just hanging out in Breckenridge!
On Christmas Eve each year at Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breck, you can ice skate with Santa! “Santa loves Breckenridge as much as you do, so come say hello while he has a little fun before starting his evening deliveries around the world!”
It does make sense that he would take off from a mountainous region — a better takeoff point for the reindeer. But hopefully, he doesn’t fill up on hot cocoa, he’s got a long night ahead of him before Christmas Day!
SKATE INTO THE NEW YEAR
Also at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena, another holiday tradition is “Stayin’ Alive.” The Disco Skate event is a huge favorite. While you aren’t literally ringing in the new year (it runs from 7 pm to 9 pm), the skating event is a great way to celebrate, especially for families with younger kiddos who won’t make it to midnight.
Skate the evening away under a disco ball, participate in games to win prizes and just enjoy the end of the old year.
HEAD OUT IN A NORDIC SNOWCAT
If a horse drawn sleigh tour isn’t your style, perhaps a Nordic Snow cat will do the trick. At the Breck Nordic Center, you can take off in a Prinoth Snow cat designed by Italian Pininfarina and keep cozy in a heated, glass cabin while you see the forests. The 90-minute tour includes some spectacular vantage points, plus hot cocoa and s’mores at one of the center’s huts along the way.
According to the Nordic Center, Snowcat Adventures are available more days of the week starting on the hour from 1-4 p.m. Come along to see Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve for yourself while learning about the region’s unique history as well as its ever-growing ecological systems.
*Currently, the company is only offering private tours for up to eight people.
ENJOY THE RESORT’S BEST-KNOWN ADVENTURES
Breckenridge isn’t just the name of the town, it’s also the name of a sprawling ski resort in the town. The Breckenridge Ski Resort is an incredible location with access to the five peaks, over 2900 skiable acres, 187 trails, four terrain parks, and the tallest chairlift on the continent. Breckenridge Ski Resort is often considered one of the best ski resorts in the state.
Since 1962 the resort has been a major player in tourism for Breckenridge. It’s open from November through Memorial Day each year for some of the best recreation and relaxation around. Some of the favorite activities for guests to partake in here include skiing and snowboarding, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing.
For those wanting to be close to the action, One Ski Hill Place is right at the base of Peak 8. This is ideal for anyone wanting to spend long days on the slopes without having to make a huge trek back to base camp (pun intended). Meanwhile, Crystal Peak Lodge has an on-site ski lift as well as some awesome outdoor hot tubs to melt the stress away.
From name-brand chains like DoubleTree to condominiums for folks who want more space/kitchen access, the Breckenridge Ski Resort can accommodate travelers of all kinds.
Ski and ride Breck, Vail, Park City, Whistler Blackcomb, & 18 additional Vail Resorts with Epic Pass. Purchase day passes…or a season pass. It’s the way to get on the mountain. This year, Epic announced a 20% price cut, taking resort costs down to levels we haven’t seen since 2015, with the slogan Epic for Everyone! It’s your season to ski or snowboard friend.
But listen, with the lower prices, new resort offerings, and several resort expansions…they are also limiting ticket sales. Get your tickets now! Also, prices go up as the season begins. Last year our son paid more for a 4-day ticket (purchased late) than we did for our season passes purchased early. I repeat, get your tickets now!
EAT IN STYLE FOR THE HOLIDAY
If you are planning on being in Breck for Christmas Eve/Day, you don’t have to worry about cooking. According to Go Breck, the majority of the area’s 100+ restaurants and bars are open during the holidays with or without a specific holiday menu. Some of them are walk-in only, though Go Breck highly recommends making advanced reservations if you can to avoid waiting around. (Especially since so many people visit Breck during the holidays.) Go Breck also suggests making reservations if you plan on eating at one of the few places that offer a holiday-specific meal because those are going to book up the quickest.
Some of the restaurants that have offered holiday-specific meals in the past include Ember, Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon, Hearthstone, Aurum, Rootstalk, and Breckenridge Distillery Restaurant to name a few.
EMBRACE THE LAST-MINUTE SHOPPING
When a locale like Breckenridge is your holiday destination, especially if you’re spending the holiday there, you needn’t worry about last-minute shopping. You’ll find over 200 shops to make those holiday shopping trips easier than ever. Not to mention the number of specialty shops selling things you might only find in Breck.
For the craft beer connoisseur, look no further than Broken Compass Brewing Company for something unique to their palette. Wintertime recreation lovers would adore something from Rocky Mountain Underground which crafts handmade skis. And Ambika is sure to have everything you need to keep your skin and mind happy and healthy for the rest of the year and beyond with their heavenly concoctions. The possibilities are endless.
And for anyone who just cannot get over Breckenridge, be sure to check out Off the Slopes. This shop sells things that are truly unique to Break because the artisans’ work is inspired by the area itself, as well as the wildlife who call it home. How sweet is that?
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO
- YOUR COLORADO VACATION
- MOUNTAIN BIKING: Why Breckenridge Mountain Biking School Is A Must
- HIKING: Our 5 Favorite Breckenridge Hikes
- ALPINE SLIDE: Breckenridge Alpine Slide & Epic Discovery (Sort Of) Theme Park
- BRECK IN SUMMER: 20+ Epic Things To Do In Breckenridge In Summer
WHERE TO STAY IN COLORADO
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