For many across the world, Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. Spending the holidays cozied up by the fire with loved ones and speeding down the ski slopes can create memories that will last you a lifetime. Lucky for holiday travelers, many ski resort towns go all out for Christmas festivities, with activities including Santa Con pub crawls, magnificent light displays, sleigh rides, Santa visits for the kids, holiday-themed ski days and much more! Here are a few of our top ski destinations for the holidays:
Photo: Aspen Snowmass
Nestled in the beautiful Elk Mountains, Aspen Snowmass transforms into a Christmas wonderland during the holiday season. With lights decorating the town's streets and several holiday activities taking place the month of December, Christmas among the locals of Aspen Snowmass is a dream not to be missed.
Aspen Snowmass most notably hosts their annual 12 Days of Christmas, with activities, events, carolers and much more. The 12 Days of Christmas is chalk-full of things to do with the entire family, with date-night ideas for the evenings. Other holiday things to add on your to-do list include snow tubing, ice skating under the twinkle lights at the Silver Circle Rink, Ullr Nights on Fridays at Elk Camp and checking out the massive gingerbread resort replica of the St. Regis.
Photo: Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain is reputed as "the ski capital of the East" by SKI Magazine and is often known for being one of the most high-end resorts in Vermont, making Christmastime an absolute delight at this East Coast ski town. From local events such as the Children’s Lantern Parade and the Alpine Christmas Market to larger events like live music at Spruce Camp and New Year's Eve performances at Spruce Peak Performing Arts. If you're really looking for a treat, embark on a sleigh ride at the famed Trapp Family Lodge, and experience the natural beauty of the lodge's mountaintop setting while cuddled up under a big blanket. Other holiday activities you might want to try include dog sledding, snowshoeing, brewery tours and ice skating.
Photo: Vail Ski Resort / Todd Harper Photography
Vail's Bavarian-styled streets and buildings only seem to enhance the Christmas spirit. While walking around town (on the heated sidewalks, no falling on ice here!), it's not uncommon hear several different languages, as Vail is a popular international destination and becomes a cultural melting-pot during the holidays. Top Christmastime activities in Vail include ice skating under the stars, taking a sleigh ride through Vail's backcountry, enjoying the festive decorations around Vail Village and of course, spending the day skiing and snowboarding around Vail Ski Resort.
Vail also features the annual Vail Holidaze, which takes place during mid-December. You'll be sure to feel the Yuletide vibes during different activities and events like the Kris Kringle Market, Vail Vilage Tree Lighting, Lanterns and Libations at the Alpine Arts Center and the New Year's Eve Torchlight Parade at Golden Peak.
As one of the most popular ski resorts in North America, Breckenridge comes alive during Christmas, and provides enough entertainment to keep the entire family busy and in the spirit! Aside from skiing and snowboarding at Breckenridge Ski Resort, visitors who are looking for activities off the slopes might enjoy visiting the Breckenridge Ice Castle, the highest ice castle in the country, taking an old-fashioned sleigh ride from Peak 9 to Peak 10's TenMile Station for a romantic dinner, strolling around Breckenridge's Main Street to enjoy the twinkle lights and cheery atmosphere and trying your hand at dog sledding.
Along with activities, Breckenridge also hosts a slew of Christmas-themed events. Early December brings the Handmade Holiday at the Breckenridge Arts District and the Race of the Santas, where hundreds of enthusiasts dress in their best Santa apparel to race down Main Street. The Lighting of Breckenridge takes place during the two events listed above, and includes a full day of activities like choir performances, fat bike races, a Bernese Mountain Dog parade, free cocoa and cookies and of course, the moment when Breckenridge turns on their Christmas lights around town.
Photo: Historic Park City
Secluded from the big city of Salt Lake, Park City is a dream during the holidays and offers the perfect escape from reality with your family. Starting with the Giving Tree Festival at the end of November, Park City hides meticulously decorated trees around town to begin the holiday season. The real fun starts after Thanksgiving with events like the Electric Parade, the Park City Santa Pub Crawl, Park Silly's Holiday Bazaar, Decemberfest hosted by Park City Mountain Resort, Park City’s Torchlight parade, Deer Valley’s Torchlight parade and free Christmas light-lit trolleys roaming around town.
Photo: Telluride Ski Resort
Telluride is already a special ski destination, bringing back generations year after year, but there is something about Telluride during Christmas that makes this charming little town really stand out. Those looking for Christmas gifts can check out Noel Night, a night in early December where many local retailers and restaurants offer discounts up to 40% off, or the Holiday Arts Bazaar, which features over 40 regional artists each year. A half hour away from Telluride is Schmidt’s Ranch, host of the annual Christmas Celebration where guests can bring their children for free, celebrate the holidays and purchase a tree for about $20.
Other fun events during Christmas in Telluride include the Christmas Tree Lighting, Ullr's Ceremonial Ski Burn, the Jingle Jam shopping event, Holiday Crafts and Cookie Decorating for kids, North Pole Express train rides, North Pole on Ice skating show and the annual Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade.
Photo: Crested Butte Ski Resort
Known for being one of the most distinct ski towns on Colorado, Crested Butte truly delivers Christmas memories that will last your family a lifetime. This little ski town hosts a variety of Christmas events that delight both locals and visitors. Light Up Night puts on a spectacular show, with the Holiday Parade beginning at the Crested Butte Visitor's Center and travelling up Elk Avenue. Those who are looking for Christmas Eve plans will want to experience the annual Torchlight Parade on the mountain, where Santa descends the mountain in his sleigh, followed by the parade of torches.
Endless opportunities for winter wonderland fun can be had at Crested Butte Mountain Resort during the annual Santa Ski and Crawl, where hundreds of skiers and riders don on their best Santa attire for a day of skiing. Other activities include snow tubing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and ice skating at the Nordic Center's outdoor rink.