Aspen during Christmastime stirs the heart and awakens the senses like no other place. By day, fresh snowfall gleams under brilliant blue skies as annual festivities get underway, spreading cheer for everyone to enjoy. By night, crackling fires and mugs brimming with toasty beverages bring families and friends together in celebration of everything good and comforting. Retire for the evening after a fun-filled day, feeling peaceful, grateful, and content—nestled away from the hectic world you left behind, you’ll create holiday memories of a lifetime.
12 Days of Aspen
You don’t need be a skier or snowboarder to fall in love with Aspen. Each year, from December 20-31, the charming downtown becomes a winter wonderland filled with seasonal activities and merriment. The Aspen Chamber of Commerce creates an assortment of special events, most of which are free, that provide daily entertainment for all ages. Even Santa and his reindeer join in the celebration! From ice skating, art projects, sleigh rides, and children’s story hours to live jazz and Victorian caroling, there’s something for everyone. Try gingerbread house design and cookie decorating, too.
Many hotels, including the iconic Aspen St. Regis, offer sumptuous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners or buffets. Ring in 2016 at one of the many soirees, such as the New Year’s party at the historic Wheeler Opera House. Then, as 2015 concludes to a grand finale, watch the sky light up with a fireworks extravaganza over Aspen Mountain.
Ready for a break from the revelry? Much of “downtown” Aspen is a pedestrian walking mall where motorized vehicles are not allowed. Explore boutiques filled with fine art, unique clothing, designer brands, accessories, and gear—all at a most leisurely pace. If a spa treatment is on your Christmas wish list, indulge at one of Aspen’s renowned spas. The intimate Auberge Spa at Hotel Jerome, for example, offers relaxation and rejuvenation using leading-edge technology, local minerals, and healing agents to create enriching treatments designed to support health and vibrancy.
Crisp Air, Dark Night, Warm Fire, Star Light
Every Friday night during the peak winter season, Elk Camp on Snowmass hosts a wintertime party, Ullr Nights, honoring the Norse God of Snow, Ullr. Join in the family-friendly on-mountain celebration. Go tubing, ice skating, or snowbiking, then warm up around the bonfire complete with s’mores and hot cocoa. Dance to live music and partake in culinary delights sure to please any palate. Hear the laughter of children playing in the snow before they retreat indoors and stay busy with fun activities.
Stay and Slumber
Whether you’re looking for an ultra-luxe suite or more budget-friendly accommodations, Aspen has it all.
- The Little Nell – “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury,” Coco Chanel once said. And this is what they believe at The Little Nell, a 5-Star, 5-Diamond hotel, and the only ski-in, ski-out hotel on Aspen Mountain. Nell embodies mountain luxury, from its gorgeous, modern rooms to its exclusive ski concierge team. All rooms have fireplaces, heated floors, and much more.
- Limelight Hotel – If you desire a family-friendly, contemporary place to stay, check out the new Limelight Hotel in the heart of downtown Aspen. It offers the largest guest rooms in town with complimentary breakfast, as well as a ski area, airport, and in-town transportation. Rooms and suites feature flat-screen TVs, MP3 player and phone docking stations, and coffeemakers. Deluxe rooms add wet bars and kitchenettes. Suites offer terraces, full kitchens, and living room areas.
Regardless of where you stay, Nell’s is a must for real homemade hot chocolate. There’s no powdered cocoa from a package or spray on whipped cream at Nell’s.
Wintersköl—A Toast to Winter
Aspen’s winter party doesn’t end with the arrival of the New Year. Now in its 65th year, Wintersköl features plenty of free and family-friendly events around town and on the mountain from January 14 through 17, 2016.
Soupsköl – A contest to determine what restaurant has the best soup in town. Last season, over 3,000 locals and tourists attended the free event on Cooper Street in downtown Aspen.
Fat Cycle Challenge – Check out the hottest fat bike trends at Rio Grande Park, complete with a race, demo village, beer garden, and more!
Canine Fashion Show – Presented by Molly Gibson Lodge & Hotel Aspen, and benefiting Lucky Day, a feast for the eyes as dozens of doggies don their most dapper duds.
Also witness the musical stylings of the U.S. Air Force Drum & Bugle Corps, and the El Jebel Shriner Pipe Band.
Visit AspenChamber.org for a complete list of 2015 events.
By Annette Brooks
Photos courtesy: Aspen Skiing Company, Jeremy Swanson, C2 Photography