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Holidays in the mountains
Photo courtesy:

By Joseph Rios

Celebrating the holidays in small mountain towns is a much different experience than that of big city life. Colorado, Rocky Mountain towns go all out when bringing in the holidays making the season memorable to residents and visitors alike. From Colorado’s southern border to the most northern parts of the state, small town living in the Rockies gives nostalgic meaning to bringing in the holidays.

Visitors of towns like Durango; located in the southern part of the state, have a chance to ride the Polar Express, a train based off the book and film. Passengers are encouraged to wear pajamas just as children did in the Polar Express book as the train journeys from downtown Durango to the “North Pole”. Traditions like the Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival have taken place in Durango for over 40 years. The festival was held at the beginning of December, and featured different foods, and crafts like ornaments and folk art angels.

Vail which has its own holiday charm this time of year has its own traditions for residents celebrating the holidays. The Vail Dickens Carolers have become a staple in the Vail community during the holidays. The carolers started as a part of a Colorado Mountain College Course over 30 years ago. The choir travels around Colorado today and has performed at the Phipps Mansion and the Stanley Hotel. Other holiday events around the town include the Holiday Sweater Run. Participants are asked to wear their best sweater while running 2.7 miles around the town. Vail is located about an hour and 40 minutes east of Denver.

Another great way to bring in the holidays in the Rocky Mountains is at one of Colorado’s many ski resorts. Children at the St. Regis ski resort in Aspen can make their parents a gift and then visit Santa with his live reindeer. Guests at the resort are offered free hot chocolate and cookies, and Santa will be giving sleigh rides through Aspen. The Opera House will be performing a presentation of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and there will be a fireworks display over Aspen Mountain on New Year’s Eve. Aspen is located about three and half hours east of Denver, and about two hours southeast of Vail.

Driving through Cripple Creek and seeing the town’s holiday lights is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. The town’s mine head frames are decorated with Christmas light displays that transform a town that is known for its casinos into a festive Norman Rockwell painting. Cripple Creek hosts a Christmas parade with an open fire for s’mores and marshmallow roasting. There are also other entertainment sources in the town, which include the “Angel of the Christmas Mine” play at the Butte Theater. The play was written by Chris Sorenson, and features the story of three miners who are trapped after a mine collapse.





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