The skating rink at Skyline Park The skating rink at Skyline Park (credit: CBS)

Downtown Denver comes alive during the holidays. Relatives and friends may be in town and there is always the challenge of keeping the kids happy during winter break. There are some amazing activities downtown that will turn up the fun and light up interests. Whether it is the invigorating sounds of the symphony or the astonishment of the holiday lights at the zoo or parks, the beautiful Mile High City offers something for all ages and pocketbooks.

Southwest Rink at Skyline Park
511 16th St. Mall
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 534-6161

Just like Central Park in the movies, outdoor ice skating rinks are filled with romance and fun. The Southwest Rink at Skyline Park is a great way to get outdoors for some fun and fresh air. Bundle up the kids and spend an afternoon with family zipping along the ice. Plan a romantic date night with the sweetheart and charm her with dinner and a couple’s skate. The rink is open to the public and there is no cost to skate. It is completely free if visitors have their own ice skates but there are skates available to rent for just $2. Weather permitting, the rink will be open until February 16. If you don’t want to skate, snuggle up under the heaters and take in the downtown holiday sights.

Denver Zoo Lights
2900 E. 23rd Ave.
Denver, CO 80205
(720) 337-1400

Denver Zoo Lights is one of the highlights of the Denver holiday activities. The price is nominal and it includes an incredible light safari including more than “38 brilliantly-illuminated acres of lights, and more than 150 animated animal sculptures” found in the trees and bushes. Another bonus is that mom and dad can pack their own snacks or hot cocoa to help out with that strapped holiday budget.  For those who wish to enjoy the delightful food stands such as hot cocoa, pretzel and funnel cakes,  bring cash for faster service. The kids won’t just get to see the lights, some of the animals out are still up and the staff is on hand for a lesson or two.

Blossoms of Light
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York St.
Denver, CO 80206
(720) 865-3500

Bundle up and get out under the stars at the annual Blossoms of Light experience at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The exhibition is open through January 1 including Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Grab the kids and the sweethearts to see more than a million colorful lights draped in designs throughout the winter gardens. With plenty of mistletoe at the end of the tunnel and popular kissing spots throughout, this will make for a perfect date night. There is even a fun treat for the adults at the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bar as it returns to Blossoms of Light this year on December’s Friday and Saturday nights. Add a little something extra special to that hot coffee of cocoa with liqueur to make the Blossoms of Light experience just a bit more fun. On some nights, there will be holiday entertainment such as carolers and other music playing.

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Too Hot to Handel
Boettcher Concert Hall
1000 14th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 623-7876

Dates: Dec. 28-29, 2013

“Too Hot to Handel” sets the holiday spirit with glorious music and inspirational scores by Handel that will brings audiences to their feet in applause. The “Too Hot To Handel” concert, directed by Mary Louise Burke and conducted by Marin Alsop, is considered a Denver holiday favorite. For 16 years it has offered an amazing mixture of jazz, gospel and R&B to reinvent Handel’s “Messiah.” The Colorado Symphony is also offering a “Colorado Christmas” conducted by Scott O’Neil which showcases the Colorado Children’s Chorale, the Symphony and  its Chorus.Those performances run from December 20-22.

The 16th Street Mall
1001 16th St. Mall
Denver, CO 80265

The personality of the 16th Street Mall comes alive during the holiday season. It is not only a staple for locals; it is an experience for visitors around the world. This 1.25-mile-long walkway traverses 16th Street in the heart of downtown Denver but if you get tired of walking, there’s a free shuttle bus on the way or snuggle up in a bike carriage. Those carriages can be the key to a perfect date, giving couples a chance to enjoy the mall while taking in dinner and lounge hopping. Don’t discount the people watching either.

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Colleen Bement is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found on