10 Magical Things To Do On Your Vail Colorado Christmas Trip


With almost 650,000 visitors in the Winter alone, Vail, Colorado is the most visited ski resort in Colorado and voted the best ski resort in the United States.

Vail, Colorado is a remote ski resort in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, about 2.5 hours away from Denver, Colorado. It is known for its European-style architecture quaint towns and more than 5,000 acres of skiing, Vail, Colorado is a must-visit. 

After having spent a winter working at the nearby Copper Mountain Resort, I had many opportunities to visit Vail, CO. I absolutely loved the European-inspired architecture here. It always left me wanting to come back for more!

This Vail, CO guide will show you the 10 best things to do on a Vail, Colorado Christmas Trip!

Vail Colorado Christmas Decorations
Vail, Colorado Christmas Decorations

Table of Contents

10 Incredible Things To Do On Your Vail Colorado Christmas Trip

There is so much to do in Vail year-round, but spending the holidays in Vail is extra magical. With so many Christmas lights and things to do, a Vail Colorado Christmas should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Magic of Lights Vail

christmas display in vail colorado

Tranport yourself to the 360-degree Christmas lights at the Magic Lights of Vail! This family-friendly walk-through experience is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. The event takes place from early December to January, and it’s a popular event because it’s so magical! You can purchase tickets online to ensure you secure your spot for this captivating holiday attraction.

The lights are not just any Christmas lights; they create a 360-degree display that lights up the night. As you stroll through the illuminated displays, you’ll be transported to a world where everything seems to sparkle and twinkle. It’s a perfect family-friendly activity that is perfect for everyone!

In addition to the lights, Magic of Lights Vail usually has live entertainment, food stalls, and opportunities for kids to meet Santa Claus. The charming ambiance and friendly atmosphere make it an excellent way to celebrate a Vail, Colorado Christmas.

Vail Colorado Christmas

New Year’s Eve Celebration

New Years Fireworks at Ski Resort

If you’re lucky enough to be in Vail for New Year’s, don’t miss this event! The Vail New Year’s Eve Celebration is a unique way to welcome the New Year.

The celebration includes a silent disco, where you can dance to your favorite tunes through wireless headphones, creating a fun and intimate dance party experience. Imagine dancing beneath the stars in a beautiful mountain setting; it’s an unforgettable way to celebrate!

One of the most mesmerizing parts of the New Year’s Eve Celebration is the torchlight parade down the mountain. Although many mountains host this event, Vail’s is one of the best. 

Skiers and snowboarders carry torches as they glide gracefully down the slopes in a line. Watching the torches light up the ski lifts creates some epic photo opportunities and a unique experience.

The evening finishes with a spectacular fireworks display that lights up the night sky! The combination of the torchlight parade and fireworks is truly a magical one that everyone can enjoy.

Vail Colorado Christmas

Holiday Shopping in Vail

shopping street in vail colorado christmas
Vail, Colorado Christmas Village

No trip to Vail is complete without shopping! With hundreds of boutique and name brand shops, you are bound to find whatever you are looking for!

Vail is not only known for its natural beauty but also for its charming European-style architecture streets filled with boutiques and high-end shopping. The holiday season is the perfect time to explore the unique shops and galleries that line the streets of this European-inspired village.

The Christmas season is particularly one of my favorite times to walk around the village because of the Christmas decorations all around! The shopping village literally transports you to an adorable European Christmas Village. There are so many decorations and lights in the village that add to the Christmas atmosphere. There really is nothing like it.

While Vail is famous for its winter sports and outdoor activities, it’s also an excellent destination for those who appreciate quality shopping. The variety of shops and the quality of the goods available make it a shopping destination that can satisfy even the most discerning shoppers. Whether you’re looking for upscale brands or locally owned shops, there is something for everyone.

I personally loved simply wandering through the picturesque streets and exploring the adorable alleys. The architecture of Vail is one of my favorites at ski resorts, and its beauty is intensified during the Christmas season!

Vail Colorado Christmas

Ice Skating

Ice skating at vail colorado christmas
Ice Skating Rink in Vail Colorado

No winter vacation is complete with some ice skating! Vail offers not one, but two public ice skating rinks! Both of these ice skating rinks are fantastic and offer ice skating in some beautiful scenery.

The Solaris Ice Skating Rink in Vail Village is the heart of Vail’s ice skating scene. Located in the center of Vail Village, this outdoor rink is surrounded by the charming alpine architecture that Vail is known for. It’s an ideal spot for families and couples to enjoy a leisurely skate in the fresh mountain air. The rink is typically open from mid-November to early April, depending on weather conditions.

Lionshead’s Arrabelle Ice Skating Rink is another fantastic option. Situated in Lionshead, this rink offers a unique experience as it is located next to The Arrabelle, a luxurious resort. The rink is typically open from mid-December to early April.

Both rinks offer skate rentals, so there’s no need to worry about packing your own gear. You’ll just want to have some warm winter clothes on.

Sometimes, Vail even hosts an ice skating exhibition show! During my visit, Vail invited a few Olympic hopefuls and other high-profile ice skaters to perform for the public. It was a special surprise that I will remember forever.

Vail Colorado Christmas

Road trip to Glenwood Springs Hot Springs

vail colorado to glenwood springs
Drive to Glenwood Springs

Just an hour’s drive away from Vail, Colorado is one of my favorite places in Colorado, Glenwood Springs!

Glenwood Springs is a magical town in Colorado known for its adventurous activities and hot springs.

Glenwood Springs offers two primary hot spring experiences: Glenwood Hot Springs and Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

Glenwood Hot Springs is one of the largest mineral hot springs in the world, making it a popular destination for relaxation and rejuvenation. The pool is a toasty 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the perfect way to stay warm among the snowcapped mountains.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs, on the other hand, offers a more intimate experience. With 16 individual soaking pools and a freshwater family pool, you can choose the atmosphere that suits your preferences. The pools vary in temperature, allowing you to pick the one that’s perfect for you. Nestled on the bank of the Colorado River, Iron Mountain Hot Springs offers a unique setting that’s sure to enhance your relaxation.

I had the opportunity to visit both hot springs and I’d say the Iron Mountain Hot Springs definitely have an elevated experience from start to finish. It also has a better view of the mountains, with no large building obstructing your views.

There are few things in life more magical than being in a hot spring surrounded by panoramic snow-capped mountains.

Take a day trip and check out the Glenwood Hot Springs or Iron Mountain Hot Springs. While I prefer Iron Mountain Hot Springs for its atmosphere, you can’t go wrong either way.

An alternative road trip you can take is to nearby Copper Mountain! This mountain is known as the “athletes mountain” and is home to a massive superpipe! Just a quick 1 hour drive away, it’s definitely worth a visit. 

Vail Colorado Christmas

Go Skiing

person skiing

Most people visit Vail with skiing or snowboarding in mind, and for good reason. Vail is renowned for its world-famous skiing terrain, with an impressive 5,000 acres of skiable terrain and seven distinct bowls. This is a skiing and snowboarding paradise that has something for everyone from beginners to advanced skiers and riders.

Vail is one of my favorite ski resorts because of its variety of runs, and Vail’s terrain includes groomed trails, moguls, glades, and wide-open bowls.

Also, one of the highlights of skiing in Vail is the stunning mountain views. At the top of the mountain, the panoramic views of snow-capped mountains are beautiful. At the top of the lift, you’ll see many skiers stopping to take pictures and enjoy the views.

If you are new to skiing or snowboarding, you may be nervous about your trip, I understand! However, Vail offers ski schools and lessons as well as bunny hills and beginner areas. The mountain’s infrastructure is designed to accommodate beginners and keep them separated from advanced skiers.

If you want to maximize your time on the slopes, there’s even the option of staying in ski-in, ski-out accommodations. These accommodations are luxurious and allow you to step out of your lodging and onto the mountain without the hassle of transportation.

Vail Colorado Christmas

Vail Holidays

Vail colorado christmas village

During the Vail Colorado Christmas season, Vail hosts a month-long celebration filled with special events and Christmas activities! From the fan favorite, Kris Kringle Market to watching Olympic ice skaters, there are so many fun events to take part in in the Month of December.

The Kris Kringle Market is one of the most popular events, and not to be missed! This European-style market transports you to a beautiful traditional Christmas market, offering artisanal crafts, holiday treats, and unique gift items. Strolling through the market feels like walking through a storybook holiday village.

One of my favorite events is the Ice Spectacular, featuring Olympic and Olympic hopeful ice skaters who showcase their incredible skills to the public. It’s a rare opportunity to witness world-class figure skaters perform in an intimate setting, and it’s an experience that the whole family can enjoy. Also, usually, they host a showcase outside for free too!

Whether you’re seeking unique gifts at the Kris Kringle Market, watching the Ice Spectacular, or simply wandering the streets, the Vail Holidays make for the best Vail Colorado Christmas experience. For more information on specific events, you can visit the official Vail Holidays website for a detailed schedule and further details.

Check out the official website for more information.

Christmas Decorations in Vail, Colorado
Christmas Decorations in Vail, Colorado

Vail Colorado Christmas

Tubing Adventure

Like most ski resorts, Vail also has tubing. Tubing is one of the best activities to do here! The tubing run is elevated among mountain views, making it so beautiful!

This activity is perfect for kids of all ages or adults who are maybe too tired to hit the slopes.

It’s worth noting that if you’re planning to visit the tubing area before 3:30 p.m., you’ll need to purchase a gondola ticket to reach the top. The gondola ride itself is an experience, which is another opportunity to enjoy panoramic mountain vistas.

Scenic Gondola Ride

If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding but still want to experience the stunning vistas of the Rocky Mountains, The scenic Gondola is a great way to spend an afternoon. This Gondola takes you up into the mountains to see spectacular views of the Gore Range.

The gondola is a relaxing and comfortable way to access the beauty of Vail’s mountain setting. It’s a great option for those who prefer to stay warm and cozy or maybe are tired to skiing.

If you ride the gondola before 3:30 p.m., you can purchase tickets online. However, if you opt to visit after 3:30 p.m., the ride is FREE! Who doesn’t love free?! This makes it an ideal late afternoon or early evening activity for those who want to maximize their Vail experience without breaking the bank.

If you choose to ride the Gondola before 3:30pm, you can purchase tickets here.

Christmas village

Vail Colorado Christmas

Sleigh Rides

A Vail Colorado Christmas doesn’t have to be spent at the ski resort! Located outside of the Vail Ski Resort you will find the unique 4 Eagle Ranch. This ranch is home to one of the best activities in all of Vail, a dinner sleigh ride!

Imagine being surrounded by crisp winter air, the earth covered in pristine snow, and the sound of horses’ hooves as you embark on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. This experience is one out of a fairytale.

The best part about this adventure is that the sleighs are often covered with twinkling lights and warm blankets, creating a cozy atmosphere. The experience often includes a guided tour of the ranch, where you can learn about the area’s history and enjoy the rustic charm of the ranch buildings.

As you can see, there are so many things to do in Vail for Christmas. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of skiing, the magic of Christmas lights, or a tranquil sleigh ride through the snow-covered landscape, Vail offers

A Vail Colorado Christmas is one of the best destinations to visit during the holiday season!,

Vail Colorado Christmas Decorations

I’m Danika! A travel obsessed, Disney adult, with a knack for budgeting.

In 2020 I was furlough from my “dream” job at Disney and have pursued my first love of travel ever since. I have traveled to 33 states and 28 countries spanning 5 continents.

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