From gorgeous gardens aglow to one of the top free choreographed holiday light shows in the state, it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit in Northern Colorado thanks to the brand-new NoCo Light Trail. Extending from Fort Collins to Loveland and even up to Estes Park, the NoCo Light Trail allows visitors to experience festive light displays, free family-friendly activities and even a drive-thru option at three Northern Colorado cities known for having some of the best light displays in the state. Make a weekend of it and spend a night or two in Northern Colorado basking in the glow of the season.
For six weeks each holiday season, Loveland hosts one of the top free choreographed holiday light shows in the state. Winter Wonderlights returns to Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra nightly through Jan. 1, 2024. The final Winter Wonderlights LIVE! celebration takes place Dec. 16 and includes an appearance by Santa in his 26-foot inflatable Santa Haus, live reindeer, ice sculpting, and dance performances on Colorado’s largest inflatable igloo stage, and a variety of food trucks and giveaways. The full schedule of events is available at WinterWonderlightsLoveland.com. The event begins at 5 p.m. each night. Visit the website for the full schedule of events.
Loveland Light Trail
In a city ripe with holiday cheer, the Loveland Light Trail highlights locations around the area that “light up” the season. This is a self-guided tour of the greatest organized light displays in town, including Winter Wonderlights, Festival of Lights and Christmas Walk in the Woods. A brand-new 12 Days of Christmas display will be part of the Loveland Light Trail this year. Located at Dwayne Webster Veteran’s Memorial Park, the display will be visible along the park’s northernmost edge along State Highway 34. It will be lit from 5 to 9 p.m. daily, through Jan. 1. A map of the Loveland Light Trail is available for download with physical copies of the map available for pickup from the Loveland Visitors Center (5400 Stone Creek Circle, Loveland CO 80538).
Garden of Lights
Experience one of Northern Colorado’s favorite holiday traditions with the Garden of Lights, which returns to Fort Collins Dec. 8-23 at The Gardens on Spring Creek. Stroll through a whimsical, twinkling winter wonderland illuminated by hundreds of thousands of LED lights. Garden of Lights features a half-mile loop with glowing grapevines, towering flowerbeds, dancing color blossoms, and other imaginative displays made of hundreds of thousands of glittering lights. Visit with Santa every night at Everitt Pavilion. Guests can warm up with festive drinks available for purchase at the full bar (open nightly). Tickets are $5 for kids ages 5 to 11 and $10 for children over age 12 and adults. Children under age 4 are free.
Every night from the first week in November through Valentine’s Day, the lights will be turned on in Old Town Fort Collins. See 22 blocks of downtown illuminated with thousands of strands of lights in alleyways, along sidewalks, and within treetops. The impressive display of low-energy and sustainable LED lights can be enjoyed anywhere along College Avenue, the northern boundary of Laporte Avenue, and continuing south to Magnolia Street. Trees will be lit along Walnut Street, Linden Street, Pine Street, Old Town Square, Oak Street Plaza, and Mountain Avenue as well.
NoCo Winter Wonderland
Now in its fourth year, NoCo’s Winter Wonderland is a one-mile-long drive-thru holiday light display located in Fort Collins near County Road 5 and Kechter through Dec. 25. Colorado Youth Outdoors’ holiday experience showcases Santa, Mrs. Claus, and a slew of troublemaking elves frolicking on 220 acres. Keep your eyes peeled for five Colorado big game species; two new features were added to the wildlife-themed light sculptures this year.
BONUS: Sit back and enjoy the lights thanks to NoCo Party Bus
The NoCo Party Bus, based in Fort Collins, offers holiday tours Sundays through Thursdays through Dec. 28 in stunning limousine buses. During the two-hour packages sit back and relax as your driver takes you on a tour of some of the best holiday light displays in Northern Colorado. Vehicles that fit 12-30 passengers are available and packages start at $299 (plus gratuity). Pick-ups are available in Fort Collins as well as Timnath, Windsor, Wellington and Loveland. No tours available on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve.