The 39th annual Parade of Lights takes place December 6-7 this year. Photo By: Brian Papantonio via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

How to Enjoy Your First Denver Christmas

Moving to a new city can be tremendously exciting, especially if that city is Denver. Now the holidays are approaching—the perfect opportunity to establish family traditions in your new place.

From finding a live tree among our vast forests, to decorating your home or exploring local celebrations, there’s lots of ways to enjoy your first Christmas in the Mile High City. Below are a few suggestions to get you started.

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt

Photo By: latteda via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Take advantage of The U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region Christmas Tree Program to find and your own live tree. Photo By: latteda via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

If you celebrate Christmas, one of the first things you’re going to need is a Christmas tree. And while some people swear by their artificial trees, you might want to consider getting the real thing this year. Say what you want about Clark Griswold, the guy’s heart was in the right place.

And here, along Colorado’s Front Range, generations of families have made their own traditions out of hunting for Christmas trees in the mountains west of Denver. The U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region Christmas Tree Program provides an exciting holiday experience for newbies and longtime tree hunters alike. Permitting and cutting dates vary by ranger district, so be sure to check out their maps of Front Range Christmas Tree Cutting Areas.

Remember: Practice Fire Safety

Whether you’re bringing home a real tree or setting up an artificial one, fire safety is key to making sure it’s properly placed and maintained. The National Fire Protection Association offers the following tips.

  • Make sure you pick a fresh, green tree whose needles are not falling off. (This is more of a concern at tree lots. If you head out into the wilderness, you should be able to pick a fresh tree!)
  • Cut 1-2 inches off the tree’s base before placing it in the stand. That way, you eliminate any “sapping over” that might have occurred; and now the tree can drink. Please make sure to add fresh water daily.
  • Keep your tree at least 3 feet away from vents, lights and any sources of heat. Also make sure it’s not blocking a critical escape route.
  • Never, ever, decorate your tree with real, lit candles, even if your grandma in Germany used to do it.
  • Use nonflammable decorations.
  • Don’t overload outlets. Connect light strings to an extension cord or surge protector, and periodically check the wiring to make sure it’s not getting hot.
  • Make sure you’re not keeping a dried-out tree in your home. Don’t put it up too early, or leave it up too late; two weeks is just about right. After that, check into Denver’s “Treecycle” program. (A fun footnote: In 2013, Denver residents helped recycle more than 18,000 trees!)

Deck the Halls

Your Christmas tree won’t be the only thing decked out with lights, and for both safety and money reasons, you might want to check out light-emitting diodes — LEDs — this year. According to a holiday blog entry on the U.S. government’s own website, LED lights are much cooler than regular bulbs, which reduces the risk of a fire.

Plus, according to an ABC special report, each LED bulb uses about seven times less energy than the same-size incandescent bulb. That means savings off your holiday electric bills.

In the past, people have complained about the greenish or blueish cast of the white LED bulbs. These days, there are “warm white” bulbs available for that cozy holiday glow. Another option: Go for colors! You won’t notice much difference between colored LED bulbs and regular colored bulbs.

Get Out and Explore

Denver is bursting with holiday cheer in November and December, so it’s the perfect time to pick at least a couple of events that have the potential to become annual family favorites. Visit Denver has a great list to get you started.

If you want to see a stage production or enjoy live music, maybe it’s “A Christmas Carol” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts or “The Nutcracker” at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

Or join in with your fellow Denverites, and all of Colorado, as we celebrate one of our finest traditions: the 39th annual Parade of Lights, scheduled for December 6-7.

As you’re exploring area holiday attractions and displays, there’s good news from The City of Denver: There are no longer any additional parking restrictions on snow routes. Just follow the posted parking rules. If you’re parked legally, you won’t be ticketed.

So, get out there and make merry! It’s time to start some holiday traditions of your own, and get into the real spirit of your first Denver Christmas.

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