'Tis the season to see Santa, walk through winter wonderlands of twinkling lights and take in some Fort Collins holiday traditions.
So with the holidays here, take your pick from these 18 things to do in Fort Collins and beyond.
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Sit down with Santa
The jolly guy arrived to Old Town Square on Nov. 26, kicking off just under a month of free visits and list listening sessions. Using a bit of Christmas magic, he will also be visiting Fort Collins' Foothills mall and The Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland through Christmas Eve.
Santa's full Northern Colorado schedule:
Old Town Square: 12-6 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 19 (and on Dec. 20-23); 2-6 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16; 12-4 p.m. Christmas Eve
Foothills Mall: Through Dec. 5: 3-7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 12-6 p.m. Sundays. From Dec. 6-16: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 12-6 p.m. Sundays. From Dec. 17-23: Daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Then he'll be around from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve.
The Promenade Shops at Centerra (between LensCrafters & AT&T Wireless): 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 19; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 23; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Christmas Eve
See the light
Go on a holiday lights drive
Tour through a twinkling Fort Collins by taking yourself on a self-guided holiday lights drive. The Coloradoan has started compiling its annual list and map of city-run and residential holiday lights displays. Think of them as your north stars.
See the lights: Here's a map of Northern Colorado's best holiday lights displays
Head to Old Town's Chanukah celebration
In downtown Fort Collins tradition, the giant menorah sitting in Old Town Square will be lighted during a community Chanukah celebration Dec. 5. Starting at 4 p.m., members of Chabad Jewish Center of Northern Colorado, the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado and Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt will help light the menorah. A celebration complete with Jewish holiday music and traditional Chanukah foods will follow.
Festivals of Light
Starting Dec. 3, the Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures will introduce its latest main gallery exhibit: "Nativities and Festivals of Light." The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 22, showcases nativity scenes from around the world and artifacts from various festivals of light, including Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and the Chinese lantern festival. For more information, visit globalvillagemuseum.org.
A tale of three Nutcrackers
For more than 40 years, Canyon Concert Ballet has been transforming Fort Collins' Lincoln Center into a cozy and fantastical world filled with dancing nutcrackers, battling mice and lands of sweets and snow. Catch their latest production of "The Nutcracker" with both in-person and live streamed shows Dec. 3-5. Regular tickets range from $30 to $50, and livestream tickets are $15 to $20. For more information on the shows or to purchase tickets, visit LCTix.com.
Clara and The Nutcracker
Take in Contemporary Dance Academy's full-scale production of The Nutcracker, featuring its student dancers and guest artists. "Clara and The Nutcracker" will take over the Lincoln Center performance hall for in-person and live streamed performances Dec. 10 and 11. Regular tickets are $25, and livestream tickets are $20. For full show details or to purchase tickets, visit LCTix.com.
Nutcracker with a Twist
The kids dance troupe at Mountain Dance take on the classic Nutcracker tale with a twist this year. Loosely based on the traditional Nutcracker ballet, Mountain Dance's production tells the story of Clara getting stuck in the Land of Movies, which she, her sister and The Nutcracker must travel through in this out-of-the-shell adventure. Shows will only take place in-person for this production. Shows are Dec. 10-12. Regular tickets are $12 and can be purchased at LCTix.com.
More holiday performances
A Christmas Carol
There's nothing quite like Ebenezer Scrooge's journey through Christmases past, present and future to get you in the holiday spirit. Like past years, The Lincoln Center will host a production of Charles Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol," with shows at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Regular matinee tickets start at $36, and regular evening tickets start at $44. They're available at LCTix.com.
A Candlelight Christmas
Settle in for some classic Christmas carols as part of The Larimer Chorale's holiday show at First Presbyterian Church, 531 S. College Ave. Regular tickets are $30 and available at LCTix.com.
How to Survive Your Family at Christmas
Don't get too excited. "How to Survive Your Family at Christmas" is a play, not an instruction manual. The crowd-pleasing comedy — presented by Bas Bleu Theatre Co. — centers on Harvard student Loretta, who hasn't been home to see her blue-collar parents for Christmas in two years. Now Loretta is engaged and wants her fiance to meet her family. See what happens next during the play's run Dec. 10-26. Standard tickets are $26 and can be purchased at basbleu.org.
Hit up a holiday market
Visit 'Little Zurich'
Get some holiday shopping done early by visiting The Little Zurich outdoor holiday market at Wolverine Farm, 316 Willow St. From 4-8 p.m. every Thursday and Friday and noon to 6 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Christmas Eve, the market will be up and running, boasting occasional live music, literary readings, holiday crafts and seasonal snacks like sipping chocolate, mulled wine and pressed cider.
Fort Collins' winter farmers market
In its 15th year, the Fort Collins' winter farmers market is open for business, selling local food and handmade goodies just in time for the holidays. Visit the market at Foothills, 215 E. Foothills Pkwy., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 4 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 11 and Dec. 18.
The FoCo Family Band holiday market
Make your way to The Lyric, 1209 N. College Ave., for the theater's inaugural FoCo Family Band holiday makers market from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 11. The market will feature live music, libations and hand-crafted goods from more than a dozen local makers.
Santa Cycle Rampage
Grab a Santa hat and get pedaling. Santa Cycle Rampage is back for the second year in Fort Collins, encouraging people to dress up as Santa Claus for a bike beer crawl to various bars and breweries. The event starts 10 a.m. Dec. 4 with breakfast at at Avogadro's Number, 605 S. Mason St. The caravan of biking Chris Kringles then journeys to Snowbank Brewing at noon, Stodgy Brewing at 1:30 p.m., Road 34 at 3 p.m. and Tap and Handle at 4:30 p.m.
Hit the ice
Want to ice skate under the stars? Head to Foothills mall, which recently opened its seasonal skating rink — or "the pond" — for the holidays. You can bring your own skate or rent a pair from the mall's skate shack. Through Dec. 16, the pond will be open from 4-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. From Dec. 17 to Jan. 5, the rink will be open noon to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. From Jan. 6 to Feb. 28, the rink will be open 4-9 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 12-9 p.m. Saturdays and 12-7 p.m. Sundays. Admission to the pond costs $7 for adults and children over 4. Skate rentals are $3.
Pick your best (and by that I mean ugliest) sweater
Get in the sprint — I mean, spirit — with the annual Sweaty Sweater race. This year's race will take place Dec. 11 at Foothills mall, kicking off its 5K run/walk at 9 a.m. and its kids 1-mile run/walk at 10:15 a.m. After the race, take part in the event's 10:30 a.m. ugly sweater contest and peruse the mall's winter farmers market. Adult registration is $35 for the 5K and $13 for the kids 1-mile race. Head online to register ahead of time.
Tune in for Tuba Christmas
Oak Street Plaza is soon going to be filled with a lot more tuba and euphonium players than usual. Tuba Christmas is making its return to the plaza at College and Oak streets at 2 p.m. Dec. 11. Come on down to hear your favorite Christmas carols get the tuba treatment.
Get out of town
Looking to enjoy a small town holiday celebration? Head to Windsor's annual Windsor Wonderland, which will feature Santa's arrival to town, horse carriage rides, yard games, s'mores, hot chocolate and more. The free town-wide event will take place at Windsor's Boardwalk Park from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 4.
Timnath holiday lighting festival
Did you miss the flip switching on Old Town Fort Collins' holiday lights? Relive the holiday magic at Timnath's annual lighting festival, which will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Timnath Town Hall, 4100 Main St. The festival will include music performances, carriage rides, holiday treats, food trucks and photos with Santa Claus and his reindeer.
Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a digital subscription to the Coloradoan today.
This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Fort Collins' holiday things to do: Christmas, Chanukah events 2021