2015 Holiday Guide: 10 top holiday activities in Steamboat Springs

Katherine Knapp, of Steamboat Springs, visits with John Evans, who was skiing dressed like Santa Claus last Christmas at the Steamboat Ski Area. Some worry the economy will limit tourist occupancy this year, but others predict the difference won't be noticeable.
Courtesy Photo

— It’s a winter wonderland with plenty to do in Steamboat Springs during the holidays. Here’s our picks for the top 10 things to do at Christmastime and all winter.


Visit with Santa 

Kids of all ages have a chance to visit Santa each Saturday in December leading up to Christmas. Don’t forget to snap a photo to capture that special moment in time to send to relatives. This year, the Santa Hut has moved from the lawn of the Routt County Courthouse to a new location across Lincoln Avenue.

11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19 In between Kali’s Boutique and Bank of the West.


Steamboat Holiday Festival

Come to Gondola Square and celebrate the holiday season Steamboat style. See Santa ride down the slopes on horseback and meet him at his workshop along with some of his favorite reindeer friends. Participate in the stocking scramble and collect free holiday treats at surrounding stores and restaurants. Additional festivities include cookie decorating and a special holiday concert. The party continues after dark with a torch light parade and fireworks followed by night skiing. 

2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20 at Gondola Base. 


An evening at Strings 

Strings Music Festival presents Tomáseen Foley’s “A Celtic Christmas.” The concert features Foley, a native Irish storyteller, who has been called the “Irish equivalent of Garrison Keillor.” Foley will be joined by his ensemble of world-class Celtic musicians, traditional Irish dancers and singers. 

7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 22 at Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road. Tickets start at $40.


A holiday classic

Take a break from the slopes to catch a showing of the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Chief Theater just a few days before Christmas. The festive film is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.  

8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 23 at Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave. Free. 


Ring in the New Year

Fireworks and torchlight parades are a signature event for Steamboat Ski Area. Instructors with the Steamboat Ski and Snowboard School provide a snow parade carrying torches down Mount Werner with an impressive fireworks show illuminating the sky shortly after. 

5:20 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31 in Gondola Square. 


Mark your calendar 

Steamboat’s Winter Carnival is celebrating 103 years in 2016, and it’s a five-day event worth attending. This annual winter tradition features street events, a parade, ski jooring, ski jumping competition and fireworks. 

times vary with events, Feb. 3 to 7,

Various locations in Steamboat Springs.


Holiday market 

Gift bazaars are a Steamboat Springs tradition offering items for sale that reflect the character of those who live and work in the Yampa Valley. A special boutique-style exhibit “Gift” is on display at the Depot Art Center and it features ornaments, note cards, scarves, paintings and other handmade gifts.

5 to 8 p.m., Throughout December at Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St. TUBING


TUBING: Rent tubes downtown at Howelsen Hill while benefitting the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Ride up the Magic Carpet and tube to your heart’s content near the base of the Nordic jumps, before retiring to the Howelsen lodge for hot chocolate and warm cookies. You can also careen down Saddleback Ranch’s Yee-Haw Tubing Hill 15 minutes out of town, complete with its own tow lift. Warm up in the Longhorn Warming Lodge after your outdoor adventure.

Howelsen: Reservations required for hour-long sessions: 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. (closed mondays)

Saddleback Ranch: 1.5-hour-long sessions, Shuttle pick-ups at Mount Werner Transit center: 10 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays except for Dec. 29. Some holiday closures.


SLEIGH RIDE: Dash through the snow on a winter sleigh ride with friends and family. At the resort, ride a sleigh behind a snowcat from the top of the gondola to a five-course dinner at Ragnar’s (Fridays, Saturdays and holidays); or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride before or after dinner at Haymaker Golf Course. Elsewhere: 8,000-acre Saddleback Ranch offers a 40-minute dinner ride to the Double Dollar Lodge (a shorter ride circles the ranch’s Longhorn Lodge); Elk River Guest Ranch offers a horse-drawn sleigh ride to a candlelit teepee dinner, with a shuttle to and from town; and Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse offers a sleigh ride to and from their lodge on Routt County Road 129, beneath snow-capped Farwell Mountain and Hahn’s Peak.


ICE SKATE: Fun for the whole family, Howelsen Hill Ice Arena features an Olympic-size sheet of ice where you can unleash your inner Apolo Ohno, Dorothy Hamill or even Wayne Gretzky. Unsure of yourself? Sharpen your skills with a lesson. For the kids, it also offers bumper cars on ice and its Rock On Ice program, where kids can skate to music under a disco ball. If you’re lucky, your visit might also coincide with a local figure skating performance or a Steamboat Sailors high school hockey game.

285 Howelsen Parkway. (downtown Steamboat Springs); call 970-871-7033 for public skating, drop-in hockey and bumper car times.

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