12 Days Of Aspen: A Winter Wonderland Experience


From majestic mountain vistas coated in fresh powder to charming streets lit with festive lights, Aspen transforms into a magical winter wonderland.


  • Aspen offers unparalleled skiing and snowboarding with four renowned mountains.
  • The holiday season sparkles with light displays, ice skating, and Christmas celebrations.
  • Outdoor adventures abound with snowshoeing, wildlife tours, and winter hiking.
  • High-end shopping, dining at luxury resorts, and a vibrant arts scene add to the allure.

Destination Overview

Blanketed in snow, Aspen becomes a winter playground during the colder months. Its unrivaled skiing and snowboarding across four renowned mountains—Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands—makes it a top choice for winter sports enthusiasts. Beyond the slopes, Aspen captivates with horse-drawn sleigh rides, designer boutiques lined with fairy lights, and cozy fireside apres-ski.

The quaint town also hosts cultural events like the 12 Days of Aspen music festival and the Aspen Laugh Festival comedy event. And the stunning natural landscape, with the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness areas on its doorstep, promises outdoor adventures from snowshoe tours to cross-country skiing through quiet forests.

Local Experiences and Culture

Immerse yourself in local culture through community events like the Aspen Holiday Market, where you can browse handmade crafts, vintage goods, and delectable food while carol singers entertain the crowd. The market features products from over 150 Colorado artists and farmers.

For a quintessential Aspen experience, participate in traditions like the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, which kicks off the holiday season in late November. On Christmas Eve, join locals for a Torchlight Parade down Aspen Mountain, followed by fireworks that light up the sky.

Aspen’s Winter Wonderland

Four renowned ski resorts—Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass—form the epicenter of Aspen’s winter activities. Revered for its expert terrain, Highland Bowl offers steep chutes and glades for advanced skiers. Families flock to Buttermilk for its beginner slopes, terrain parks, and the Fort Frog kids’ center. Snowmass tempts with the longest runs in the USA spanning over 4 miles, while Aspen Mountain charms with views of the Maroon Bells range.

When you need a break from the slopes, Aspen’s compact downtown transforms into a winter wonderland—the tree-lined Mill Street sparkles with twinkling lights as horse-drawn carriages clip-clop by. Lace up your skates and glide around the ice rink at the base of Aspen Mountain, then warm up with hot chocolate or winter cocktails in the Hyatt Grand Aspen’s fireside lounge.

Festive Celebrations and Events

The magic peaks during the 12 Days of Aspen festival that runs from Christmas to early January. As carolers fill the streets, each day centers around a holiday theme like “10 Lords a Leaping” with dance performances or “8 Maids a Milking” featuring dairy treats. Other festive events range from a New Year’s Eve torchlight parade and fireworks to the quirky Aspen Santa Ski Down.

Browse local handicrafts like knits, ceramics, and jewelry at the Christkindlmarkt holiday market or Aspen Winterfest street fair. For fresh powder thrills, compete with amateur and pro skiers and snowboarders during the Aspen/Snowmass Freeskiing Open championship. Aspen’s winter cultural events also include comedy, burlesque cabaret, and concerts from classical to pop.

Family Winter Adventures

Treat the family to outdoor winter activities like snow tubing lanes or snowmobile tours to Maroon Lake for a glimpse of the spectacular Maroon Bells mountains that soar over 14,000 feet. Aspen Mountain and Snowmass offer supervised programs to help kids master the slopes. After an active day, unwind with hot cocoa and cookies at the cozy Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

The Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center adds education to fun with woolly mammoth displays and interactive exhibits highlighting Colorado’s past. For animal encounters, Snowmass offers dog sledding adventures across snow-covered trails. Finish off with classic apres-ski fare like pizza, hot pretzels, and hot chocolate back in town.

Culinary Delights and Nightlife

Aspen’s luxury hotels, like The Little Nell and the St. Regis, invite you to dine in style at award-winning restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs. Savor French cuisine at Element 47 or modern alpine dishes at Ajax Tavern. Over 250 restaurants also tempt you with everything from ramen bars to fondue. Apres-ski local favorites include smoked BBQ at Hickory House and fresh seafood at New Fat City.

When the sun sets, continue the revelry by bar-hopping along the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall or enjoy wine, whiskey, and craft cocktails fireside at Hotel Jerome’s members-only bar. Dance the night away at late-night clubs like Belly Up Aspen, renowned for its live music lineup.

Shopping, Arts, and Culture

From designer skiwear to Western antiques, Aspen’s shops offer temptations for all budgets. Browse couture fashion at Luxury Garage Sale or the Aspen Art Museum Store, while the Cooper Avenue Victorian buildings house more affordable brand outlets. Pick up handcrafted mementos at the Aspen Saturday Market, from ceramics and photography to knitwear and candles.

Aspen celebrates winter with cultural events showcasing classical concerts, burlesque shows, film screenings, and comedy acts. The Wheeler Opera House and Harris Concert Hall host acclaimed performers. Art aficionados can explore galleries like Galerie Maximillian and the Baldwin Gallery to admire works by famed painters, sculptors, and photographers.

Exploring the Great Outdoors

Crisp air and pristine snow-draped scenery beckons outdoor enthusiasts to explore Aspen’s natural splendor. Strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis to venture into the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness Area on ranger-guided full moon tours. Challenge yourself on downhill ski trails like Powerline Pass.

Take memorable family photos overlooking the snow-covered Elk Mountains from scenic vistas along the Maroon Creek Trail. Spot wildlife like moose, elk, bighorn sheep, and black bears on ranger-led snow-coach tours into the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area. As the long winter days wind down, watch the Rockies glow red and gold during cat skiing adventures at sunrise and sunset.


What is the best way to experience Aspen’s holiday magic?

Some highlights include the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Torchlight Parade on Christmas Eve and the 12 Days of Aspen winter festival, which features festive, family-friendly events.

Where are the best spots to go skiing and snowboarding in Aspen?

With four renowned mountains, Aspen offers premier skiing and snowboarding. Aspen Mountain has impressive views, while Snowmass boasts the longest runs. Buttermilk is ideal for beginners and families, and Aspen Highlands thrills experts.

What is there to do in Aspen during winter apart from snow sports?

Non-snow activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, browsing the designer shops and art galleries, enjoying Aspen’s dining scene, checking out the holiday markets and craft fairs, ice skating, and more.

What makes Aspen a top winter destination for families?

From beginner ski slopes to snow tubing and dog sledding, Aspen offers endless winter adventures for families. The town also captivates with holiday lights, cookies, hot cocoa, and family-friendly cultural events.

Where are the best spots to enjoy Aspen’s buzzing apres-ski nightlife?

Popular apres-ski hangouts include the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall lined with bars, clubs like Belly Up Aspen with live music, Hotel Jerome’s members-only bar, and local favorites like Hickory House BBQ.

With non-stop adventures across four iconic mountains, charming Victorian streets glittering with lights, and abundant winter wildlife sightings, Aspen entrances in the colder months. The winter season invites you to create special memories amid breathtaking vistas, adrenaline-pumping activities, and magical holiday cheer.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.