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10 Free Things to Do in December

From holiday events and traditions to snow-filled activities, here are 10 ways to give your wallet a break (while having fun) this month. 

A festive display in the Governor's Residence at Boettcher Mansion. Photo by Sarah Boyum

1. Cherry Creek North’s Winter Fest | Dec. 10

Why: Fillmore Plaza is always busy during December, but for one day this month it should be even more so with fire pits, carolers, and ice sculpting.

2. Shovel a Neighbor’s Sidewalk | After any snowfall

Why: In the season of giving, sometimes the most meaningful presents come without a price tag. Clear the walk for an elderly neighbor, or that couple with the newborn baby, or for anyone you just want to see smile. Bonus: Burning some extra calories means you can eat even more cookies at your office party this month.

3. Governor’s Residence at Boettcher Mansion | Dec. 8–11 & Dec. 15­–18

Why: A free tour of a historic home is usually enough of draw, but on these dates you also get to admire the holiday decorations—with global themes—done by professional designers (read: a tad bit nicer than most holiday décor). Bonus: Get a sneak peek of the splendor with photographs from 5280‘s Sarah Boyum.

4. Celebrate Kwanzaa with the Library | Dec. 27–31

Why: During Kwanzaa this year (which runs from December 26 to January 1), the Denver Public Library is hosting five different events for this celebration of family and culture. Consider your calendar booked.

5. LoDo Aglow | Your choice

Why: Pick a day when the forecast is warm (or at least not too cold), wait for the sun to set, and stroll through downtown admiring the bright lights and cozy displays in the windows of local businesses.

6. Colorado State Snow Sculpting Competition | Dec. 14–17

Why: October brings pumpkin carving, so December is for snow sculpting, right? This locals-only festival will feature sculptures more than nine feet wide.

7. Living Saints Exhibit at Loveland Museum | Thru Feb. 5

Why: Photographer Alex Harris captured images of devotional objects in homes while living in a village in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains—and you can see the intimate exhibit for free this winter.

8. Sledding | Your Choice

Why: After a very, very, very dry fall, Denver is finally enjoying a little precipitation. The next time it snows (and after you shovel a sidewalk, see No. 2), head to one of these local sledding hills for a classic—and often free—winter activity.

9. Pioneers: Women Artists in Boulder, 1898–1950 | Through Feb. 4

Why: Featuring impressive works of American art, this exhibit focuses on female artists based in Colorado, and the contributions they made to the state’s cultural legacy.

10. Georgetown’s Christmas Market | Dec. 10–11

Why: This mountain town’s historic streets—the Georgetown-Silver Plume National Historic Landmark District turns 50 this year—offer the perfect backdrop for an afternoon stroll in a holiday market.

Looking for more things to do in Denver? Check out our events calendar.

Follow senior editor Natasha Gardner on Twitter and Instagram.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.

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10 Free Things to Do in December

Around this time of year, it can start to feel like everything comes with a price tag—even if it is 60 percent off. Here, 10 ways to get out this month without spending a lot of cash. 

—Courtesy of Shutterstock

1. Free Day at the Denver Art Museum | Dec. 5

Why You Should Go: It looks like the Saturday forecast predicts a chilly day, which is all the more reason to spend time inside admiring art. Bonus: You’ll log plenty of steps as you tour.

2. Southwest Rink at Skyline Park | Through Feb. 15

Why You Should Go: Downtown’s ice skating rink is back for another winter season. Skating is free, but renting appropriate footgear will set you back $2 (read: bring your own, if you can). While you are there, swing by the booths nearby at the annual Denver Christkindl Market.

3. Screening of The Great Divide at the Longmont Museum | Dec. 16

Why You Should Go: Water just might be Colorado’s most important natural resource. This documentary will help you understand why.

4. Museo de las Americas’ Posada Tradicional | Dec. 11

Why You Should Go: Three words: poinsettias, art, and piñatas.

5. Free Tours at the Governor’s Residence | Various Dates

Why You Should Go: For a few days this month, you can walk the halls of “Colorado’s Home” for free.

6. Snowshoe in the Mountains | Your Choice

Why You Should Go: We’ve already been up to the mountains to play in the fluffy stuff. Have you? Strap on a pair of snowshoes to enjoy incredible views with no lift ticket or day fee. Rabbit Ears Pass is a favorite spot for snowshoers; find out why.

7. Donate Gently Used Clothes and Toys | Your Choice

Why You Should: Now is the perfect time to go through your closet and toy bins, pick out some gently used treasures, and donate them to local charities. Need another reason? Read “Our Town,” our report on homelessness in Denver.

8. Golden’s Homestead Holidays | Dec. 4

Why You Should Go: There are plenty of holiday-light events this month, but swing by Golden to help launch a new, soon-to-be-classic celebration when Clear Creek History Park’s buildings go bright.

9. 10th Mountain Division Huts with Denver Beer Co. at Denver REI | Dec. 8

Why You Should Go: If you’ve ever thought about trekking to a 10th Mountain Division Hut, here’s your chance to learn more (one hint: book really, really early). Oh, and there is free brew from Denver Beer Co.

10. Dew Tour Mountain Championships | Dec. 10–13

Why You Should Go: You may not be able to shred like the pros, but you can at least cheer them on while they compete in Breckenridge this month.

Looking for more things to do in Denver? Check out our events calendar.

Follow senior editor Natasha Gardner on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.