The holiday season always has its own magic but in the towns of Gunnison and Crested Butte, Colorado, the phrase “Winter Wonderland” comes to mind. Blanketed with snow, Elk Avenue in Crested Butte takes on the appearance of a living snow globe. The ice rinks and ponds are filled with skaters. Town families gather around for Christmas tree lightings. It’s a Norman Rockwell painting that has come to life!
For a glimpse into this fairy tale life, consider some of the favorite things that local residents love to do during the holiday season.
Thanksgiving Day 11/23/17
Opening day for the ski season at Crested Butte Mountain Resort! Get there early for a champagne toast as the chairlifts open up. Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner at the Woodstone Grille at the mountain. http://www.skicb.com/events
Thanksgiving Dinner in Almont at the Almont Resort on Highway 135. This is a great alternative in a great location between the towns of Gunnison and Crested Butte. Call 970-641-4009 for details. Stay at Three Rivers Resort in a beautiful cabin on the Taylor River: https://www.3riversresort.com/ then walk to the Almont Resort for a traditional dinner or cook your own in the cabin!
Thanksgiving Camps at the Crested Butte Nordic Center all weekend long! Refresh your skills, try something new, get some training in! https://cbnordic.org/thanksgivingnordicskicamp/
Night of Lights: Gunnison, Colorado 12/1/17
It feels like everyone in Gunnison comes out for this annual tree lighting event. Local business and organizations set up light displays and booths all along Main Street (closed to vehicles). Grab a burger or hot chocolate and stand around a portable firepit. Santa makes a grand appearance as he approaches the town Christmas tree. As the crowd counts down with him, anticipation builds and then the lights come on with the wave of his hand! Magic! http://www.gunnisonchamber.com/
Light Up Night: Crested Butte, Colorado 12/8/17
This event isn’t quite as large as the Gunnison tree lighting but it’s always fun as everyone gathers for carols, tree lighting and time with Santa.
Santa Ski ‘n Crawl plus Tree Lighting in Mt. Crested Butte 12/9/17
Participate in breaking the world record (and the record set last year at Crested Butte Mountain Resort) for the largest number of skiing Santas! Imagine hundreds of Santas skiing down the mountain all at once! Then celebrate with a fun pub crawl: http://www.cbsantacrawl.com/.
One more tree lighting happens, this time in Mt. Crested Butte at the ski area: http://www.skicb.com/event/light-night-mountain
Get your photo with Santa at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and then watch the torchlight parade as skiers and snowboarders carry lights in procession down the mountain. http://www.skicb.com/event/torchlight-parade-and-santas-sleigh-ride
Dining: Christmas Eve is definitely a popular time for locals and visitors to go out to eat for a special meal. Because of this, it is imperative that you make reservations well in advance if reservations are an option (many restaurants are first come, first served). There are many great options for this special dinner but a personal favorite and somewhat of a tradition for my family has been Garlic Mike’s Italian restaurant just north of Gunnison. We tend to know almost everyone dining there on this night! If you are trying to make it to a candlelight church service, make sure you leave plenty of time for dining in advance! https://garlicmikes.com/
New Year’s Eve
The last night of the year is a great time to check out the local scene including many restaurants and bars that offer special dinners, entertainment or parties. Families will enjoy watching the torchlight parade and fireworks at Crested Butte Mountain Resort: http://www.skicb.com/event/new-years-eve-torchlight-parade-kids-glow-worm-parade-and-fireworks.
For a fun, eclectic crowd away from the towns, check out Almont which sits in between Gunnison and Crested Butte. Stay at the beautiful cabins at Three Rivers Resort: https://www.3riversresort.com/ and then walk over the bridge to the Almont Resort for a special New Year’s dinner menu, music and a lively bar.