Beyond the ups and downs, the canceled plans and the interesting orchestration of COVID restrictions in 2020, there is still much to be grateful for. So much to eat, to drink, to see and to do with a laundry list of festive opportunities to get you and yours into the holiday spirit. We had the chance to collaborate with the Downtown Denver Partnership to experience “Winter in the City” featuring unique attractions and seasonal vibes for a fun, family-friendly excursion.

“Our businesses help create community and it is important, now more than ever, to support them and create a sense of togetherness in the face of this year’s challenges,” says Cristina Gonzales, Marketing & Communications Specialist for the Downtown Denver Partnership. “Not to mention, our residents and visitors alike are looking for safe ways to experience the magic that downtown always offers this time of year, albeit in a new and innovative way.”

Starry-eyed in the Dairy Block.

With a slight chill in the air, we began our night on the town with a scavenger hunt (downloadable at 9NEWS Parade of Lights), to participate in this enchanting, long-standing tradition. This year, the wintry themed floats are not on-the-go but instead remain stationary, illuminating different areas throughout the city, in an effort to maintain proper social distancing.

“Almost everything you will experience is all outdoors, making it a safe way to experience all that downtown has to offer,” says Gonzales.

All is merry & bright at the 9News Parade of Lights.

As we approach Union Station the charming light shows dance across the historic building while a band of carolers serenade the passerby’s. The warming fire pits, electric installations and the hustle and bustle of shoppers is reminiscent of seasons past and some hot beverages from Pigtrain Coffee Co. contributes to that cozy sense of familiarity.

Light us up.

After hunting down a number of fanciful displays and paying a visit to the Mile High Tree (the tallest digital tree in the country standing at 110-feet in 16th Street Mall), we make our way towards Larimer Square. Every time we’re in Denver, we make it a point to saunter through the magical corridor, beaming beneath the glow of its twinkling, suspended lights now, with a few added Christmassy signatures. We opt for round two with complimentary apple cider for the kiddos and not at all Grinchy, but still green, margs for us from the vibrant, outdoor bar at Garage Sale.

Home is where the heart is.

We walk along the nearby streets bobbing into specialty shops before finding our way to Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, a Colorado true Tex-Mex staple and luck into a reservation inside one of their heated bungalows. Over fresh chips and salsa, a shared grilled steak burrito and piping hot bowls of tortilla soup we relish in the sense of normalcy and cohesiveness over a shared family meal dining out. In these special moments we find some comfort, hope and deep appreciation for what’s in front of us in the wake of what has been quite a cumbersome stretch of time for all.

“We’ve partnered with key business partners to co-create whimsical downtown activations and promotions to invite the public downtown for a safe seasonal celebration after a year of hardship,” says Gonzales. “The Partnership has worked year-round to support downtown business in the face of 2020’s challenges, such as advocating for outdoor expansions, and now with Winter in the City.”

We are all in this together.

Find more free events, deals and promotions from downtown businesses, socially safe celebrations and more, all season long: here.

Happy Holidays y’all.

*All imagery courtesy of Kari Geha Photography