Grand Lake’s 2023 Holiday Planning Guide

Kick Off the Holiday Season, Grand Lake Style 

Get your holiday season started off on the right foot by making lasting memories in the quaint village of Grand Lake, Colorado, where joyful experiences abound and cozy is king. Located just a two-hour drive from Denver, this classic “Christmas Village” is a hot spot for getting outdoors and into the holiday spirit. Don’t let the old mud season myth deter you–there’s a slew of things to do in Grand Lake in November, from shopping and dining to hiking and Christmas tree “hunting”, plus festive, family-friendly events and entertainment. 

The town’s signature Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving in the downtown square, where thousands of locals and visitors alike flock to enjoy merry music, sweet treats and community camaraderie under twinkling holiday lights (and often a fresh dusting of sparkling snow!) Santa will also be in attendance, arriving Grand Lake-style in a horse-drawn carriage piloted by Grand Lake Carriage Tours, which will be available throughout the evening for charming photo opportunities. Snuggle up with loved ones around fire pits with a steaming mug of cocoa from one of two snack stations provided.

grand lake tree lighting ceremony

shopping in grand lake co

You can also get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping by browsing dozens of locally owned boutiques, gift shops, outdoor outfitters and other small businesses that line Grand Lake’s historic boardwalk. You’ll find unique, mountain-inspired items like birdhouses, turquoise jewelry, one-of-a-kind artwork, cutting-edge gear and clothing for the mountain lifestyle. Don’t miss Humphrey’s Cabin Fever, a historic shopping outpost housing an eclectic collection of homegoods and novelty items perfect for everyone on your list. This year, Humprey’s will be open late on Black Friday, offering complimentary treats to shoppers plus 10 percent off all Christmas decor from their year-round holiday section.

In addition to the array of year-round boardwalk shops, Thanksgiving weekend brings the annual Olde-Fashioned Holiday Craft Bazaar with a wide variety of handmade gift items to the Community House building overlooking Town Park on Friday, November 24, and Saturday, November 25. You’ll be amazed at the impressive display of artisan items like hand-poured candles, knitted scarves, homemade housewares, wood carvings, natural skincare products and so much more! This merry shopping extravaganza is the premier event presented by the Grand Arts Council, a local non-profit organization.

Olde-Fashioned Holiday Craft Bazaar


Surrounded on three sides by the majestic landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park, no visit to Grand Lake is complete without spending some time in the great outdoors. The weather might be chilly, but Grand Lake locals embrace the mantra of “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” so bundle up and head out for some fresh air, exercise and fun! The iconic hike to Adam’s Falls is little more than a half-mile round trip and can be enjoyed year-round (if snow is deeper than 6 inches, we recommend renting a pair of snowshoes from Never Summer Mountain Products, located on the boardwalk in downtown Grand Lake). With November marking the end of timed-entry permits for the park, you can also take a drive up Trail Ridge Road, where you’ll find plenty of other hiking trails, plus historic landmarks, stunning scenery and wildlife activity (note: Trail Ridge Road is now closed for the winter season at the Colorado River Trailhead, approximately 10 miles past the Kawuneeche Valley/west entrance). 

November is also the best time to go “hunting” for your own Christmas tree to take home! Christmas Tree permits are sold from November 10 until January 7 by the U.S. Forest Service at for specific locations in the Grand Lake area (please cut only in specified locations as some forest areas are still under safety closures from wildfire impacts). Not to toot our own horn, but tree cutting permits are issued in the Sulphur-Ranger district a full two weeks before other areas in Colorado, which don’t open until November 24. The Grand Lake Chamber (open Thursday – Sunday 10am until 3pm) has a limited number of permits for sale in-person at the visitor’s center building for $20 each, which includes maps and measuring tapes for your convenience. Dashing through the snow to find that perfect pine and harvesting it with your own hands is an unforgettable experience sure to create memories to last a lifetime. 

xmas tree hunting

a christmas carol

If the weather truly is too frightful to be outside, ward off cabin fever by signing up for a creative class or workshop at the Rocky Mountain Folk School, a very special amenity located in downtown Grand Lake that you won’t find in any other Colorado mountain town. The organization offers instruction in traditional art forms like pottery, painting, woodworking and more, with the mission to engage the hands, warm the heart, stimulate the mind and encourage community connection. Upcoming merry-making workshops include wood-burning ornaments, polymer clay owl ornaments and watercolor Christmas cards! For indoor entertainment, head to the box office at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater for tickets to joyful performances like “One-Man A Christmas Carol” and “Home for the Holidays” showing on select dates in December.

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