Combine a mountain village with holiday spirit, outdoor ice skating, holiday activities, an evening parade where all the floats are decked out for the season, and a lakeside fireworks show, and you'll find the largest holiday celebration kick-off in Colorado. It all happens on the weekend of Thanksgiving, Friday & Saturday, November 23 and 24 in Estes Park. Activities other than ice skating are all free of charge.

Family traditions abound in Estes Park, especially at holidays, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Area restaurants host Thanksgiving dinners and buffets that allow families an easy and delicious option for starting this weekend with gratitude and togetherness.

On Friday, Nov. 23 at noon, groups can venture into the village to "Come Catch the Glow" of the season with holiday music broadcast outdoors throughout the town, carolers, holiday characters greeting guests on the sidewalks, and visits with Santa. New this year, couples and families will enjoy ice skating in the heart of downtown along the river walk. The unique variety of shops throughout town will be open to allow shoppers to get started on their gift giving lists.

The day's big event, the annual Catch the Glow Parade, begins at 5:30 p.m. By that time, Elkhorn Avenue, the main street through downtown Estes Park, is lined with people waiting for the parade of over 40 lighted floats to pass. Estes Park has been home to a holiday parade for 24 years.

The parade is a moving extension of the holiday décor for which Estes Park is known: 135 streetlights are dressed with lighted multi-colored LED Christmas tree shapes and 190 live trees throughout town sparkle with tiny white lights. In addition, the town displays seven larger-than-life murals depicting everything from old-time nursery rhymes such as "The Old Woman in the Shoe" to spiritually-based parables.

It's just the beginning of special holiday events in this mountain village. Saturday, Nov. 24 at 9 a.m. is the annual Holiday House Christmas Bazaar at the Estes Park Conference Center, 101 S. St. Vrain Ave. Hundreds of hand-crafted holiday items, a raffle, recycled treasures, holiday treats, music and more, are all available for a $1 donation at the door.

Saturday, at 8:30 p.m. guests will enjoy the fireworks spectacular over Lake Estes for even more sparkle and glow. A full-length fireworks display will be reflected on the lake and the peaks, which can be seen from every side of the lake, only a couple blocks from the village center.

Then, Saturday, Dec. 1 is the annual Quota Club Holiday Home Tour. The event features five of Estes Park's most unique homes decked out in holiday finery. Tickets and tour maps are available at the Estes Park Visitors Center, 500 Big Thompson Ave.

Other holiday activities scheduled in Estes Park include concerts, special art and gallery shows. There are holiday concerts and events each weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
For complete information about activities and events in Estes Park during the holiday season, contact the Estes Park Visitor Center at 800-44-ESTES (800-443-7837) or 970-577-9900, or check out the official Estes Park visitor information website at