The holidays start early this year as Estes Park continues a rekindled tradition of beginning celebrations with the lighting of the Christmas tree.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, family activities and entertainment will begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by the tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. in Riverside Plaza, on the riverfront downtown Estes Park near the intersections of Riverside Dr. and Elkhorn Ave.

With the festive voices of carolers in the air, families and couples can revel in the holiday spirit as they enjoy crafts, s'mores, wagon rides and even a visit from Santa Claus himself. The tradition of a Tree Lighting Ceremony dates back in Estes Park to more than 60 years ago. The lighted trees will be added to the 175 decorated trees throughout the downtown area.

Shoppers will get an early start with Estes Park's unique selection of shops and can refuel at a variety of restaurants throughout the village. Additional hand-crafted gifts can be found at the Storm Mountain Annual Holiday Bazaar at the Big Thompson Canyon Association Building, 1479 US Hwy. 34 in Drake on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18.

The ceremony and bazaar are just the first of many events marking the holiday season throughout the village including being a prelude to annual Catch the Glow Christmas celebration and fireworks on Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24.
Also upcoming is a special holiday art exhibit, a Christmas home tour, and special musical performances presented by the Estes Park Music Festival, among other events.

Details about those events are:

Nov. 23-24: Catch the Glow Holiday Celebration, Christmas Parade and Fireworks Spectacular. Beginning at noon children will be able to visit with Santa and enjoy hay rides. Whimsical characters and festive carolers will entertain throughout the downtown area. At dusk, over 40 floats from the Catch the Glow Parade will feature thousands of tiny twinkling lights, storybook figures, angels, snowmen, marching bands, entertainers, wildlife characters and of course, Santa ends the parade! Free. Downtown Estes Park. Parade begins at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. the fireworks spectacular will be launched over Lake Estes, setting the water and mountain peaks aglow. Free. 970-577-9900; 800-44-ESTES

Nov. 24: Holiday House Christmas Bazaar. The Estes Park Medical Center's annual fundraising event offers handmade gifts, knitted wear, decorations and baked goods. Business and private people donate other items. The bazaar sells out quickly so go early. $1 at door. Estes Park Conference Center, 201 S. St. Vrain Ave. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 970-586-7205

Nov. 24-25: 10th Annual Holiday Art Exhibition featuring Cultural Arts Center visual artist members. Exhibit continues through January 6. Free. Cultural Arts Center Fine Art Gallery, 453 W. Elkhorn Ave. Noon. 970-586-9203

Nov. 25: Opus 2 - Andrew Cooperstock & William Terwilliger - Concert: featuring classical piano and violin during this Sunday concert. $7; Children & Students Free. Stanley Hotel, 333 E Wonderview Ave. 2 p.m. 970-586-9519

Dec. 1: Quota Club's Holiday Home Tour. The annual tour in the Estes Park area showcases unique mountain homes decked out in holiday finery. $12 in advance; $15 the day of the tour, tickets available at the Estes Park Visitor Center at 500 Big Thompson Ave. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. 970-586-5800

Dec. 2: Jubilate Sacred Singers. Shout for Joy and hear some of your favorite songs of the holiday season sung by the Jubilate Sacred Singers in the Concert Hall. $7; Children & Students Free, Stanley Hotel, 333 E Wonderview Ave. 2 p.m. 970-586-9519

Dec. 7-8: Friends of the Library Holiday Book Sale. The Friends of the Estes Valley Library's Pre-Christmas Used Book Sale will sell more than 3,000 fiction, mysteries, non-fiction, cookbooks and children's books, as well as a selection of Christmas-themed books. Free. Estes Valley Library, 335 E. Elkhorn Ave. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. 970-586-8116

Dec. 16: Fred Peterbark & Anthony Green. Enjoy a holiday presentation of vocals and piano. $7; Children & Students Free, Stanley Hotel, 333 E Wonderview Ave. 2 p.m. 970-586-9519

Dec. 23: John Kohne Trio. Get festive with this experiential jazz Christmas program. $7; Children & Students Free, Stanley Hotel, 333 E Wonderview Ave. 2 p.m. 970-586-9519