Fort Collins richly deserves its reputation as the cultural capital of Northern Colorado. With a half-dozen live theatre stages in production throughout the year; a symphony orchestra, ballet troupe and opera company as well as several choral ensembles; facilities that accommodate a wide range of national touring shows and concerts, and galleries and museums mounting exhibits of everything from animation art to historical kimonos, there’s always something interesting going on.
See a show at The Lincoln Center
The Lincoln Center is one of Colorado's largest and most diverse presenters of professional theater, dance, music, visual arts and children's programs. The winter lineup is stellar, with a full range of shows including theater highlights like “The Full Monty” (Nov. 2-30); a plethora of holiday offerings like Mannheim Steamroller Christmas (Dec. 19), “A Musical Christmas Carol 2019” (Dec. 19-22) and “A Celtic Gift” (Dec. 21). Concerts include John Gorka (Dec. 8), Eric Johnson (Jan. 26), Joshua Bell (Jan. 28). Catch dance performances including Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México (Feb. 9), Pilobolus (March 3) and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (April 11).
Visit the Garden of Lights this holiday season
This season, check out the expanded and enhanced Garden of Lights at The Gardens of Spring Creek, sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Stroll through the gardens, which are lit by hundreds of thousands of LED lights Dec. 13-29 (except Dec. 25). Open from 5 to 9 p.m. each evening, this Northern Colorado tradition includes a route that’s twice as long as last year as well as an animated Color Blossom Show featuring 700 lighted blossoms dancing along the Great Lawn. Visit with Santa while listening to holiday music and carolers and meeting the reindeer and magical dog troupes, sure to put the whole family in the holiday spirit. The Gardens of Spring Creek recently underwent an extensive renovation and remodel so if you haven’t been in awhile, here’s your chance to check out the new visitor’s center, gardens and more.
Add a University Center for the Arts event to your calendar
Colorado State University’s University Center for the Arts hosts more than 250 dance, theater and music performances and exhibitions annually. Coming up, check out the Fall Dance Capstone Concert featuring the work of four senior dance majors on Dec. 13 and 14. Theater lovers will enjoy The Beckett Experience: Four Times/Times Four, an evening that includes four plays by Irish playwright, novelist and poet Samuel Beckett, widely considered one of the most influential 20th century writers. The show runs from Dec. 5-8 at the Studio Theatre in the University Center for the Arts. Hear holiday classics and more at the University Symphony Orchestra Concert on Dec. 3 and the All-Choral Holiday Concert on Dec. 6. And on Dec. 9, hear clarinetist Wesley Ferreira and guest Jana Starling perform at a Virtuoso Series Concert.
Get your shopping on
Hunting for locally handcrafted items along with honey, produce, baked goods and more? This winter, check out the Fort Collins Winter Farmers Market, taking place at two locations (Masonic Temple at 225 W. Oak Street and Opera Galleria at 123 N. College Ave.) on select Saturdays November through April.
While you’re in Old Town, take part in the Old Town Spree, which gives shoppers a chance to win big. The Downtown Fort Collins Business Association and 50+ shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in Downtown Fort Collins launched the inaugural Old Town Spree in November. The passport-style shopping rewards program enters holiday shoppers for a chance to win thousands of dollars in Downtown Gift Cards. Simply grab a Passport at any participating business or print your own Passport online. Spend $10 at participating Downtown businesses and get a sticker for your Passport. The more you spend, the more stickers you’ll earn. Once you’ve collected $100 worth of stickers, your Passport is complete and can be dropped off at any participating business to be entered to win $5,000 in prizes.
Enjoy lights, s’mores and more at Winter Wonderland at The Mish
If you haven’t been to The Mish in the winter, now is your chance. The iconic Mishawaka Amphitheatre is a bucket-list, 100-plus year old venue in Poudre Canyon. This holiday season, the venue’s “winter forest” is decorated with lights, trees and new installations for the kids during Winter Wonderland from Nov. 29-Dec. 31. The festivities also include an outdoor s’mores station, ornament creation and hot drinks, including the owner’s family Wassail recipe.
Anheuser-Busch’s Brewery Lights returns this season. Experience the magic of more than a million twinkling lights. Guests are invited to marvel as the brewery is turned into a remarkable holiday experience with something for everyone, including a Kids Zone. Brewery Lights is a family-friendly event, open to all ages at no cost and takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays through Sundays mid Nov. through Dec. 29. Visit the website to learn about the VIP packages (including an Igloo experience!) and tours available.
Take time for a concert
Fort Collins is nationally recognized as a hot spot for creative music and talented new musicians. See why by adding a live music show to your calendar. Washington’s, the area’s newest music venue, has a fantastic lineup; highlights include: The 10th annual Holiday Hoedown with Bonnie and the Clydes, Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams (Dec. 12), Saved by the 90s (Dec. 21), The Wailers (Jan. 26), Ani DiFranco (Feb. 8), Ozomatli (Feb. 14), The High Kings (Feb. 17) Robert Earl Keen (Feb. 25) and Keller Williams (March 6).
The Armory hosts JD McPherson with Joel Paterson (Dec. 7), John Craigie with Jay Cobb Anderson (Dec. 19), Trace Bundy (Jan. 10), Donavon Frankenreiter (Feb. 19) and David Wilcox (March 7).
The very refined-yet-offbeat Magic Rat Live Music, located inside the luxury Elizabeth Hotel in Old Town, hosts big name artists and local late night jam sessions. Check their calendar for the latest listings.
Strap on your skates
Skating out of doors is a fun experience to add to your winter bucket list. You can Skate the Pond at Northern Colorado’s largest outdoor rink, located at the Foothills mall, from Nov. 22-Feb. 14. Admission is $4-$7 and skate rentals are $3. Or practice those spirals and toe loops for free at the Old Town Square Ice Skating Rink, open Fridays through Sundays (extended holiday hours) Nov. 27 through Feb. 1.
Enjoy natural ice-skating at City Park, where you can find a safe skating area on part of Sheldon Lake during those extra chilly days. Prospect Ponds Natural Area also offers a zoned-off section on one of the ponds off of Sharp Point Drive when the ice is thick enough. Watch for signs from the city’s Natural Areas department.