While the 12 days of Christmas officially start on Christmas Day, Aspen will start its own dozen days of celebration a few days earlier.
The 12 Days of Aspen features daily events in the mountain town from Thursday through the end of the year.
The town attracts a number of families vacationing for the holidays, and these events provide a healthy dose of things to do each day and evening — in addition to skiing and boarding at area resorts.
It’s the 11th year that the Aspen Chamber Resort Association has compiled the events, most of which are free. From family-friendly activities such as ice skating with Santa’s elves at the iconic Aspen St. Regis and children’s story hours to adult comedy by “Saturday Night Live” star Melissa Villasenor and performances by Third Eye Blind (sold out), Justice, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band, the schedule has something for everyone. For a full list, visit aspenchamber.org/12days.
Chamber spokeswoman Melissa Wisenbaker said 12 Days of Aspen is “something that people look forward to, both locals and visitors, because it kicks off the holiday season in Aspen. There are so many free events, free cookies being handed out, visits with Santa — a lot of events for people with younger kids and people who are not just here to ski.”
Art lovers will enjoy the opening reception, from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, for the “Bayer & Bauhaus: How Design Shaped Aspen” exhibit in the Wheeler/Stallard Museum. The free community event features a cookie exchange, holiday caroling, hot chocolate and mulled wine, remarks by curator Lisa Hancock and exhibit tours.
Several restaurants, including Prospect at Hotel Jerome, Ajax Tavern and Element 47 at the Little Nell Hotel, offer sumptuous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners or buffets. French electronic and dance band Justice will perform Dec. 30 and 31 for the 21-and-over crowd at Belly Up Aspen, 450 S. Galena St., with tickets starting at $145. For info, call the box office at 970-544-9800.
On Christmas Day, the chamber has a free gift giveaway at its visitors centers downtown and at the airport. Folks who are passing through can pick up a small gift.
Ring in 2019 at New Year’s Eve soirees such as the Dom Perignon Party from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at The Little Nell, 675 E. Durant Ave.
Topping it all off are a New Year’s Eve bonfire in Wagner Park and two nightly fireworks extravaganzas over Aspen Mountain. Fireworks shows will be at 8 p.m. and midnight.
“It’s a big community party that’s free, right in the middle of downtown,” Wisenbaker said.
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM