If you have children, one of the most difficult holiday celebrations to plan might just be New Year’s Eve. Festivities tend to lean toward too adult, too early, too late, or just not available at all. But for those who live in Denver, we’ve got good news! You’re going to love family-friendly New Year’s Eve in Denver as it is one of the best places to take the kids too. The Mile High City consistently tops the list for best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve and one of the most affordable. Here are my suggestions for a family fun New Year’s Eve in Denver.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, TravelingInHeels may earn from qualifying purchases.
10 Family-Friendly Things to do in Denver on New Year’s Eve
Get ready to experience a family-friendly New Year’s Eve in Denver with Fireworks, Festivities, and Family Fun. Snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains set the mood for Denver’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve, and you’ll see why this city was named one of Travel + Leisure’s top cities to spend NYE and named one of Lonely Planet’s “World’s Top Cities for Travelers in 2020! While the always popular Colorado ski slopes are a day trip away, there’s so much to do and see in the Mile High City.
When you and your family are ready to say hello to January 1, New Years’ Eve in Denver is a guaranteed fun time with downtown fireworks displays, exciting festivities, and special hotel packages. But when it’s just you and the kids, where can you find the family-friendly New Year’s Eve events in downtown Denver?
Below are some highlights of Denver’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve festivities. A full list of Mile High holiday ideas and hotel packages can be found at MileHighHolidays.com.
1. Ice Skate for Free
Denver loves its families, offering year-round family-friendly events and things to do, including free things to do in the winter. For families preferring a New Year’s Eve day experience, bundle up the kids and celebrate New Year’s Eve with free ice skating on Southwest Rink at Skyline Park. Warm-up afterward with hot chocolate. Then check out the lights on the 16th Street Mall (see #7).
For families traveling from out of town, squeeze in one more whirl around the rink at Denver International Airport ice skating rink, from late November to mid-January — and yes it’s for free as well.
2. Noon New Year’s Eve at Children’s Museum of Denver
Kids don’t want to be left out on the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Children can experience the excitement, thrills and festive fun of family-friendly New Year’s Eve in Denver – all before bedtime.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus celebrates with glittery ball drops, rainbows of confetti, and huge sheets of bubble wrap (the museum’s version of fireworks) for kids to stomp on. After the ball drops, the celebration keeps going with sparkling art projects and activities on the plaza.
And this gives parents a chance to enjoy an adult New Year’s Eve in Denver after tucking the kiddos into bed including dining at one of these 5 best restaurants in Denver, these amazing best new Denver restaurants, or restaurants near Denver’s Theatre District.
3. Sharkey’s New Year’s Eve Bash
Ring in the New Year with the Downtown Aquarium‘s mascot, Sharkey! Everything you need for a New Year’s Eve celebration is waiting for you from a beach ball and balloon drop to a sparkling cider toast. Add in photos with Sharkey and animal interactions and you’ll be the best parent ever.
Bonus: Aquarium admission is included, so make sure to save extra time to explore all the exhibits.
Time: 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m.
Cost: Kids’ Buffet (ages 3 to 10): $20, Adult Buffet: $29. Reservations required.
4. Denver Zoo New Year’s Eve
For a truly “wild” New Year’s Eve, head to the Denver Zoo for a fun-filled night. Get an early start on the New Year with the zoo’s Low Sensory celebration, including a special New Year’s Eve countdown that happens at 9 p.m. (ending by 10 p.m.) so that kids can enjoy the holiday but still get home for bedtime.
Activities are included with admission to Zoo Lights, a popular holiday tradition and light safari with sixty illuminated acres of lights. Admission to Zoo Lights is $20 for adults, $14 for children ages three to eleven, and $17 for seniors. Children two and under get in free, and members get a $2 discount on all tickets. Zoo New Years’ Eve hours are 5:30 to 9 p.m.
For more information, visit the Denver Zoo’s events website or call 720-337-1400.
PLEASE NOTE: Activities and details change from year-to-year, so please check the Zoo’s events page for details.
5. Zoo Year’s Eve – Bunk with the Beasts
Ready to offer your children a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Children are invited to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a sleepover at Denver Zoo’s Bunk with the Beasts adventure! They will explore Zoo Lights, and celebrate the New Year in a safe and fun environment, while parents get a night out on the town! The evening will include a pizza dinner, an evening snack, and a warm morning breakfast.
- Children must be 5+ to attend bunk
- This bunk includes dinner, snacks, and breakfast.
- Registered participants are free to explore the zoo on your own after the Bunk ends.
- Instructor to child ratio is 1 to 8.
- This is a Child only overnight!
- Cost $65 Member; $75 non-member
PLEASE NOTE: This event sells out quickly!!
6. Denver New Year’s Eve Fireworks
The 16th Street Mall closes the end of the year with two spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks shows. Bundle up your kids and make your way to downtown Denver. This family-friendly New Year’s Eve fireworks show lights the sky at 9 p.m. (while the more adult late-night version is at the stroke of midnight). Both festivities include the fireworks, costumed magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt walkers, comedians and more interaction with the crowds between the shows.
7. Festive 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver
Bundle up the kids and make your way to downtown during New Year’s Eve fireworks. Explore the pedestrian-only 16th Street Mall before the fireworks show. Ride the FREE MallRide up and down the 16th Street Mall.
Get into the festive mood with the holiday lights. Do a little shopping. Warm-up with hot chocolate at the many coffee shops along the way. Hail a horse-drawn carriage for a horse-eyed view of the city. The 16th Street Mall is a picture-perfect holiday experience.
8. Denver Pavilion’s Holiday Carousel
Get into the holiday spirit by taking a ride on Downtown Denver’s first & only Holiday Carousel. From mid-December to January 2 each year, rekindle that holiday magic at the Denver Pavilions with $3 rides — or use your free voucher from any Denver Pavilions merchant. The Holiday carousel is also open on New Year’s Eve. A portion of proceeds goes to Food Bank for the Rockies.
Did you know? This Holiday Carousel was featured in the Jennifer Lopez movie Selena.
9. Overnight in Downtown Denver
Make it a family vacation in downtown Denver and get a front-row seat to so many NYE celebrations. Numerous Denver hotel deals extend throughout the holiday season, including New Year’s Eve. There are many budget-friendly hotels available.
If you’re willing to splurge, one of my favorite hotels with the family is the elegant Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, where luxury and ambiance combine to make history come alive in this downtown Denver hotel. My daughter, granddaughter and I experienced the 9News Parade and the holiday lights with a stay there in December. The finale was breakfast at the Brown with Santa (while mommy and grammie enjoyed mimosas).
10. Check into the holiday wonderland of Gaylord Rockies
Located miles from Denver International Airport, create an exciting family-friendly New Year’s experience at Gaylord Rockies in Aurora.
Each holiday season the Gaylord Rockies transforms into a holiday celebration, presenting ICE from November 22, 2019 through January 5, 2020! This year’s celebration featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, where scenes from this beloved holiday story come to life in super-size ice sculptures (carved from more than two million pounds of ice!). Kids can also slip down the two-story ice slides. Tickets range from $13.99 child/$24.99 adult
Want an even more exciting holiday celebration? This year, Gaylord Rockies Guests added Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a critically-acclaimed Broadway musical and new Cirque adventure wrapped into the ultimate gift for the entire family. Performances begin Nov. 22, 2019 and run through Jan. 4, 2020.
Staying downtown? Ride the Light Rail from Downtown Denver to DIA to the 61st & Pena Station stop. The Gaylord Rockies shuttle will pick you up at the station.
TravelingInHeels.com Tip: Click here for free things to do in Denver in the winter.
Denver seems like a great winter break destination, especially given that it might actually get some snow.
we usually do a family party on NYE – Denver sounds like it has some great options. Not sure I would want to leave my kids overnight, but a good option if parents can’t find a sitter!
Thanks for your comments. I have never been to the ice rink in Lakewood, but I’ve heard it’s also a great option especially for those who live in the west suburbs of metro area. However, this photo is the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park in downtown Denver, photo provided by Visit Denver (as captioned).