Generally speaking, I think most people would agree that, good or bad, some of the most vivid memories they have in life are from around the holidays.  And as they are here yet again, it seems like a fitting time for me to wax poetic about some of my own, personal favorite holiday season memories from all across Northern Colorado.

Some of my most favorite memories are easily triggered any time of year simply by walking through a particular part of a shopping center or eating or drinking something that reminds me of that one time, back when. The holidays are my favorite time of year in NoCo. And so, here’s a selection of my favorite holiday memories from around the area:

The Promenade Shops at Centerra

The Promenade Shops at Centerra
The Promenade Shops at Centerra
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Who hasn’t sipped a cup of hot chocolate and listened to Christmas music boom over the sound system by the big Christmas Tree outside the Bent Fork, while the sound of people’s skates skidding across the ice fills the air? I’ve spent countless holidays roaming the Promenade Shops, whether working events or simply doing some Christmas shopping. My favorite memory is from the day we spotted the horse-drawn carriage rides and a now decade-old inside joke was born between me and three friends, thanks to an old episode of Seinfeld.

The Lights of Old Town Fort Collins

It’s Like Christmas at Disney, Minus Mickey and Stuff
TSM File Photo
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The night the lights turn on immediately bring back memories of parking in the middle lanes of College Ave., in the snow, trying not to get dress clothes all wet and slushy as you skip across the street to the company Christmas party at what used to be called Nico’s Catacombs. For 35 years it was located down the stairs where you now find Sonny Lubick’s Steakhouse. Whether taking too many shots of tequila or indulging in too much Baked Alaska after dinner, our Christmas parties were epic, and every time I see those stairs on College Avenue I think of all the great times down there.

Thanksgiving at The Outlets at Loveland

The Outlets at Loveland - On the Way Out
TSM/Dave Jensen
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For a number of years, I always had to work a 10 p.m. to midnight event on Thanksgiving, of all days, as a lead up to Black Friday shopping. I loathed it every year, at the time, because who wants to work on Thanksgiving? But now, in hindsight, I’m not saying I’d do it again, but I kind of look back lovingly at those nights. The thoughts of a hot thermos of coffee, a few promo people and a bunch of really kind listeners coming out to bring me late night Thanksgiving treats really make me nostalgic for those good old days. But then again, now that I have a family and am in my 40s, I’m more than happy to do my Black Friday shopping online in my PJ’s instead.

Downtown Estes Park

Estes Park
TSM File Photo
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Aside from maybe Old Town Fort Collins, is there a better stretch of street to walk than Elkhorn Ave in downtown Estes Park during the holidays? The lights, the hustle and bustle of people taking in the sights and that crispy fog of your breath hitting the cold, mountain air. Man, the mere thought of it makes me want to go crack open a box of candy canes and sit by a fire. It’s always baffled me how Estes Park isn’t better known across the United States. But maybe it’s best kept as much of a “locals only” secret as possible.

Greeley Stampede Christmas Party

Courtesy of Adam Porter
Courtesy of Adam Porter
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I don’t know why this memory is so vivid, but I recall driving my brother’s old pickup truck with a broken heater to the Island Grove Regional Park in east Greeley for the Stampede Christmas party one year. I can’t even tell you why this one year in particular stands out to me, as I’ve attended many Stampede parties over the years, but I think this year I was just in more of a festive spirit than others. It was REALLY cold that night, and icy. But it was really warm in their offices, where the party was held and I remember it as one of my favorites.

There are awesome Christmas spots outside of NoCo too!

For example, have you checked out the Christmas lights down at Water World?

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