You forgot to book a sitter, and now you’re stuck at home on New Year’s Eve with your kids? Think again. We’re rounded up the top kid-friendly — and parent-friendly! — parties for families looking for one last bash in 2016. Keep reading for ten events on December 31, as well as two bonus events the next day.
1. New Year’s Eve Extreme Rodeo Challenge
Budweiser Events Center (Loveland)
Starts at 7:30 p.m.
Grab your buckaroos and ring in the new year Colorado-style at the eleventh annual First National Bank’s New Year’s Eve Extreme Rodeo Challenge. The night’s filled with all of your rodeo favorites, including saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding and bull fighting — along with crowd-pleasing mutton bustin’. Tickets range from $12 to $27 and can be purchased at the Budweiser Events Center box office, online, or by calling 877-544-TIXX. VIP tickets are available for $112 and include floor seating in the VIP pit, an unlimited buffet, and a host bar for select beverages. For more information, visit the Budweiser Events Center website.
2. First Night Fort Collins
Downtown Fort Collins
5:30 to 10 p.m.
This Saturday, there’s a little something for everyone at the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association’s artsy, annual and free family-oriented New Year’s Eve celebration. This year’s Winter Wonderland theme offers opportunities to enjoy international dance, live theater and magic shows, along with comedy, music, singing, face painting and more. There’s also a bounceland filled with giant inflatables for the youngsters. A special kids’ ball-drop countdown begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Square, and fireworks round out the evening at 10 p.m. More information is available online.
3. New Year’s Eve Family Dance
YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center
Starts at 8:30 p.m.
In Estes Park, YMCA of the Rockies says au revoir to 2016 with a family-friendly dance party featuring a DJ, games, snacks and refreshments. Come to the Longhouse Building dressed for a good time. For wee party animals, the ball drops early, at 10 p.m. The event is free for lodging guests, and lodging rates start at $64 for members and $79 for non-members. For more information, visit YMCA of the Rockies’ website.
4. New Year's Eve Concert
Pikes Peak Center (Colorado Springs)
Ring in the New Year in style and party like a diva with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, at the Springs' longest-running New Year's Eve Bash. This song-filled evening will delight parents and their older kiddos with some of the Philharmonic’s most popular vocalists, who aim to light up the night with Broadway hits and classic American songs from Wicked, The Wizard of Oz and Frozen. Tickets are $21 to $64; purchase yours online or call 719-520-SHOW.
5. New Year’s Eve at Avanti F&B
7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Denver’s beloved collective eatery invites foodies to nosh in the New Year. At Avanti, entry is free, and the food is pay-as-you-go. Six restaurants will be open, serving up their finest fare. Head to the rooftop deck at 9 p.m. and midnight to watch the fireworks downtown, and enjoy a complimentary champagne toast when the clock strikes twelve. VIP unlimited drink packages featuring house wells, wine and beer are available for $80 per person, and tickets can be purchased online. For more information, visit Avanti’s website.
6. New Year’s Eve Fireworks
9 p.m. and midnight
The sky will sparkle over the 16th Street Mall at the close of 2016, thanks to two spectacular fireworks shows. For the best viewpoints, stand along the 16th Street Mall, where costumed entertainers – musicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt-walkers, comedians and more – will interact with crowds between shows. More information is available on Visit Denver's website. Make a night of it by making early reservations at Ace Eat Serve for a no-fuss, casual, kid-friendly meal. After you’ve grubbed on the joint’s Asian-inspired fare and played a few rounds of ping-pong, head outside for the pyrotechnics. Call 303-800-7705 for dining reservations.
7. Zoo Year’s Eve
5:30 to 9 p.m.
For a truly wild New Year’s Eve soirée, head to the Denver Zoo for a fun-filled night with magic shows, face painting, meet-and-greets with snow princesses, and a dance party. A special New Year’s Eve countdown happens at 9 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 $17 for adults, $12 for children ages three to eleven, and $14 for seniors. Children two and under get in free, and members get a $2 discount on all tickets. For more information, visit the Denver Zoo’s website or call 720-337-1400.
8. New Year’s Eve at Club Wings
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Party in a World War II-era aircraft hangar as Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum hosts an evening of drinks and dancing. DJ Wonder will fill the hangar with a blend of original electronic dance music and exclusive remixes, and will be joined on stage by Denver’s Sur Ellz. Tickets are $135, and museum members get $20 off. See the museum's website for tickets and more information.
9. Noon Year’s Eve Party
YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch
Book a cabin last-minute and head to Snow Mountain Ranch for a family-oriented lineup of festivities. If your littlest ones won’t make it ’til midnight, they can still celebrate the clock striking twelve during an hour-long event filled with fun and games. At 8 p.m. the party really gets going, with an evening of music, dancing, games and a ball drop at the site’s Kiva Center. For information, visit Snow Mountain Ranch’s website.
10. Resolution 5K
Starts at South High School
Bundle up and race toward a healthy 2017. Fit families love the Resolution 5K, Denver’s oldest and most established New Year’s Eve run and walk. Race-day registration opens at South High School at 1:45 p.m., and the 3.1-mile trek culminates with post-race cocoa and cookies. Entry is $25 for adults and $20 for children; visit the Resolution 5K website for more details.
Feeling cooped up on January 1? Read on for two more events that will brighten your New Year’s Day.
New Year's Day Skating
Southwest Rink at Skyline Park
After a lot of eating and overindulging, bundle up the family and head to 16th and Arapahoe streets in downtown Denver for a few laps around the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park, a free urban rink that’s open through February 14. The rink's hours are posted online; skate rentals (usually $2) are free on New Year's Day. For more information, visit downtowndenver.com.
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New Year's Day Brunch Train
D&SNGRR Depot (Durango)
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad's premium-class passengers can celebrate the start of the new year with a delicious hot brunch buffet, live music and a scrumptious array of mouthwatering desserts — all while traveling through the pristine, snow-covered wilderness along the Animas River. During a 45-minute stop at Cascade Canyon, guests can stroll to the footbridge, warm their hands by the rock fireplace in the pavilion, or simply sit back, relax and enjoy the winter scenery from the comfort of their passenger car. The railroad also offers standard coach seats with access to the concession car, where snacks, hot and cold lunch items, beverages, cocktail and souvenirs are available for purchase. For more information, including fares and departure time, visit the D&SNGRR’s website.