The 12 Days of Aspen

Courtesy michael.stockton/Flickr

Powderhounds take to Aspen like candy canes to a Christmas stocking, and nothing says "spend your holiday on the slopes" quite like the 12 Days of Aspen.

From December 20 through New Year's Eve, the Colorado city welcomes visitors to its three snow-peaked mountains and four ski resorts with a full calendar of concerts, ice-skating, restaurant deals, and splurge-y shopping. If you're up for a last-minute indulgence, or just want to do a little vicarious window-shopping, here are some highlights:

Free Ice Skating from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Silver Circle Ice Rink on the 12 Days of Aspen opening day, December 20 (Silver Circle Ice Rink, 433 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, 970/925-1710, free on opening day, other $7 for adults, $3 skate rental).

The Spirit of Aspen Spectacular is a new musical presented evenings at the Wheeler Opera House, featuring Aspen locations and actors playing local legends such as the late pop singer John Denver. "The story is about what makes Aspen so special for the holidays," author Jayne Gottlieb told the Aspen Times. "It speaks to the magic of our town." (320 E. Hyman Ave, Aspen, wheeler, tickets $25 for adults, $20 for children 12 and under).

Yoga for Skiers isn't just a relaxing and invigorating way to start the day. Poses such as Chair Pose and Spine Twist help prepare the body's muscles for the twists and turns of downhill skiing and snowboarding. Sessions are free with a lift ticket at Aspen Mountain, The Sundeck, Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays at 9:30 (Aspen Mountain, The Sundeck, 970/429-6974, free with lift ticket).

Winter Explorers Class gives the little ones an educational, outdoors alternative to holiday favorites like cocoa with Santa and teddy bear story hour. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies offers kids ages 6 to 10 a chanced to explore the Lake Hallam nature preserve, including examining animal tracks, building a snow cave, and much more (100 Puppy Smith St., Aspen,, from $50).

Free Hot-Air Balloon Rides will be offered in Wagner Park, presented by the Above It All Balloon Co. and The Westin Snowmass Resort, on December 30 from 1:30 to 3:30 (300 S. Monarch, Aspen, 970/925-1940, free).

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