TELLURIDE – ‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, and this year Telluride businesses will be getting into the spirit more than ever as the town welcomes its new Holiday Prelude event series.
With a renewed focus on holiday-themed décor, as well as a bedecked events calendar brimming with family-friendly activities, Telluride will ring in the Christmas holiday a few weeks early this year. The hope is that by enhancing the town’s already storybook-esque character and adding some winter wonderland events to the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the destination will be able to lure more regional visitors, and in so doing, add vitality to a typically slow time of year.
“The whole idea of hosting these free, family-friendly events is to encourage people to visit,” explains local merchant Ted Wilson, co-owner of Customs House and the original promoter of the Holiday Prelude. Wilson cites other destination resort communities, such as Kennebunkport, Maine, and Leavenworth, Wash., as towns that capitalize on pre-Christmas celebrations. “It’s a perfect fit for Telluride,” he says.
The festivities begin Dec. 5 with Telluride’s popular Noel Night. New to the schedule are two Holiday Prelude events; a bonfire downtown at Elk’s Park on Saturday, Dec. 8, and an outdoor ice skating party at Town Park on Saturday Dec. 15. Additional goings-on include the Telluride Arts Holiday Bazaar Dec. 7-9; Schmid Ranch’s Old Fashioned Christmas on Wilson Mesa on Dec. 8; Jerry Joseph in concert at the Sheridan Opera House on Dec. 8; Jingle Jam in Mountain Village on Dec. 14; and the Palm Arts production of The Nutcracker on Dec. 14 and 16. The Wilkinson Public Library will also host holiday-themed movies and arts and crafts projects throughout the Holiday Prelude calendar (Dec. 5-16.) Most events are free, and more events are in the works, Wilson says.
Local hoteliers and other businesses are offering special Holiday Prelude rates as well, to further entice regional travelers to Telluride this season.
In celebration of the new lineup, the Town of Telluride and Telluride Parks and Recreation Department will spruce up Telluride’s holiday décor. Telluride Parks and Rec’s Stephanie Jaquet reports that in addition to the garlands, lights, and ribbons that have historically embellished Colorado Ave. lampposts, Telluride will also see two live, decorated Christmas trees stationed in the center lane at Oak St. and Willow St. A lighting consultant has also been hired to help enhance the town’s lighting plan, with an eye to deck portions of Main Street with overhead lights a la Denver’s Larimer Square.
“We’ll start small this year, but hopefully with more advanced planning next season we’ll see even more” by way of holiday lighting and town-wide décor, Jaquet says.
According to the Telluride Tourism Board’s Michael Martelon, the weeks spanning Thanksgiving and Christmas have historically been uninspiring in terms of revenue. Occupancy rates during the first two weeks in December are typically at ten percent or less, but jump straight to 75-80% the week of Christmas. That rollercoaster can be a shock to local business operators, Martelon says.
“Really, what we’re hoping to do is to create more of a regional pull, which would allow us to ease into that Christmas shock a little easier… To the extent that we can start to level out those ups and those downs, we can start to become more sustainable year-round,” he says.
The Telluride Tourism Board has thus marketed the new Holiday Prelude to neighboring communities in the region, and hopes to build on this year’s event with the continued support of the Town and the Telluride Merchants Association.
For more information and a full events calendar, visit www.holidayprelude.com.