This year, the holidays are going to look a little different in our new normal, including Telluride’s treasured holiday shopping event, Noel Night, which has been reimagined for 2020.
Most essentially, the timeframe has changed. To avoid the happy logjam of festive shoppers who traditionally throng Telluride shops and boutiques on the first Wednesday evening of December, Noel Night has been transformed into Noel Days and will run from Wednesday through Friday.
The move is designed to spread folks out and alleviate congestion in stores, according to the Telluride Tourism Board’s Annie Carlson, who is assisting the local retail community with the initiative.
“Individual merchants will determine their hours on these days and what discounts and holiday twists they would like to offer,” she said. “Because of COVID-19-related measures, no drinks or food will be served this year.”
There is also a virtual component for the Noel Days initiative: a micro site, visit-telluride.com/shoplocal, to assist those who prefer to shop locally but remotely this year. The site provides links direct to the websites of local retailers, as well as other area businesses. Visit-telluride.com/shoplocal also includes links to the discounts that retailers are offering, to purchase gift cards, and even to donate or volunteer locally this holiday season.
“The campaign is geared toward fans of Telluride, including locals, as well as anyone who has visited telluride.com, engaged with our social media outlets, email lists, etc.,” Carlson said. “It launched earlier this week, in time for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.”
The Ski Tree Lighting will still take place in Elks Park, this year on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., although, to discourage a large gathering, there will not be a formal ceremony.
The Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club (TSSC) has taken over the management of the 17-foot-tall tree, which was designed by local metal artist Anton Viditz-Ward of Deep Creek Experimental.
This year, the TSSC will be offering a fun new fundraiser: Anyone interested in purchasing a ski on the tree to honor a friend, family member or loved one can do so by emailing email@example.com.
There will even be a donation box at the bottom of the tree for spare change to benefit the club.
One thing that hasn’t changed about the holiday shopping extravaganza? The event still serves as the gateway to the holiday season in Telluride and Mountain Village and a range of festive events.
First up is the Telluride Fire Festival. As the Noel Days event is winding down on Friday, the 2020 fire fest will be kicking off its three days of fire art, artists and exhibitions.
“We are very excited to be the only event to take place since March 14 when the pandemic closed everything down,” festival director Erin Ries said. “This year’s events are all largely outdoors: Friday and Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Transfer Warehouse, with fire art and fire dancers, and Saturday on Heritage Plaza in Mountain Village and Fire on the Mountain atop Lift 7. There will be free-flow arts workshops on the plaza in Mountain Village, too. We have Covid safety protocols in place for every event.”
Ries added that she and cofounder Chris Myers “are beyond thrilled to be able to support artists and produce this event during these challenging times. In fact, we are creating one of the wood sculptures to burn atop Lift 7 and local Niel Ringstad is building the other. We all need something spectacular to look forward to this year, and Fire Fest is an event uniquely suited to outdoor settings.”
The following weekend, from Dec. 11-13, noon to 5 p.m. each day, the 37th annual Telluride Arts Holiday Arts Bazaar, which showcases locally made arts, fine crafts and artisan foods, will be held outdoors at the intersection of South Fir Street and Pacific Avenue.
Clustered in this new “arts neighborhood,” participating venues include the Transfer Warehouse, the gallery at Telluride Arts HQ, Telluride Arts’ Gallery 81435, the Ah Haa School at the Silverjack Building, Liberty bar, Stronghouse Brewpub and Pet Telluride.
And, although Mountain Village’s annual Holiday Prelude celebration won’t include its usual array of fun, family friendly activities this year, throughout the holiday season the Village Center will be decked out in festive decorations and play host to local musicians who will perform two sets each day, from 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.
This is in addition to Mountain Village’s unique outdoor dining options, like the gondola cabins and yurts. Mountain Village retailers will also participate in the tourism board’s shop local page.
So, some old and some new traditions this holiday season, although maybe “Noel Days” isn’t too far removed from the earliest iteration of Noel Night, according to Telluride Toggery owner Wendy Basham
“When Noel Night first started, years and years ago, it was actually called Noel Nights (with an ‘s’) and was done over the course of several days like we are all doing this year,” she said. “Whether it’s three days or one evening, this is still a great way to support Telluride’s retail community and to get in the holiday spirit. Both are pretty important this year.”
Go to townofmountainvillage.com/events for more on Holiday Prelude.
Given the unexpected nature of the pandemic, events and other details in this article are subject to change. Best to check ahead online or by phone before heading out to an event or retail outlet.