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Traditional Holiday Festival Coming To Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site in December


Breaking, or trying to break, pinatas is part of the fun at the traditional holiday celebration at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site. NPS photo.

A traditional holiday festival, complete with pinatas, yule trees, candlelight tours, and bonfires, is coming to Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site in Colorado in early December.

The celebration is set for Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3. If you want to participate in the fort's candlelight tours, you'll need a reservation, as the staff can only handle 25 people at a time. To make reservations for the candlelight tours, phone 719-383-5026.

“These tours are always one of our most popular events at the park,” according to Chief of Interpretation Rick Wallner, “They book up well in advance.  I suggest folks interested in these tours call the park for reservations as soon as possible.  This year’s tours are being developed and organized by the fort’s Friends Group, the Bent’s Old Fort Historical Association, so visitors can expect to see some different scenarios this year.”

The park’s Holiday Celebration begins on Friday, December 2 at 6:30 p.m. with the guided candlelight tours of the fort.  Interpreters will lead groups through rooms where people of the era will be preparing to celebrate the holidays.   After the tours, everyone is invited to stay for authentic treats from the 1800s.  The fort will close at 9:30 p.m.

Festivities will run all day on Saturday, December 3.  Activities include toy making, frontier medicine, wagon rides and ongoing living history. Events will include a piñata break and a Yule log hunt.  No reservations are needed for the daytime activities on Saturday.  The park will close to the public at 4 p.m. and then reopen for another night of candlelight tours beginning at 5:30 p.m. (an hour earlier than on Friday).

A living history fee is charged for the candlelight tours or to attend the daytime Holiday Celebration.  The cost is $3 for visitors 13 and older and $2 for ages 6 to 12.  Those under 5 and national park pass holders are admitted for free.  Visitors are asked to dress warmly and bring a flashlight for the evening tours. 

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is located on Colorado Highway 194, 8 miles east of La Junta or 15 miles west of Las Animas.


This is a great event for the Fort. I have been there several times for the Christmas Celebration, and have enjoyed every minute of it.  I have gone with our Boy Scout troop, and they love to play rounders. Just the general feel of what it was back then is awesome. Esp when you look out over land that has no housing and can imagine what it was like. The Yule log hunt is great. I still have the recipe booklet that they give you, so that you can fix the treats at the Fort at home. The renactors are great in their roles. In the woodworking shop, my daughter made a wagon, and still has it today. That was over 10 yrs ago. If you can I would urge you to go. This is one that can't be missed.

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