Yes, Virginia, there is a new way to shop!

This year as you approach the holidays, join me in making a vow. Let’s all say it together: “This year shopping will be more fun, the gifts I give will be more unique and I won’t put the same old-same-old stuff under the tree. I deserve excitement!”

There. Now don’t we all feel better? Lucky for us, Longmont and neighboring Niwot are rolling out the red twinkle-light carpet with perks, prizes and presents that will put pep in our holiday shopping step.

November through December, we will be enticed with incentives that include Longmont’s Winter Passport, Small Business Saturday, Artist Sunday, and lighted extravaganzas galore. 

Bricks in Longmont hosts Miracle on 4th, allowing artists to sell their work. (Courtesy Bricks)

Pass GO With Winter Passport 

Your passport can take you lots of exciting places—even when you stay here at home.  This holiday season, the Winter Passport is your ticket to supporting local businesses. When you buy local, you support the community economy—plus the businesses of downtown Longmont have made it easy and filled with holiday fun.

You’ll earn stickers on the Winter Passport when you eat, drink, and shop your way through Longmont’s local businesses. And the more stickers you earn, the closer you get to winning great prizes. 

The Winter Passport started five years ago and according to Colin Argys, marketing specialist for the Longmont Downtown Development Association (LDDA), it has grown in popularity since the day it began. “The Winter Passport emphasizes the importance of shopping locally in the holiday season,” he said. “When people choose downtown as their main shopping destination, they make a difference in our economy at lots of one-of-a-kind businesses.”

There are 50 to 60 downtown businesses involved, including retail shops, restaurants, craft beverage companies, and personal services. Each $10 spent at a participating business earns the shopper a sticker that goes on the passport. To be entered in a drawing for great prizes, fill your passport with 10 stickers and drop it in the Winter Passport box at St. Stephens Square at Fifth and Main Streets or at the LDDA office 320 Main Street, or mail it to the LDDA office. Those stickers really add up, and Argys said you can fill as many passports as you want. 

There are drawings throughout November and December for prizes donated by the merchants. At the end there’s a grand prize drawing from ALL the passports. Some examples of passport prizes are a retro-themed gift basket with nostalgic candy, toys, and surprises for the kid-at-heart from The Obscure Closet, gift certificates from restaurants including Flavor of India, Jefes Tacos & Tequila, Rosalee’s Pizzeria, and The Roost. You might win a $50 bottle of bourbon from Abbott and Wallace Distilling. Jensen’s Guitars is even donating a ukulele! The many prizes are listed at

Jennifer Ferguson, who owns Bricks and two other Longmont businesses, has jumped wholeheartedly into the passport experience. Her events start when the Winter Passport becomes available Nov. 12 with Taste the Bricks as food vendors giving samplings of their products. On Nov. 13 for Second Saturday, her Miracle on 4th Street event closes the street in front of her shop for booths of more than 50 vendors selling their wares. “I started Bricks as a pop-up store in the LDDA office and opened the store at 512 Fourth Ave. almost two years ago,” she said. “We’re a huge advocate of the Winter Passport event and on the first Saturday we’re setting up for businesses that have products in Bricks and other Colorado (locations) to sell their wares on the street. There are professionally made products such as wooden cutting boards, candles, and bath bombs along with food products and Longmont key chains and T-shirts. Last year shoppers earned so many of the stickers!”

Jason Wetzel said Brown’s Shoe Fit has participated every year since Winter Passport started. “It’s a great community event,” he said. “It promotes our businesses and sense of community and brings lots of people here shopping. We’ve donated gift certificates for the prize drawings every year and we love to have people in (the store) looking for stickers.” 

Kayla Bliven, manager of Inspire Hair & Skin at 512-B Main Street, loves the Winter Passport to support local businesses. By collecting passport stickers at the salon, you might win one of the two gift cards for 90-minute facials that Inspire has donated. During the week of Thanksgiving, Nov. 21-25, the salon will have 25 percent off Aveda products plus hair and skin care, hair color, cutting, styling, full spa services, facials, waxing and massage. 


Nov. 26 is national Small Business Saturday, downtown’s biggest shopping day of the year. Argys said the all-day affair includes roaming holiday characters, ice carving, carolers, and giveaways as a thank you to local shoppers. Brown’s Shoe Fit is also participating in Small Business Saturday, and Weitzel said it adds to the fun. It’ll be Dansko Day, as Weitzel is hosting the Dansko representative in the store. At the end of the day, there will be a drawing for a free pair of Dansko shoes, including women’s comfort footwear, clogs, active, fashion, and casual shoes.

On Nov. 25 and 26, you can also spin a wheel at Inspire to win gift cards and products. 

Left to Right: Artists Julie Neri, Rachel Mitchell and Julia Zuniga are three of the artists represented at this year’s EBCA Holiday Art Show and Sale. (Courtesy EBCA)

Art for all

Longmont’s artists are getting into the holiday spirit, too. The Firehouse Art Center is part of Small Business Saturday and expands that to include Artist Sunday on Nov. 27. The gallery has maxed out its space with 13 booths open both days from 12 to 5 p.m. 

Firehouse executive director Elaine Waterman, said, “This is obviously beneficial for the artist community, the living artists working in Longmont. There is a wide range of people creating things, artisanal and craft and fine art. People can find such a wide range to purchase for friends and loved ones. I think that going into art markets, you never know what you’re going to find. You might have a friend who collects something in a really small niche and you find a gift for that friend that you would never have been able to find if you hadn’t gone into the art market. We’re glad to be part of downtown’s program to support the arts, the culture, and the creators of Longmont.”

Also on the Small Business weekend, the East Boulder County Artists (EBCA) has 35 artists participating at their Holiday Art Show and Sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday in the former LOCO Gastropub restaurant building at 380 Main Street.

The “Holiday Magic” abounds in Niwot. (Courtesy Niwot Business Association)

A Small Business Weekend in Niwot

Niwot has four upcoming holiday events called Niwot Holiday Magic. According to organizer Deborah Read Fowler, Friday, Nov. 25 is Enchanted Evening when Santa arrives in a horse-drawn sleigh at 6 p.m. followed by musical entertainment throughout Old Town and Cottonwood Square. 

The annual holiday parade is the next day starting at 11 a.m. Participants march down Second Avenue from Murray Street to Niwot Road. When the parade finishes Santa will be in the Left Hand Grange until 1 p.m. to take children’s gift wish lists. Since that’s also Small Business Saturday, locally owned businesses will welcome shoppers with festive drinks and carolers all day.

On Dec. 3 and 10, the Spark Performing Arts Community will have progressive performances of The Nutcracker outside around town. There will be a German Christmas market in Left Hand Grange and the Emporium from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to festive magic, an old-fashioned photographer will be doing wet plate photography. 

Santa will be at all four events and there will be treats such as chestnuts and candy canes. Niwot Business Association sponsors the events. 

Things happening

Nov. 12—Second Saturday in Longmont: the launch of the Winter Passport, holiday open houses at downtown businesses.

Nov. 13—Sunday, local shop Bricks hosts Miracle on 4th Gift Market.

Nov. 25—Longmont Holiday Tree Lighting: Civic Center Plaza, 350 Kimbark, Longmont. 
5:30 – 6:30 p.m., crafts and activities. 
6:30 – 7 p.m. Plaza Lighting Ceremony. 
Light up the Holidays in downtown Longmont with giveaway bags, holiday music, laser show, hot drinks and treats, craft activities, and santa! 

Nov. 25—Niwot Tree Lighting starting at 6 p.m.

Nov. 26—Small Business Saturday: shop small businesses, roaming holiday characters, ice carving, carolers, giveaways as thank you to local shoppers. 

Nov. 27—Artist Sunday: nationwide effort to focus on local art for holiday gifts. Visit Firehouse Art Center, 677 4th Avenue, in Longmont. 

Dec. 9—Longmont Lights: Roosevelt Park is lit up with thousands of holiday festival lights.  —700 Longs Peak Ave. 5:30-8 p.m.

Dec. 10—Jingle All the Way parade starts at 5 p.m. at Longs Peak Avenue and Coffman Street.

By Linda Thorsen Bond for LONGMONT MAGAZINE