Denver Post Holiday Lights contest 2021 winner: the Nicholson family in Central Park

Every year, The Denver Post invites families across Colorado to photograph their holiday light set-ups and add them to our interactive map of festive Christmas displays. This year, we had nearly 150 entries, and after looking through so many of Coloradans’ epic decorations, one thing became abundantly clear: Colorado does not mess around when it comes to holiday cheer.

This year, dozens of festive displays utilized technology that allows dancing lights to be synced with music that can often be heard via outdoor speakers or by tuning into an FM radio station. The most popular of these displays by far comes from a Central Park family with a 10-year tradition of hosting over-the-top Christmas shows.

“It’s a year-round project,” said Tim Nicholson, who created the display with his wife, Allison, and their 7-year-old daughter, Grace, at their home at 3402 Trenton St. “In the spring and summer months, we are planning and building all the new elements for that particular year, and programming new songs. Each song takes roughly 15 to 20 hours to program. We begin the actual setup (putting lights on the house) at the end of August.”

The Nicholsons — who have a bit of a leg up thanks to Tim’s background in computer programming at both Disney World and SeaWorld — program the entire 16-song show themselves, creating a display that lasts about 50 minutes. The show runs 5-10 p.m. every night from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, drawing crowds of neighbors who watch the show from the sidewalk or in their cars by tuning into 97.7 FM.

This year, the family’s over-the-top effort paid off, and they won The Denver Post’s Holiday Lights contest by a landslide with 634 votes. Readers voted by “liking” each family’s Christmas light photo on The Know’s Facebook page.

If you’re new to Colorado and live in the metro area, we’ll let you in on a local custom dating back to 1914: Around here, we leave our Christmas lights up until the end of the 2022 National Western Stock Show, which wraps up Jan. 23.

After all, you put a lot of work into that light display — you might as well get the most out of it while also giving a merry and bright Denver welcome to the thousands of people who attend the stock show every year.

And if ever there was a year when we could all use a little extra cheer, it’s this one.

Visit to build your own walkable or drivable map of local light displays. 

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