DENVER, Nov. 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The holiday season is in full swing, and The Mile High City has plenty of festive activities, shopping and more to celebrate all the way in to the new year. With so many events to choose from – blockbuster exhibitions, citywide holiday décor, special celebrations, world-class shopping and more – here are a few pointers for maximizing your time in Denver during the holidays.
For a full list of events beyond the below suggestions, as well as hotel deals, please go to VISIT DENVER’s Mile High Holidays website.
1) Cheers & Cheer: Get in the Spirit with Holiday Light Displays
Throughout the season, downtown Denver glows with festive lights – from the City & County Building in Civic Center Park to Denver Union Station – the perfect opportunity to grab a hot chocolate, walk around and get in the spirit of the season.
9NEWS Parade of Lights, December 1 (8 p.m.) and 2 (6 p.m.)
The 9NEWS Parade of Lights is a signature event of the Denver holiday season. The countless sparkling lights, marching bands, majestic floats and delightful characters will once again wow hundreds of thousands. Viewing along the parade route is free, and grandstand tickets are sold for seating in front of the beautifully illuminated City & County Building.
City & County Building Holiday Lights, through December 31
The largest lighting display in Denver comes on nightly at 6 p.m. at the City & County Building, where 600,000 lights deck the neo-classical building. The bell tower plays carols nightly as well.
Blossoms of Light, through January 1, 2018
Embrace the holidays with thousands of colorful lights draped in elegant designs at Denver Botanic Gardens’ Blossoms of Light. The 2017 event will display more than one million colorful lights highlighting the Gardens’ winter beauty. Visitors can enjoy sparkling passages, new displays and romantic spots under the mistletoe, all made even more beautiful through HoloSpex glasses. Warm drinks and tasty treats will also be available.
Zoo Lights, December 1 – December 31
Zoo Lights span 70 acres of Denver Zoo’s campus, with nightly entertainment, animal encounters, Santa meet-and-greets and, of course, illuminated animal sculptures that swing through trees, jump across lawns, hide in bushes and appear in places where they are least expected. New this year, guests will be able to control some of the sculptures at special interactive stations featuring “kid-level” control panels.
2) Make A New Tradition at the Theater
Many of Denver’s holiday performing arts run through December all the way to Christmas Eve, giving people plenty of opportunity to catch a holiday classic or see something new.
A Christmas Carol, through December 24
A Christmas Carol is an annual tradition during the holiday season in Denver. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. Live from the Stage Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.
The SantaLand Diaries, through December 24
Crumpet the Elf returns to The Jones Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex for more hilarious holiday hijinks in this acclaimed one-man show. David Sedaris’ offbeat tales from his stint as a Macy’s elf in New York City are the sure cure for the common Christmas show.
The Nutcracker, through December 24
Children and adults will enjoy Colorado Ballet’s 57th annual production of the classic Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, held at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and featuring unforgettable characters, classic choreography, exquisite sets, dazzling costumes and Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, December 9-10
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis has been a favorite holiday tradition for more than 30 years. Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features Mannheim Steamroller Christmas classics along with a selection of compositions from his groundbreaking Fresh Aire series, which introduced the distinctive Mannheim sound to all of America. The program at Denver’s Buell Theatre celebrates the group’s recent 30 year anniversary of the first Christmas album and 40 years since the first Fresh Aire album; and it includes dazzling multimedia effects in an intimate setting.
ELF The Musical, December 13-17
ELF The Musical at the Buell Theatre is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Waitress, December 19-31
Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film,Waitress tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie maker – who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life. Brought to life in the Buell Theatre by a groundbreaking all-female creative team and Denver Center for the Performing Arts, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song“), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin, Finding Neverland).
3) Get Your Gifting Game On
Denver is home to countless unique and local options for shopping all through the season – making it easy to find the perfect gift for everyone on the list.
Denver Christkindl Market, through December 23
The Christkindl Market at Skyline Park includes vendors from Germany, Ukraine, Ireland and other countries, as well as local artisans, offering high-quality, handcrafted gifts such as traditional hand-carved wooden figurines, handmade candles and ornaments. Traditional German food, warm Glühwein (hot spiced wine), and traditional Christmas carols and live German music make the market a full holiday experience.
Winter Fest, December 9
Cherry Creek North will host the free Winter Fest on Fillmore Plaza and throughout the neighborhood from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The celebration will transform Fillmore Plaza in to a winter wonderland featuring live ice carving, temporary fire pits, face painting, warm beverages and snacks. Businesses throughout the area will also host activities, such as ornament decorating, entertainment and more.
Denver Jackalope Holiday Market, December 9-10
Celebrate the holiday season with Jackalope, an indie artisan market on December 9th and 10th from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the newly renovated McNichols Civic Center Building downtown. Shop handmade items from more than 150 vendors including art and photography, fashion and accessory design, home decor, housewares and more. Enjoy local food, full bar, and DIY workshops at this free and family friendly event.
Gift Shops at Museums & Attractions
One of the best ways to both see the city and find unique holiday gifts is to visit the gift shops at some of Denver’s top attractions. Admission is not necessary for the gift shops, but it is the perfect way to discover more about the attraction itself and the context of the gifts available.
At the Denver Art Museum, buy beautiful posters and prints, in addition to art books and handmade jewelry. Grab a piece of the cutting-edge arts world at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver’s eclectic SHOP MCA. Denver Zoo’s two-story gift shop, Kibongi Market, offers hand-crafted ceramic and art items from Africa and a wide selection of toys and clothing. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s gift shop has a great selection of books, science kits, DVDs, CDs and more. Denver Botanic Gardens’ Shop at the Gardens offers all-natural gifts, plants and gardening supplies, art and much more. The Molly Brown House Museum features art deco-inspired jewelry, home décor and gift items.
4) Keep Learning on Holiday Break
All the extra time during holiday breaks and vacations does not mean you have to stop learning; actually, it is the perfect opportunity to head to one of Denver’s many cultural institutions and check out some of their world-class exhibitions.
Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism, through January 14, 2018
Denver Art Museum is hosting Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism, a traveling exhibition organized by the American Federation of Arts that surveys the artistic contributions of women in Paris during the second half of the 19th century, revealing the breadth and strength of their achievements. The exhibition features more than 80 paintings by 37 women artists from across Europe and America, who migrated to Paris to further their artistic careers. Visitors can purchase hotel packages from some of Denver’s premier hotels that feature VIP tickets, which will allow them to skip the line and see the exhibition at their leisure.
Nature’s Amazing Machines, through January 1, 2018
Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s exhibition, Nature’s Amazing Machines, uses real objects, scientific models and hands-on elements to showcase the marvels of natural engineering. Discover how a giraffe’s heart pumps blood up its long neck, how a toucan stays cool in the jungle and how it might feel to fly. Visitors will also see modern designs inspired by natural adaptations, like Velcro, wind turbines and chainsaws.
Ultimate Dinosaurs, through January 15, 2018
This Denver Museum of Nature & Science exhibition will go beyond familiar dinosaurs to showcase some of the most spectacular fossils unearthed in recent years. Evolving in isolation, the new discoveries from Africa, South America and Madagascar are among the strangest creatures ever on display. The exhibit will feature dozens of life-size fossils and casts alongside augmented reality displays of the creatures in lifelike settings.
Backstory: Western American Art in Context, through February 11, 2018
Artists of the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries captured the landscapes and people of a rapidly changing West – as events set in motion dynamics that still shape the region today. Backstory: Western American Art in Context at History Colorado Center pairs nearly 50 masterpieces from the Denver Art Museum’s renowned collection with History Colorado’s wealth of artifacts to tell the stories beyond the art.
Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, through October 17, 2018
In his first major public sculpture project, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, internationally acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei has reinterpreted twelve bronze animal heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. The bronze pieces will surround the Sea Lions Fountain on the north end of Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, and a complementary educational exhibit, Ai Weiwei: Art & Social Change will be housed in the McNichols Civic Center building, adjacent to the sculptures.
5) Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Style
Featuring fireworks, family-friendly events, galas, live music and more, Denver is the place to be this New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
The sky will once again sparkle over downtown Denver at the close of 2017 with the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Downtown. The two spectacular fireworks shows will occur at the family-friendly hour of 9 p.m. and the traditional midnight. For the best viewpoints, stand along the 16th Street Mall, where there will also be costumed entertainers including magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt walkers and comedians.
Noon Year’s Eve
Children can experience the excitement, thrills and festive fun of New Year’s Eve in Times Square in Denver — all before bedtime. The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus will hold its annual Noon Year’s Eve with glittery ball drops, rainbows of confetti and huge sheets of bubble wrap (the museum’s version of fireworks) for kids to stomp on. After the ball drops, the celebration keeps going with sparkling art projects and activities on the plaza.
City NYE – Denver New Year’s Eve Party
This New Year’s bash boasts three floors of DJs, dance parties, live music, art installations and open bars. The party, held at the McNichols Building in Civic Center Park, offers a direct view of the Denver New Year’s Eve Fireworks show.
A Night in Vienna
The Colorado Symphony transports revelers to Austria with an evening of live polkas, waltzes and marches conducted by Music Director Brett Mitchell. The festive performance at the Boettcher Concert Hall is a time-honored tradition and fantastic sendoff to 2017 — and the 6:30 pm start time ensures dancers will not miss the 16th Street Mall fireworks.
16th Annual White Rose Gala
Celebrate New Year’s Eve in the classic elegance of art deco of the Roaring 20’s. The themed event takes guests to an era of a modern renaissance where style, opulence, and grace were the only way to swing. Held annually at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, partygoers come dressed to the nines in their best Gatsby-esque costumes to ring in the new year.
New Year’s Eve on the Rocks
Colorado’s most iconic music venue will welcome 2018 with its first-ever New Year’s Eve concert, featuring The Migos, Post Malone, Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Dizzy Wright, King Green, Maleman, Jairon, Cassidy and Splyt.
BONUS! Keep the party going well in to January!
In Denver, the tradition does not stop when the holidays are over. Take part in one of the city’s most unique and historic celebrations of western culture.
112th Annual National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, January 6-21, 2018
A Colorado tradition since 1906, the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest; and each year is bigger and better than the last, with more than 15,000 animals, Mexican rodeos, bull riders, horse shows, livestock competitions, auctions and booths selling everything from cowboy boots to American Indian jewelry at the National Western Complex.
About VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau
Celebrating 108 years of promoting The Mile High City, VISIT DENVER is a nonprofit trade association that contracts with the City of Denver to market Denver as a convention and leisure destination, increasing economic development in the city, creating jobs and generating taxes. A record 17.3 million visitors stayed overnight in Denver in 2016, generating $5.3 billion in spending, while supporting nearly 57,000 jobs, making Tourism one of the largest industries in Denver. Learn more about Denver on the VISITDENVER website and at TOURISMPAYSDENVER or by phone at 800 2 Denver. Denver International Airport (DEN; flydenver.com) connects The Mile High City to more than 180 destinations worldwide including nonstop service to 24 international destinations in 10 countries. Follow Denver’s social media channels for up-to-the-minute updates at: Facebook.com/visitdenver; Twitter.com/visitdenver; Instagram.com/visitdenver; and YouTube.com/visitdenver.
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