Well, the end of the year is quickly approaching despite best efforts. In many ways, it doesn’t feel like December. Between the lack of snow and another mask mandate, it can be hard to find the holiday cheer. Whether you enjoy the holidays or not, we found some of the best festivities going on. Below are some highlights of events that caught our eye. In order from top to bottom, I’ve broken it down into FAMILY FUN, ADULTING FOR THE HOLIDAYS, and last but certainly not least we have
SEASONAL SCROOGES. It’s a long read so don’t be afraid to scroll! STAY TUNED FOR OUR LGBTIQ DECEMBER EVENT GUIDE!
These are events that anyone and everyone can enjoy. Click on the links to find out pricing and ticket information!FAMILY FUN
DOWNTOWN DENVER RINK
WHEN: Through Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Skyline Park
Bundle up for some free ice skating in the heart of downtown and enjoy special events.
SANTA’S FLIGHT ACADEMY
WHEN: Nov. 12–Dec. 24, 2021
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Your little ones can step inside a 22-foot-tall sleigh and experience the magical snowfall. They can also have their photos taken with Santa. Reservations are recommended.
CHERRY CREEK NORTH WINTER WANDERLAND & MORE
WHEN: Nov. 18–Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Cherry Creek North
During Winter Wanderland, explore 16 sparkling blocks with more than a half-million lights and discover eight twinkling displays choreographed to music. New this year is an interactive art installation, “domino effect” by Creos, which will feature 120 brightly colored dominos, each with its own sound profile. And during Saturday Night Lights (Dec. 4, 11 and 18) stroll beneath 600 illuminated trees while enjoying free festive treats and entertainment.
THE MILE HIGH TREE, BROUGHT TO YOU BY PRESENTING SPONSOR MODELO® USA
WHEN: Nov. 19, 2021–Jan. 1, 2022
WHERE: 16th Street Mall at Welton Street
Join in the free festivities at this festive holiday attraction, the Mile High Tree. It’s a brilliantly lit, 110-foot-tall immersive art installation that provides a dazzling lights-and-music show.
BLOSSOMS OF LIGHT
WHEN: Nov. 19, 2021–Jan. 8, 2022
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens is proud to host Blossoms of Light, an annual family-friendly event that has become a tradition for people across Colorado. Come interact with incredible light displays — a large field of sound-reactive, animated LED lights — plus sip warm drinks and nibble on tasty treats as you stroll. Pre-purchased timed tickets are required.
TREE LIGHTING & AFTER PARTY
WHEN: Nov. 20, 2021; 5–7 p.m.
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Kick off the holiday season with sports talk show host Nick Ferguson. Enjoy hot chocolate, sweet treats and entertainment during the countdown to the lighting of a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree. Then, gather inside for an after-party and more festivities.
WHEN: Nov. 22, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Denver Zoo
It’s official: Zoo Lights has been making magic, memories, and even marriages for 30 amazing years! Presented by Your Hometown Toyota Stores, this illuminating annual event transforms Denver Zoo into Colorado’s WILDEST winter wonderland. Don’t miss this year’s historic celebration, with more than a million lights sparkling over 80 acres—plus a host of special measures to keep your family safe and healthy.
WHEN: Nov. 24, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Making its Colorado debut, this family-friendly event brings larger-than-life holiday displays and immersive experiences for all to enjoy. It features more than 3 million dazzling lights, a 65-foot-tall Christmas tree, a 25-foot-tall snowman that never melts, a 200-foot-long candy cane tunnel, giant ornaments, a wall of lights, rides on limited Elitch Gardens attractions, train rides for the kids (and the kids at heart), interactive activities like a light-up hopscotch, strolling holiday entertainers, Old Saint Nick and his elves, and more.
2021 LIGHT THE LIGHTS
WHEN: Nov. 25, 2021–Jan. 23, 2022; 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m each night (kickoff on Nov. 24, between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m.)
WHERE: City & County of Denver Building
Each night, at 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., an interactive holiday show will occur for about 8 minutes, and then goes to a static holiday look until 10:45 p.m. Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock will kick it off on Nov. 24 by throwing a giant light switch between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. The light and music shows will not play on Mondays because of City Council meetings, but the static light display will still shine. There will not be any lights on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
GRAND ILLUMINATION—MERRY & BRIGHT LIGHTS SHOW—SANTA VISITS
WHEN: Nov. 26; 5-8 p.m. (Grand Illumination); Nov. 26-Dec. 27; 5-10 p.m. (Merry & Bright Lights Show)
WHERE: Denver Union Station
The annual Grand Illumination event will feature performances of classic holiday hits by the Denver Dolls, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the grand highlight of the evening—the lighting of the station’s outdoor 40-foot-tall Christmas tree that features more than 7,000 holiday lights. Also, the Grand Illumination kicks off the Merry & Bright Lights show, which will once again transform the exterior façade of Denver’s landmark train station into a spectacular canvas spreading holiday cheer. You can see it each night of the season. Miracle at Union Station, a whimsical pop-up cocktail bar, will open on Nov. 24. Meanwhile, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be making regular appearances at the station from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 28; and Dec. 5, 12 and 19.
TRAIL OF LIGHTS
WHEN: Nov. 26, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms
Stroll through the Colorado countryside along a winding path glistening with lights. Features this year include a three-sided light tunnel, illuminated antique and model tractors, a children’s play area and warms holiday food and drink. Visitors must purchase a ticket online for a specific day and time.
THE POLAR EXPRESS TM TRAIN RIDE
WHEN: Nov. 11–Dec. 23, 2021 (on select days)
WHERE: Colorado Railroad Museum
The story of The Polar ExpressTM is theatrically re-created and combined with a magical train ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Children get to meet Santa and experience all the sights and sounds of this classic tale as if happening all around them. This year, a whole host of carefully crafted updates have been made in order to ensure the health and safety of guests, cast and crew, so put on your pajamas and your most fashionable mask and bring the family to enjoy sharing hot cocoa and cookies together as the “Hot, Hot, Hot—Chocolate” song and dance unfolds before your eyes.
WHEN: Nov. 18, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park
An over-the-top, outdoor/indoor extravaganza as big as the season it celebrates! Leave your worries behind and immerse yourself in Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ (DCPA’s) biggest holiday experience ever! Journey through artist Lonnie Hanzon’s fantastical wonderland of lights, dazzling decorations, music and memorabilia as you explore mesmerizing yuletide scenes spread across a six-acre landscape. Most importantly, Camp Christmas is an opportunity to rediscover (and reimagine!) the holiday spirit and connect with people you love.
WHEN: Nov. 19–Dec. 23, 2021
WHERE: Civic Center Park
This outdoor event brings the most beloved elements of an authentic German holiday experience to the city. Stroll through a European village decorated for the holiday season as you shop for finely crafted artisan gifts and treats at charming wooden huts. Fuel your shopping with authentic Glühwein (mulled spiced wine), German Biers and hot chocolate, and nosh on Bavarian-style pretzels, fresh smoked salmon, Knödel, Goulasch, Nürnberger Sausages, pastries, caramels and European chocolates.
‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’
WHEN: Nov. 19–Dec. 26, 2021
WHERE: Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Wolf Theatre
Essential to the holiday season in Denver, “A Christmas Carol” is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation that traces money-hoarding curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption.
A HUDSON CHRISTMAS: EXTRAVAGANZA OF LIGHTS
WHEN: Nov. 26–Dec. 31, 2021 (on select days)
WHERE: Hudson Gardens & Events Center
Hudson Christmas is back after two long years. You’ll be enchanted by even more towering trees draped in thousands of colorful lights. A grove of dancing Christmas trees, a multi-colored forest inhabited by giant snowmen, the holiday light tunnel and glowing reindeer will light up Hudson Gardens into an extravaganza of holiday cheer.
COLORADO BALLET PRESENTS ‘THE NUTCRACKER’
WHEN: Nov. 27–Dec. 24, 2021
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House
The beloved holiday favorite returns in a dazzling production like no one’s ever seen, featuring all-new sets and costumes created especially for Colorado Ballet. A sellout every year, this magical tale of Clara, the Nutcracker and the Mouse King is going to be dreamier than ever.
A STORY BOOK CHRISTMAS IN EVERGREEN
WHEN: Nov. 27–Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Evergreen, various locations
A Story Book Christmas in Evergreen is coming back for a second year with Classic Christmas Stories depicted in Ice. See “hidden” ice sculptures around the mountain community while Santa is flying in from the North Pole to do some special readings. Join the family-friendly scavenger hunt and support local businesses. The grand unveiling is on Nov. 27.
SANTA AT MCGREGOR SQUARE
WHEN: Nov. 27–Dec. 19, 2021 (on select days)
WHERE: Milepost Zero food hall
Santa will be available for photos on the following dates/times:
- Nov. 27, 2–5 p.m.
- Nov. 28, 2–5 p.m.
- Dec. 3, 5–8 p.m.
- Dec. 5, 2–5 p.m.
- Dec. 10, 2–5 p.m.
- Dec. 17, 5–8 p.m.
- Dec. 19, 2–5 p.m.
- Santa Paws (pet night), Dec. 15, 5–8 p.m.
SENSORY SANTA WITH AUTISM SPEAKS
WHEN: Dec. 5–12, 2021
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Individuals with all spectrums of special needs and their families are invited to a private photo session where extra care is taken to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs to make this a magical holiday experience.
‘GRANNY DANCES TO A HOLIDAY DRUM’
WHEN: Dec. 11, 12, 18 & 19 (matinee shows 2 p.m.); Dec. 11, 16, 17 & 18 (evening shows 7:30 p.m.)
WHERE: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
A Denver family tradition for 29 years, this incredible blend of dance, music, and spoken word lifts the spirit and fills the heart with joy, love, and peace! Even in challenging times, the magic of “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum,” presented by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, continues. Guided by the Three Angels of the Rainbow, Granny visits Africa, the Americas, Mexico, Asia, and the Caribbean to celebrate the joy of Holiday Times! From the African Harvest to Kwanzaa, from the Chinese New Year to Junkanoo…. a celebration of both diversity and oneness!
BRUNCH WITH SANTA
WHEN: Dec. 12, 2021
WHERE: Elway’s Downtown
Celebrate the season with festive activity stations and a photo opportunity with jolly Saint Nicholas himself. In the spirit of giving please consider bringing an unwrapped gift to donate to the Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital. Reservations can be made through OpenTable.
ADULTING AT ITS FINEST
These events are more on the adult side and still feature holiday themes.
Event Brite has way too many events for me to list here. Many are more of an adult variety including but not limited to a RETAIL THERAPY NIGHT, SIPPING AND PAINTING, the 19th ROSE GALA, pop-ups and so much more! These events are varied in price and are being held just about everywhere. Definitely worth clicking here for a look.
- Date: Wed-Sat, December 8-17, 2021
- Address: Breckenridge
- About: Festival celebrating the winter god of Norse mythology, now in its 58th year. Shenanigans include frying pans, Viking hats, “Ullympic” competitions and a floats parade.
- Accommodation information included in the link
Season for Scrooges
These are the events for people like myself that aren’t huge on the holidays but still love to have a great time! Non-Denomoninational
Denver Winter Brew Fest January 22, 2022
Not holiday-related or even in this year but a friendly reminder! Limited seating available. Get down with 70+ beers with a ton of food trucks. Tickets run $40-$65 for this one-day event. Located in a tent in the Mile High Stadium. Find out more here.
Spookadelia 4 : The Curse of Novo Ita | Immersive Art Experience
Spookadelia 4: The Curse Of Novo Ita is an all-ages narrative-driven psychedelic immersive art, augmented reality, and theatrical experience presented by Spectra Art Space. Investigating the human condition and our relationship with self and the world while providing a fresh take on art consumption and the haunted experience. The Curse Of Novo Ita is the awe-inspiring and introspective fourth installment of the Spookadelia Series from the artist, makers, and move shakers who brought you Novo Ita, and Spookadelia 1,2, and 3 along with artists now featured at Denver Meow Wolf as well as some new surprise artists making their Spookadelia debut.
Tickets are 12 dollars, click here for tickets and dates.
Original Capital Hill Walking Ghost Tour
Join one of our seasoned paranormal investigators as they guide you on a walking tour of some of Capital Hill’s most notoriously haunted homes. Hear real stories, as they recall and provide actual haunted evidence captured when personally investigating the majority of these properties, as well as purported ghostly experiences from the eerie locations you will visit.
Tickets run $15-$38, with multiple dates available. Click here for tickets and information.
Thanks very much to the businesses below for all the information and for hosting these events!