Now that the holiday season is in full swing, Denver has something to offer every type of reveler – from festive lights displays all around the city to seasonal theater performances to Santa sightings and more – all the way through New Year’s Eve and beyond.
Below are just a few experiences to be found during Mile High Holidays. For more information on how to spend an evening or a long weekend in Denver, and to take advantage of holiday hotel deals starting at $99, visit MileHighHolidays.com.
For the Décor and Lights Fanatic
Christmas Lights of Denver, December 7
History Colorado Center will explore Denver’s and Colorado’s historic holiday traditions during its Christmas Lights of Denver experience. The festive evening begins with an informal program exploring the state’s historic holiday traditions. Then visitors will board a comfortable, heated bus and drive through some of the Denver area’s most beautifully decorated neighborhoods. The bus host will recount stories of Denver’s holiday lore, and hot chocolate and cookies will be provided.
Holiday Carousel at Denver Pavilions, December 15 through January 2
Denver Pavilions will once again host the Holiday Carousel in the heart of downtown Denver. Pavilions restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues will offer free rides on the carousel under strands of festive lights and the iconic Denver sign.
Light the Lights: 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, 2019
Embrace the holidays with thousands of colorful lights draped in elegant designs at Denver Botanic Gardens’ Blossoms of Light. The 2018 edition features 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 are also available.
A Hudson Christmas, through December 31
A Hudson Christmas is a Christmas light extravaganza at Hudson Gardens & Events Center. The Gardens’ woodsy terrain transforms into a winter wonderland where brightly-lit trees weave neon colors into the night sky and reflect off bodies of water. Visitors can also warm up in the yuletide yurts, share their wish list with Santa and take advantage of many photo opportunities.
Zoo Lights, through January 6, 2019
Zoo Lights span 70 acres of Denver Zoo's campus, with nightly entertainment, animal encounters, Santa meet-and-greets and 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.
For the Cultured Celebrator
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, December 7-8
The Moscow Ballet will present the Great Russian Nutcracker at Denver’s Paramount Theater. Featuring world class Russian artists, hand-painted sets, Russian Snow Maidens and jubilant Nesting Dolls – Great Russian Nutcracker brings the Christmas spirit to life for all ages.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, through December 15
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, performed at the Buell Theatre, tells the story of a song-and-dance team putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and falling for a stunning sister act in the process. Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written, this is a timeless tale of joy and good will.
Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum, through December 16
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance’s Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum is a multicultural celebration that touches the hearts of people of all backgrounds, kindling the wonderment and magic shared across the winter holiday season. Each year, Granny highlights new stories from her rich life dancing around the world, making way for new twists and scenes for an artistically fresh production every time. It is one of the city's most beloved family traditions, inspiring audiences both young and old through the universal language of dance.
A Christmas Carol, through December 23
A Christmas Carol is an annual tradition during the holiday season in Denver. Based on Charles Dickens' classic novel, and presented by Denver Center for the Performing Arts, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge's triumphant overnight journey to redemption. Live from the Stage Theatre, 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. Renowned author 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 23
Children and adults will enjoy Colorado Ballet's 58th 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.
¡CUBA!, through January 20, 2019
¡CUBA!, the latest major exhibition at Denver Museum of Nature & Science, explores the dynamic culture and abundant biodiversity of the Caribbean’s largest island. Although its complex politics and vibrant music have primarily attracted the attention of the world, Cuba is also home to the unexpected. It is a place of stunning contrasts: mysterious caves and bright boulevards, sweltering fields and cool forests, hard challenges and high energy. This lively experience—presented in English and Spanish—takes a look at the people, landscapes, unique species and daily life of this intriguing country.
Dior: From Paris to the World, through March 3, 2019
Denver Art Museum (DAM) is hosting the U.S. debut of the renowned exhibition, Dior: From Paris to the World. Surveying more than 70 years of the House of Dior’s legacy and influence, the exhibit features a selection of 150 haute couture dresses, accessories, photos, original sketches, and archival material. Curated by Denver Art Museum’s Florence Müller, it traces the history of the iconic haute couture fashion house, its founder, Christian Dior, and the subsequent artistic directors who carried Dior's vision into the 21st century. Exclusive VIP hotel packages also are available for those traveling to Denver, which feature skip-the-line tickets. DAM and VISIT DENVER have created www.DiorinDenver.com to offer 12 exclusive hotel packages in connection with the exhibition.
For the Sounds of the Season Lover
Ten Tenors – Home for the Holidays with Colorado Symphony, December 9
Australia’s rock stars of the opera, the Ten Tenors, will amaze and enthrall concert goers with their unique selection of traditional and contemporary seasonal favorites performed at the Boettcher Concert Hall with the Colorado Symphony. With soaring versions of “Joy to the World,” “White Christmas,“ “Amazing Grace,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Feliz Navidad,” and more, Home for the Holidays is the perfect way to celebrate the spirit of the season.
John Legend: A Legendary Christmas, December 15
Renowned singer and songwriter John Legend will perform songs from his newest album, A Legendary Christmas, at the Bellco Theatre. Also included with every pair of tickets purchased online is a standard copy of the album.
Celtic Woman: The Best of Christmas, December 17
Celebrate this holiday season with the celestial voices of multi-platinum Irish singing sensation Celtic Woman as they present The Best of Christmas Tour at the Boettcher Concert Hall with the Colorado Symphony. The evening features music from the all-female ensemble’s favorite Yuletide songs, creating an enchanting and festive evening filled with mesmerizing music, performance and holiday cheer.
Mark O’Connor and Friends – An Appalachian Christmas, December 20
Less than a year and a half after their first performance, Mark O’Connor Band took home the GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album for their debut recording, Coming Home. Now, just six months later, they have put together a show unlike any other, one that blends country and pop sensibilities with Americana rawness, bluegrass drive and chamber music sophistication in a festive holiday show.
Too Hot to Handel, December 21-22
This exuberant jazz, gospel, and R&B-infused concert – returning by popular demand to the Boettcher Concert Hall – brilliantly reinvents Handel’s Messiah. With associate conductor Christopher Dragon at the podium, and featuring audience-favorite guest soloists Cynthia Renée Saffron and Lawrence Clayton and members of the Colorado Symphony Chorus, this exhilarating night of music will leave viewers rejoicing in the aisles.
For the Perpetual Giver
Improper City Makers Market, December 7
New multi-purpose venue, café and bar, Improper City, will feature an exclusive mix of local brands offering everything from food to fashion, skincare, accessories and homewares. Shoppers can find something for everyone while enjoying local craft beer and delicious food from one of the venue’s many regularly scheduled food trucks.
Winter Fest on Fillmore, December 8
Cherry Creek North will once again host Winter Fest on Fillmore Plaza and at participating businesses throughout the neighborhood. The festival will include live ice carving, face painting, complimentary refreshments, giveaways and more; and businesses throughout the area will also host activities such as ornament decorating, entertainment and more.
Denver Jackalope Holiday Market, December 8-9
Celebrate the holiday season with Jackalope, an indie artisan market at the newly renovated McNichols Civic Center Building downtown. Shop more than 150 handmade vendors selling 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.
Denver Holiday Flea, Fridays - Sundays, through December 16
The Denver Holiday Flea is a contemporary marketplace showcasing makers and retailers who cultivate the Colorado lifestyle. This year’s biggest and best ever Denver Flea is the 10th annual; and it is taking place every weekend throughout the season on the Plaza at Denver Union Station.
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 live German music make the market a full holiday experience.
Gift Shops at Museums & Attractions
One of the best ways to 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.
For the Ones on the Nice List
Breakfast with Santa at the Aquarium, weekends December 8-24
Join Sharkey and Santa for a delicious breakfast buffet at Denver's Downtown Aquarium. After breakfast, explore the Aquarium Adventure exhibit with more than one million gallons housing extraordinary marine life.
Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms, through December 23
Denver Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield Farms will be transformed into a magical village for Santa and his friends. Visitors can take hayrides, watch a movie at Santa’s cinema, meet the reindeer, take pictures with Santa, craft with Mrs. Claus and more.
Santa’s Flight Academy, through December 24
This season, “Santa’s Flight Academy” returns to Cherry Creek Shopping Center – a one-of-a-kind, immersive holiday experience that combines a giant re-imagination of the North Pole with state-of-the-art technology to enable children to become a member of Santa’s flight crew. Partnering with an elf, each child will help ready Santa’s sleigh so he can deliver presents to children around the world. At the end of the experience, each child will step inside the sleigh for a snowfall dance party before meeting Santa.
For the Experience Lover
43rd Annual TubaChristmas, December 16
More than 300 tuba players from all over the region will play favorite holiday tunes at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, which will be decorated for the season, making it a perfect setting to experience this holiday spectacular. The TubaChristmas Concert is one of the most celebrated and longest-running holiday festivities in Colorado; and participants have ranged in ages from 7 to 86 with instruments including tubas, sousaphones, baritones, euphoniums, antique tubas from the Civil War era, decorated tubas, and more.
Ice Skating Rink at DEN, through January 6, 2019
Back for a third year, Denver International Airport’s (DEN) free ice skating rink will be on the DEN Plaza for everyone to enjoy daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This year's rink will be bigger and will be accompanied by a variety of entertainment and family-friendly music playing in the background.
Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park, through February 3, 2019
One of the most popular holiday events in Denver, the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park returns in 2018 with ice skating and family fun. The rink is FREE and open to the public with the option to bring your own skates or rent a pair at a minimal cost.
For the One Who Keeps the Party Going
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
The sky will once again sparkle over downtown Denver at the close of 2018 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, which runs through the heart of downtown.
Resolution NYE 2019
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 shows.
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 2018 — and the 6:30 pm start time ensures dancers will not miss the 16th Street Mall fireworks.
17th Annual White Rose Gala
Celebrate New Year's Eve in the classic elegance of the Roaring 20s. 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. White Rose Gala is a high end and elegant charity event where guests are enveloped by musical and theatrical performances. This year’s entertainment will include Je Te'aime Swing Band, DJ Amuse, DJ G6, Swing, Big Band, 80s music and Hip Hop.
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.
Decadence (December 30-31)
Global Dance, AEG Live and Live Nation join together to put on a massive dance celebration at the Colorado Convention Center over the course of two nights. Guests enjoy world-class music, performances, diamond-clad decor, glimmering displays of technology and luxurious art installations on the theme, City of Decadence.
National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, January 12-27, 2019
Mile High Holidays even extends in to January. The National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is a Denver tradition, honoring the country's rich Old West heritage. Held every January at the National Western Complex, it is the world's largest stock show, involving more than 15,000 animals. Attendees will enjoy rodeos featuring top-notch bull riders, horse shows, livestock competitions and auctions alongside acres of shopping at Colorado’s largest Western trade show.