The holiday season is one of the best times to explore The Mile High City! And this year it's even bigger and brighter with the addition of a new attraction: the Mile High Tree. This 110-foot-tall immersive art installation offers free nightly festivities along with a dazzling lights and music show every 30 minutes. The conical structure can host up to 140 guests at a time for a unique viewing experience within the tree itself.

With world-class theater and music, the hippest holiday shopping and, of course, plenty of Santa sightings, here are five great reasons to get out of the house and celebrate the holidays in Denver this year.

 

1~ THEATER, MUSIC AND DANCE

 

If you’re aiming for a classic holiday experience, it doesn’t get much better than Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol - The Musical,”  or Tchaikovsky's “The Nutcracker” ballet, annual traditions at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Try something more modern like "The Hip Hop Nutcracker," or thrill to the magical dance presentation by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance's "Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum.” The Mile High City has comedic fare as well like "The Thanksgiving Play" or the Queerbots Holiday Show. There are also plenty of opportunities to catch the Colorado Symphony, including Drums of the World, All Beethoven - 250th Birthday Celebration and “A Night in Vienna.” See more performing arts events

2 ~ LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZAS

 

Beginning with downtown Denver's Grand Illumination on Nov. 29 and ending with awe-inspiring New Year’s Eve Fireworks, Denver is aglow during the holidays. One of the most spectacular light displays in the city is totally free: the City & County Building is decked out in 600,000 lights that come on every evening at 6 p.m., while carols chime out from the bell tower. Be there on Nov. 30 for the official lighting of the Mile High Tree with holiday performances beginning at 4:30 p.m. and the lighting at 5 p.m. The tree will remain ready to entertain through Jan. 31, 2020, with normal hours from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. every night (changing to 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. after Jan. 2). Free lights and music shows take place every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour. The whole family will enjoy waving along the floats and marching bands at the 9NEWS Parade of Lights on Dec. 6 and 7, strolling the paths of Denver Botanic Gardens during Blossoms of Light and encountering illuminated animal sculptures at Zoo Lights.

3 ~ HOLIDAY SHOPPING

 

There's something special about shopping at a great boutique or a craft fair, especially with all the talented artists and makers in The Mile High City. For traditional handcrafted gifts and ornaments, head to the free Christkindl Market, which also offers authentic German cuisine and music. Or, meet local artisans and snap up handmade fashions, housewares, art and gifts at the Fetch Holiday Markets, Jackalope Holiday Denver Winter FairMuseum Store Sunday, Winter Fest on Fillmore or Winter Gift Market at Denver Botanic Gardens. See more shopping events. Want to check off everyone on your list in one afternoon? You’ll find gifts for all ages at retail centers like Denver Pavilions, Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Cherry Creek North, Belmar Shopping District and Park Meadows Retail Resort.

4 ~ HOLIDAY FAVORITES

 

There’s so much to do in and around Denver during the holidays, but a few favorites stand out year after year. Take a ride on The Polar ExpressTM, as the beloved children’s movie comes to life at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Have Breakfast with Santa at the Downtown Aquarium, or join the big guy’s flight crew at Santa’s Flight Academy at Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Tap your toes as 300 tuba players from around the region play your favorite holiday tunes at TubaChristmas. Take a ride on the Holiday Carousel at Denver Pavilions. Then ring in the new year in style at Resolution NYE, New Year's Eve With Denver Union Station and Denver's Grandest New Year's Eve Party. Check out more New Year's Eve events. 

5 ~ WINTER FUN & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

 

Denverites are always out enjoying the great outdoors. Bundle up for free ice skating at the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park (you’ll hear DJs spinning on Friday nights, live music on Saturday nights and family entertainment Sunday afternoons) and at Denver International Airport’s ice skating rink on the DEN plaza. Take a hayride, walk the trail of lights and visit Santa’s workshop at the enchanting Santa’s Village at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms. Sports fans can cheer on the Denver Broncos, Colorado AvalancheDenver Nuggets and Colorado Mammoth at games throughout the holiday season. And beer lovers will raise an extra frosty glass at the Winter Brew Fest at Mile High Station.