The holiday season is one of the best times to explore The Mile High City!

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,” Irving Berlin's White Christmas or Tchaikovsky's “The Nutcracker” ballet, annual traditions at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Swoon over John Legend’s Christmas crooning or thrill to the magical dance presentation by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum.” But The Mile High City has plenty of non-traditional holiday fare as well. The SantaLand Diaries by comedic writer David Sedaris offers an edgier take on the season, and the kids will love Elf The Musical,” based on the movie starring Will Ferrell. Looking for the perfect gift for the theater buff in your life? Take them to see Xanadu and Cirque Éloize Hotelwhile they’re in town. There are also plenty of opportunities to catch the Colorado Symphony, including Drums of the World, All Beethoven Weekend, Too Hot to HandelA Night in Vienna and more.

2 ~ LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZAS

 

Beginning with downtown Denver's Grand Illumination on Nov. 23 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. The whole family will enjoy waving along the floats and marching bands at the 9NEWS Parade of Lights on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, strolling the paths of Denver Botanic Gardens during Blossoms of Light and encountering illuminated animal sculptures at Zoo Lights.

3 ~ HOLIDAY SHOPPING

 

Call us crazy, but we’ll take a holiday market, a great boutique or a craft fair over online shopping any day, 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 Holiday Flea, Holiday Sugar Plum Bazaar, Improper City Makers MarketJackalope Holiday Indie Artisan Fair or Winter Gift Market at Denver Botanic Gardens. 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 (make sure to stop by during Winter Fest), 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 1920's style at the NYE White Rose Gala.

5 ~ WINTER FUN & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

 

It may be cold and snowy, but that’s never stopped Denverites from 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. 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.