The holiday season is one of the best times to explore. 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” (Nov. 19–Dec. 23, 2021) or Tchaikovsky's “The Nutcracker” (Nov. 27–Dec. 24, 2021) ballet, annual traditions at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Or thrill to the magical dance presentation by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance's “Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum” (Dec. 11–12 and 16–19, 2021) There are also plenty of opportunities to catch the Colorado Symphony, including “Drums of the World” (Nov. 28, 2021), Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” (Dec. 3–5, 2021) “A Colorado Christmas” (Dec. 10–12, 2021) “Holiday Brass” (Dec. 14, 2021) and — a favorite for adults and kids alike — “Elf in Concert” (Dec. 18–19, 2021). See more performing arts events

2 ~ LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZAS

 

Beginning with downtown Denver's Grand Illumination on Nov. 26, 2021 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 brilliantly lit, 110-foot-tall Mile High Tree (Nov. 19, 2021–Jan. 1, 2022) is another (free!) annual favorite, with holiday performances beginning at 5 p.m. The whole family will enjoy waving along the floats and marching bands at the 9NEWS Parade of Lights on Dec. 4, 2021, strolling the paths of Denver Botanic Gardens during Blossoms of Light (Nov. 19, 2021–Jan. 8, 2022) and encountering illuminated animal sculptures at Zoo Lights (Nov. 22, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022).

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 Denver Christkindlmarket (Nov. 19–Dec. 23, 2021), which also offers authentic German cuisine and music. Or, meet local artisans and snap up handmade fashions, housewares, art and gifts at the Cherry Creek Holiday Market (Nov. 18–Dec. 24, 2021)Horseshoe Holiday Market (Nov. 28–29, 2021), Museum Store Sunday (Nov. 28, 2021) and Après Ski Holiday Market (Nov. 26–Dec. 19, 2021). 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 Train Ride (Nov. 11–Dec. 23, 2021), as the beloved children’s movie comes to life at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Join the big guy’s flight crew at Santa’s Flight Academy (Nov. 12–Dec. 24, 2021) at Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Tap your toes as 300 tuba players from around the region play your favorite holiday tunes at TubaChristmas (Dec. 19, 2021). Then ring in the new year in style at a variety of New Year's Eve parties. 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 (Nov. 1–Dec. 31, 2021). You’ll hear DJs spinning on Friday nights, live music on Saturday nights and family entertainment Sunday afternoons! Walk a glittering trail of lights and carole with singing Christmas trees at the enchanting Trail of Lights (Nov. 26–Jan. 2, 2022) 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 (Jan 22, 2022) at Mile High Station.