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 or Tchaikovsky's “The Nutcracker” ballet, both annual traditions at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.  Or 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 Broadway favorites Chicago and Waitresswhile they’re in town. There are also plenty of opportunities to catch the Colorado Symphony, including Drums of the World, All Beethoven Weekend, Handel’s “Messiah,” “A Night in Vienna” and more.

 

2. LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZAS

Beginning with Unions Station’s Grand Illumination November 24th 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 which kicks off on November 24th with Light the Lights and runs through the holiday season.   The whole family will enjoy waving along the floats and marching bands at the 9NEWS Parade of Lights on December 1st and 2nd, 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 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 at Skyline Park, 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 and the Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair. 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 Annual TubaChristmas.  Journey back in time at Olde Golden Christmas, with Victorian carolers, free Newfoundland dog-pulled cart rides, a candlelight walk, parades and a holiday market.  Then ring in the new year in 1920’s style at the NYE Great Gatsby 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 Avalanche and Denver Nuggets at games throughout the holiday season. And beer lovers will raise an extra frosty glass at the Winter Brew Fest at Mile High Station.