Woman walking in parade of lights in front of the City & country building wearing shimmering cultural costume

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Parade of Lights Weekend in Denver 2023

Family-Friendly Events & Activities

The Polar ExpressTM Train Ride

WHEN: Thru Dec. 23, 2023
WHERE: Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden
The story of The Polar ExpressTM is theatrically re-created and combined with a magical train ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Children get to meet Santa and experience all the sights and sounds of this classic tale as if happening all around them. This year, a whole host of carefully crafted updates have been made to ensure the health and safety of guests, cast and crew, so put on your pajamas and your most fashionable mask and bring the family to enjoy sharing hot cocoa and cookies together as the "Hot, Hot, Hot—Chocolate" song and dance unfolds before your eyes.  

Denver Christkindlmarket

WHEN: Thru Dec. 23, 2023
WHERE: Civic Center Park

This outdoor event brings the most beloved elements of an authentic German holiday experience to The Mile High City. Stroll through a European village decorated for the holiday season as you shop for finely crafted artisan gifts and treats at charming wooden huts. Fuel your shopping with authentic Glühwein (mulled spiced wine), German Biers and hot chocolate, and nosh on Bavarian-style pretzels, fresh smoked salmon, Knödel, Goulasch, Nürnberger Sausages, pastries, caramels and European chocolates. 

Cherry Creek Holiday Market

WHEN: Thru Dec. 24, 2023
WHERE: Cherry Creek North
The Cherry Creek North Holiday Market at Fillmore Plaza features more than 50 local artisan vendors, live music, and festive drinks and decor. The market is free, open to the public and family- and dog-friendly.

Santa's Flight Academy

WHEN: Thru Dec. 24, 2023
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Your little ones can step inside a 22-foot-tall sleigh and experience the magical snowfall. They can also have their photos taken with Santa. Partake in a Sensory-Friendly Santa experience on Dec. 3 from 10–11:30 a.m. Bring your favorite furry friend to meet and have their photo taken with Santa "Paws" on Dec. 4 and 11 from 5–7 p.m. Reservations are recommended for all Santa sessions. 

Downtown Denver Rink

WHEN: Thru Feb. 14, 2024
WHERE: Skyline Park
Bundle up for some free ice skating in the heart of downtown and enjoy special events. ​Skate rentals for adults are $11 and $9 for kids 12 and under. Bring your own pair and skate for free! If you need a skatewalker for assistance, you can also rent one $5.

Winter Holiday Trains 

WHEN: Thru Jan. 7, 2024
WHERE: Georgetown Loop Mining & Railroad Park
Located 45 miles west of Denver, the Georgetown Loop Railroad is one of Colorado’s most authentic living history experiences which offers daily train rides through scenic and snowy vistas on Santa’s Rocky Mountain Adventure, as well as evening journeys in Santa’s Lighted Forest, featuring more than 300,000 holiday lights.

Snow Days

WHEN: Thru Feb. 16, 2024
WHERE: Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Spend your day gliding around the ice skating rink, sledding on REAL snow, warming up by a toasty fire and much, much more.

Ice Castles in Cripple Creek 

WHEN: Thru Feb. 23, 2024
WHERE: Irene Ave. and 4th St., Cripple Creek
Each year, Ice Castles brings fairy tales to life for hundreds of thousands of families across North America. Since 2011, Ice Castles has been dedicated to creating an experience that will live on long after the ice melts. For all who enter through the icicle-adorned archways, time spent at Ice Castles is a source of joy and inspiration.

McGregor Skate

WHEN: Thru Feb. 25, 2024
WHERE: McGregor Square Plaza
The magic of winter has made its way to LoDo with McGregor Skate, an ice skating rink for all ages. Skates are available to rent at an on-site skate shop.


More Holiday Events & Activities

Holiday Tea

WHEN: Thru Dec. 16, 2023
WHERE: Center for Colorado Women's History

Celebrate the holiday season with your loved ones and a cozy cup of tea! Featuring a docent-led tour, the signature Lady Evans black tea and a variety of savory and sweet snacks provided by local and woman-led business, Miss Peabody’s Southern Tea Cakes, these Holiday Teas are the perfect opportunity to see the Center for Colorado Women's History in its holiday splendor. Available on select Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.

Tinseltown: Christmas Bar 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 30, 2023
WHERE: Denver Pavilions

It's time to make every day cheery again! Tinseltown is all about celebrating Christmas, so you can expect Santa, elves, presents, tinsel, festive tunes and lots of winter warmer drinks, including a fabulous Christmas cocktail menu! The halls are more than fully decked with baubles, bows, hanging trees, wreaths and just about every festive goodie ever! You'll be left unable to shake the spirit and joy of our favorite season. Tickets include entry to the themed bar and a bespoke cocktail on arrival. 

Music & Performing Arts

'Little Red'

WHEN: Thru Dec. 23, 2023
WHERE: Weeks Conservatory Theatre

This charming, song-infused retelling of Little Red Riding Hood finds Little Red at the center of new adventures and new ways of seeing familiar characters. With a wandering wolf, a gardening grandma, singing forest creatures, and characters from other tales joining in, Little Red discovers her own power as a vital doer in her community. Joyous, inspiring and filled with laughs, the musical captures the warmth of Little Red and her family of smart, engaged women while also welcoming a new friendship between Red and Wolf.

'A Christmas Story' 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: Miners Alley Playhouse, Golden

All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family's temperamental exploding furnace; the boys' experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost; the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin; Ralphie's father winning a lamp shaped like a woman's leg in a net stocking; Ralphie's fantasy scenarios and more. "A Christmas Story" is destined to become a theatrical holiday tradition!

'A Christmas Carol' 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 24​, 2023
WHERE: Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Wolf Theatre

Essential to the holiday season in Denver, "A Christmas Carol" is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation that traces money-hoarding curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption.

Colorado Ballet: 'The Nutcracker' 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 24, 2023
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House

The beloved holiday favorite returns in a dazzling production like no one's ever seen, featuring all-new sets and costumes created especially for Colorado Ballet. A sellout every year, this magical tale of Clara, the Nutcracker and the Mouse King is going to be dreamier than ever.


Museum & Gallery Exhibitions

Confection Perfection: Jolly Rancher Company 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 30, 2023
WHERE: Golden History Museum & Park, Golden

Seeking additional income for her family, homemaker-turned-entrepreneur Dorothy Harmsen heard about people making a fortune in Florida selling ice cream from newly invented soft serve machines. In 1949, Harmsen rented a store in downtown Golden and made a down payment on a new machine. Within a few years, she and her husband, Bill, built one of the most iconic confectionery companies in the world.

Epic Events 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 30, 2023
WHERE: Golden History Museum & Park, Golden

Epic Events walks you through over three dozen moments that shaped Golden’s past. Those times range from big to small, happy to sad. Some are memorable and some are best forgotten. Step inside this exhibit and feel what it’s like to live through 150 years in Golden.

Legendary People 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 30, 2023
WHERE: Golden History Museum & Park, Golden

People are the ingredient that makes Golden a vibrant community. Over the years, so many have called the area home, from nomadic Native Americans, adventurous miners and cunning politicians, to innovative business owners, hard-working students and curious tourists. Their interesting stories make for a rich history. Learn the biographical highlights of some little-known characters, like beloved educator Gertrude Bell, Olympic athlete Lindsey Horan and many more.

Signs O’ The Times 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 30, 2023
WHERE: Golden History Museum & Park, Golden

Old signs are powerful evidence of the changes Golden has experienced. Simply put, signs are visual graphics we use to communicate information to each other. We’ve used them for thousands of years, and if you stop and look around, they’re everywhere. The permanent City of Golden collection currently cares for more than two dozen commercial and business signs.

Borderlands of Southern Colorado 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: History Colorado Center

Presented in English and Spanish, Borderlands explores the shifting geopolitical history of southern Colorado. This area, framed by mountains and rivers, is naturally conducive to unique and resilient forms of cultural connection. An international border crossed over the people in this region, changing their lives forever, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo moved a portion of the US–Mexico border from the Arkansas River—which flows through the middle of Colorado—down to the Rio Grande in 1848.

Vision and Resolve 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: Center for Colorado Women's History

This exhibition illuminates how women and their social movements have impacted Colorado’s History. Focusing on suffragist Ida Clark DePriest, gay rights activist Mary Lopez Dussart, disability rights activist Laura Hershey, civic activist Anne Evans and the women leaders of Casa Verde Mothers of Pueblo, this Vision and Resolve allows visitors to experience their stories along with artifacts from the History Colorado Collection. Highlights include Equal Rights Amendment protest wear from the late 1970s and “Western Women Wild with Joy,” a newly acquired contemporary sculpture celebrating suffrage.

Seeds of a Nation 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: Center for Colorado Women's History

Seeds of a Nation takes visitors through an investigation of the complexities that sprouted with the development of Victory Gardens. Grown out of the necessity of war, Victory Gardens allowed American civilians to contribute to the war effort by planting, harvesting and storing their own food. Even after the war was over, the gardens remained as symbols of resilience, unity and self-sufficiency and contributed to the complex beliefs around what it means “to be American,” especially in turbulent times. 

Zoom In 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: History Colorado Center

This exhibition has 100 stories to tell. Culled from the vast collections of History Colorado, every object on view had a role in shaping our state—from the age of the Paleoindians to Jack Swigert’s Apollo 13 flight suit and beyond. You could never distill Colorado’s rich history into only 100 objects. But the ones we’ve selected, both ordinary and extraordinary, combine into a telling mosaic of the past—and, just maybe, a glimpse into our future. 

What's Your Story? 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: History Colorado Center

Each of us is on a journey toward making a difference. Explore your superpower and those of Coloradans past, present and future. Find out how they made an impact on our state, whether by fighting school segregation or being a world-class athlete. See how your experience compares to the challenges and opportunities faced by generations of Coloradans before you. Through one-of-a-kind multimedia experiences, you can tell the world what’s important to you, and share it on the big screen for all to see.

After the Asteroid: Earth's Comeback Story 

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
A trove of remarkably preserved fossils found at Corral Bluffs near Colorado Springs brings into sharp focus how Earth recovered after the devastating asteroid impact 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. This discovery is a watershed scientific moment, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's bilingual exhibit brings it to life. 

By Design: Stories and Ideas Behind Objects  

WHEN: Thru Jan. 1, 2024
WHERE: Denver Art Museum

A series of thematic installations drawn primarily from the architecture and design collection, this exhibition illustrates the abundance and versatility of approaches to design. How does it come into being? Who creates it and for what purpose? What trends inspire it? And how does it serve society?

The World in Denver: Photography by Robert Weinberg 

WHEN: Thru Jan. 10, 2024
WHERE: History Colorado Center

Over the course of his career, Robert Weinberg captured images of those who left their mark on Denver. Best known for his work with the Intermountain Jewish News, Weinberg focused on portraits of people in the Denver community. Weinberg's photography adds a valuable dimension to the visual record of the Mile High City during the 1980s and 1990s. Now legally blind, Weinberg created braille labels to accompany his work, ensuring that his photographs are accessible to all. He continues to advocate for the visually impaired community by promoting organizations to assist people with low vision to live independently.

Personal Geographies: Trent Davis Bailey ǀ Brian Adams 

WHEN: Thru Feb. 11, 2024
WHERE: Denver Art Museum

This exhibition presents a selection of images by two artists who seek to understand themselves and the places they treasure through photography. Colorado photographer Trent Davis Bailey reflects on his personal history and the relationship between images and memory. Personal Geographies presents work from his series The North Fork, which draws inspiration from childhood memories, small-scale family farms and the landscape of western Colorado. Anchorage-based Iñupiaq photographer Brian Adams has traveled across Alaska and beyond to make pictures that celebrate the Arctic landscape and sensitively share the stories, cultures and perspectives of Inuit people and communities.

Islands Beyond Blue 

WHEN: Thru May 14, 2024
WHERE: Denver Art Museum

This presentation showcases the work of Niki Hastings-McFall, a celebrated contemporary artist of Sāmoan and Pākehā descent who has been credited with shepherding contemporary Pacific art onto an international stage. Known for her large-scale and immersive "lei bombing" installations, she used hundreds of synthetic lei to create the installation. Her work is presented in dialogue with approximately 25 treasures from the DAM's collection that illustrate regional historic arts alongside new innovations. This inaugural exhibition aims to dispel romantic notions of the Pacific Islands as a tourist’s paradise through a nuanced exploration of the area’s vibrant cultural landscape. 

Gio Ponti: Designer of a Thousand Talents  

WHEN: Thru July 19, 2024
WHERE: Denver Art Museum

Gio Ponti was one of the most inventive Italian architects and designers of his time. For more than 60 years, Ponti’s exuberant approach found expression in public and private commissions from buildings, interiors and furniture to glass, ceramics and flatware, influencing international design for more than 50 years.