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Forget about the turkey: Thanksgiving in Denver returns with fun (and free) events, performing arts, live music and plenty of family-friendly activities.

Don't miss out on great Denver hotel deals during Thanksgiving Weekend.

LIGHT DISPLAYS | FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENTS | PERFORMING ARTS | MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS | SPORTS

HOLIDAY LIGHT DISPLAYS 

GRAND ILLUMINATION

WHEN: Nov. 29, 2019
WHERE: Denver Union Station
As part of Downtown Denver's Winter in the City program, Downtown Denver's Grand Illumination event will light up downtown, from Denver Union Station to the City and County Building at Civic Center Park. Afterward, meet Santa, enjoy drinks at Terminal Bar and dance to holiday classics by the Denver Dolls. The lights stay on through the end of December.

LIGHT THE LIGHTS

WHEN: Nov. 29, 2019
WHERE: Denver City and County Building

The City and County of Denver and 9News present the annual lighting of Denver's City and County Building. This fun and heart-warming tradition is nearly 100 years old and is the perfect kick-off to the holiday season! Don't miss the ceremonial flipping of the light switch between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Be sure to explore the winter festival in Civic Center Park, which will feature a variety of family-friendly crafts and activities, a heated Bookmobile and story-time tent, a mural-painting project, roaming carolers, food trucks, beer and warm beverages from 4 to 8 p.m. Bring hats, gloves and scarfs for the Giving Tree to benefit Denver families in need. 

ZOO LIGHTS

WHEN: Nov. 29–Dec. 30, 2019
WHERE: Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights will span through 70 acres of Denver Zoo's campus with nightly entertainment, animal encounters, Santa meet-and-greets and, of course, illuminated animal sculptures that swing through trees, jump across lawns hide in bushes and appear in places where they’re least expected.

BLOSSOMS OF LIGHT

WHEN: Nov. 29, 2019–Jan. 3, 2020
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens is proud to host Blossoms of Light, an annual family-friendly event that has become a tradition for people across Colorado. Come interact with incredible light displays — a large field of sound-reactive, animated LED lights — plus sip warm drinks and nibble on tasty treats as you stroll. 

MILE HIGH TREE

WHEN: Nov. 30, 2019–Jan. 31, 2020, 5 p.m.–10:30 p.m., free shows every evening
WHERE: Sculpture Park at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

Join in the free nightly festivities at Denver’s newest holiday attraction, the Mile High Tree. It’s a brilliantly lit, 110-foot-tall immersive art installation that provides a dazzling lights and music show every 30 minutes throughout the evening. At 39-feet in diameter, the conical structure can host up to 140 guests at a time for an immersive viewing experience within the tree itself. There will be areas to purchase both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks as well as holiday treats. 

A HUDSON CHRISTMAS

WHEN: Nov 29–30 and Dec. 6–8, 13–24 and 26–31, 2019
WHERE: Hudson Gardens & Events Center
Bundle up for a visit with Santa at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. After sharing your list with Ol' Saint Nick, sip hot chocolate as you stroll the outdoor paths lined with trees decked with more than a million twinkling lights.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENTS

SANTA'S FLIGHT ACADEMY

WHEN: Nov. 7–Dec. 24, 2019
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Let your little ones help Santa ready his sleigh for the big day during Santa's Flight Academy! Visit with jolly St. Nick, try out his Flight Suit Visualizer and enjoy the magical snow and light show at Cherry Creek Shopping Center

THE POLAR EXPRESS TM TRAIN RIDE

WHEN: Nov. 29–30 and Dec. 1, 4–8, 11–15 and 17–23, 2019
WHERE: Colorado Railroad Museum

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.

DENVER CHRISTKINDL MARKET

WHEN: Nov. 22–Dec. 23, 2019
WHERE: Skyline Park
The Christkindl Market includes vendors from Germany and other countries, as well as local artisans, offering high-quality, handcrafted gifts such as traditional hand-carved wooden figurines, handmade candles and ornaments. Traditional German food will tempt your taste buds. Sip on warm Glühwein (hot spiced wine) as you listen to traditional Christmas carols and live German music. Entry is free and the entire family is invited to enjoy this great tradition! 

ICE SKATING AT DOWNTOWN DENVER RINK AT SKYLINE PARK 

WHEN: Nov. 26, 2019Feb. 16, 2020
WHERE: Corner of 16th and Arapahoe
Take a spin on the ice — for free! Grab your family and friends and head to 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver to the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park in Downtown Denver! Skate rentals are $7–$9, or bring your own pair and skate for free. Free days for kids will take place throughout the season. Look for regularly scheduled entertainment and activities each week, including Friday night DJs; Saturday morning skating lessons; Saturday night concerts; and Sunday afternoon family entertainment.

MILE HIGH UNITED WAY TURKEY TROT

WHEN: Nov. 28, 2019
WHERE: Washington Park    
Run your yams off at the annual Mile High United Way Turkey Trot in Denver's beautiful Washington Park. The four-mile race and quarter-mile family fun run is expected to host over 10,000 participants in support of Mile High United Way's work in the community to improve the lives of children, families, and individuals in need. This year's Turkey Trot will include a start and finish village featuring pre-race coffee, live entertainment, music, booths and a beer garden sponsored by Great Divide Brewing Co. 

SANTA'S VILLAGE AT CHATFIELD FARMS

WHEN: Nov. 29–Dec. 22, 2019
WHERE
Chatfield Farms Botanic Gardens
Explore Chatfield Farms as it is transformed into a magical village. Santa's Village is a family-friendly holiday event including hayrides, holiday gifts, Santa’s Workshop and so much more.

OLDE GOLDEN CHRISTMAS

WHEN: Nov. 30–Dec. 31, 2019
WHERE: 1010 Washington Ave., Golden
Olde Golden Christmas includes a community candlelight walk, Victorian carolers, free Newfoundland dog-pulled cart rides, holiday art market, parades, shopping, music and theater productions, Santa Claus, holiday lights, art and more!

PERFORMING ARTS & MUSIC

'GOODNIGHT MOON' 

WHEN: Oct. 4, 2019–Feb. 16, 2020
WHERE: DPAC/The Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre

Your little ones will love this beloved children's tale come to life and set to music! Say goodnight to Bunny with magical moments filled with songs, kittens and mittens, bears and chairs, a red balloon and – of course – the moon.

THE IMPROVISED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY 

WHEN: Oct. 15, 2019–Mar. 22, 2020
WHERE: Garner Galleria Theatre & Bar

The Bard meets improv in this entirely unscripted show that creates a new and fully improvised Shakespearean masterpiece each and every night based on audience suggestion.

'SHAKESPEARE’S TWELFTH NIGHT' 

WHEN: Nov. 15–Dec. 22, 2019
WHERE: Space Theatre​

You'll laugh through the Bard's comedy about the clumsiness of romance, featuring hilarious hijinks, unrequited love, gender-bending disguises and a love triangle of mistaken identity and wanton foolishness. 

'CAMP CHRISTMAS'

WHEN: Nov. 21, 2019–Jan. 5, 2020
WHERE: Stanley Marketplace

"Camp Christmas" is The Mile High City's newest holiday experience, where holiday traditions of the past and present get merrily mashed together in a giant 10,000-square-foot winter wonderland. This over-the-top indoor immersive installation turns the Christmas spirit all the way up with awe-inspiring displays of decorations that shift time and reality. 

'HIP HOP NUTCRACKER'

WHEN: Nov. 23–24, 2019
WHERE: Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex

The "Hip Hop Nutcracker" is a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky's timeless score and performed by a cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop's founding fathers. Digital graffiti transform the landscape from traditional 19th Century Germany to the vibrant streets of contemporary New York City.

'JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR' 

WHEN: Nov. 26–Dec. 1, 2019
WHERE: Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex

With music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, "Jesus Christ Superstar" tells the story of the final weeks of the life of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of his betrayer, Judas. This new production celebrates the iconic show's 50th anniversary. 

'HOME ALONE IN CONCERT'

WHEN: Nov. 29, 2019
WHERE: Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex

Kevin McCallister has been left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation and must defend his home against two bungling thieves. Enjoy the hilarious and heartwarming film as the Colorado Symphony plays John Williams’ charming and delightful score live.

'THE NUTCRACKER'

WHEN: Nov. 30–Dec. 29, 2019
WHEREEllie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Complex
The holidays are not complete until you see the Colorado Ballet perform their annual "The Nutcracker," featuring unforgettable characters, dazzling costumes, classic choreography and Tchaikovsky's extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. This dazzling spectacle of glittering snowflakes and shimmering sugarplums will transport audiences to the Land of Sweets.

MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS

ONE FELL SWOOP BY PATRICK DOUGHERTY

WHEN: Apr. 27–Dec. 30, 2019
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms

Artist Patrick Dougherty weaves flexible, sustainably harvested saplings into complex and whimsical architectural forms with the help of staff and volunteers. The stickwork installations remain on view until they naturally fall apart, some lasting for years! 

BAUHAUS CENTENNIAL

WHEN: Jan. 25–Dec. 31, 2019
WHERE: Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
The Bauhaus school of art and design in Weimar, Germany, was only open for a few years before the Nazis forced it to close. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of this influential art style, the Kirkland Museum is highlighting Bauhaus pieces from its permanent collection, including many not usually on display.

IMAGES FROM THE TRACKS: PHOTOGRAPHS OF WILLIAM HENRY JACKSON

WHEN: Jan. 29, 2019–Jan. 5, 2020
WHERE: Colorado Railroad Museum
One of the foremost photographers to photograph the great American West, William Henry Jackson's images had an immense influence on the public's perception of the American West. A portion of those images were captured here in Colorado as Jackson traveled throughout the west by rail. 

TREASURES OF BRITISH ART

WHEN: Mar. 2, 2019–July 12, 2020
WHERE: Denver Art Museum

Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection features more than 60 paintings by masters such as Anthony van Dyck, Adriaen van Diest, John Singer Sargent and Thomas Hudson, gifted to the Denver Art Museum by the Berger Collection Educational Trust. 

THE LIGHT SHOW

WHEN: June 2, 2019–May 3, 2020
WHERE: Denver Art Museum

Let there be light! This brilliant exhibition features around 250 pieces pulled from the Denver Art Museum's nine curatorial departments and explores humanity's drive to understand both physical light and metaphorical, spiritual and divine light.

WRITTEN ON THE LAND: UTE VOICES, UTE HISTORY 

WHEN: Dec. 8, 2018–Sept. 2, 2021
WHERE: History Colorado Center
The Ute are Colorado's longest continuous residents. In Written on the Land, you'll journey to the places they call home and hear their stories, told in their own voices through art, photography and video.

NATURA OBSCURA 

WHEN: Jan 11–Dec. 29, 2019
WHEREMuseum of Outdoor Arts
Step inside a surrealist, dreamlike forest that combines art, sculpture and the latest in virtual, augmented and digital technologies. Designed and produced by the Museum of Outdoor Arts in Englewood and featuring more than 30 Colorado-based artists and creatives.

ALTAR'D CONTINUUM 

WHEN: Sept. 13, 2019–Feb. 1, 2020
WHERE: Museo de las Americas
Altar'd Continuum juxtaposes contemporary artists alongside religious ofrendas, retablos and other iconography from the museum's collections to illustrate the altar’s inherent transcendence of time and space.

FRANCESCA WOODMAN: PORTRAIT OF A REPUTATION 

WHEN: Sept. 20, 2019–Apr. 5, 2020
WHERE: MCA DENVER — Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
Featuring more than 40 vintage prints, as well as notes, letters, postcards and other ephemera related to the artist's burgeoning career, this exhibition details American artist Francesca Woodman's creative coming-of-age during the years 1975–79. 

TERESA HUBBARD/ALEXANDER BIRCHLER: FLORA 

WHEN: Sept. 20, 2019–Apr. 5, 2020
WHERE: MCA DENVER — Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
This exhibition brings to light work by a previously unknown American artist, Flora Mayo. 

STILL: ELEMENTAL 

WHEN: Sept. 26, 2019–Jan. 12, 2020
WHERE: Clyfford Still Museum
This exhibit explores Still's work in relation to the five perennial elements of Greek philosophy: earth, water, air, fire and æther. Like nature itself, Still's often large-scale, colorful abstract work is intended to be transcendent, experiential and to impact viewers on an intrinsic, emotional level.

SHANTELL MARTIN: WORDS AND LINES 

WHEN: Sept. 27, 2019–Jan. 31, 2021
WHERE: Denver Art Museum
London-born, New York-based contemporary artist Shantell Martin has collaborated with iconic brands and artists from Puma and Nike to Max Mara and Kendrick Lamar. This interactive multimedia installation at Denver Art Museum features Martin’s signature black and white drawings that explore intersectionality, identity and play.

EYES ON: ANTHONY MCCALL 

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2019–May 31, 2020
WHERE: Denver Art Museum
Between 1972 and 1974, London-born, New York-based artist Anthony McCall recorded a suite of seven fire performances. Landscape for Fire presents five performers dressed in white walking a precisely choreographed pattern across an airfield in North Weald, England, igniting small fires. Shifting configurations of light and dark unfold across a thirty-six-point grid, as the field of grass becomes a meadow of light. See it at Denver Art Museum.

SPORTING EVENTS

COLORADO AVALANCHE VS. EDMONTON OILERS

WHEN: Nov. 27, 2019
WHERE: Pepsi Center

COLORADO AVALANCHE VS. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

WHEN: Nov. 30, 2019
WHERE: Pepsi Center

DENVER NUGGETS VS. WASHINGTON WIZARDS

WHEN: Nov. 26, 2019
WHERE: Pepsi Center

DENVER NUGGETS VS. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

WHEN: Dec. 3, 2019
WHERE: Pepsi Center

DENVER BRONCOS VS. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

WHEN: Dec. 1, 2019
WHERE: Empower Field at Mile High

HOLIDAY SHOPPING KICKS OFF

The holiday shopping season kicks off after Thanksgiving! There will be free parking on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday in the Denver Pavilions underground garage. Larimer Square and Cherry Creek North are also celebrating Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30, 2019. Or shop for handmade gifts and decor at the 2019 Holiday Craft Show and Mini-Market in nearby Golden.