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Forget about the turkey: Denver's Thanksgiving Weekend 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.

FEATURED EVENTS

MILE HIGH UNITED WAY TURKEY TROT

WHEN: Nov. 22, 2018
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. 

GRAND ILLUMINATION

WHEN: Nov. 23, 2018 at 6 p.m.
WHERE: downtown Denver
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. Afterwards, 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.

MORE HOLIDAY EVENTS

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ TRAIN RIDE

WHEN: Nov. 10–Dec. 23, 2018
WHERE: Colorado Railroad Museum 

Grab your golden ticket! The beloved children's book comes to life in The Polar Express™ Train Ride, a theatrical recreation at the Colorado Railroad Museum that takes place inside a real train car, complete with cookies and hot chocolate. 

SANTA'S FLIGHT ACADEMY

WHEN: Nov. 10–Dec. 24, 2018
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

DENVER CHRISTKINDL MARKET

WHEN: Nov. 16–Dec. 23, 2018
WHERE: 1515 Arapahoe St.

The Christkindl Market includes vendors from Germany, Ukraine, Ireland and other countries — as well as local artisans — offering high-quality gifts, such as 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.

DOWNTOWN DENVER RINK AT SKYLINE PARK

WHEN: Nov. 20, 2018–Feb. 3, 2019
WHERE: Skyline Park, the corner of 16th and Arapahoe
Grab your family and friends and head to 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver to the Skyline Rink. Skate rentals are $2, or bring your own pair and take a spin on the ice 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. 

A HUDSON CHRISTMAS

WHEN: Nov. 23–24, Nov. 30–Dec. 2, Dec. 7–9, 14–24 and 26–31, 2018
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.

BLOSSOMS OF LIGHT

WHEN: Nov. 23, 2018–Jan. 1, 2019
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens

Embrace the holiday season at Blossoms of Light. The first night will display over one million colorful lights draped in elegant designs highlighting the Gardens' winter beauty. Enjoy sparkling passages, new displays and romantic kissing spots under the mistletoe, all made even more beautiful through HoloSpex glasses. Warm drinks and tasty treats will also be available. 

SANTA'S VILLAGE AT CHATFIELD FARMS

WHEN: Nov. 23–Dec. 23, 2018
WHERE: Chatfield Farms at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Bring the kids to meet Santa (and his reindeer), make crafts with Mrs. Claus and take a magical hayride under twinkling holiday lights at Santa's Village. Afterward the whole family can shop for handcrafted gifts in Santa's workshop. 

ZOO LIGHTS

WHEN: Nov. 30, 2018–Jan. 6, 2019
WHERE: Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights will span 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.

MUSIC & PERFORMING ARTS

'CORDUROY'

WHEN: Oct. 5–Dec. 16, 2018
WHERE: 
The Conservatory Theatre
Your little ones will love the tale of Corduroy, a teddy bear who's been patiently waiting on a department store shelf and hoping for a real home. 

'XANADU'

WHEN: Nov. 3, 2018–Apr. 28, 2019
WHERE: 
Garner Galleria Theatre & Bar
Relive the glorious days of roller disco with this 1980s musical journey set in Venice Beach, California. 

'COME FROM AWAY'

WHEN: Nov. 13–25, 2018
WHERE: 
Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex
This new Broadway musical tells the true story 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. 

'A CHRISTMAS CAROL'

WHEN: Nov. 21–Dec. 24, 2018
WHERE: 
Stage Theatre, Denver Center for Performing Arts
Keep the holiday spirit flowing with this classic Christmas tale from Charles Dickens. "A Christmas Carol" is the ultimate holiday treat for theatergoers young and old. 

'THE SANTALAND DIARIES'

WHEN: Nov. 23–Dec. 24, 2018
WHERE: The JonesDenver Performing Arts Complex
For a less traditional take on the holiday season, don't miss "The SantaLand Diaries," based on author David Sedaris' hilarious account of his stint as a Macy's Christmas elf in New York City. This one-man show isn't for kids, but it will leave adults roaring with holiday cheer. 

MOVIE AT THE SYMPHONY: 'HOME ALONE' IN CONCERT

WHEN: Nov. 23, 2018
WHERE: Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex
Bring the whole family along for this holiday classic! Listen to the Colorado Symphony play John Williams’ score to "Home Alone" while watching the film on the big screen.

'THE NUTCRACKER'

WHEN: Nov. 24–Dec. 24, 2018
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Center for the Performing Arts

A holiday tradition, Colorado Ballet's performance of Tchaikovsky’s famous score was named the best-loved "The Nutcracker" production in the country last year. 

DRUMS OF THE WORLD

WHEN: Nov. 25, 2018 
WHERE: Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Center for Performing Arts

This popular annual family concert takes attendees on a musical trip around the globe. Drums of the World features your very own Colorado Symphony percussionists playing rhythmic instruments new and old — it'll be everything but the kitchen sink! Arrive early for pre-concert activities in the lobby.

MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS

A WALK IN THE WOODS

WHEN: Dec. 27, 2017–Dec. 31, 2018
WHERE: Denver Art Museum
The new family space in the Denver Art Museum features animal-related activities created to complement the exhibition Stampede: Animals in Art.

POP-UP MINING EXHIBIT

WHEN: May 1–Dec. 1, 2018
WHERE: Molly Brown House Museum

Get a sense of what it was like to work in one of Colorado's many mines in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in this temporary mining exhibit, curated by the Western Museum of Mining & Industry in Colorado Springs. 

SPECIAL GUEST

WHEN: June. 14–Dec. 1, 2018
WHERE: DPAC/Denver Performing Arts Complex

Meow Wolf is coming to Denver in 2020, but in the meantime, they're collaborating with local Denver artists to bring this free art show to The Mile High City. 

EYES ON: JULIE BUFFALOHEAD

WHEN: July 29, 2018–Jan. 20, 2019
WHERE: Denver Art Museum
Eyes On is a multi-year art series that features the work of contemporary artists. Minnesota-based Julie Buffalohead, a citizen of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, often uses animals in her artwork to illustrate the commercialization of American Indian culture.

EYES ON: SHIMABUKU

WHEN: July 29, 2018–Jan. 20, 2019
WHERE: Denver Art Museum
Eyes On: Shimabuku features a video by Japanese artist Shimabuku that follows a group of Japanese snow monkeys in a Texas sanctuary.

WELDED & FABRICATED POETRY: THE ARTISTIC LIFE OF ELIZABETH YANISH SHWAYDER

WHEN: Aug. 24, 2018–Jan. 6, 2019
WHERE: Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder came to Colorado in the late 1940s and has since created hundreds of sculptures and executed a number of public art commissions in the Rocky Mountain region. This exhibition — co-curated by Hugh Grant, the Kirkland's founding director, and Christopher Herron, the museum's deputy curator — will feature highlights from Shwayder's career.

EL INFINITO

WHEN: Sept. 13, 2018–Feb. 23, 2019
WHERE: Museo de las Americas
This exhibit explores some of the powerful images taken by different satellites of Latin America over the past 20 years and the connection that exists between people, satellites and the Infinite — the eternal inhabitants of the universe.

TARA DONOVAN: FIELDWORK

WHEN: Sept. 21, 2018–Jan. 27, 2019
WHERE: MCA DENVER — Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
Known for her transformation of mundane materials into elaborate, mind-bending objects, Tara Donovan's latest exhibit includes sculpture, drawings, works on paper and site-responsive installations that evoke the natural world in nuanced and unexpected ways.

CLAES OLDENBURG WITH COOSJE VAN BRUGGEN: DRAWING

WHEN: Oct. 7, 2018–Jan. 6, 2019
WHERE: Denver Art Museum
Modern artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen are known for their monumental and imaginative sculptures, located in major cities throughout the world. This exhibition presents drawings and one sculpture spanning the artists’ careers from 1961 through 2001.

SPORTING EVENTS

DENVER NUGGETS VS. ORLANDO MAGIC

WHEN: Nov. 23, 2018
WHERE: Pepsi Center
Cheer on the Denver Nuggets basketball team as they host the Orlando Magic at the Pepsi Center.

COLORADO AVALANCHE VS. DALLAS STARS

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2018
WHERE: Pepsi Center
Hockey fans should head to the Pepsi Center on Saturday evening to watch the Colorado Avalanche take on the Dallas Stars.

DENVER BRONCOS VS. PITTSBURGH STEELERS

WHEN: Nov. 25, 2018
WHERE: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Wrap up the weekend at Sports Authority Field at Mile High as the Denver Broncos battle it out against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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. Or shop for handmade gifts and decor at the Holiday Flea at Denver Union Station or the Holiday Sugar Plum Bazaar at the McNichols Civic Center Building.