FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
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.
WHEN: Nov. 22–Dec. 23, 2019
WHERE: Skyline Park
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.
WHEN: Nov. 26, 2019–Feb. 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.
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. The lights stay on through the end of December.
WHEN: Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, 2019
WHERE: Larimer Square
It's the happiest season of all at Larimer Square, where historic charm meets holiday cheer. With festive dining options and boutiques filled with treasures for everyone on your 'Nice' list, Larimer Square helps you celebrate in style. There are also carolers, carriage rides and Santa on Saturdays throughout the season. Visits with Santa are free and open to the public. On December 7th, join us for “Paws & Claus,” an event for pet-lovers to get photos with Santa. All furry friends are welcome and donations will benefit the Denver Animal Shelter.
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!
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.
WHEN: Dec. 6–7, 2019
WHERE: Downtown Denver
The 9NEWS Parade of Lights is the signature event of the downtown Denver holiday season. The countless sparkling lights, marching bands, giant balloons, majestic floats and delightful characters will once again wow hundreds of thousands. Viewing along the parade route is free, and grandstand tickets are sold for seating in front of the beautifully illuminated City & County Building.
WHEN: Dec. 31, 2019
WHERE: 16th Street Mall
The sky will once again sparkle over downtown at the close of 2019 with the New Year's Eve Fireworks Downtown. The two spectacular fireworks shows will occur at 9 p.m. and midnight. For the best viewpoints, stand along the 16th Street Mall. The identical fireworks shows will be synched to a music playlist from live DJs along the mall. Each show will run for about eight minutes and can be viewed from anywhere along the mall. The DJs will play tunes from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Please note, between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., RTD Light Rail trains will not cross the 16th Street Mall, and mall ride shuttles will stop temporarily during the two fireworks shows.
WHEN: Mar. 14, 2020
Join one of Colorado’s largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations and enjoy Irish dancers, bagpipes, bands, equestrians, civic clubs and cultural groups.
FREE MUSEUM DAYS
WHEN: TBA 2020
WHERE: Denver Zoo
Say hello to the animals for free two times this season. Denver Zoo, located in City Park, spans over 75 acres and is home to more than 4,000 animals, including rare amur leopards, okapi, black rhinoceros, elephants, vampire bats, orangutan, Komodo dragons and more!
WHEN: Nov. 17 and Dec. 8, 2019
WHERE: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Explore the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, a maze filled with treasures of the earth: dinosaurs, dioramas, space exhibits, science experiments, a digital planetarium, an IMAX theatre and touring shows.
WHEN: TBA 2020
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens is a 24-acre oasis in the middle of the city, with 45 different gardens (some 33,000 plants), as well as one of the nation's top 10 conservatories. Relax in the Japanese Garden, climb through the Rock Alpine Garden and explore the Mordecai Children's Garden.
WHEN: TBA 2020
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is a picturesque nature preserve among the grasslands, ponds and cottonwood banks of Deer Creek. Facilities include nature trails, a wildlife observation area, display gardens, educational exhibits, a historical farm, a 19th-century one-room schoolhouse, working beehives and picnic areas.
WHEN: Dec. 7, 2019; Jan. 4, Feb. 1 and Mar. 7, 2020
WHERE: Denver Art Museum
Explore the Denver Art Museum's galleries showcasing a world-famous American Indian art collection, as well as traditional and contemporary art from around the world. And admission is ALWAYS free for youth ages 18 and under, ever day.
WHEN: Dec. 7, 2019; Jan. 4, Feb. 1 and Mar. 7, 2020
WHERE: MCA DENVER — Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
Okay, so it's not technically free. But every first Saturday of the month, Colorado residents can explore MCA Denver for just $0.01.
WHEN: Dec. 18, 2019
WHERE: Clyfford Still Museum
Enjoy nine beautiful galleries of Clyfford Still’s art, historic photos and letters from the Clyfford Still Archives, an interactive timeline, dozens of videos and books and a pair of tranquil outdoor terraces.
WHEN: Dec. 6, 2019; Jan. 3, Feb. 7 and Mar. 6, 2020
WHERE: Museo de las Americas
Museo de las Americas is dedicated to educating people about the arts and cultures of Latinidad in the Americas and is the premier Latin American art museum in the region.
WHEN: Dec. 3, 2019; Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and Mar. 3, 2020
WHERE: Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Families can play for free the first Tuesday of each month from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Discover the Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, where interactive playscapes, programs and special events make learning fun by engaging kids to play, learn and explore. It's a place that ignites and fosters a love of learning that children will carry with them throughout life.
WHEN: Nov. 12, 2019
WHERE: Molly Brown House Museum
Learn all about the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown and the tragic voyage of the Titanic during free days at the Molly Brown House Museum. (Note: Free days apply to Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson County residents only.)
WHEN: Dec. 13, 2019; Jan. 10, Feb. 14 and Mar. 13, 2020
WHERE: Four Mile Historic Park
Take a trip back in time to Denver's pioneer past at Four Mile Historic Park, nestled on the bank of Cherry Creek. Stop by for a free afternoon of tours, historic demonstrations and more on the second Friday of each month.
MORE FREE ATTRACTIONS AND TOURS
WHEN: Every First Friday
WHERE: Denver's Art Districts
Discover Denver's thriving creative community during a First Friday celebration, held every first Friday of the month. Galleries in Denver's creative art districts stay open late for a festive, street party-like event.
Denver Arts & Venues invites art and architecture lovers to participate in free public art tours on foot, bike and scooter. These free guided tours focus on small segments of the city’s public art collection and give citizens and visitors the opportunity to venture inside venues such as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Colorado Convention Center to view works and hear the intimate details of their creation and installation.
See and experience downtown Denver the green way — on foot! Denver Free Walking Tours offers daily walking tours that start in Civic Center Park, wind through downtown past more than a dozen of Denver's distinctive landmarks and end in front of Coors Field. The daily tour showcases the history, architecture, landmarks and businesses of The Mile High City.
Learn how to make money! The U.S. Mint produces 50 million coins a day, each one stamped with a little "D" for Denver. Free tours show every step in the process of turning a dull, blank, metal slug into shiny pocket change.
The Money Museum offers an opportunity to learn about the Federal Reserve Bank. Walk-ins are welcome and groups can make advance reservations. Photo ID required for visitors 18 and older. On your way out, don't forget to get your bag of shredded money.
Tour the magnificent, gold-domed Colorado Capitol Building. Stand at exactly a mile high on the steps, see Allen True's beautiful murals, listen in on the Colorado General Assembly and check out the gorgeous Rose Onyx wainscoting. Free tours are available 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
Denver Central Library has an impressive art gallery on the seventh floor. The library is best known, perhaps, for its Western History Collection, which covers the earliest explorations, Spanish land grants, Native American history, the gold rush era and the present day, with a particular focus on the Rocky Mountain West.
Ever wonder about the stories of the places you pass? On Denver Story Trek you'll explore the stories behind Denver's historic landscapes and landmarks on an interactive, self-guided tour of the city. It's simple to use and free!
Get a behind-the-scenes look at Denver's craft beer world on a free tour at the Great Divide Brewery downtown or the Great Divide Barrel Bar in RiNo. Tours at both locations take place at 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., Mon.–Fri. and each hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Housed in Empower Field at Mile High (home of the Denver Broncos), the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum honors the legacies of The Mile High City's greatest sports heroes and features the Gallery of Legends, a "Great Moments in Colorado Sports" exhibit and a section celebrating the achievements of girls and women in Colorado Sports.
Learn about Denver's LGBT history with this free audio walking tour. The GPS-led app (available for iPhone and Android) will take you to 10 of Denver's top LGBT landmarks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and along Colfax Avenue.
The expansive Denver Skatepark — one of the most renowned skate parks in the country — is filled with bowls for all levels of skating skill. Admission is free. Helmets are required.
The Tattered Cover is one of the nation's largest and most well-known independent bookstores and often hosts free signings by some of the literary world's most famous authors. They also offer free wi-fi if you want to surf the net while you're there.
The Denver Beer Trail provides a sampling of Denver’s top microbreweries. Follow the suggested routes or pick and choose from the list of featured breweries.
Browse the racks and enjoy the free museum at Lower Downtown's historic Rockmount Ranch Wear, the originator of the western snap-button shirt. The walls are adorned with photos of the many celebs who have worn Rockmount shirts, including Eric Clapton, Robert Redford and Elvis Presley.
FREE THINGS TO DO NEAR DENVER
Travel back in time at the Littleton Museum and get a glimpse into Colorado's pioneer past. Located on 39 acres, the museum consists of two living history farms (one from the 1860s and one from the 1890s), with a working farm, a blacksmith shop and more than 40,000 historically Colorado artifacts. Located in nearby Littleton.
Carved from towering red rock monuments, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre in Morrison is one of the world's most renowned concert venues. When there's no concert, the free Visitor Center has a museum Performers' Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave in, around and over the colorful red rocks.
See some dinos — or what's left of them anyway. Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison features famous Jurassic dinosaur bones, such as Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus, discovered in 1877, and Cretaceous dinosaur footprints. A guidebook is available for use on self-guided tours.
Located just 60 miles from Denver in Colorado Springs, the awe-inspiring Garden of the Gods features gigantic 500-foot-high red sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak.
See how Boulder's Celestial Seasonings, the largest specialty tea manufacturer in North America, blends, packages and ships its teas, then enjoy free samples of every variety they make and discover a gallery of original artwork from their famous tea boxes.
Learn about global warming, the 21st century's hottest topic, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. See a hailstone the size of a softball, watch as a miniature tornado is whipped up in front of your eyes, and get an up-close look at how lightning is created.