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Grinch highlights the holiday theme at the Wildlife Experience

TUES, 12/9

Take a break from the yuletide hustle and bustle, and step into a snow-globe-like winter wonderland with a screening of Dr. Seuss's classic tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas at tonight's first annual Holiday Film Festival at the Wildlife Experience."We went through all the classic holiday films, from the classic Grinch cartoon to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and decided that this one would be the most fun," says Amber DeBerry, vice president of marketing and sales at the Wildlife Experience. "It's just so festive, and kids of all ages love it."

Jim Carrey stars as the unlovable green Grinch with a heart two sizes too small, who devises a devious plan to rob the all the Whos down in Whoville of their Christmas treats, only to learn that the holiday isn't about presents, but about sharing and love.

In the spirit of the season, the Holiday Film Festival will also feature cookies, treats and live entertainment, along with craft stations in the hands-on Children's Gallery, where little Cindy Lou Whos can make homemade holiday cards and decorate Christmas ornaments. "The Children's Gallery is always a popular place, because there is so much to do, from arts and crafts to the science corner to the Discovery Drawers, where you can actually put your hands on animal skulls and pelts," says DeBerry.

How the Grinch Stole Christmaswill play at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. tonight in the Wildlife Experience's iWERKS Theater. Admission is $4, free for Wildlife Experience members and kids ages four and under. Seating is limited, so be sure to make reservations by calling 720-488-3300 or e-mailing info@twexp.org.

"People are signing up like crazy," says DeBerry.

The entire museum will be open for wandering starting at 6 p.m. Be sure to check out the two current exhibits, LeRoy Neiman: On Safari and Bio-Diversity in Wildlife Art: The Art of Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen; both feature wildlife drawings, paintings and prints.

"We wanted to do something to draw in new people so they can learn a little bit more what we're all about," DeBerry says.

The Wildlife Experience is located at 10035 South Peoria Street in Parker. For more information, visit www.thewildlifeexperience.org. -- Julie Dunn

Looking back at Christmas past
SAT, 12/6

With tract housing and shopping malls rising on the plains east of Denver, it's hard to imagine a time when the living out there wasn't so easy. But even in the midst of urban growth, the little Plains Conservation Center preserves a slice of pioneer life at 21901 East Hampden Avenue in Aurora. The center, with its interpretive displays of sod houses and tepees, is usually open by appointment only; today, though, everyone's invited over from 2:30 to 4 p.m. for Christmas in the Soddies, an interactive and festive look at how pioneers spent the holidays out on the short-grass prairie. In spite of the cold, isolation and hardships they faced, pioneers still found time to celebrate, according to center spokeswoman Fran Blanchard, even if stockings were typically filled with a single orange, penny, tin cup or piece of hard candy and kids received just one homemade toy for a gift. Because actual trees were scarce, the settlers would decorate tumbleweeds with paper chains.

There'll be plenty of tumbleweed trees to adorn at this event, along with cookie baking, pioneer games and live guitar and fiddle music. Kids will also be able to examine the wares of a peddler's cart offering "goods from Denver," which Blanchard more rightfully labels "little trinkets." Admission is $3 to $5, and reservations are required; call 303-693-3621 or log on to www.plainsconservationcenter.org. -- Susan Froyd

The Princess Diaries
WED, 12/10

Every year, you swear you won't go to another one of these things. But every year you go again anyway, and -- in spite of the blaring arena sound system and the bad popcorn and the screaming kids who all need to pee at the same time and the vendors hawking spinning light toys and overpriced plastic cups filled with shaved ice -- you end up charmed by the great costumes, by the even greater skating, and, especially, by the twinkle in your wee punkster's eyes. This year's edition of Disney on Ice, opening tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Pepsi Center for a five-day run, promises to be an instant keeper for little girls everywhere. "Princess Classics" gathers together seven of Disney's most cherished animated women -- Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast's Belle, Aladdin's Jasmine, Mulan, Snow White and Little MermaidAriel -- for a series of lavish ice-carving vignettes on an ingenious set designed around a three-story transforming castle. For local color, there's even a Coloradan skating in the show. Who needs cotton candy with all thatgoo? The run ends next Sunday night with a special Spanish-language performance. For tickets, $14.75 to $59, and showtimes, call 303-830-TIXS. -- Susan Froyd

The Sky's the Limit
Learn to draw yourself all by yourself
SUN, 12/7

Aeroplane Arts wants to be your boarding pass to a creative career.This is no flight of fancy. As envisioned by local artists Ashley Smith and Ella Dascalos, the mission of Aeroplane Arts is to help high school students go beyond the boundaries of traditional art classes.

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