Go ahead, take a break. The season won't freeze and crack right down the middle if you ignore it for a few minutes, and you'll feel all the better for it. You can avoid the crowds, the traffic and the noise, but -- oh, well -- not the Christmas music at tonight's Jazz Before X-mas Concert, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Curtis Arts and Humanities Center, 2349 East Orchard Road, Greenwood Village. Featuring a trio of locals -- vocalist Tina Phillips, pianist Eric Gunnison and bassist Kent Mclagen -- the program will not only include some originals and standards, but also such jazz-friendly tunes as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." For information, call 303-797-1779.
Friday, December 19
A zillion and one mean machines will roar into the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, this weekend, when the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show arrives just in time to feed your inner Wild One -- the leather-encrusted dude who gets all muffled by overpowering holiday-season warm fuzzies, when all he really wants to do is go fast. You'll see everything there, from hulking Harleys and lightweight Hondas to classy BMWs and sleek Ducatis -- the latest from twelve cycle-makers. There will also be loads of gear, parts, vintage bikes and breathtaking stunts by the Ball of Steel Stunt Team. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; for tickets, $5 to $11 (free for children ages five and under), call 1-800-331-5706 or log on to www.motorcycleshows.com.
Saturday, December 20
As the Colorado ski season slaloms into high gear, one of its most time-honored social opportunities follows suit: This year's party on wheels, the Winter Park Ski Train, is back on track, ready to pull out of Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop Street, at 7:15 a.m. today and chug its way through the Moffat Tunnel on the first round-trip jaunt of its 64th season. Excursions from Denver to Winter Park are scheduled weekly on Saturdays and Sundays through April 3 (special holiday trips will run on December 29 and 30, and additional Friday trips begin January 30). Tickets range from $40 to $70, and reservations are recommended. And if you have the wherewithal to plan ahead, you and some buddies can go in on a $129 bargain four-pack, available through December 19 and redeemable for four same-day trips anytime throughout the season. Call 303-296-4754 or log on to www.skitrain.com.
Celts and Christmas just seem to go together for some reason, though it probably has more to do with the season's pagan influences. Whatever the reason, it's good enough to make time for the Boys of the Lough, one of the first and most dedicated traditional Celtic bands to achieve international recognition. The Boys, who've been interpreting the old music of Ireland and Scotland on fiddle, flute and pipes for over thirty years, take shelter tonight at 8 p.m. at Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue; a stateside band, the Wayfarers, opens the show. Admission ranges from $25 to $31; call 303-777-1003 or log on to www.swallowhill.com.
Sunday, December 21
They'll be serving up more than holiday cheer today at the last of a series of BookCliff Vineyards Holiday Wine Tasting/Art Show events. It's hosted by artisan vintners Ulla Merz and John Garlich, who grow their grapes on the Western Slope for wines they make in the basement of their Boulder home. Always so nice to taste before you buy. Do so from noon to 5 p.m. at Boulder Creek Winery's Gunbarrel tasting room, 6440 Odell Place, Boulder, where the hardworking couple will offer their prize-winning Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, Muscat dessert wines and more, along with a look at original work by six artists who created art labels to adorn BookCliff bottles. For details, call 303-717-8900.
Monday, December 22
Round up your vacationing little monsters and their constant "I want..." chatter and head for the Children's Museum of Denver, I-25 and 23rd Avenue, where a Holidays Around the World Celebration starts today and continues with a changing schedule of daily activities through December 30 (Christmas Day excluded), in addition to the museum's regular ongoing exhibits and programs. Today, it's "Holidays Around the World in the Earth Balloon," an imaginary trip around the world at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Future programs include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Mexican cultural presentations. Tickets are $1 with regular museum admission; for a complete schedule, call 303-433-7444 or log on to www.mychildsmuseum.org.
Tuesday, December 23
Oy gevalt! What's all this hoopla about Santa Claus coming to town? For our Jewish denizens, Hanukkah is already here. To help local families celebrate, the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education is hosting a pair of Hanukkah Concerts featuring Steve Brodsky and Friends, an offshoot of the Denver-based, nationally touring group Mah Tovu. Boulder audiences can enjoy seasonal and spiritual music today at 5 p.m. at the Boulder Jewish Community Center, 3800 Kalmia Street, Boulder; the performance will be repeated at the same time tomorrow in Denver at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, 3000 East First Avenue. Admission is free; log on to www.jewishcolorado.org for details.