This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, November 25No one really knows if Thanksgiving-morning exercise actually helps you stay trim or if it stimulates your appetite so much that you end up consuming even more evil, fat-laden Turkey-day calories at the dinner table. Perhaps you'll break even. And for a simple donation of two non-perishable food and/or personal-hygiene items for the Comitis Crisis Center, you can participate in aqua aerobics, kickboxing, Pilates, yoga and more at the annual Huff-N-Puff-Before-You-Stuff event hosted by the City of Aurora at the Beck Recreation Center, 800 Telluride Street in Aurora, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. The only other requirement is that you must be twelve or older; for details, call 303-739-6886 or log on to www.auroragov.org.

As an alternative, the whole family -- except pets -- can lace up their running shoes for the annual Mile High United Way Turkey Trot. Even the most dedicated waddlers are welcome at the crisp autumn morning's four-mile run/walk or one-mile fun run beginning between 10:15 and 11:45 a.m. in Washington Park. Though it's all in fun, proceeds also benefit programs for the homeless. Register from 8 to 10 a.m. on race day on the lawn at South High School, 1700 East Louisiana Avenue (canned-food donations are also welcome), or in advance at area running stores or online; fees range from $13 to $25. For details, visit www.unitedwaydenver.org.

Friday, November 26What do you do after the leftovers have been stashed in the fridge and you're all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because the snore-inducing turkey tryptophan has worn off? You look the holiday season squarely in the eye and march off to see A Christmas Carol in hopes of recapturing the spirit right along with Scrooge, Marley and Tiny Tim. The Denver Center Theatre Company obliges by opening its annual production of the Charles Dickens classic tonight at 8 p.m. in the Stage Theatre, Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, 14th and Curtis streets; shows continue daily except Mondays on a stiff holiday schedule, through December 26. Admission ranges from $29 to $45; no children under four, please. And should you choose to make a full day of it, the DCTC obliges by teaming up with the Brown Palace Hotel to offer a Holiday Tea and Theater package that pairs an elegant high tea experience with the show. The high tea happens this Saturday and Sunday or on December 24 and 26. Combined admission is $54 to $61, which includes round-trip transportation to and from the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For reservations, call 303-893-4100 or visit www.denvercenter.org.

Downtown Denver is the place to be this evening at dusk, when many of the city's festive lighting displays will be switched on for a synchronized Downtown Holiday Lighting. No matter where folks end up parking themselves, there will be plenty of visual bling. What are the best vantage points? The City and County Building, Union Station, Skyline Park, the Denver Pavilions, Larimer Square and the 16th Street Mall are all hot spots. The oohing and aahing begins at 6:30 p.m.; if the weather's nice, you might consider a leisurely moonlight stroll from one end of downtown to the other, perhaps with a steaming cup of java or cocoa to keep you warm. For information, call 303-534-6161 or go to www.downtowndenver.com.

Saturday, November 27The Rocky Mountain region proudly boasts its own mom-and-pop mariachi franchise: Raul and Sylvia Vasquez and their five talented children are Mariachi Vasquez. The up-tempo Denver-based ensemble virtually overcomes the stage in polished Mexican finery, armed with well-tuned voices, warbling fiddles and guitars, blaring trumpets, and Dad's thumping guitarrón -- an oversized guitar sometimes called the heartbeat of mariachi music. Let them blow you away during their annual Thanksgiving mariachi celebration, tonight at 8 p.m. at Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue. For tickets, $10 to $15, call 303-777-1003 or log on to www.swallowhill.com.

Sunday, November 28So simple it's barely a spark in your eyes before it's over, the annual Farolito Lighting at Morrison's famed Fort Restaurant is just the kind of tradition we all need more of; it's fleeting, unpretentious, folkloric and sweet. The Southwestern-flavored ceremony involves writing the name of a loved one on a piece of paper and tucking it into a pine cone; the cones are then tossed, en masse, into a glowing bonfire, setting off a hot, bright fire and a shower of sparks. The hosting Tesoro Foundation will also use the evening to honor Lorenzo Trujillo of the CU-Boulder School of Law, a regional champion of Southwestern culture. Hot cider, coffee and smoky biscochito cookies will be served. The Fort is at 19192 Highway 8 in Morrison; the lighting takes place today from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and is free. Be forewarned: It's a B.Y.O.P. event (bring your own pine cone). Go to www.tesorofoundation.org for more information.

You can check out some of the best beds in town and share some holiday cheer at today's Holiday Bed and Breakfast Tour. The joint effort is hosted by seven local B&Bs that are housed in grand and historic buildings -- the Adagio Bed and Breakfast, Capitol Hill Mansion, Castle Marne, Gregory Inn, Holiday Chalet, Lumber Baron Inn and Queen Anne Inn -- all of which will be decked out in boughs of holly and the whole shmear. Free noshes and hospitality will be provided from 1 to 5 p.m. at each establishment. For information, call, or begin your afternoon at, the Capitol Hill Mansion, 1207 Pennsylvania Street, 303-839-5221.

Monday, November 29Charmed readers of the slyly funny, best-selling novel The Nanny Diaries have already learned waymore than they ever wanted to about how rich kids in Manhattan are raised. If fans just couldn't wait for another installment, they now have an opportunity to take a skewed view from the bottom rungs of the corporate world, framed in the same blindingly satiric light that made Nanny so, well, nasty. Authors and former nannies Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are back, teaming up for their second collaboration, Citizen Girl. They'll talk and sign copies of the book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th Street; call 303-436-1070.

Tuesday, November 30Got shopper's burnout already? Trade the long long lines at the mall for an armchair journey among lions at the Wildlife Experience Museum's IWERKS Extreme Screen Theater, where the giant-sized nature adventure Roar: Lions of the Kalahari takes audiences deep inside the pride. IWERKS admission is $3 to $6 or $5 to $10 in combination with museum admission (free for children under age six); the film shows several times daily, except Mondays. Wildlife Experience is located at 10035 South Peoria Street (at Lincoln Avenue) in Parker; call 720-488-3300 or log on to www.thewildlifeexperience.com.

Wednesday, December 1Wintertime, and the skating is easy: Yet another frosty tradition got started in the aftermath of Thanksgiving when the ever-popular Cherry Creek North Ice Rink slid back into town Friday at Fillmore Plaza, Second Avenue and Fillmore Street. Lace up your skates and glide across that prime block of urban ice -- is there a better reason to play hooky for an hour or two? The rink is open to skaters of all ages and abilities most days from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) through mid-January; admission is $3 to $6, with an additional $2 for skate rental. Bring your elbow pads: The popular rink can get crowded. For information, call 303-394-2904 or log on to www.cherrycreeknorth.com.

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