Gift shopping has never been better than at the annual Junior League Holiday Mart, a gargantuan, high-quality marketplace running today through Sunday at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum, Hangar #1, 7711 East Academy Parkway in Lowry. The Mart will spotlight nearly 200 vendors, including seventy artists and craftspeople in the special Artisan Boutique, where 30 percent of every buck you drop goes directly to the JLD Community Program Fund. It's easy to make a day of it just shopping, with a Footer's Cafe concession and many aisles of displays featuring everything from gourmet food items to designer baby wear, but there are also several related special events planned throughout the weekend. They start today with a champagne brunch, Limeade fashion show and preview shopping ($50 admission, by reservation only) from 9 to 11 a.m., before the doors officially open and the crowds descend. Then there's a Dance the Night Away Kickoff ball with the Nacho Men, tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. (free with gate admission); a diamond raffle (5 to 7 p.m. Friday, $25 per raffle ticket); and a kids' breakfast with Santa (8:30 or 10:30 a.m. Saturday, $20). General admission is $7 to $10 at the door (children ages twelve and under admitted free); for information or to reserve a place at ticketed events, call 303-435-0879 or go to www.jld.org.
Friday, December 3
Bundle up the kids and prepare to stand elbow-to-elbow in the cold, dark night for hours with thousands of like-minded masochists: It's worth every chattering tooth to see the 9News Parade of Lights, downtown Denver's spectacular annual ode to holiday wonder, a fabulous high-wattage conga line of floats, prancing ponies, marching bands and breathtaking giant balloons. New this year is a 45-foot Puppy With Newspaper balloon, joining the ever-popular Rudolph, T-Rex, penguin and others up in the air, along with the usual lineup of twinkling floats too numerous to note here. The parade alights tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Civic Center and follows a path encompassing Tremont Place, 17th Street, Arapahoe Street and 15th Street before finishing up at Glenarm Place and Colfax Avenue. Admission is free, but limited grandstand seating at the Denver City and County Building is available for $12 to $15; call 303-571-8230 to reserve a spot. For other information, log on to www.denverparadeoflights.com.
As First Friday and the holiday season serendipitously collide, Denver galleries will be all a-sparkle with fun and affordable artworks, and any arts district is certain to be throwing a party this weekend. At D.C. Gallery, 125 Broadway, where kitsch is always raised to the level of fine art, Polynesian pop will be the focus at tonight's 7 p.m. opening of The Sophisticated Savage, billed as a group Tiki show and featuring South Seas-inspired pieces by all the top D.C. regulars, including Shag, Kirsten Easthope, Mitch O'Connell and more. Bury the pig, Ma! The show continues through January 7; call 303-733-4401 or visit www.dc-gallery.com. A hop over to Santa Fe Drive will land you at Core New Art Space, 900 Santa Fe Drive, for Destination Dreamland, featuring Core members Annette Coleman, who contributes collage-like Mylar dream images suspended in wax and pigment, and Jean Smith, whose work includes clay and Polaroid transfers. Coleman and Smith will share gallery space with Annex renters Cheryl Bankes and Carolee Koehler through December 18; tonight's First Friday reception runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Call 303-297-8428 or log on to www.corenewartspace.com. For additional events, see the Gallery Openings listings at www.westword.com.
Saturday, December 4
There are still a few outposts where shopping imbued with neighborly community cheer can still be had in the big, bad city. Bring your rosy cheeks and the whole family to the Old South Gaylord Street Holiday Walk, starting today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the 1000 block of South Gaylord and continuing on consecutive Saturdays through December 18. You'll be treated to hayrides, costumed carolers and pictures with Santa while visiting the charming street's boutiques and restaurants; for details, go to www.oldsogaylord.com. And it's more of the same at the Old South Pearl Street Winterfest, where visitors to annual merchants' open houses along the 1500 block of South Pearl will be treated to roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate, carolers, a chilly Open Aire Market and an afternoon pig roast. The family fun will be dished out from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., along with fab shopping opportunities at Five Green Boxes, Manorisms, Jaygar and others; call 303-777-2331 or log on to www.oldsouthpearlstreet.com.
You don't have to be named Marsalis to participate in the Holiday Brass Fest, a musical free-for-all hosted each year by the Denver Brass, which invites any and all brass players ages eight to 98 to join in an impromptu performance of holiday music. Come blow your horn: A mass rehearsal takes place at 11:30 a.m. for the 1:30 p.m. open-air holiday concert in the Galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets; spectator admission is as free as the bleating and blatting one is certain to hear. Call 303-832-HORN or visit www.denverbrass.org.
Max Martinez of pricey Cherry Creek boutique MAX will direct the beautiful traffic as his elegant models sashay down the runway at tonight's MAX Fashion Show, an annual benefit for the Volunteers of America Brandon Center for battered women and their children. The ooh-la-la event kicks off at the 1770 Sherman Street Event Complex with a cash bar at 8 p.m., followed by the fashion show at 9:30 p.m. Admission ranges from $45 to $125; for reservations, call 303-307-7335 or go to www.voacolorado.org/index.htm.