Whether you simply want to get out and explore the city or you're planning for a big New Year's Eve bash, there's plenty to do this week in Denver, which is capped off with two free fireworks shows on December 31.
Tuesday, December 26
You’ve oohed and aahed at Blossoms of Light; you’ve roared over Zoo Lights. What’s left? Time to drink in Brewery Lights at the Anheuser-Busch Tour Center and Biergarden, which has Christmas in the can with a thirty-foot inflatable snowman, a holiday tree maze, fire pits where you can enjoy s’mores, and a light show synchronized to holiday music. The Family Zone offers arts and crafts for kids, and adults get a wristband good for four six-ounce beverages. Admission is free, though a buck will also get you a ride on a miniature train. Enjoy the holiday spectacle even after Christmas, from 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 26, Wednesday, December 27, and the Friday and Saturday before New Year's. Brewery Lights will illuminate the compound at 2351 Busch Drive in Fort Collins; find out more at brewerylights.com. Cheers!
Wednesday, December 27
If you really need a car but your significant other didn’t wake you on Christmas morning to find a brand-new luxury vehicle in the driveway with a ribbon on top, head to the Denver Sheriff Vehicle Impound Facility, 5226 Brighton Boulevard, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday, December 27 (and every other Wednesday, rain or shine), for the recurring Abandoned and Confiscated Vehicle Auction. You might find a post-holiday bargain to improve your bitter, carless reality. All vehicles sold as is. Find out more information by searching "Abandoned and Confiscated Vehicle Auction" at denvergov.org.
After two sold-out showcases, Jason Delancy is bringing a third installment of the Mile High Comedy Wrap Up to the Denver Improv at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 27. Delancy will be on the bill (as J-Earl Delancy), along with local talent Shed G; actor/writer Kool Bubba Ice of the Apollo Comedy Hour will headline. “I’m excited to bring this high-energy event back to the Mile High City and showcase some of Denver’s local talent,” says Delancy, who got his start telling jokes at Denver clubs. “It’s an honor to work with such incredibly talented comedians...it’s guaranteed to be an evening of laughs.” The Improv is at 8246 East 49th Avenue; get tickets, $12, at denver.improv.com.
The second night of Kwanzaa, which celebrates the principle of Kujichagulia, or self-determination, brings out the best in people, something local promoter Mela-Nation E. hopes to echo at the second annual Kwanzaa Music Fest, a night of live entertainment and educational activities, including the pouring of libations and a kinara lighting, all proffered with families in mind. Bring the kids and a sense of community to the Kasbah, 15373 East Sixth Avenue in Aurora, on Wednesday, December 27, from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; admission ranges from $5 to $15 at eventbrite.com (or $20 at the door after 10 p.m.). Learn more at Mela-Nation E.’s Facebook page.
Thursday, December 28
The red-velvet backdrop at Syntax Physic Opera was made for nights like these: Arts Caravan’s Glimmer and Glitz New Year, the year-end edition of a recurring circus-arts variety show, will kiss off 2017 with a twist, including cello stylings by Adam Stauthamer, freaky feats by Slim the Living Cyborg (you know, the kind of guy who sticks a hemostat down his throat for fun), tarot readings by Adrianne Tamar Arachne, and song and hot dance stylings from Natalie Franciose, Pyro Pixie and Cybele de Blondloch. Celebrate with the vaudevillian sideshow extravaganza from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 28, at Syntax, 554 South Broadway; tickets are $10 at artscaravan.org. Learn more on the Syntax Physic Opera Facebook page.
How would you like to shape your world in 2018? That’s what vision boards are all about, but you have to take the endeavor seriously and proactively. If that sounds like a lot to take on all by yourself, a pre-new year Vision of 2018 Party invites you to join a circle of Denver doers as they go through the ritual of planning ahead, taking steps beyond making resolutions to map a more concrete pathway into the future. It’s simple: Compile a list of specific goals, collect images representing them, and bring along poster board, scissors and glue — then have at it, sharing as much or as little as you prefer. Wine and light nibbles will be served. Start looking ahead on Thursday, December 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Denver Bookbinding Company, 1401 West 47th Avenue. Admission is $10, and an RSVP is requested in advance.
Friday, December 29
Denver-based integral-theory poobah Ken Wilber thinks the time is right to get a good head start on 2018, inviting like-minded thinkers onto his holistic bandwagon for a weekend conference designed to combat the psychic wear and tear of a politically tough 2017. What Now: The Momentous Leap starts Friday, December 29, and runs through January 1 at the Omni Interlocken Resort, 500 Interlocken Boulevard in Broomfield, bringing with it a noteworthy stable of speakers, from zen masters to neuroscientists. Participation in the four-day conference is $895, with meal plan and discounted room options available at an additional cost, or opt for a $125 home webcast of all major presentations. Register for either option and learn more at integrallife.com.
In September, Seventh Circle Music Collective celebrated its fifth year as a Denver DIY venue at 2935 West Seventh Avenue. The anniversary felt more like a triumph than just another milestone, since DIY venues across town have closed in recent months. Still thrashing, still partying and still accepting of all, Seventh Circle will throw its final concert of the year from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, December 29, showcasing the talents of Meet the Giants, Kill Vargas, Sweet Nothin’, Maddie’s Changed and Weinercat. The punk and grunge show is free; find out more at Seventh Circle's Facebook events page.
For music lovers who appreciate a touch of drama, Spiral Cell, which bills itself as “an immersive, theatrical, multi-level experience of music, storytelling, visuals and art,” will host a music-video release show for the song “Prologue” at 7 p.m. Friday, December 29, in the Moon Room at Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street. Spiral Cell’s music, which is decidedly creepy and driven by story, is a mashup of “movie and video game scores, layered vocals, dynamic guitar playing and multi-instrumental looping," according to the band. While all that sounds like it would lead to sonic excess, the result is stripped down and brooding. Also on the bill: State of Babel, David Other and Low Riders. For more information, go to moonroomatsummit.com/calendar or call 303-487-0111.
Saturday, December 30
The Golden History Museum & Park will celebrate its eightieth anniversary in 2018, and to prepare for the celebration, the institution has launched Discovery Awaits, a complete renovation that will transform the facility at 923 10th Street in Golden. “We’ve found that visitors are not only interested in what we exhibit, but what we are doing behind the scenes. In fact, visitors often will walk right into our offices and ask us what we’re up to. So this got us thinking: How can we take all of the cool work we do to gather stories, uncover history and preserve and present objects and bring it to the front of the house?” explains museum director Nathan Richie. “We want to create a space where visitors are encouraged to drop by any time — for five minutes or an hour — and always find something new to discover.” But you'll need to drop by between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 30, if you want to take one last look; after that, the facility will be closed until early summer. Find out more at goldenhistory.org.
Sneaker hounds should plan on making tracks to Denver SneakerFest, which returns to the Timbers Hotel at 4411 Peoria Street from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 30. For collectors, this is an ideal opportunity to swap kicks, covet the rarities on display and, of course, strut through the convention area in your favorite shoes. Co-sponsored by the Sick Kicks Society and Kickspawn, SneakerFest held events all over the country before settling on Denver for its trade and sale expo. Tickets, $10, and information are available at eventbrite.com.
Emma Messenger will once again transform herself into one of Hollywood's most infamous agents in John Logan's one-character play I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers, which will be at the Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton Street in Aurora, for a one-time performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 30. During the 75-minute one-act, Mengers dishes the Hollywood dirt in words that Messenger describes as “bitingly ferocious, bawdy and profane.” But, she adds, “when I listened to the only available recording of her — the Mike Wallace 60 Minutes interview — I was struck by the softness of her pretty voice.” Tickets are $25 ($10 for subscribers); get them at vintagetheatre.org or call 303-856-7830.
The Great Gatsby has inspired all manner of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Denver this year. There’s the sixteenth annual White Rose Gala at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, a Gatsby-themed party at Noonan’s Sports Bar and a sold-out fundraiser to help stop human trafficking. Now joining the mix is the first annual Great Gatsby Gala, at 9 p.m. Saturday, December 30, at Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street. The classy ’20s-throwback event with a strictly enforced dress code will showcase actor and comedian King Keraun, KS-107.5’s Ya Girl Cedes and actor and singer Rotimi, from the show Power; DJ Zenas, DJ Machadellic, Ramond and Kent Washington will also perform. Tickets start at $35 in advance and go up to $50 the day of the show, with VIP packages available; get yours at summitmusichall.com.
Sunday, December 31
Marilyn Megenity gives her all to New Year’s Eve at the Mercury Cafe, her decades-old hipster haven, because she loves it more than any other night of the year — as a time for coming together, dressing up, getting a little buzzed and partying like it’s 1968. So she'll attend to every detail on Sunday, December 31, from the solstice-inspired dinner specials to a full slate of Merc-worthy entertainment, including the annual Erotic Poetry Festival ($10), now in its 23rd year, and live music upstairs and down: Merc favorites Chimney Choir ($20 to $25) and the Gora Gora Orkestar ($15), respectively. Dinner, with musical accompaniment, will be served from 5:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., and reservations are recommended at 303-294-9258; poetry goes on at 7 p.m., and all headlining music commences at 10 p.m. Depending on your plans for the evening, the $40 VIP ticket covers everything except your dinner bill, keeping you and your honey swinging until the balloons drop and the confetti flies. The Mercury is at 2199 California Street; get tickets in advance at mercurycafe.com/box-office.
Got kids? While your party plans for late on New Year's Eve might include a babysitter tucking in the little ones, you can still include them in the celebration — with a dash of good, old-fashioned nature — at the New Year’s Noon celebration for families at Barr Lake State Park. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 31, the event at Barr Lake, 13401 Picadilly Road in Brighton, includes all the standard New Year hoopla, with snacks, party favors, a balloon drop and a countdown to noon (12 o’clock is 12 o’clock, isn’t it?), as well as free, kid-friendly crafts. A $7-per-vehicle daily pass is required at the gate, and space is limited to 100 kids; RSVP in advance at 303-659-6005 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
An art show on New Year’s Eve? What's down is up in the underground world of Vincent Cheap Fasano, who’s had an exhibit up all month at the Broadway Deli, 8 South Broadway, and plans to close it in style with a bash on December 31. Stop by between 6:15 p.m. and midnight to take in his arcane Day-Glo musings as you bar-hop along Broadway; admission is free. And mark your calendar for January 5, the first Friday in January, when Fasano's twin brother, Charly, takes over the space with a show of his own. Learn more at the Vincent Cheap Art Show Facebook page.
Denver was a dud when the new millennium started, locking up downtown tight for fear that Y2K would lead to a complete meltdown. The city has been atoning for its sins ever since, by putting on a free New Year's
Eve Fireworks show — two identical shows, actually, at 9 p.m. and midnight on Sunday, December 31. The pyrotechnics are synchronized to music from DJs up and down the 16th Street Mall, who will start sounding off at 8 p.m. If you don't want to brave the crowds, you can enjoy the fireworks from rooftops all over Denver — but you'll miss some prime people-watching. Find out more from the Denver Partnership, which hosts the festivities.
The difficult choice that is New Year's Eve: Do you go out and pay an exorbitant sum for a Lyft and dinner, only to find yourself surrounded by drunken revelers bearing noisemakers, or do you bundle up at home, play card games like your nana and shuffle off to bed by 10 p.m.? This year, find middle ground at Mudra Yoga Studio's New Year's Eve Midnight Yoga Celebration. At 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 31, the studio at 1550 South Pearl Street will start a ninety-minute yoga class; you'll downward-dog your way into the new year in the company of others without fighting bar crowds, suffering in downtown traffic or dealing with the inevitable New Year's Day hangover. Instead, you'll be able to relax, leave 2017 behind and start 2018 feeling optimistic (or at least flexible). Sign up for the class, $16, at mudrayogastudio.com and get ready to be a warrior (I, II or III) who's ready to take on the future. Find out more on the Mudra Yoga Facebook page.
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Monday, January 1
How do you follow up an epic New Year's Eve? Not by lazing about the house nursing a hangover, soldier. Everyone knows that whatever you do on New Year's Day will influence the next 365 days, so to ensure that you don't spend the year lying on the couch with your fingers covered in XXtra Flamin' Hot Cheetos dust, commit to the 9th Annual Evergreen Lake Plunge on Monday, January 1. Starting at noon at the Evergreen Lake House, 29612 Upper Bear Creek Road, a brief but bracing run to a ten-by-ten-foot hole cut into the ice will end in a rush of adrenaline (and possible hypothermia) as the icy waters envelop you — and make you forget all about your pounding head. It's the extreme version of a cold shower, and one that will give you significantly more bragging rights. Your registration fee ($35 in advance at drive-smart.org, $45 same day) will go to support Drive Smart, a non-profit focused on reducing traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities through traffic safety education. Now get out there and make the frigid free-fall that will ensure the rest of your year is full of action, adventure and minimal hangovers! Find out more on Facebook.
For Coloradans who want to enjoy the great outdoors on New Year's Day without flinging themselves into a freezing body of water, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is offering First Day Hikes in 26 state parks across the Centennial State, including close-to-town Chatfield, Roxborough, Staunton and Barr Lake parks. Guided hikes ranging from half a mile to six miles are scheduled bright and early on January 1 (but not excruciatingly so — most start at 9 a.m.), and are perfect for those whose New Year's resolution is to spend more time outside (while practical, walking from the car to the liquor store doesn't come close to tapping the full range of Colorado's outdoor activities). The hikes themselves are free, but some require registration, and those who choose to brave the chill will have to purchase a parks pass. Day passes to most parks are $7, or you can opt for the annual pass for $70 — and you'll have plenty of days to get your money's worth. Find the complete list of participating parks and hikes at cpw.state.co.us.
Do you like soup? Of course you like soup; everyone likes soup. And at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 1, the Broadway Book Mall at 200 South Broadway will continue its tasty tradition of marking the calendar change by sharing delicious soups with customers and collecting canned goods for charity during the Book Mall Soup Day. It’s like a family reunion, only with beautiful West African Chicken and other homemade deliciousness, enjoyed alongside people with whom you actually want to hang out. Bring a dish to share — dessert, some bread, even some crockpot goodness of your own concoction — and don’t forget canned goods for donation to a local food bank. Ah, soup and books: There are just some things that go together. Like peanut butter and chocolate. Wine and cheese. January and broken resolutions. Happy New Year!