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Light up the night in 2012 with the Denver area's best holiday displays

Light up the night in 2012 with the Denver area's best holiday displays
Larry Laszlow CoMedia

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, Colorado celebrates with some high-wattage displays of light. Tonight, downtown Denver's oldest architecture will be lit up with thousands of LED bulbs while the Denver Zoo and Botanic Gardens will go bright after dark later in the month. We've compiled a list of some special illumination events happening around the state, plus great displays running nightly through January.

See also:

- Skate into the holiday season at the Rink at Belmar

- Slideshow: El Diablo's Holiday Spectacular

- Shop local on Small Business Saturday, and feel good about where you spend your money

Tonight

Downtown Denver's Grand illumination (6 p.m., free)

From the City And County Building to Union Station, downtown Denver comes alive tonight with thousands of lights. Live entertainment will kick off at 6 p.m. sharp at the City and County Building before the big LED reveal, which will see Skyline Park, the Historic D&F Tower, 16th Street Mall, Denver Pavilions and Larimer Square lit up for the holiday season.

Can't make it for the big plug-in? Downtown will be lit up throughout the holiday season, and the City And County Building will put on a dramatic display set to festive music each Tuesday through Sunday night at 5:45 p.m. Shops throughout lower downtown have also decorated shop windows for LoDo Aglow, a holiday display competition.

29th Annual Candlelight Walk and Tree Lighting Ceremony

Downtown Littleton (5 p.m., free)

Santa Claus runs this show as the big man and his sleigh ride down Littleton's Main Street, illuminating each block as he goes. Bring your camera for photo opportunities with Santa at the Town Hall Arts Center, or with reindeer in tow at Bradford Auto Body.

Sunday, November 25

Farolito Lighting

The Fort Restaurant (4 p.m., free)

Put on by the Tesoro Cultural Center, the Farolito Lighting is a night of celebration and ceremony. Southwestern carolers set the scene as all are invited to enjoy hot cider and snacks during this honoring of American Indian community members. Paper lanterns are lit and a bonfire ceremony usher in the holiday season. For more information, visit the Tesoro Cultural Center's website.

Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens
Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Friday, November 30

Olde Golden Christmas Candlelight Walk

Foothills Art Center (6 p.m., free)

Combining caroling, cookies, hot chocolate and old-fashioned Christmas cheer, the city of Golden welcomes all to this night of festive celebration. Spreading holiday spirit, everyone is welcome to meet at the Foothills Art Center at 6 p.m. for carols, followed by a 6:30 p.m. candlelit walk to the Golden Visitors Center for the Christmas tree illumination. The walk is free, candles are 50 cents. For information on Golden's holiday event schedule throughout the winter season, visit the city's website.

9News Parade of Lights

Lodo (8 p.m. & December 1, 6 p.m., free)

A Denver tradition in its 38th year, the Parade of Lights brings the holiday spirit to life with music, floats, lights and plenty of local celebrities. Traveling through lower downtown, the annual holiday event entertains thousands of watchers along its winding route (or can be enjoyed as high-def broadcast from the comfort of home via 9News.)

Blossoms of Light

Denver Botanic Gardens (open nightly at 5:30 p.m. through January 1, $5-12)

Given a new life at night with this annual light display, the Denver Botanic Gardens beams with more than one million bulbs illuminating trees, plants and structures. Grab a hot cocoa and a pair of HoloSpex glasses and see the lights -- some synchronized to festive music -- come to three-dimensional life. For complete pricing and additional entertainment details, visit the Gardens' website.

Trail of Lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield
Trail of Lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

Trail of Lights

Botanic Gardens at Chatfield (open nightly at 5:30 p.m. through January 1, $5-12)

At the Botanic Gardens' Chatfield location, spectators can enjoy the beautiful open space decorated with thousands of lights. A tractor and Model T display will be illuminated, along with the site's 1880s Hildebrand Ranch homestead. A holiday craft station and hot beverages offer a place for kids and adults alike to warm up on the trek. New to this year's Trail of Lights is the addition of a skating rink, at just $5 per person.

Zoo Lights

Denver Zoo (open nightly at 5:30 p.m. through January 2, $6-10)

With 38 acres of illuminated space right in the city, Zoo Lights turns the animal habitat into a festively lit sculpture park. Spectators wander the zoo after dark and enjoy 150 animal shapes and a month-long Festival of Lanterns.

Tuesday, December 4

City of Aurora's Holiday Tree Lighting

Aurora Municipal Center (4:30 p.m., free)

Strolling carolers and live entertainment will be on hand as the City of Aurora illuminates it's big Christmas tree for the season. All are welcome to enjoy the festivities and warn beverages, along with the Aurora History Museum's Festival of Wreaths.