Interested in doing more than sitting around and eating over the next week? (No one would blame you if you weren't.) We've got plenty of Thanksgiving Day-related happenings, including some do-goodery and a funky dance party, and loads to do both before after Turkey Day. Stay safe, stay warm, stay hungry and keep reading for the 21 best events in Denver this week.
Tuesday, November 22
You are where you eat! A few years ago, Trent Gillaspie, local comedian and self-described “technology nerd,” created the Judgmental Denver Map, which rezoned the city according to such lighthearted demographic descriptions as “loose chihuahuas” for Athmar Park and “stinky town” for Globeville. The gleefully offensive map went viral, and now Gillaspie is making stereotypical judgments about places around the country in his new book from Flatiron Press, Judgmental Maps: Your City. Judged. For instance, here’s how he characterizes San Francisco: “Old gays who talk about the old days.” Join Gillaspie for a reading, book signing and the chance to correct the record about your favorite neighborhood at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 22, at the Tattered Cover Colfax, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free; find out more at tatteredcover.com.
Wednesday, November 23
Give thanks for Sexpot Comedy’s Lucha Libre & Laughs: Midweek Madness, the perfect event to get you in the mood for a holiday weekend. Join host Bobby Valentino (Greg Baumhauer), bumbling referee Nick Gossert, Antebellum ringside manager Alabaster Cain (Deacon Gray), color commentators Nathan Lund and Sam Tallent, and performers Bethany Hernandez, Cory Helie and headliner Rick Kerns for an evening of punchlines that hit almost as hard as the wrestlers. (Full disclosure: I’ll be telling jokes between matches.) In the title bout, LLL heartthrob Royce Isaacs will defend his championship against the nimble Lonnie Valdez. That’s not the only belt in play, however, as the Left Coast Guerillas will attempt to dethrone resident heels Danger Dean and Sammy Six Guns Jr. Doors open at 7 for an 8 p.m. showtime on Wednesday, November 23, at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. Admission is $10, and tickets are available at theorientaltheater.com.
In a Colfax holiday tradition, Mezcal heralds the call of the season by getting lit on Wednesday, November 23. The longtime taqueria at 3230 East Colfax Avenue is putting up its holiday lights at a boozy bash starting at 8 p.m. A Latin-Reggae soundtrack will be provided starting at 10 p.m. by Mono Verde Collective, and taco and tequila specials will be plentiful. (See more Drinksgiving eve spots here.)
Thursday, November 24
“It sucks you have to work on Thanksgiving.” Those words are on the sticker slapped on every bag lunch prepared during Operation: Turkey Sandwich, before a thousand of those bag lunches are delivered around town on Thanksgiving Day. Yes, working on Thanksgiving sucks, but if you want to stuff yourself with good feelings before stuffing yourself with good food, the eighth annual Operation: Turkey Sandwich could use your help. Just arrive at the House for All Sinners and Saints at Denver Community Church, 1595 Pearl Street, around 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 24. The work should be done before noon, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy your own Thanksgiving dinner. Find out more at 720-822-4997 or search “Operation: Turkey Sandwich” on Facebook.
YMCA of the Rockies is your destination for all things Thanksgiving. On the holiday itself, Thursday, November 24, burn calories at the Ninth Annual Turkey Trot 5K. The run, which starts at 8 a.m., features breathtaking mountain views and welcomes dogs and strollers. After the race, chow down at the Thanksgiving Buffet, which will include all the classic fixings and a carving station. Then toss the pigskin, embark on a turkey-feather scavenger hunt, curl up with a holiday movie and bring out your best at bingo. “We have a great lineup of all-ages family activities,” says Kellen Toulouse, brand manager for YMCA of the Rockies. Lodging is still available at the center, 2515 Tunnel Road in Estes Park. Reserve your spot at the buffet — which runs 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and costs $15 to $35 — and lodge at ymcarockies.org or by calling 970-586-3341.
If your idea of working out on Thanksgiving Day is walking from the living room to the kitchen for more pie, more power to you. But if you’re looking for something a little more challenging, consider the annual Mile High United Way Turkey Trot. The four-mile walk/run through Washington Park starts at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, November 24, at South High School, 1700 East Louisiana Avenue, and ends at a free beer garden hosted by Great Divide Brewing Company. Online registration ended November 22, but fret not, little turkey: You can register on race day, between 8 and 10 a.m. Registration fees range from $30 to $45 and benefit Mile High United Way, which promotes reading comprehension and economic equality. Find out more at unitedwaydenver.org/turkey-trot.
DJs Jason Heller and Rachel Wolfe will spin funk discs all night at Funksgiving.
Courtesy Jason Heller
There’s no better way to shake off the 2016 blues than with a good ol’-fashioned dance party. Denver boogie-down staple Mile High Soul Club brings Funksgiving , a special Thanksgiving edition of its famed dance night, to Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway, at 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 24. DJs Jason Heller and Rachel Wolfe will play '70s funk all night long. Though MHSC regulars are known to show up in dapper, dazzling attire, this event will be much more casual. Admission to the 21+ shindig, a benefit for Hunger Free Colorado, is just $5. For more information, search “Funksgiving” on Facebook.
Keep reading for more things to do this week.
Join Ed Sealover (pictured), author of Colorado Excursions With History, Hikes, and Hops, and more Colorado authors at Indies First Day on Saturday, November 26.
Courtesy Beer Run Blog
Friday, November 25
They may be small, but never underestimate the power of animated short films. These tiny tales often pack quite a punch, and they sometimes leave their feature-length peers in the dust when it comes to emotion, message and style. The Animation Show of Shows, a seasoned collection of the cream of the crop of shorts, opens for a weeklong run at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, on Friday, November 25, with sixteen selections from around the world that exemplify animation’s graduation from mere cartoons to art that covers issues like racism and gay rights. Highlights include a Disney/Pixar short, four provocative late-night pieces, and student films from across the globe. Get tickets and showtimes at denverfilm.org.
Stephen Broker, a man of the stage who made his name directing and acting in New York over decades, now calls the Denver Hospice home. In failing health resulting from complications from AIDS, Broker has been granted a final hurrah by the Dream Foundation, a chance to do what he loves most one last time: He’ll direct a production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, a play he chose for personal reasons. “With only two acts, two primary characters and simple stagecraft,” Broker says, “Happy Days speaks to how we humans deal when time is running out. Our rituals. Our relationships. Our reasoning.” Ellen and Mark Gauthier will handle the leading roles of Winnie and Willie; performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 25 through 27, at the Bakery, 2132 Market Street. Admission is free, but there will be a donation station set up for the Dream Foundation. For more information, visit thebakerydenver.com.
If holiday shopping feels like a daunting task, make it easy on yourself with a one-stop shop at Denver’s venerable Twist & Shout Records, 2508 East Colfax Avenue, on Friday, November 25. Starting at 8 a.m., the purveyor of vinyl, CDs, tapes, T-shirts, books and more will roll out Black Friday specials sure to strike a special note with the music connoisseurs in your life. Friends and family will appreciate your thoughtful gifts, and you’ll be supporting a longtime local business. Win-win! For more information and a list of rarities and special-edition album releases on offer, search for “Black Friday at Twist & Shout” on Facebook.
The hi-dive is one of the O.G. venues that sparked the revitalization of the Baker neighborhood, and this year it turns thirteen. To celebrate, the club is hosting back-to-back anniversary shows on Friday, November 25, and Saturday, November 26. The two-night extravaganza will feature local powerhouse bands, many of which regularly play at the hi-dive and are friends with owners Matty Clark and Josh Terry. Friday’s performances will come from A. Tom Collins, the Kinky Fingers and Josh Moorehead & the GuestList, and on Saturday, catch Reverend Deadeye’s Broken Spirits, the Shaloms, Space in Time and Dirty Few. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. each night, and tickets are $12. (Two-night tickets are available for $20 in advance at the venue.) Get more information at hi-dive.com.
Still digesting your Thanksgiving turkey? Colorado Public Television — that’s simply Channel 12 to old-schoolers — is giving you plenty of reason to stay glued to your couch on Friday, November 25, when the station will re-run six of the Colorado Inside Out Time Machine shows, which offer a very revisionist history of Denver. First up, at 7 p.m., is “CIO Circa 1973,” in which I play Denver-bred songstress Judy Collins. The lineup continues with a trip back to 1964, then 1876 (first shown this summer, with new Denver City Council rep Kevin Flynn as Rocky Mountain News founder William Byers), followed by 1940 and 1912, and ending at 9:30 p.m. with “CIO Circa 1935” (in which I play then-Post publisher Helen Bonfils). My apologies to the very real people I portray, but the shows themselves need no apology: This annual trip back in time has won three Emmys. Find out more at CPT12.com (where you can also watch the weekly CIO).
Saturday, November 26
Indies First Day , sparked by author Sherman Alexie in 2013, translates into Small Business Saturday for independent bookstores; it’s a holiday shopping-season kickoff focused on real books you can hold in your hands. To celebrate, on Saturday, November 26 (which is also Small Business Saturday), the Tattered Cover Colfax, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, will present six Colorado authors who’ve written books about our state. Learn a little Mile High lore from Mark Barnhouse (Lost Denver and Daniels and Fisher), Zack Kopp (The Denver Beat Scene), Sarah McCarthy (Denver’s Washington Park), Ed Sealover (Colorado Excursions With History, Hikes, and Hops), Robert and Kristin Autobee (Lost Restaurants of Denver) and Linda Bjorklund (Richard Sopris in Early Denver). From 6 to 8 p.m., attendees can mingle at a reception, get books signed and enjoy local beer samples and bites. For more information, visit tatteredcover.com.
The tree-lighting ceremony at Winter Park Resort is a Christmas tradition that Colorado families have enjoyed for the past six years. But this year, a special Holiday Market will open the festivities. “This year is the first time we’re incorporating a holiday market at our base area, featuring lots of local artists and artisans and other vendors,” explains Winter Park Resort spokesman Steve Hurlbert. The market runs from 12:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 26 and will include arts and crafts, Christmas treats such as roasted nuts and hot chocolate, and gifts for everyone on your list. Accompanied by Christmas carolers, Santa will make his first appearance at the village gazebo at 3:30 p.m., and the official tree-lighting ceremony starts at 5:15 p.m. All activities are free; for more information, visit winterparkresort.com or call 970-726-5514.
Elephant Revival is a quintessential Denver band of today: The Nederland-based group makes music that defies categorization while drawing from folk, roots music and progressive rock. The act’s sound highlights the haunting vocals of Bonnie Paine and Daniel Rodriguez while leaning on the harmonies and quirky instrumentation — fiddle, washboard, cello, horns, mandolin — of the rest of the musicians. Elephant Revival also integrates outlandish theatrical and visual elements into its stage show and adheres to a belief in the “interconnectedness of all living things” — both of which resonate with Colorado’s pioneer spirit. The band performs with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 26, at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For more information, call 303-623-7876; get tickets at coloradosymphony.org.
As any serious gift giver knows, nothing beats finding a one-of-a-kind present for a loved one. The Craftsman & Apprentice, 1325 East 22nd Avenue, is making that easy. From 4 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 26, find prototypes, one-offs and exclusives from some of the best artisans in Denver during C&A’s Prototype Market. On hand will be offerings from the Bungaloo, Kelley Schei, Relevant ReUse, Strange Dirt, Craft Boner and more. But there’s something in it for you, too, oh generous-hearted one, including live music, free coffee from Huckleberry’s, custom cocktails from Dram Apothecary, pie and hot pretzels. Learn more at facebook.com/thecraftsmanand-apprentice.
Filmmaker Anthony Buchanan hosts the Denver microcinema series Cinema Contra.
Courtesy of Anthony Buchanan
Sunday, November 27
Happy birthday, Super 8 film! You don’t look a day over...okay, yeah, you look pretty old (but we mean that in the best way). Super 8 film has helped families capture birthday parties, weddings and graduations for five decades. It’s captured historic moments like protests, as well as classic experimental films. On Saturday, November 27 (a date change), Cinema Contra will celebrate one of Kodak’s finer inventions by playing a collection of orphaned Super 8 gems starting at 8 p.m. at Pon Pon Bar, 2528 Walnut Street. The films were discovered by Contra founder Anthony Buchanan, who has invited DJs and musicians to perform live sets during the Super 8 Turns 51 screenings. A donation of your choosing will pay your way at Pon Pon.
The eighteenth annual Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run/Walk, which began on November 24 at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in southeastern Colorado, moves to Denver on Sunday, November 27, where a ceremony starting at 7 a.m. at Riverside Cemetery, 5201 Brighton Boulevard, will honor Captain Silas Soule and Lieutenant Joseph Cramer, Army officers who not only refused to participate in the massacre of more than 200 peaceful Arapaho and Cheyenne camped along Sand Creek, but documented the atrocities they’d witnessed. Soule was subsequently assassinated, and at 9 a.m. the walk will head to 15th and Arapahoe streets, the site of his slaying, before moving on to a public presentation at noon on the steps of the State Capitol. That’s where Governor John Hickenlooper officially apologized to descendants of the massacre at the culmination of the run two years ago, on the 150th anniversary of that dark chapter in Colorado’s past. Find out more at nps.gov/sand.
Send a message to a loved one at the Fort's Tesoro Cultural Center.
Tesoro Cultural Center
Holiday-season traditions take on many forms, and the Tesoro Cultural Center invites one and all to celebrate the Farolito Lighting & Pine Cone Ceremony on Sunday, November 27, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Located on the grounds of the Fort restaurant, 19192 Highway 8 in Morrison, the organization works to preserve Colorado’s Southwestern, Spanish, Mexican, Native American, African American and early European cultures. Paper lanterns will be illuminated, and guests are invited to write a message to a loved one who has passed or lives far away and tuck it into a pine cone that is then thrown into a bonfire. (According to the tradition, these messages will reach heaven.) The ceremony is free. For more information, visit tesoroculturalcenter.org.
Since early November, Ritualcravt co-founder, yoga instructor and spiritual healer Tracey Erin Lanham has hosted a series of yoga classes that revolve around the different elements. She chose November 27, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, to focus on the most soothing element of them all: water. How do yoga and the elements mix? According to the event’s Facebook page, the classes are “a gentle, restorative and yin yoga practice designed to give an embodied experience of the energy of each particular element.” The water-focused Elements Yoga Class begins at 7 p.m. at Ritualcravt, 2842 West 44th Avenue. All levels are welcome, but space is very limited (just six students per session). Tickets are $15; find out more at facebook.com/ritualcravt and call 303-458-1459 to reserve your space.
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Monday, November 28
More than 750 snow-sports enthusiasts are expected in Breckenridge this week for the Hartford Ski Spectacular, Disabled Sports USA’s biggest annual event, running Monday, November 28, through Sunday, December 4. Free workshops, held at Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, 620 Village Road, will cover topics like prosthetics in snow sports, helmet safety and concussion awareness. Registration is already closed for many of the on-mountain ski and snowboard lessons, race camps and instructor academies, but spokeswoman Karalyn Stott is encouraging adaptive athletes who missed the sign-up to pop in for free Nordic skiing and biathlon lessons on Wednesday at the Breckenridge Nordic Center, 9 Grandview Drive, and free curling and sled-hockey lessons at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena, 189 Boreas Pass Road, on Friday. For more information, including a full schedule and volunteer opportunities, visit skispec.org or call 240-268-5370.
Find still more things to do in our online calendar.