Christmastime in Denver can be magical. There's plenty to do on December 25 to keep you in the spirit. Once the holiday is behind us, it's time to look toward 2019 — but not before giving 2018 a proper sendoff. Keep reading for all the best events in Denver through the December 31. And Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 25
Alpine Dog Brewing hosts its fifth annual Christmas Day party starting bright and early at 10 a.m. The brewery will release two new beers: French Toast Imperial Stout made with cinnamon, vanilla and maple; and Belgian Holiday Amber, brewed with currants. There will be snacks and treats, too; find more information at the brewery's website.
Are you a big enough fan of Harry Potter to want to spend Christmas night or Boxing Day immersed in his world? There’s a place for that at the Very Harry Potter Christmas, a Harry Potter screening marathon with special cocktails representing each house at Hogwarts, four Hogwarts house-themed photo booths and a chance to vote in the Quidditch World Cup O’ Cocktail Competition. Costumes and/or ugly Christmas sweaters are absolutely encouraged but not required. Enter the Hogwarts wonderland (with a punk-rock twist) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 25, or Wednesday, December 26, at Occidental, 1950 West 32nd Avenue. Admission is free (and 21+ after 8 p.m.); learn more at the Very Harry Potter Christmas event page on Facebook.
Wednesday, December 26
While it may technically be Boxing Day, readers can soak up an extra day of holiday humbuggery at A Magical Cirque Christmas. A merry band of carolers accompanies high-flying thrills at an evening that revels in the golden age of pageantry and allows guests to indulge in an extra helping of good cheer. Costumes, comedy and contortionists await at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 26, at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place. Swoon, celebrate and sing along; buy tickets, $35 to $75, and discover more at altitudetickets.com. Merry Cirquemas!
Thursday, December 27
Kwanzaa was created back in the ’60s for a powerful reason — to promote peaceful community-building, culture and roots in the spirit of that era’s wave of black nationalism among African-Americans. Denver has always done Kwanzaa right, and 2018 is no exception. On Thursday, December 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., families can observe the seven principles of Kwanzaa at Kwanzaa Celebration 2018, a gathering at the Center for African American Health, 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Slam Nuba Kwanzaa Show will bring together Denver’s tight slam-poetry family to mark the principle of Ujima (collective work and responsibility) with a friendly competitive slam at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 28, at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street; admission is $5 to $10 at the door. And various branches of the Denver Public Library will host free Kwanzaa-inspired programs for kids daily through Sunday, December 30; find them on the events calendar at denverlibrary.org.
Sophisticated and often deeply psychological, Polish cinema might be an acquired taste, but it’s worth an inspection. The Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, will offer just that with its Masterpieces of Polish Cinema series, three nights of screenings of films both classic and modern, including Volhynia (Hatred) at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 27; Ashes and Diamonds at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, December 29; and Nights and Days at 1 p.m. Sunday, December 30. Admission is $7 to $11.50; learn more at denverfilm.org.
Friday, December 28
The cartoon canine first responders of PAW Patrol take to the stage for The Great Pirate Adventure at the Bellco Theatre, 700 14th Street, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, December 28, and Saturday, December 29. Adapted from the award-winning children's television series, the play sends the search-and-rescue service pups to the high seas in a swashbuckling, heartwarming tale of hidden treasures, mysterious caverns and the open waters of Adventure Bay. PAW Patrol's animated characters are as adorable as they are marketable — and during The Great Pirate Adventure, kids can enjoy in-person/puppet appearances from their favorite workaday doggos. Don't "yelp for help" in your search for post-holiday entertainment; visit pawpatrollive.com to buy tickets, $22 to $62, and find out more.
The String Cheese Incident, which formed in Colorado in 1993, has spent the past 25 years dropping albums and jamming around the country. To celebrate a quarter-century of psychedelic bluegrass spiced up with reggae, jazz and pretty much every other genre under the sun, the band will play three New Year’s concerts at the 1STBANK Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane in Broomfield — on Friday, December 28, with Sam Bush and Darol Anger; on Saturday, December 29, with Robert Randolph, Ivan Neville, Ian Neville and Tony Hall; and on Monday, December 31, an evening with three sets of Cheese. Tickets to the first two shows are $55 each, the all-SCI show is $89, and a package for all three runs $150; get details at altitudetickets.com.
Saturday, December 29
Renegade Brewing is clearing out the cellar to celebrate the end of 2018. The brewery will pour six different barrel-aged beers all day, from noon to 11 p.m. The beers are Barrel-Aged Hammer Imperial Stout, Barrel-Aged Berbere-Spiced Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Cherry Farmhouse on Brett (aged in a red-wine barrel), Barrel-Aged Bedwetter Barleywine, Barrel-Aged Renegado Rye Mexican Lager, and Rum Barrel-Aged Pancakes Maple Porter. The One and Only Jon Ham will perform from 6 to 9 p.m., and there will be a food truck parked outside. Find details at the brewery's website.
When members of Denver’s DIY community were rousted from their spaces in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, the movement went into a tailspin, and it took another huge gut-punch when Colin Ward, one of the best and brightest creative leaders in the local DIY circle, took his own life. Ward’s friends and family created the Colin Richard Ferguson Ward Fund in his memory to help create an archive of his work as well as future DIY artist collaborations; in the new year, CRFW is merging with RedLine to solidify artist grants. Celebrate that union at Se Unindo! Coming Together!, a potluck for everyone touched by or sympathetic to Ward’s legacy. Bring a dish to the free, all-ages party on Saturday, December 29, from 6 to 10 p.m. at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street; learn more at the Coming Together/(Se Unindo) Facebook event page.
Merrymaking of mythic proportions awaits at IO Saturnalia, a concert that harks back to a half-forgotten Roman holiday that nevertheless inspired many of this season's most enduring bacchanals. Thrash and bash along with the hard-rocking likes of Skyburial and Katalysk at an evening of paganistic partying that also includes head-nodding, eye-popping performances from Adam Selene, Slim the Living Cyborg and Punk Rock Burlesque. The freaky festivities begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 29, at the Marquis Theater, 2009 Larimer Street. Thank the gods for Saturnalia! Find tickets, $20, at ticketfly.com.
Feeling like a pagan in all the Christmas-y religiosity? Celebrate in your own way at the all-ages Yin & Yang Duality Party, a grab bag of entertainment based on the earthly theme of opposites that includes a lot of smooth, winsome and jazzy music, along with poetry readings and circus arts. Relax on Saturday, December 29, from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Admission is $5 before 8:30 p.m. and $10 thereafter; find more details on the December Events page at mercurycafe.com.
Itchy-O started out as a one-man experimental noise project and has turned into a party-crashing dystopian marching band. Now billed as a 57-person electronic-percussion orchestra, the black-clad marauders continue to blow themselves up into bigger and bolder forms. To close out 2018, the group will celebrate three nights at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, starting at 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 29, with performances that are “certain to challenge any of their previous hyperbolic shows," they say. The band boasts a fresh production design and a unique 2019 rite-of-passage ceremony designed for each night. Tickets are $30 to $45 for single-show admission and $90 to $120 for all three nights; learn more at theorientaltheater.com.
Sunday, December 30
Keep the Christmas cheer going with the Beach Boys, whose Now & Then tour surfs to Colorado for three evenings of golden oldies. Founding member Mike Love fronts the current lineup of "America's Band" — which pointedly does not include Love's cousin, erstwhile collaborator and litigation opponent Brian Wilson — for nostalgia-friendly concerts that don't skimp on the hits. After a pair of shows at Beaver Creek's Vilar Performing Arts Center, the band will head to Denver on Sunday, December 30, for an evening at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place. Tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $50 to $90 at altitudetickets.com, and each purchase includes a copy of Love's holiday album, Reason for the Season; find out more at altitudetickets.com.
Monday, December 31
Copper Kettle Brewing hosts a special Crowler release from noon to 5 p.m. of its Brut Saison. This 8 percent ABV champagne-like beer is perfect "to take home to your NYE celebrations," the brewery says. You can also grab a pint on tap. Copper Kettle will close at 5 p.m.
If your tastes lean less nostalgic and more realistic, visit Chain Reaction Brewing, 902 South Lipan Street, on Sunday, December 23, for its low-key Cookies and Ugly Sweater Get Together. If you still have an acrylic monstrosity shoved into the back of your armoire from the heyday of ugly sweater events (ca. 2004), dig it out —or not, as we think this is a trend that's past its prime — and visit the brewery between noon and 4 p.m. for a slew of other, worthier activities. First and foremost comes the beer drinking, accompanied by a canned-food and coat drive for those in need, last-minute shopping for beer soap and hot sauce, Christmas music, a cookie-decorating station and holiday T-shirt screen printing. The brewery's Facebook page has the details.
’Tis the season for watching the classic tale of a successful, middle-aged white man with a devoted wife who screams at his family on Christmas Eve before succumbing to a drunken juxtaposition of self-pity and self-importance as he hallucinates about how much worse the world would be if he'd never been born. If this sounds like fun to you, plan on attending Dads & Dudes Breweria's It's a Wonderful Life screening on Sunday, December 23, from 5 to 8 p.m. The brewpub at 6730 South Cornerstar Way in Aurora will be screening Frank Capra's film alongside 1940s-themed diversions like a Charleston dance-off and World War II-era karaoke. So put on your high-waisted pants and suspenders and tease those victory rolls to the stars for this nostalgic take on the holiday; find out more on the bar's Facebook page.
Here’s a New Year’s Eve breath of fresh air for outdoorsy types with families: New Year's Eve Noon 2019 takes place in the natural surroundings of the Barr Lake State Park Nature Center, 13401 Picadilly Road in Brighton. The party goes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, December 31, with crafts and noshes leading up to a kid-friendly countdown to noon, complete with party favors and a balloon drop. Afterward, take some time to wander around the lake, where the returning migrant bald eagles have been spotted recently in the trees. Admission is free, and participation is limited to 100 kids; RSVP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-659-6005. Learn more on the Calendar page at cpw.state.co.us.
Burns Family Artisan Ales releases its newest big beer, Auld Lang Syne, at 6 p.m. Aged in brandy barrels for almost five months, "this beer promises high-gravity goodness with [the brewery's] hallmark balanced and smooth warmth," Burns says. The 16.5 percent ABV beer features "rich stone fruit and caramel notes from the barrel." Liam O'Beirne, Jennifer Lee, Jesse Mitchell, Joe Nicholson of Indigent Row will rock the house starting at 9 p.m. with their energetic Celtic prog-rock music, promising at least two versions of Auld Lang Syne.
Embrace the City of Music at A Night in Vienna, a local tribute to the Austrian tradition of heralding the new year with the sounds of Strauss. On Monday, December 31, conductor Brett Mitchell will lead the Colorado Symphony through a concert program dominated by the waltzes, marches and polkas of Johann Strauss II, livened up with similarly danceable compositions from Giuseppe Verdi, Leonard Bernstein and Otto Nicolai. The performance's 6:30 p.m. showtime and downtown location (at Boettcher Hall, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex) will leave plenty of time for New Year's revelry, including both the 9 p.m. and midnight fireworks displays above the 16th Street Mall. Visit coloradosymphony.org to buy tickets, $30 to $104, and learn more.
Swing in the new year at the crossroads of musical theater and rhythm and blues when the Aurora Fox Cabaret Series presents Blues to Broadway. Vocalists Kenny Moten, Mary Louise Lee, Leonard Barrett Jr. and Traci Kern will unite in a program mixing jazz, blues and show tunes for a toe-tapping testament to the ingenuity of American musical traditions. Follow along from the Mississippi Delta to the sparkling Great White Way, and say goodbye to 2018 with a song in your heart. The singers hit the main stage at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, 9900 East Colfax Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 31; tickets are $22 (with $10 discount vouchers available for Aurora Fox subscribers) at aurorafoxartscenter.org.
There’s no lodging in town more contemporary than the Art, the sharp-edged, art-adorned hotel at 1201 Broadway that blends in perfectly with the adjacent Denver Art Museum. So you know when the Art throws a New Year’s bash, it’s going to be elegant in a modern way, with smart artwork as a culturally astute backdrop. But the Art is amping things up even more with a themed celebration on Monday, December 31: From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., the New Year's Mustache Masquerade invites guests to slap on mustaches and masks while they dance 2018 out the door; the party also includes hors d'oeuvres, musical entertainment and a Perrier-Jouët toast at midnight. Earlier, from 5 to 8 p.m., chef Michael Wright will offer a prix fixe New Year's menu; reserve a seat at opentable.com. Party admission is $20 at eventbrite.com.
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