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Have a nightcap at the Phantom Circus Witching Hour Cabaret Show.
Have a nightcap at the Phantom Circus Witching Hour Cabaret Show.
Scott Bilby

The 21 Best Events in Denver, December 4 Through December 10

Tuesday, December 4

The holidays can feel like an endless barrage of gift exchanges and parties, making it easy to forget the reason for the season. But on Tuesday, December 4, the Community First Foundation is reminding folks to step up and dish it out on Colorado Gives Day, which has raised more than $253 million since its inception in 2007. Visit coloradogives.org (which is open year-round) and pick nonprofits that you'd like to support financially (with 2,400 to choose from, it shouldn’t be hard), then donate and feel good for the rest of the year. Go on, give a little!

With an eloquent speech last month, Art From Ashes director Catherine O’Neill Thorn accepted the 2018 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts & Culture Youth Award for the poetry outreach nonprofit she founded fifteen years ago. Art From Ashes gives high-risk teens the words and podium they need to write themselves out of despair; it’s tough work, with no guarantee of success, but when things go right, the results are heart-wrenchingly beautiful. From 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, the organization will host the Art From Ashes Celebration of Light Holiday Party, an evening of music, food and poetry performances at the group's home, 1310 West Tenth Avenue. The event coincides with Colorado Gives Day, so drop in and donate to this very worthy cause. Find more information on the Art From Ashes Facebook page.

You’re not a true scholar of film if you don’t know Ingmar Bergman, and the International Film Series at the University of Colorado Boulder has the perfect primer to get you started down Bergman’s darkly psychological path. A four-day quartet of the essentials — The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Virgin Spring and Persona — will screen at 7:30 p.m. on consecutive nights starting Tuesday, December 4, and running through Friday, December 7, at Muenzinger Auditorium on the CU Boulder campus. The Black Plague, an old man’s reminiscences, rape and murder and a barrage of symbolic imagery might seem like heavy things to ponder during the holiday season, but consider this a deeper gift to yourself. Admission is $7 to $8 nightly, or $50 for a ten-film punch card. Learn more at internationalfilmseries.com.

Sarah Gebre pours Ethiopian coffee at Comal.
Sarah Gebre pours Ethiopian coffee at Comal.
Mark Antonation

Wednesday, December 5

If you haven't made it to Comal yet — and unless you work near the Taxi Building, at 3455 Ringsby Court, chances are you haven't, since it's only open for weekday lunch — you've got a rare opportunity to grab dinner at the eclectic Mexican/Syrian/Ethiopian joint on Wednesday, December 5. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., the restaurant will serve its final Impact Dinner of 2018, with proceeds benefiting nonprofits Focus Point Family Resource Center and the Colorado Village Collaborative. For $75 (tickets are on sale at Eventbrite), diners will get a five-course Mexican feast with wine and cocktail pairings; highlights of the meal promise to be fried chicken in a pepita and tomatillo sauce and consomme de res, braised beef short rib served in a rich bone broth over rice. If you're feeling extra hungry, chef's-counter tickets are available for $125 and include additional courses of king crab, scallops and winter truffles — but hurry, because only four counter tickets are available for this dinner.

The 21 Best Events in Denver, December 4 Through December 10EXPAND
Governorshome.org

Thursday, December 6

Attention, voyeurs and lookie-loos: The Colorado Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion is all decked out for the holidays, and you can poke around the public first floor when free tours return on Thursday, December 6. The American Society of Interior Designers Colorado Chapter decorated the rooms for the season; themes range from 1940s Apres Ski at Aspen’s J-Bar in the Governor’s Room/Bar to a 1920s New Year’s at the Broadmoor in the State Dining Room. Tours run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday this weekend and next; they’re on a first-come, first-served basis for those who show up at the gate at 400 East Eighth Avenue. Once again, a $35 commemorative holiday ornament inspired by an item in the Boettcher Mansion has been created; all sales support the ongoing restoration of the Governor’s Residence. (You can buy the entire set for $350.) To grab an ornament or simply find more information, click on the Holidays and Gift Shop tabs at coloradoshome.org.

At the heart of the Aurora Cultural Arts District is Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, whose heartfelt Wonders, the annual holiday show and sale of artworks by DAVA youth, is truly in the spirit of the season. At Wonders, you can buy one-of-a-kind gifts and art created by teens as well as guest artists Virginia Diaz Saiki, Adrienne DeLoe and Griffin Callahan. The show opens with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 6, and continues through January 16. DAVA is located at 1405 Florence Street in Aurora; regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To find out more, go to davarts.org or call 303-367-5886.

It’s not often that you see short plays written by local playwrights of color make it to the stage in this town, which makes 1 Night, 6 Plays: A 5280 Artist Coop Presentation a lucky opportunity — not just to see it happen, but also to see what 5280, home to poetry events, theater productions and concerts showcasing homegrown artists in downtown Aurora, is all about. The evening will highlight the work of five talented writers, headed up by prominent poet/activists and collaborators Bobby LeFebre and Suzi Q. Smith, with Kristen Adele Calhoun, Kenya Fashaw and Gabriela Goldstein rounding out the mix. 1 Night, 6 Plays opens for ten performances with a $15 industry-night presentation on Thursday, December 6, at 7:30 p.m., and runs Fridays through Sundays until December 23 at the 5280 Artist Coop, 1400 Dallas Street in Aurora. Regular tickets are $25 in advance at 5280artistcoop.com or $26 at the door (Thursday's tickets are $15).

Join award-winning rock-and-roll photographer Lisa Siciliano at her thirteenth annual Rocking in a Winter Wonderland, a rock-art show and sale that happens to coincide with her fiftieth birthday. The display includes thousands of prints shot by Siciliano, who started taking photos when she was a waitress at the Fox and Boulder theaters and later became the house photographer at various venues (prices range from $10 to $1,000); backing up the art will be music by MasterBlasterG, the Red Tack, the Angle, Isabella’s Random Band, Sun Jr., Far Side of the Mountain and Robert Rowe. The party will rock from 6 p.m. until midnight on Thursday, December 6, at the Riverside, 1724 Broadway in Boulder. Admission is free; preview the work and learn more at dogdazerocks.com and the Dog Daze Photo Facebook page.

The 21 Best Events in Denver, December 4 Through December 10
Lisa Siciliano

Friday, December 7

A new show at the Boulder Public Library’s Canyon Gallery encourages Boulderites to learn more about how their city works through easily available civic online data and catalogues. Inspired in part by the City of Boulder’s Open Data Catalog, Art of Data tasked artists and community members with addressing the value of free data through art. The exhibition opens Friday, December 7, and runs through February 3 at the main BPL, 1001 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder; admission is free. Museum times vary; learn more under Events at boulderlibrary.org.

Opera is just for adults, right? Wrong! The Boulder Opera is presenting six family-friendly performances of Russian composer César Cui’s Little Red Riding Hood, accompanied by a youth chorus. Little Red Riding Hood might be a familiar story, but don’t go in thinking you know how this version will end, because the opera company promises a surprise twist. Little Red Riding Hood opens at 1 p.m. on Friday, December 7, at the Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Avenue in Boulder, and runs through Sunday, December 9; find tickets, $25 to $35, and showtimes at boulderoperacompany.com. (And for parents worried about antsy kids, the show is a digestible forty minutes long.)

As Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance continues to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, director Nancy Smith and her crew of dancers and choreographers will take a flying leap into the future with Aerial Ingenuity (A.I.), an evening of stunning dance above and on the stage, with a futuristic set by Bruce Woller and live digital music by Hugh Lobel and Miles Wilder. Throw in some robots, interactive music devices and human bodies moving through space, and you’ll get the drift of what’s to come in the performing arts. Aerial Ingenuity runs for four performances from Friday, December 7, through Sunday, December 9, at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street; find showtimes and tickets, $26 to $28, at thedairy.org.

El Javi performing at the Open Media Foundation in 2017.
El Javi performing at the Open Media Foundation in 2017.
El Javi

Earlier this year, the city decided not to renew its contract with Open Media Foundation, the current operator of Denver’s cable-access channels. While the decision of who will run the stations is still up in the air, the team at OMF will host a day of panels, presentations and a showcase of OMF members’ video projects, along with what may be the last Open Music Session, a monthly concert that turns the spotlight on local artists; this edition will be headlined by singer-songwriter Kayla Marque. The last-ditch plea for support for OMF will take place on Friday, December 7, with a 4 p.m. panel, including Westword editor Patricia Calhoun, discussing how community media organizations can help underrepresented groups. All activities are free and will be held at OMF, 700 Kalamath Street; for more information, go to denveropenmedia.org.

Walk down history lane on Friday, December 7, with History Colorado's Christmas Lights of Denver program and tour. Starting at 4:30 p.m., an informal program will dig into the state's holiday traditions, after which attendees will board a heated bus — complete with hot chocolate and cookies — that will drive through some of Denver's most beautiful neighborhoods for a Christmas lights tour. "Your host will delight and entertain you with stories of Denver’s holiday lore," History Colorado promises. (If you've been on the tour before, expect a new route this year.) The tour begins at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, and costs $42 to $54; call 303-866-2394 or email reservations@state.co.us to book your seat, and visit historycolorado.org for more information.

You can find hours of poorly produced documentaries and records about the illegality of cannabis and the conspiracies behind the plant, but how many times can you see a good pot doc on the big screen, sitting in a comfy chair with a staff waiting to serve you food and drinks? Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake will host the Denver premiere of Weed the People, a documentary made by Ricki Lake (yes, that Ricki Lake) and documentary filmmaker Abby Epstein that follows families using medical marijuana to treat loved ones and asks the question: "If weed is truly saving lives, why doesn’t the government want people to access it?" The screening begins at 8 p.m. Friday, December 7, at 4255 West Colfax Avenue; buy tickets at drafthouse.com/denver or call the theater at 720-577-4720.

Phantom Circus brings back the art of circus with a vaudevillian flair and a touch of burlesque, with help from a professional cast of saucy jugglers, belly dancers, aerial dancers, contortionists, stilt-walkers and acrobats. The Phantom Circus Witching Hour Cabaret Show, a late-night taste of an anachronistic world, hits the Clocktower Cabaret, 1601 Arapahoe Street, at 11 p.m. on Friday, December 7, and again on December 14. What a way to close your night! Admission to the 21+ show is $27 to $37 at clocktowercabaret.com; learn more about the company at phantomcircus.com.

All ages are welcome at the Mini Comic Con 3.
All ages are welcome at the Mini Comic Con 3.
Zak Kinsella

Saturday, December 8

Comic books in a library? You’re damn straight: Stories told in word balloons and pictures are a great reading tool for kids and different learners. And besides, in modern pop culture, comic-book stories are still commanding the big and little screens. Put on a costume and get into the nitty-gritty of the Colorado comics scene at Mini Comic Con 3, an all-ages gathering with thirty local comics creators that includes fun family activities from button-making to a green-screen photo op. The mini-con goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 8, at the Sam Gary Branch Library, 2961 Roslyn Street in Stapleton. Admission is free; learn more at denverlibrary.org/event/mini-comic-con-3.

Here, kitty, kitty. Snowcats Cat Convention, the first confab in the Rocky “Meowntain” region devoted to pop culture, music and art focusing on cats and the humans who love them, will claw its way into the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, on Saturday, December 8, and Sunday, December 9. The convention is part expo, part education, part entertainment, and entirely feline. Special four-legged guests at the catstravaganza include Lil BUB: Magical Space Cat; Baloo: Colorado Adventure Cat; Floyd the Lion: Colorado Adventure Cat; and Furry Waffles: Denver Adventure Cat. Human celebs range from Moshow: The Cat Rapper to Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw. There will be a cats and kittens adoption option at the Cat Cafe & Lounge, a Cat-chelor Auction and more than fifty vendors. Single-day admission is $15, with extra fees for meet-and-greets and “paw”sitive yoga. Find out more at snowcatsconvention.com.

Denver artist Joshua Ware will take over the Denver Theatre District’s thriving Understudy art incubator for a continuation of his Urban Aggregate series, an ongoing study of “urbanscapes” that advocates for creative open societies within the larger community. To that end, the residency will include an art exhibit and a slate of free interdisciplinary readings, performances and musical programs, beginning with an opening reception and a segment of the Death Horse literary reading series with poets Alyse Knorr, Natalie Sharp and Mathias Svalina at the mic. Celebrate the show and lend an ear on Saturday, December 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. (readings at 7 p.m.) at Understudy, 890 C 14th Street at the Colorado Convention Center, and check the schedule of upcoming events at understudydenver.com. The exhibit will be open from noon to 5 p.m. daily through December 31.

The 21 Best Events in Denver, December 4 Through December 10
highlinecanal.org

Sunday, December 9

Before you sit down to another heavy holiday meal, get moving! Walk2Connect and the High Line Canal Conservancy will host a Winter Walk along the High Line Canal starting at 9 a.m. Sunday, December 9. This route will cover segment 13 of the 71-mile route, moving from north Aurora over I-70 and Tower Road to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, now a national wildlife refuge. The free walk is limited to thirty people, and reservations are required; sign up and learn more at walk2connect.com/connectingthecanal. (For those who’d rather go it alone, there’s a self-guided tour that takes you from Waterton Canyon to Green Valley Ranch.)

Candles will burn bright as the Orthodox congregation at BMH-BJ celebrates the final night of the Jewish Festival of Lights with its Community Chanukah Concert. Joined on stage by his daughter, Shilo Gold, the Denver R&B and soul artist who made waves with her appearance on NBC’s The Voice, cantor Martin Goldstein will sing holiday favorites accompanied by some of the city's best musicians. After the concert, the festivities will continue with a last-night-of-Chanukah candle lighting. This powerful night of music and holiday glee runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, December 9, at BMH-BJ, 560 South Monaco Parkway; find tickets, $25 to $54, and more information at bmh-bj.org.

See Cuba from above at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
See Cuba from above at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Courtesy of Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Monday, December 10

Say you’ve already gotten an up-close look at the natural world and cultural traditions of Cuba through the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s ¡CUBA! exhibit. You’ve seen the adjunct film Cuba 2-D in the Phipps IMAX Theatre. But you haven’t yet traveled far above Cuba for a satellite’s-eye view of the Caribbean island from end to end. DMNS geologist Dr. Bob Raynolds and space science curator Dr. Ka Chun Yu will take you there for Digital Earth: Cuba, a planetarium show with additional commentary by cultural anthropologist Dr. Kaifa Roland, who will bring you back to Earth with observations from her fieldwork. Go under the dome and see Cuba from every angle on Monday, December 10, at 7 p.m. in Gates Planetarium at the DMNS, 2001 Colorado Boulevard; search "Digital Earth: Cuba" at dmns.org to get tickets, $8 to $10, and more information.

In order for an event to be considered for 21 Best, we need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to editorial@westword.com or 969 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203.

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