Let there be lights! Once again, the Denver City & County Building is lit up like a garish birthday cake (grab a slice during the Parade of Lights), and that's just the start of the illuminated extravaganzas around town. But there are plenty of bright entertainment options all over the city that have nothing to do with the holidays. Keep reading for the 21 best things to do this week — some naughty and many very, very nice.
Tuesday, November 27
This is #Giving Tuesday, a national charity campaign...and the ideal time to get ready for Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, December 4. To encourage you to donate to your favorite charities, Governor John Hickenlooper will be at a Colorado Gives Day rally on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol on Tuesday, November 27, at 11 a.m. After you're fired up to help out, go to ColoradoGives.org, an online giving resources website listing more than 2,400 nonprofits, and schedule your Colorado Gives Day donation.
You probably don't encounter too many restaurant dinners that come with built-in literature, but Bistro Vendôme has just the right experience for gourmands who also happen to be book lovers. Chef Ben Ashworth's four-course dinner, which rolls out at 6 p.m. Tuesday, November 27, at 1420 Larimer Street, comes with a copy of the novel The Gray Fedora signed by its Colorado author, Jude Randazzo. The events of the book take place in Sicily during the island's independence movement in the 1860s, so Bistro Vendôme is adding Sicilian influences to the evening's menu. The book-and-dinner combo rings in at $92 per person; make your reservation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-825-3232. It's a night when you can say both "Bon appétit!" and "Buon appetito!"
There are numerous wicked villains in cinema history; Lex Luthor, Gargamel and Darth Vader are just a few examples. But who’s the biggest bad guy of them all, the one few filmmakers have risked taking seriously because he teeters on the preposterous? That’s right: Satan, the bogeyman’s bogeyman and star of the Filipino horror movie The Killing of Satan does. Is it a good film? Not so much. Does it make sense? Well, not really. But for those seeking an over-the-top gorefest and a grotesquely good time, The Killing of Satan is not to be missed. The movie, part of the Alamo Drafthouse's Terror Tuesday series, shows at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 27, at the Littleton Alamo, 7301 South Santa Fe Drive. Get tickets, $10, and more information at drafthouse.com.
Wednesday, November 28
Screwtape has garnered respect from promoters for its tireless work ethic and commitment to building the DIY scene. The band has been keeping hardcore alive for up-and-coming generations at all-ages shows that provide fans with the kind of catharsis these bleak days demand. The group will celebrate the release of its new EP, Static — a compilation of four furious songs with screeching vocals, a battery of drums and noisy driving guitars and bass — starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 28, at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. The lineup includes Texas band Noogy along with World Movement, Dox and Hyfy. Tickets are $9 online at theorientaltheater.com or $12 at the door.
Thursday, November 29
A group of artists in Santa Fe, frustrated by the lack of access to the art world, decide to form their own collective and name themselves Meow Wolf. Their plans for a giant, immersive installation spark the interest of George R. R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones, and their House of Eternal Return nets rave reviews and offers to take their act around the country. Only in Hollywood, right? But this story turns out to be true, and in 2020 it will add another chapter when the massive Meow Wolf Denver opens. But you don't have to wait until then to discover the odd animal that is Meow Wolf. Catch a one-night only screening of Meow Wolf Origin Story, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 29, at the Denver Pavilions downtown, Regal River Point 14 at 3565 South Platte River Drive and the Belmar 16 in Lakewood. Get tickets at fathomevents.com.
Ring in the holidays at Bach for the Holidays, a trio of concerts by the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado during which the musicians will interpret classic compositions on period-appropriate instruments. As the night's name implies, the works of Johann Sebastian Bach will dominate a program that includes the Old Wig's Cantata 51 and Orchestral Suite No. 3, followed by select Messiah arias, written by Bach contemporary George Frideric Handel. The series kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 29, at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 East Hampden Avenue, and sounds off at the same time Saturday, December 1, at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia Street, then winds down at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 2, at Central Presbyterian Church, 1600 Sherman Street. Visit bcocolorado.org to buy tickets, $12 to $32, and learn more.
Friday, November 30
Anyone who’s spent time behind bars knows that the food there is neither good nor healthy. For pregnant women, the situation can be dire, a problem that the new organization Farm to Prison aims to fix by bringing home-grown food to expectant mothers in jail. The group will launch with a fundraiser from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 30, complete with a silent auction that includes items from Rosehouse Botanicals, Wool and Hammer, and Collective Light, among many others; local acts Rare Byrd$, Shocker Mom and Sidhe Wyly will perform between 6 and 9 p.m. It's all at Roostercat Too, 1045 Lincoln Street; find more information at farmtoprison.org and the Roostercat Too Facebook events page.
MCA Denver’s goal of inclusivity has always included younger art audiences: young professionals and members of the creative community fresh out of art school. But most impressive are MCA’s programs for teens, which encourage the next generation of potential museum-goers to look at art with an open and critical eye. In Still Loading, a DIY crowd of teen mentees will display their growth and progress as artists exploring a grownup world. The show opens with a reception at 6 p.m. Friday, November 30, and runs through January 6. The MCA is at 1485 Delgany Street, and admission is always free for teens. Learn more at mcadenver.org.
Resisting the sweep of the holiday season is futile once November crosses into December, so lift your spirits and join the procession for Denver's 43rd Annual Parade of Lights. Sponsored by 9News, American Furniture Warehouse and the Downtown Denver Partnership, the parade, which boasts marching bands, lavishly decorated floats and appearances by Santa Claus and Mayor Waddles the Penguin, will wind through downtown streets. The marchers get on their merry way at 8 p.m. Friday, November 30, and return for another lap at 6 p.m. Saturday, December 1, wrapping things up at Civic Center Park on both nights. While you can always secure a spot along the parade route for free, you can also splurge for a higher and more comfortable vantage point on the 9News grandstand for $16 to $19, if you act quickly (space is limited). Visit the Downtown Denver Partnership events calendar for more details.
Those painstakingly constructed dioramas at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science mimic life, but on the other side of the glass, it's clear that there’s nothing alive in there. The narrative is both creepy and fascinating, especially when you throw in a twist, as Buntport Theater does in Coyote. Badger. Rattlesnake, a collaboration with Denver playwright Ellen K. Graham. In the show, two museum dioramists confront their awkward role in bringing stuffed, dead creatures to life, which can only lead to weird but hilarious results. The play opens for fourteen performances at 8 p.m. Friday, November 30, and offers a breath of holiday-free fresh air through December 22. Admission is $25 on opening and closing nights, and $15 to $20 otherwise — or pay what you can on December 6 and 10. The theater is located at 717 Lipan Street; get more details and tickets at buntport.com.
Saturday, December 1
Sure, you could just go to a lot and buy a Christmas tree, but isn't that a little easy? For a real Colorado experience, why not cut your own? You'll not only start a new family tradition, but help thin a forest, contributing to its health. On Saturday, December 1, Golden Gate Canyon State Park will hold a Christmas Tree Cut and Holiday Open House. Purchase a permit for $25, grab some hand tools (no chainsaws allowed), make sure you have a current state parks pass on your car, and head for the hills. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can drive to a designated parking area, then hike until you find just the right tree. After you've hauled it to your vehicle, stop by the visitor center for hot drinks, cookies, candy canes and a 10 percent discount on items in the gift shop. Timber! For more information and to see if permits are still available, call 303-582-3707.
Most humans adhere to a routine. We wake up, go to work, go home and do it all over again. Routines help us lead productive lives, but we can also get stuck in them. TEDxMileHigh hopes to change that. On Saturday, December 1, the speakers series will host Reset, a day devoted to stepping outside of your comfort zone and reshaping your preconceived notions about criminal justice, mental health, immigration, beatboxing, faith and more. Speakers include local luminaries and Westword profile subjects Michael “Ill Se7en” Acuña and Matt Vogl, executive director and founder of the National Mental Health Innovation Center, plus many more. Reset starts at 10 a.m. at the Bellco Theatre in the Colorado Convention Center; an after-party at 6:30 p.m. at MCA Denver should help participants decompress in a fun atmosphere. Ancillary events begin on November 29; find a full schedule and tickets, $45 to $85, at tedxmilehigh.com.
The African Community Center’s We Made This program offers training for refugees in the metro area, who learn to create hand-sewn wares, earn an income and integrate into a larger society. Join them in the ACC sewing studio and boutique, 925 South Niagara Street, Suite 200, to see their work, shop for gifts, make a kid-friendly craft of your own and nosh on international goodies at the We Made This 2018 Holiday Open House, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, December 1. Admission is free, but an RSVP is appreciated at eventbrite.com; learn more about We Made This and other ACC programs at acc-den.org.
A pursuit as rare as a library for zines might sound like a fragile and underground endeavor in a city run over by shiny progress — but not only has the Denver Zine Library persevered for fifteen years, it's become one of the largest and most complete collection of its kind in the nation. Library director Kelly Shortandqueer and crew will celebrate that counterculture accomplishment with Zines And Cereal!, a party that’s hardly lavish but a whole lot of fun. Join the zinesters on Saturday, December 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Roostercat Too, 1045 Lincoln Street, for $2 bowls of cereal and a free drip coffee, while supplies last, when you buy a zine at the event’s pop-up zine sale. Donate an unopened box or bag of cereal and you’ll also slurp unlimited cereal for free. Find info at denverzinelibrary.org.
The holidays aren't all sweetness and light. On Saturday, December 1, ZEEL Art Collective will pop off with INDIVISIBLE: Expressions of Union and Divide, a pop-up exhibit designed to find common ground in these turbulent times. The show opens from 5 to 10 p.m. in the historic Zang Building at 1553 Platte Street, and will be open during select hours Wednesdays through Sundays until December 15. Visit facebook.com/zeelartistgroup for updates.
If you mean it when you say “Happy holidays” — as in the whole gaggle of them that happen around this time of year — then you need to see Cleo Parker Robinson Dance's seasonal shindig, Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum. The internationally renowned dance troupe has been putting on this production for the past 27 year; it’s the story of an old dancer telling her grandchildren about the various holidays she has celebrated around the world. In the mix: the Native American Winter Solstice, the African Harvest, Hanukkah, Christmas, the Celtic Yule, Junkanoo Day, Chinese New Year and Kwanzaa. The festive family-friendly production begins this year's run on Saturday, December 1, and continues through Saturday, December 16, at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance,119 Park Avenue West. Buy tickets, $30 to $40, at cleoparkerdance.org or by phone at 303-295-1759.
Sunday, December 2
Big-city life can be lonely and tedious. But instead of moping around in your tiny apartment feeling useless, how about dressing up a little and challenging yourself in the company of friends and strangers at Murmur: A Community Gathering to Celebrate Art, Music, Storytelling and Each Other, a new monthly immersive event hosted by the Denver Public Library at Proper City, 3201 Walnut Street in RiNo? With local performance artist Julie Rada leading the way from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Sunday, December 2, you can meet new people, listen to a reading and dig some impromptu theater, all on the theme of “transformation"; stick around afterward for food-truck frare or shmoozing in the coffee bar. Admission is free; if you can’t make the debut, Murmur will pop up again on Sunday, January 13. Check the events calendar at rinoartdistrict.org to register and learn more.
There was once a time when people actually went to downtown Denver to shop! While, yes, there's now a Target on the 16th Street Mall, it's nothing like the big department stores that once graced the area and are remembered in Lost Department Stores of Denver, a new book by Denver native Mark Barnhouse. He'll be at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 2, to sign books ($21.99, History Press) and share stories about the glory days of Denver retail, when a holiday shopping excursion invariably ended with a visit to the Denver Dry Tea Room. Fortunately, you can still do plenty of shopping at the TC after the talk. Admission is free; find out more at tatteredcover.com.
Come on down! Join a restive crowd of potential contestants at The Price Is Right Live!, an un-filmed stage adaptation of the game-show hit that daytime television viewers have loved since 1972. All of the series' signature challenges make an appearance, including fan favorites such as Plinko, Cliffhangers and, of course, the Showcase Showdown. Eager to test your worth-measuring mettle? Eligible contestants (18+) can sign up three hours before the event; no purchase is required to participate, but only ticket-holders can watch the show, which rolls out at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 2, at the Bellco Theatre in the Colorado Convention Center. Organizers recommend arriving as early as 4:30, when the Bellco will open its lobby doors; find tickets, $49.50 to $59.50, and more information at bellcotheatre.com.
Monday, December 3
Paleontologist Kirk Johnson was a mainstay at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science before traveling east to become the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He’s also the author and perpetrator, with wacky illustrator Ray Troll, of Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway, a trippy, illustrated account of the duo’s bone-searching road trip, which became a full-blown DMNS exhibit two decades ago. Johnson will be back in town at 7 p.m. Monday, December 3, to discuss and sign Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline: The Travels of an Artist and a Scientist Along the Shores of the Prehistoric Pacific, a new road adventure with a West Coast vibe. Travel back in time with Johnson at the DMNS, 2001 Colorado Boulevard; tickets are $8 to $10 at dmns.org, and books will be available for $35.95 after the lecture. Find information and tickets at dmns.org.
The Colorado Music Hall of Fame Presented by Comfort Dental is inducting a new class on Monday, December 3. The ceremony promises to make a lot of noise, because the two honorees are KBCO, which got its start in 1977, and legendary concert promoter and artist manager Chuck Morris, who'll be served up in an official "Chuck Roast" emceed by none other than Colorado Governor (and big music fan) John Hickenlooper. Along the way there will be lots of music, performed by such hometown heroes as the Lumineers. The program starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place; while VIP tickets are sold out, some general admission seats ($30 to $79) might still be available at altitudetickets.com. Find out more about the Colorado Music Hall of Fame at cmhof.org.
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