That long, cold holiday weekend is over, but there are plenty of cool events in the days ahead. While many are holiday-related, others are simply celebrations of great art and great music — including the next induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Keep reading for the 21 best things to do in and around Denver this week.
Monday, December 2
After standing in line in the wee hours on Black Friday, you were probably too tired to do much else over the weekend. Thank goodness, then, for Christmas in Color, where you can enjoy the holidays without ever leaving the driver's seat. The drive-through attraction with two metro-area locations is perfect for exhausted adults and children in jammies, offering a synchronized wonderland of music and twinkling lights. Tunnel through at Water World, 8801 North Pecos Street, or Bandimere Speedway, 3051 South Rooney Road in Morrison, on Monday, December 2, or any night through January 4 (closed on Christmas and New Year’s days); both venues are open Mondays through Thursdays from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Admission is timed in half-hour slots; learn more and buy tickets, $27 per vehicle, at christmasincolor.net.
The Celtic Gift is a rousing display of Irish dance just waiting to be unwrapped. Interpreting Christmas classics through the fleet-footed traditions of Oireachtas step-dancing, Celtic Gift dancers will perform all around the Centennial State well into the new year. Summon up the spirit of the Emerald Isle when the dancers grace the Broomfield Auditorium stage, 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield, at 7 p.m. Monday, December 2. Future dates include engagements at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Thursday, December 19, and the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins on Saturday, December 21. Go to irishdancetheatre.com for tickets, $20 to $30, and to learn more.
Tuesday, December 3
Hey, Denver: Aurora is way more than our suburb to the east. The town boasts international diversity and an active arts district bubbling with artist studios, dance and theater companies, and a wonderful free-form venue, the People’s Building, where you can see all of the above, plus comedy, live music, political forums and square dancing. The Aurora Cultural Arts District will help folks seek out the local bounty at Devour the Arts, a party with art and pop-up performances by folks who call the city home, on Tuesday, December 3, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the People's Building, 9995 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora. Admission is free; RSVP at eventbrite.com.
Put on your dancing shoes, because on Tuesday, December 3, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame presented by Comfort Dental will host the Going Back to Colorado: Class of 2019 induction ceremony of ’70s rock/fusion guitarist Tommy Bolin; award-winning blues pioneer Otis Taylor; Zephyr and its dynamic lead singer, Candy Givens; Freddi & Henchi, “The Crown Princes of Funk”; legendary concert promoter Tony Spicola and music journalist Wendy “Rock & Roll” Kale. The evening will include performances by David and Anna Givens, the Otis Taylor Band, Freddi Gowdy and members of the Freddi & Henchi Band (backed by Chris Daniels & the Kings), and the Tommy Bolin Tribute Band, with former members of Tommy Bolin’s band, along with special guests Joe Bonamassa and Warren Haynes. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop Street, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.; tickets range from $40 to $200 at axs.com.
Wednesday, December 4
Mesmerizing and timeless, the gamelan isn’t really a single instrument — it’s a Balinese orchestra primarily comprising bronze metallophones, drums, flutes and voices that developed as part of a centuries-old oral tradition. Denver’s Gamelan Tunas Mekar is about as authentic a group as you’ll find in these parts, carrying on the classical canon here and around the world, led by Balinese composer I Made Lasmawan. See a gamelan performance up close and personal when Tunas Mekar plays at Dazzle, 1512 Curtis Street, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 4; find info and tickets, $12, at dazzledenver.com.
Mber Rose Love, the star of "Too Much of a Good Thing..." The Bare Breasted Mae West Revue, has been giving Boulder a sneak peek, parading topless along the Pearl Street Mall and handing out fliers hyping the show, which is as much about a woman's right to ditch her shirt as it is everyone's right to laugh their asses off. The production imagines that Mae West, the outrageous comedian, early feminist and 1930s star, is back from heaven, watching us here on Earth...and she has plenty of advice. After intermission, Love will return as herself, singing her own works (hear them at broadjam.com/mber). The evening is a benefit for the nonprofit reNude, and tickets run from $29 to $34. Showtime is 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 4, at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; find out more at thedairy.org.
Thursday, December 5
Not everyone wants to see A Christmas Carol for the millionth time — or anything holiday-oriented, for that matter — when December rolls around. Fortunately, the Lulubird Project has a welcome, and challenging, alternative. The company’s Hidden Worlds & Strange Negotiations, a collection of short plays by local playwrights, observes how we navigate our way through relationships and difficult times in fleeting, funny and sometimes magical ways. Get away from it all when the curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 5; shows continue at the same time Thursdays through Saturdays through December 21 at Theater 29, 5138 West 29th Avenue. Find tickets, $22, and information at theater29denver.com.
Experience the season through the eyes and songs of borderlands singer-songwriter Tish Hinojosa in Christmas en Colorado, which melds Hinojosa's music into a storytelling device in the narrative tradition of el corrido. The folksy, family-friendly morality play, which balances traditional and commercial versions of Christmas, opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 5, at Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, and runs through December 21. Find show dates and get tickets, $17 to $20, at suteatro.wellattended.com.
Brad Williams is a standup comedian’s comedian who's big on the talk-show circuit, with gigs on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live; he also does comedy specials like Fun Size, his highly rated one-hour special on Showtime. Born with achondroplasia, Williams injects dwarfism into his comedy but doesn’t allow the genetic mutation to define him as he makes masterful observations on sex, relationships and race. See for yourself when Williams starts a three-night run at Comedy Works Downtown, 1226 15th Street, at 8 p.m. Thursday, December 5; shows continue on Friday, December 6, and Saturday, December 7, at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. each night. Find tickets, $25 to $30, and more information at comedyworks.com.
Friday, December 6
The fifth annual Telluride Fire Festival is coming in hot! Inspired by Burning Man, the fest made its debut in January 2015, and from the start has offered free, fiery art displays in a variety of locations around town, fee and free-based fire-related workshops, and the over-the-top Fire Ball, with theatrical performances and music. This year, art cars join the lineup. The action lights up from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 6, and continues at the same time Saturday, December 7, and Sunday, December 8. Saturday's action also includes the Fire Ball starting at 9 p.m., and a display of three sculptures being set ablaze on the ski mountain at 9:30 p.m. For a complete schedule and info on ticketed events, go to telluridefirefestival.org.
Boulder dance company Wild Heart is preparing for its seventh season with a painless fundraiser, The Gift: An Evening of Dance, Food and Good Company, a night heavy on performance and long on good cheer. Central to the event will be snippets of the troupe’s work from over the years, enhanced by live music from Mark Miller and Jake Cacciatore, divine small plates and a cash bar. Unwrap this gift from 6:15 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, December 6, at the Nomad Playhouse, 1410 Quince Avenue in Boulder. Admission ranges from $20 to $50 at wildheartdance.com.
Of all Kidrobot’s collectible vinyl toys, the Munny is probably the most universal, with its iconic doughboy shape that’s a blank canvas for everyone — from top street and designer artists to any old John Doe DIY-er who walks into a shop to buy one. Munny-decorating takes the high road, though, for A Very Munny Christmas, a special exhibition of commissioned Munnys decorated by favorite artists from Colorado and the rest of the planet. This year’s collection goes on display at a silent auction from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, December 6, at Monkey Fist Tattoo, 4100 Tennyson Street; proceeds are split evenly between the artists and the venue. Buy a treasure or get ideas for re-upping your own Munny masterpiece; learn more at blog.kidrobot.com.
The ski season is off to a fast start this year. Take a breather and catch The Collective, a film produced by Faction Skis and Red Bull Media House that stars world-class skiers in picturesque locations around the globe; it's screening on Friday, December 6, at the American Mountaineering Center, 710 10th Street in Golden. The evening starts at 7 p.m. and includes prizes and drinks from Odell, as well as the short "Making Turns," by the Road West Traveled. Tickets run from $10 (Colorado Mountain Club members) to $12; for more information, call 303-279-3080 or go to cmc.org.
The Sie FilmCenter’s recurring horror-film series, Scream Screen, hosted by local gore queen Theresa Mercado, invites you into the deep, dark woods of December on four Fridays at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. The quartet of handpicked, cinematic cabin creep-outs all fit within the “Petrified Woods” theme; the lineup leads off at 9:30 p.m. Friday, December 6, with the newly restored 1981 horror classic The Evil Dead, preceded by a 7 p.m. VHS Swap and Sale in the Henderson-Withey Lounge. Sleepaway Camp, The Burning and Cabin Fever roll out on subsequent Fridays; each is paired with a special guest, live music performance or surprise film. Admission is $7 to $12 each night; reserve a seat and learn more at secure.denverfilm.org.
Love will actually be all around when the Colorado Symphony live-scores the soundtrack to the Christmas classic Love Actually on Friday, December 6. Released in 2003, the romantic comedy quickly became a cult classic and then a Christmas mainstay, with quotable one-liners, charming characters and storylines, and an all-star cast. Get the shit kicked out of you by love! Love Actually in Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; get tickets at coloradosymphony.org.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh to keep from crying, especially when you’re feeling stressed out by the holidays. If it’s laugh-out-loud humor you’re craving this Christmas season, look no further than Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, returning for another season to the funky Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. Based on the 1964 sci-fi cult film, this play turns a plot about what happens when the children of Mars become over-infatuated with Earth’s popular culture into campy good fun. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 6, and continues at the same time Fridays and Saturdays through December 28. Get info and tickets, $17 to $20 in advance (the price goes up to $25 at the door), at bugtheatre.info.
Audacious Theatre has already started pouring out Drunk Christmas, its annual holiday fundraiser that stages a spirited version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol in different breweries around town. At 8 p.m. Friday, December 6, the cast will land at Fiction Beer Company, 7101 East Colfax Avenue, where the audience can join the performers for a beer and then watch them teach Scrooge a lesson. The show will repeat at Fiction on Saturday, December 7, then move on to other spots on weekends through December 21; limited reserved seating is available for $15, and pay-what-you-can admission is available first come, first served. To get tickets or more information, visit audacioustheatre.com.
It’s not the holidays in Denver without the Parade of Lights, a 45-year-old tradition that winds through downtown starting at 8 p.m. Friday, December 6, and 6 p.m. Saturday, December 7. The two-mile party includes more than forty festive attractions, including illuminated floats, giant character balloons, marching bands, horses and more. Watch for free from the street or pay for prime seats in the grandstand in front of the Denver City and County Building (tickets are $16 to $19 at eventbrite.com, $25 the day of the event, and free for children under two). Find more information, including the parade’s route, at downtowndenver.com/9news-parade-of-lights.
Saturday, December 7
The Snowcats Cat Convention isn’t a cat show, per se, though there will be cats...lots of cats. The format more closely resembles a fan con, with special guests, workshops, a cat-centric vendor hall and immersive cat-art rooms. Adoptable cats will be on display, and there will be a cat cafe experience for folks yearning to commune with furry felines while indulging in meowgaritas at a full bar. Sound like a purrfect place to spend the day? Snowcats runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, and Sunday, December 8, at the Cable Center, 2000 Buchtel Boulevard; basic admission is $20, with add-on fees for special events — and a limited number of $10 tickets will be available for well-behaved, leash-trained cats. Learn more and reserve tickets at snowcatscon.com.
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Santa might be for the kids, but he’s got a few tricks and treats up his sleeve for adults, too. Get in the spirit — and partake in some spirits — at the Santa Pub Crawl on Saturday, December 7. Tickets, $59, are in short supply, but you might still be able to score one at denversantapubcrawl.com. Then don your best Santa-inspired onesie and head to the Blake Street Tavern, 2301 Blake Street, for check-in between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.; bring a new unwrapped toy worth at least $10 and get an extra ticket for the prize drawing. The crawl will offer two routes, both wrapping up at an after-party at Jackson’s LoDo Sports Bar starting at 7:30 p.m., so choose yours and get ready to toast the night away!
Are hipsters over yet? It doesn't look that way in Denver's hippest environs, particularly the Source Hotel and Market Hall, 3330 Brighton Boulevard, where a bona fide Hipster Santa will be on the premises for holiday photo opportunities. Opt for the drop-in alternative and stand in line from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 7, or from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 8, for your close-up with Claus — $25 for one snapshot, or $65 for three. Or hold out for the VIP treatment, which includes private quality time with Hipster Santa and three high-quality photographs taken by a pro; reserve a $75 VIP spot at eventbrite.com. Find more information on the Hipster Santa Denver Facebook page.
Sunday, December 8
There’s nothing more timeless than the perfect pop of a classic Beatles song, a phenomenon that can tame even the wildest millennial, not to mention those OK Boomers who think they own the music. Anyone with a jones for the Beatles can get by with a little help from their friends at the annual John Lennon/Beatles Sing-along, where people of all ages gather to sing the hits to recordings while honoring the memory of John Lennon, who was gunned down in New York City on December 8, 1980. Cross the generation gap on Sunday, December 8, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Admission is free and lyric sheets will be provided; learn more at the Facebook event page.
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