Things to Do

Twelve Things to Do for Free in Denver Today

Twelve Things to Do for Free in Denver Today (4)
Night Lights Denver
The city is already all aglow for the holidays, and you can get lit at a salute to the end of Prohibition today! But first, four locations in LoDo will be hosting a special celebration.

Don't miss our lists of all the holiday markets and all the holiday events this season, and keep reading for some of the best free events in and around Denver this week.

LoDo Gives Back
Sunday, December 5, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Four LoDo locations

Join Market Station, Denver Union Station, Dairy Block,and McGregor Square in a community celebration designed to help those in need this holiday season. Each destination will host family-friendly holiday activities including Santa, live music, cocktails, free hot chocolate, games and more, while inviting the public to help support four fantastic Colorado non-profits. Find out more here.

35th Annual Fine Art Market/45th Holiday Pottery Sale
Sunday, December 5, 1 to 5 p.m., continuing Wednesdays through Sundays through December 19
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada

High-quality, artful holiday shopping has been a specialty at the Arvada Center for decades, with the annual Fine Art Market exemplified by gallery-ready art and craft by dozens of Colorado artists in the Main Gallery, and work by students and instructors from the center’s ceramic-art studio celebrating form and function in the Upper Gallery. They’ll run side by side for nearly three weeks, but it’s best to shop before items sell out. Admission is free; learn more here.

24th Annual John Lennon/Beatles Sing-Along
Sunday, December 5, 2 to 5 p.m.
Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street

Now more than ever, the annual December John Lennon/Beatles Sing-along at the Merc — both a tribute to Lennon, who left the mortal coil this month in 1980, and a celebration of everyone’s favorite British invaders— will matter. Right on the heels of Disney’s Get Back documentary premiere, the Fab Four and their canon are on everyone’s mind. In its 24th iteration, the event hasn’t changed much: Organizer Jimi Bernath will lead the mass singing to original recordings; all ages are welcome, and admission is free. Learn more and find a lyrics sheet to print out here.

An Alternative Market and Drag Show
Sunday, December 5, 4 to 10 p.m.
Enigma Bazaar, 4923 West 38th Avenue

What’s more Christmasy than a sparkling holiday drag show that’s attached to a local-vendor shopping experience? Leave it to Enigma Bazaar to connect those dots. The event begins in the late afternoon with an alternative market, with a break from 6 to 8 p.m. for performances by lovely “ladies” Androux, Beefcake, Hexxorsis and Venus Victrola. Admission is free, but in addition to shopping for holiday gifts, there will be plenty of spending opportunities, including food, libations and tarot readings. Find more info here.

Chanukah Helicopter Gelt Drop & Menorah Lighting
Sunday, December 5, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Infinity Park, 950 South Birch Street, Glendale

If you haven’t attended a gelt drop, prepare to be amazed: In a somewhat literal take on pennies from heaven, golden rounds of chocolate will fall like manna over Infinity Park on Sunday, dropped by a helicopter. That’s the very latest in Chanukah celebrations; there will also be a giant menorah lighting, an acrobatic show, music and other delicious holiday treats. Attendance is free; but for $6, one can opt for VIP seating. Registration is required for all here.

Repeal Day at Green Russell
Sunday, December 5, 6 p.m. until close
Green Russell, 1422 Larimer Street

Celebrate the 88th anniversary of Repeal Day at Green Russell, which will be marking the occasion with live music from the incredible Jean-Marie Jazz Trio and guest bartenders who'll each take over a well and sling a signature cocktail for an hour. Costumes encouraged! Find the full schedule of music here.

Ongoing:

Night Lights Denver: 3D Holiday Projection Program
Through December 31, 5 to 11:59 p.m. daily
Daniels & Fisher Tower, 1601 Arapahoe Street

The Denver Theatre District’s Night Lights Denver is showing new, 3D-compatible artwork this month, with work by Chris Bagley, Kim Shively, Koko Bayer, Eileen Roscina, Estee Fox and Meow Wolf, all displayed on the Arapahoe Street side of the Daniels & Fisher Tower. Thanks to Meow Wolf, 20,000 pairs of ChromaDepth glasses will allow you to see the work in 3D (it works without the glasses, too); afterward, take the glasses to Meow Wolf's Convergence Station for more 3D viewing. While supplies last, the glasses will be available at Understudy, at the Colorado Convention Center, and the Downtown Denver Rink, in Skyline Park. Find more information here.

Merry & Bright Lights Show
Through December 27, 5 to 10 p.m. daily
Denver Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop Street

Union Station is all decked out for the holidays, with Santa dropping in from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, the Miracle Bar now open in the evenings ($2 to secure a reservation), and the Merry & Bright Lights Show every evening, with interactive visual imagery created by local Denver artists projected across the historic facade while classic holiday music plays. Find all you need to know here.

Holiday Art Market
Through December 29, daily
Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden
The Foothills Art Center’s Holiday Art Market is the perfect excuse for a drive to downtown Golden, where merchants, restaurants and businesses on the main drag radiate with holiday spirit. Nearly fifty years old, HART offers high-quality artisan crafts, including pottery, jewelry, glass, fiber, leather, metal, wood, food items, ornaments and greeting cards, which could ostensibly take care of everyone on your list. The market is also one of the few that stay open for a few days after Christmas — that’s when folks can shop for themselves! Get the details on hours and ticketed admission here.

Cherry Creek North Winter Wanderland and Holiday Market
Through December 24, daily
Fillmore Street between First and Second Avenues
Cherry Creek Winter Wanderland returns, filling sixteen blocks with holiday decor and interactive art installations; there will be special events on Saturday nights. And after the inaugural event last year, the free Cherry Creek Holiday Market is back on Fillmore Street, with thirty local makers (including one that does baby fire pits!), designers and creators. Produced by Fetch Concepts, it will also offer food, a full bar and live music Friday through Sunday. Find more information here.
click to enlarge Christkindlmarket beckons at Civic Center Park. - CHRISTKINDLMARKET
Christkindlmarket beckons at Civic Center Park.
Christkindlmarket
Denver Christkindlmarket
Through December 24, daily
Civic Center Park, 101 West 14th Avenue
For a magical holiday shopping experience, you can’t beat the old-world Christkindlmarket, a light-filled tradition in downtown Denver for twenty years and counting. The market is returning to Civic Center Park in 2021 after moving there last year mid-pandemic, for a more roomy stroll from one charming wooden hut to the next, as shoppers search for hand-blown glass ornaments, Russian nesting dolls, hand-knit mufflers, hot pretzels and pastries, German bier and mulled glühwein, to name a fraction of what’s available. Adding to the spirit of the market are polka bands, old-world characters and other entertainers. Admission is free; find info (including schedule changes) here.

Downtown Denver Rink
Through February 20, daily
Skyline Park, 1601 Arapahoe Street

There’s nothing quite like winter ice skating in the frosty outdoors, somewhere like the Downtown Denver Rink, a big-city experience that’s perfect for families, greenhorns, romantic couples and outdoorsy folks of all ages. Admission is free when you bring your own skates; if you don’t, skate rentals are $7 to $9. Find a schedule and learn more here.

Light the Lights
Through January 23, 4:45 and 5:45 p.m., daily
City and County Building, 1437 Bannock Street

The Denver City and County Building got lit on November 24, and while the lights will stay on through the National Western Stock Show, it will put on its own show at 4:45 and 5:45 p.m. daily. Find details here.

And anytime bonus:


L’Esprit de Noël, Central City Opera
Anytime, online

For decades, L’Esprit de Noël has raised funds to help support Central City Opera, including education and community engagement programs serving more than 40,000 people each year. For the second year in a row, the event is virtual, and comprises an online tour of a historic Denver property — this time, the McCourt Mansion. Once the home of Peter McCourt, a younger brother to the infamous Baby Doe Tabor and a theatrical manager, today the mansion sits on the National Register of Historic Places and is back to being a single-family home after decades of mixed-use. Watch it here.


Know of a great free event in Denver? We'll be updating this list through the week; send information to [email protected]
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.