Let there be lights! Metro Denver is glowing, with shows both outside and on the stage. Holiday markets abound (see our list here
), and if you spend too much shopping, there are plenty of free things to do
But you'll want to save enough cash to buy tickets for some of the following events, all worth the price of admission:
Chautauqua WinterFest 2022
Sunday, December 11, noon to 5 p.m.
Colorado Chautauqua, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder
After a free holiday lighting kickoff on Friday evening, Colorado Chautauqua’s WinterFest returns with a full slate of holiday-season activities for all ages over two days of fun, with some events ticketed, some free, and most included in the price of a daily pass. What you’ll get each day is a mixture of hikes, history tours, carriage rides, a holiday market, a scavenger hunt, a sit with Santa and a jillion other side trips. Daily passes are $28 (individual) or $95 (four-pack); kids two and under get in free. Find a complete breakdown, map, schedule and tickets here
The Westside Oratorio
Sunday, December 11, 2 p.m.
Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive
The Westside Oratorio, which gives voice to the people who once populated the Auraria neighborhood before it was leveled to make way for the Auraria campus, stands as one of Su Teatro’s great classics of Chicano theater. Its story, propelled by memories as it follows seven generations of Denver’s Westside Mexican-American families, uses a script that often breaks into song. Written by Su Teatro artistic director Tony Garcia, with music by composer Daniel Valdez, the heartwarming play brings an intergenerational crowd together as one. The revival of The Westside Oratorio
runs through December 18. Get tickets, $17 to $20, here
Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance, Café des Trois Amis
Sunday, December 11, 2 p.m.
Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder
Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance teams up with the Grande Orquesta Navarre, a four-piece band led by DeVotchKa’s Tom Hagerman that’s handy with tango, classical music arrangements and original works befitting an evening in a darkly lit Parisian cabaret. As the band plays on, the dancers will soar elegantly over the stage on dance trapezes, aerial fabric and lyra hoops. Tickets for this enchanting show run $25 to $28 per person; order them from the Dairy Arts Center’s online box office
Central City Opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors
Sunday, December 11, 2 p.m.
Armstrong Hall, 14 East Cache La Poudre Street, Colorado Springs
Central City Opera is coming down the mountain for a flatland performance tour of three Front Range cities, bringing the holiday classic Amahl and the Night Visitors
to new audiences. Gian Carlo Menotti’s one-act opera tells the story of a tall-tale-telling, crutch-wielding shepherd boy who ends up leaving home with the Three Kings to meet the Christ child. Amahl
will travel to Boulder on December 13-14 for shows at First United Methodist Church, then alight in Denver for three shows December 16-18 at Trinity Methodist Church. Find details and tickets, $12 to $42, here
Season 70 Holiday Concert: Gaudreau Conducts Brahms
Sunday, December, 11, 3 p.m.
Green Center, Colorado School of Mines, Golden
Celebrate the Holidays with the Jefferson Symphony. Christine Gaudreau conducts a festive overture by Brahms, the expressive "Fantasia on Greensleeves" by Vaughan Williams, and holiday selections including costumes and scenes from Hansel & Gretel. With guest artists Steve Taylor, baritone; Matthew Plenk, tenor; Lee Ann Scherlong, mezzo-soprano; Delci Lutes, mezzo-soprano; and Kirsten Carpenter, soprano. Get tickets, $27 (discounts for students and seniors), here
Sunday, December 11, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Four Mile Historic Park, 715 South Forest Street
Bundle up and head to Four Mile Historic Park for a holiday celebrated as it might have been in the 1860s, when the farm by the creek became an inn for travelers on the Cherokee Trail. December Delights offers ice skating, strolling carolers, stick-horse crafts and winter goodies, all while visitors revive a simpler life led under the moon and stars. Regular tickets range from $21 to $25, or you can rent a dome for eight with special add-ons for $375. The fun continues next weekend; reserve tickets and learn more at Eventbrite
Blossoms of Light
Daily through January 7, 4:30 to 9 p.m.
Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street
Every holiday season, the Denver Botanic Gardens brings color back to its York Street location. Blossoms of Light has been a signature event for over three decades, drawing crowds with glowing displays. Strung on branches, along walkways, and as far as the eye can see, lights illuminate the venue through January 7. When you visit, warm up with hot chocolate and a charming “breakfast for dinner” menu. Admission is $24 for adults, and online reservations are highly recommended here
Trail of Lights
Friday, December 9; Saturday, December 10, and Sunday, December 11, 5 to 8:30 p.m.
Chatfield Farms, 8500 West Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton
Chatfield Farms, the country cousin of the Denver Botanic Gardens, offers a more rustic and historical holiday lighting show than Blossoms of Light, but with technological upgrades, including synchronized light patterns, light tunnels and singing trees. While Chatfield is slowly moving into the 21st century, cool old tractors covered with lights remain intact, and the 1880s Hildebrand Ranch homestead still stands. Bring the family! Open weekends through December 11, and nightly December 16 through January 1, 5 to 8:30 p.m. (closed Christmas Day). Learn more and purchase timed tickets, $10 to $16 (free for children two and under), plus an optional $5 to add on a visit with Santa, online only, here
Thursday, December 8, through Sunday, December 11, 5 to 9 p.m.
Elitch Gardens, 2000 Elitch Circle
Luminova Holidays has returned with more lights, more rides, immersive installations, Santa...and light-up hopscotch! Reservations are required and available every hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Shows continue through January 1, and tickets start at $29.99; get them here
Daily, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele Street
After evenings reserved for members, Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo will be open to the public through January 15, and it's certainly a bright spot on the holiday schedule. Over one million lights are spread across 83 acres, decorating exhibits and forming the shapes of animated animals. Wildlife is a common theme for the ice sculptures on display, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few actual elephants and tigers, too. Admission is $25 per adult, and several add-on packages are available; get hours and all the details here
Do you know of a great event in Denver? We'll be updating this list through the weekend; send information to [email protected]