Though the tide of Yule has a way of overshadowing December's entertainment calendar, the weekend ahead offers numerous reasons to celebrate, most of them blessedly free of the ugly-sweatered and Santa-hatted hordes. And for those Christmas-crazed readers who are Fezziwigg-ing out about the opening sentence, don't fret: The upcoming days also hold enough merry-making opportunities to stuff anyone's stocking. Best of all, none of the events below charges more than $10 for admission, and you can get into eight of them for free.
Christmas Movie at the Cube
Friday, December 8, 5 p.m. The Cube
The genre of Christmas movies is generally every bit as commerce-driven as the rest of the season these days, but the very best holiday movies can endure for generations, bringing families together for annual viewings. The Master Community Association of Stapleton is honoring this cherished cinematic tradition with a pair of free screenings in the Cube events space. While the live-action adaption of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas may try most adults' patience, it's worth sticking around to introduce your Jim Carrey-addled young ones to the joys of Frank Capra's masterpiece, It's a Wonderful Life. A tale of populist triumph that never shies away from the inherent melancholy of the season, the film stars screen legend Jimmy Stewart at his most earnest and winsome. Visit the Stapleton MCA's events page for more details.
December 8 to 10, hours vary
Carpenter Park Fields
It's easy to be snarky about the holidays, but Yuletide traditions don't happen by accident; indeed, they only endure if successive generations find them charming enough to pass on to their children. There's charm in abundance at the Thornton Winterfest, a celebration bursting with season touchstones like a Santa's Village display, a Christmas tree decorating contest, a holiday marketplace and a frozen ice skating pond. Capped off by a stunning fireworks display, the Thornton Winterfest is a great way for families to get into the Christmas spirit a couple weeks early. Find more information on the City of Thornton's events calendar.
Second Saturday Fundraiser and Krampusfest
Saturday, December 9, 10 a.m. to midnight Mutiny Information Cafe
Free (donations suggested)
While it's easy to get swept up in the cheer of the holiday season, for many Denver residents the holiday season only adds struggles to an already difficult living situation. It's particularly challenging for young people experiencing homelessness, and while the efforts of organizations like Urban Peak provide vital services, social need often exceeds their resources. A crew of local creatives is pitching in to raise funds for Urban Peak with a full day of festivities that happily overlap with Krampusfest. Kick off the morning at 10 a.m. with John Ham's pancake brunch, then stick around to learn the ins and outs of the ones and twos at Deejaying 101 with DJ Tutor, then enjoy a spliff and riff at the Citizen Toke comedy show starring Jeremy Pysher, Andres Becerril, Lila Bear and Janae Burris before winding down with Suspect Press and KGNU's Records for Writers. Readers can find out more on the Facebook event page. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'll also be dropping by to perform a set during Citizen Toke.)
SPELLS Summer in December
Saturday, December 9, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ross Cherry Creek Branch Library
Vacation-rockers SPELLS are back and ready to rock out in one of the most unlikely venues imaginable: a library full of children. Less incongruous than it sounds, SPELLS performances have an infectious energy that transcends age, and the morning concerts at the Ross Cherry Creek Branch Library have become a time-honored local tradition. SPELLS is returning to Denver's Best Punk-Loving Library for a raucous all-ages performance sure to rattle bookshelves and delight fans. Visit the Facebook event page to learn more.
Two-Year Anniversary Party
Saturday, December 9, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Bowman's Vinyl and Lounge
If you simply can't get enough SPELLS, the group will also be performing later on in the day at Bowman's Vinyl and Lounge's Two-Year Anniversary celebration. The South Broadway outpost has been a haven for record collectors since day one, but Bowman's has also emerged as a fine venue for music and comedy over the two years it's been in business. In addition to the near guarantee that Ben Roy will invade your personal space, guests can also enjoy performances from the Nobodys, Swindling Hearts, Scooter James and DJ Uniq Thret. With a number of raffle prizes and drink specials, it's well worth a visit for music-loving barflies. Find out more on Bowman's Facebook events page.
Women in Film and Media Colorado Holiday Party
Saturday, December 9, 6 to 10 p.m.
WIFMCO, 1101 West Mineral Avenue, Littleton
The film industry can be an outright hostile environment for women trying to gain a foothold, so alliances like Women in Film and Media Colorado are particularly essential. The organization is returning for its second annual fundraising party, an eighteen-and-up event that includes silents auctions, live trivia, and plenty of food and drink. See what the organization has planned for next year while contributing to its continued efforts and mixing and mingling with local creators. Admission is free for WIFMCO members and only $10 at the door for everyone else. Visit the Facebook event page for more details.
Denver Nickel + Dime Animation Festival
Saturday, December 9, 7 p.m. Bug Theatre
Before the Nickel + Dime Animation Festival found a home at the Bug Theatre, Denver was sorely lacking a public showcase for the painstaking art form. Cherished by the city's artsy crowd, the festival has blossomed to the point that December's show is screening 32 independent animated shorts, from local artists as well as participants from far-flung locales such as Ireland, Hungary, France and many more. Join host Beaver C. Rogers for a generously curated program featuring works from Bill Plympton, Debra Solomon, Kent Leon Welling and many more. Admission is $10 via Brown Paper Tickets.
Denver Zine Library: 14th Anniversary
December 9 and 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Denver Zine Library
Founded in 2003 by a collective of ten dedicated zine historians, the Denver Zine Library has survived through changing venues, rampant digitalization, and life in a city that grows more untenably expensive by the day. Celebrate the triumph of local DIY culture as the Zine Library marks its fourteenth year of existence this weekend. Festivities include warm drinks, snacks, and a photo booth where guests can pose for selfies with their favorite zines. To learn more about the celebration, visit the Denver Zine Library's Facebook events page, and read the Library's full history on the DZL home page.
Heavy Metal Flea Market
Sunday, December 10, Noon Black Sky Brewery
Though gift shopping is an all too frequently joyless and challenging endeavor, readers can find utterly unique presents while having a grand old time at the Heavy Metal Flea Market, which returns to Black Sky Brewery on Sunday, December 10. Find the perfect creepy gift for the metalhead in your life while sampling drafts from Black Sky's tap list and munching on New Haven-style pizza. Visit the Heavy Metal Flea Market's Facebook events page to learn more.
Daily, through December 24, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Understudy Free (art costs $20)
Art lovers, delight. Understudy, the Denver Theatre District's new space at the Colorado Convention Center, is hosting a vending machine in which curious collectors can purchase small paintings by artist Jonathan Saiz for a mere $20. Enjoying the installation in action is absolutely free. The paintings depict all manner of things, from celebrities and words to abstractions. The installation, dubbed Blue Chipped, is an intervention into the commercially driven art market, where pieces are sold for bloated prices to the wealthy and everybody else is shut out.
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Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.