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New Year's Eve 2011 Denver: ten best family-friendly events

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Finding a quality babysitter any time of year can be rough, but on New Year's Eve -- when most babysitters would rather be rocking out with their friends than making sure your rugrats don't choke on dinner -- it's almost impossible. Thankfully, there are plenty of events on December 31 that were designed with kids in mind; here's our rundown of the ten best family-friendly events.

10. Copper Mountain: En Fuego, Burton Mountain Festival and more Yes, this involves a trip to the mountains -- but your drive will be rewarded with a snowcat parade, fireworks displays, a special En Fuego exhibition, the Burton Mountain Festival, parties throughout the village and an X Games rail-jam qualifier at Copper Mountain. For more information, call 866-841-2481 or visit www.coppercolorado.com.

9. Grand Winter Sports Carnival Rail Jam and Celebration If your strategy is "wear 'em out early," then the Grand Winter Sports Carnival Rail Jam and Celebration at Winter Park is a good option; the festivities include skijoring, a rail jam, skating races and more. The carnival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- and it's all free! Call 800-979-0332 or visit www.winterparkresort.com.

8. Glide into 2012 Freestyle Nordic Race & Relative Relay If neither of the first two mountain work for you, try the Glide into 2012 Freestyle Nordic Race & Relative Relay in Crested Butte. Not only will you be burning calories and teaching kids about team spirit, but the proceeds benefit the Gunnison Junior Nordic Team, so you're helping out the next generation in more ways than one. Call 800-545-4505 or visit www.crestedbuttechamber.com.

7. Blossoms of Light or Trail of Lights New Year's Eve is your second-to-last chance to see the amazing lights that the Denver Botanic Gardens displays every year at both the York Street and Chatfield facilities. The exhibits are open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Admission is free for kids two and younger, and only $9.50 for non-members. Visit www.botanicgardens.org.

6. Steve McGrew all-ages comedy show Comedy Works, 1226 15th Street, is hosting an all-ages comedy show featuring Steve McGrew at 6 p.m. to help ring in the New Year. (Note: the 8 and 10 p.m. shows are both 21-and-up.) Admission starts at $25; call 303-595-3637 or visit www.comedyworks.com.

5. Kenny Kane all-ages comedy show And the yuks also stop here, at Comedy Works South, 5345 Landmark Place in Greenwood Village, where Kenny Kane will headline an all-ages show at 5 p.m. Admission starts at $25; call 720-274-6800 or visit www.comedyworks.com.

4. Skate the Lake New Year's Eve Evergreen Lake's annual end-of-the-year party features bonfires, ice games, sleigh rides, jump castles, music, dancing and more -- including fireworks at midnight. But the party runs all day. (Bring your own skates if possible; they might not have your size if you try to rent at the lake house, located at 29614 Upper Bear Creek Avenue in Evergreen.) For more information, call 303-674-0532 or go to www.evergreenlakehouse.com.

3. Zoo Year's Eve Get wild at Zoo Year's Eve at the Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele Street, which is hosting an early countdown for kids, plus plenty of educational content featuring all your favorite animals. It runs from 6 to 10 p.m. and costs $75 to $85; call 303-376-4800 or visit www.denverzoo.org.

2. Noon Year's Eve The Children's Museum of Denver, 2121 Children's Museum Drive, is always a hot ticket on New Year's Eve. Where else can your kids enjoy confetti, bubble-wrap fireworks (not so scary as the real thing), sparkly art projects and an early countdown? Festivities run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; call 303-433-7444 or visit www.cmdenver.org.

1. Downtown Fireworks There are so many reasons why the downtown fireworks show is our number-one pick for families. Among them: the costumed entertainment (magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt walkers, comedians and more); the two displays -- one at 9 p.m. and one at midnight; and, best of all, the fact that this celebration is absolutely free. Get there early for a good spot on the 16th Street Mall/ For more information, visit www.denver.org.

More New Year's Eve lists

- New Year's Eve: Mountain celebrations

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