Whether you're hosting relatives or friends over Thanksgiving weekend or are a visitor to the Denver area yourself, the holidays are a great time to explore and experience the best that this city has to offer. From ice skating and shopping to lighting festivals, films and hockey games, there's something fun for everyone, no matter where you come from or your age. And if you're really energetic, add a turkey trot to your list of must-dos while in the Mile High City (but bundle up).
Here are ten activities to enjoy over the next few days:
Extreme Sports: Beyond Human Limits at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2001 Colorado Boulevard
Why just watch sports when you can learn some of the psychology behind them? This exhibit delves into the wild worlds of wingsuit flying, free diving, ice and rock climbing, parkour and more. There's plenty of interaction to be had, too, including a course designed by Ninja Nation, kid-sized climbing walls everyone can try, an immersion room to help give visitors a sense of mountain biking or whitewater kayaking, and more. Admission to the museum gets you into this show, and it's great way to learn about the limits of the human body. Best part: You can go on Thanksgiving. The museum is open until 3 p.m. that day.
2510 East Colfax Avenue
For some families, catching a movie on Thanksgiving weekend is a safe way to share a space without having to talk. There's the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas, endless multiplexes and various Landmark theaters. But true movie lovers will head to the Sie FilmCenter, the city's nonprofit art-house cinema, which will be hosting a mix of films from the Denver Film Festival along with a few other indie picks. For the most adventurous cinephiles — or those who just need to spend a day together in silence — the FilmCenter will be screening a newly restored version of Béla Tarr's seven-hour-plus Sátántangó. Stay warm, escape the tyranny of family conversation, and share an epic cultural experience.
The Thanksgiving Play at Curious Theatre Company
Now until December 15, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays and 2 p.m. Sundays
1080 Acoma Street
Get out of the house and soak in some holiday culture with playwright Larissa FastHorse's The Thanksgiving Play, showing at Curious Theatre Company now until December 15. Expect a comedic mess of all things Turkey Day, from politics to parades to football, and, of course, the bird itself. Buy tickets starting at $26 and see the production Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m., or book the matinee show on Sundays at 2 p.m.
Written on the Land: Ute Voices, Ute History at History Colorado
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed Thanksgiving Day
Face it: We're on stolen land. So take this weekend to learn more about those who lived in Colorado long before the European settlers did by visiting this intricate exhibition all about the Ute people. The show includes traditional arts, photography and videos about Ute culture and how it has changed and adapted to this modern world. The exhibit is an informative and stimulating way to get a new perspective on Thanksgiving. Plus there's plenty more to explore at the museum.
Catch a Game
Times and locations vary
While the timeless tradition of huddling around a television set and watching football on Thanksgiving will continue, why not take your love of sports out of the house? Catch the Broncos taking on the Los Angeles Chargers at 2:25 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, at Empower Field at Mile High. At the Pepsi Center, hockey fans can catch the Avalanche play the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, November 27, and the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, November 30. Love lacrosse? The Mammoth will be going up against the Saskatchewan Rush on Friday, November 29. Just make sure your guests cheer for the home teams.
The Christkindl Market
Through December 23, starting at 11 a.m.
1515 Arapahoe Street
It's never too early to get a start on holiday shopping. Visitors and residents alike will enjoy the pop-up shops at Denver's Christkindl Market downtown in Skyline Park, 1515 Arapahoe Street. Whether you want to take a romp through the stalls after ice skating or sip on a warm cup of glühwein while perusing hand-carved wooden figures and ornaments, nutcrackers, jewelry, European foods and other goodies, the market awaits through December 23. There's no fee to enter the area and shop around while listening to the traditional carols and live German music. It's open daily at 11 a.m. but closes at various times through the week. The Market is open on Thanksgiving Day until 4 p.m.
Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park
Through February 16, open daily at various times
16th and Arapahoe Streets
Enjoy free ice skating this Thanksgiving weekend. The rink off 16th and Arapahoe Streets is open until February 16. Check the website for hours. Bring your own skates or rent them for $7 to $9 a pair. It's a great way to be outside, right in the center of things. Plan on enjoying a cup of hot cocoa or a hot toddy at The Market at Larimer Square, 1445 Larimer Street, afterward. You can even go ice skating on Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and work up an appetite for the big meal.
Blossoms of Light
November 29 through January 3
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street
Normally traipsing through a garden isn't at the top of the list right around the holidays. But starting Saturday, November 29, the Denver Botanic Gardens is the place to be. Each season, the venue plants sparkling lights all over its trees, hills, gardens, knolls and structures, giving the space a dazzling light show all ages can enjoy. Bring your out-of-town family for this adventure, and if it's very cold, you can bundle up and warm up with hot cocoa as you take in the glory of the gardens. Just make sure to get your timed tickets early; passes, $21 for adults, sell out.
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Grand Illumination at Union Station
Friday, November 29, at 5 p.m.
Wynkoop and 17th streets
A great way to get everyone in the holiday spirit is by attending the annual Grand Illumination of Union Station on Friday, November 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. Every year the beautiful institution get a splash of color added to the outside as it lights up in brilliant reds and greens. If you have young guests, take them to see Santa for the first time this year and sing along with the live carolers. Take a break from the festivities to get a tipple and tapas at Ultreia, 1701 Wynkoop Street, or walk over to the Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th Street, to give your visitors a taste of Colorado craft beer and hearty mountain fare.
Fetch Holiday Market at the Denver Sports Castle
Saturday, November 30, through December 15
Spend time with your family while getting in some shopping at this festive and fun craft and flea market. Fetch starts on Saturday, November 30, and runs each weekend until December 15. Hunt for your holiday presents from local artisans, sip a festive cocktail, grab a bite from one of the food vendors, and make it the first of many holly jolly weekends to come.
Where are your favorite places to take out-of-town guests during the holidays? Shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.