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The 21 Best Events in Denver, December 27-January 2

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Ring in the new year with a tasty dinner at Cart-Driver, then put on your dancing shoes for Decadence 2016. And don't drink and drive: Let RTD take you home for free! Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver from December 27 to January 2.

Tuesday, December 27

Are your visitors getting antsy? Send them to one of Denver’s best-kept secrets: the Clyfford Still Museum, at 1250 Bannock Street, whose world-class collection has amazed art lovers from around the world. Now showing is Clyfford Still: The Works on Paper, a surprisingly vast collection of drawings that this master of abstraction created throughout his career. “These pieces demonstrate that Still was fascinated by modest gestures and minimal markings,” writes art critic Michael Paglia, “and he returned to them again and again, finding a seemingly endless variety of ways to express them.” (You can read Paglia’s complete review of the show at westword.com.) The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today; for more information, call 720-354-4880 or go to clyffordstillmuseum.org.

Wednesday, December 28

Have the holidays given you a bad case of the blues? Turn that around at Dazzle, where Otis Taylor’s “trance blues” will hypnotize you out of any funk. Taylor is a legendary musician who’s earned raves around the country, but he’s lived in Colorado since he was a kid, and his music can be as haunting and soulful as an empty prairie or as exhilarating as a climb up a Fourteener (and the dance floor can get about as crowded as one of those when he pulls out his harmonica). The Otis Taylor Band will perform at Dazzle, Westword’s Best Jazz Club of 2016, at 6 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 28, and Thursday, December 29. Tickets range from $22 to $25; get more information at dazzlejazz.com.

Celebrate the fifth night of Chanukah with the Nuggets and the Jewish Community Center of Denver at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle. While religious ceremony and basketball may seem like strange bedfellows, JCC leaders are steadfast Nuggets supporters, frequently organizing group trips to home games. These outings provide a fun way for Jewish Coloradans to gather as a community while raising awareness of the JCC as a vital cultural resource. In addition to watching the Nuggets defend their home turf from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the event includes a Menorah-lighting ceremony with JCC CEO Ali Hill. The game starts at 7 p.m., and tickets range from $15 to $50, depending upon seating. Visit jewishnightout.com to RSVP and for information and tickets.

Thursday, December 29

Silverton Mountain kicks off its season on Thursday, December 29, and will offer guided-only skiing and snowboarding that day (to make reservations, call 970-387-5706). If you want to make a weekend of it, do it up right with the $539 three-day package, which includes a welcome party on December 29, three days of guided skiing or riding through January 1, lunch and après drinks at the base-area yurt, a dinner party on December 30, and a fab New Year’s Eve dinner and after-party. Lodging at the Grand Imperial starts at $130/night; other nearby spots are listed on silvertonmountain.com.

The Flaming Lips have brought their grandiose stage show to the 9,500-seat Red Rocks Amphitheatre many times over the years, including last summer, when they performed their landmark 1999 album, The Soft Bulletin. Around this time of year, though, the Oklahoma City-based band makes a habit of stopping by the much more intimate Belly Up in Aspen. It’s a great opportunity to get a close look at Lips' over-the-top freak show in a 450-capacity venue — though the Belly Up's size can also present a challenge, as it did in 2010, when a stage light punctured frontman Wayne Coyne’s space bubble. While there are bound to be a few surprises at the show, expect some songs from the band’s forthcoming album, Oczy Mlody (due out next month), which Coyne describes as “Syd Barrett meets A$AP Rocky, and they get trapped in a fairytale from the future.” The Lips will perform at Belly Up on Thursday, December 29. Doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets start at $95. For more information and to buy tickets, visit bellyupaspen.com/the-flaming-lips.

Friday, December 30

Got a lowbrow-art fan in your circle? Sally Centigrade in Larimer Square will oblige with Souvenir Shop, a two-person show of mostly affordable smaller works by Andy Herod and Myah Bailey that incorporate printmaking, drawing and painting. Also in the gallery for gift-giving: collectible prints by lowbrow artists Eric Joyner, Camilla d’Errico, Tara McPherson and others. The shop is located at 1423 Larimer Street, Suite 80; the show runs through January. Learn more at sallycentigrade.com.
Glenn Miller, a recent inductee in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, graduated from Fort Morgan High School in 1920. His early musical experiences there made a big impact on the big-band leader’s signature sound. Find out just how strong when Glenn Miller: The Birthplace of His Music, airs on Colorado Public Television at 9 and 11 p.m. Friday, December 30. “The most surprising thing I learned while working on this film was how big a role classical music played in Glenn Miller’s approach to arrangements,” says Eden Lane, who produced the documentary with Morgan Community College’s Center for Arts and Community Enrichment. “Once you begin to look at the music, that foundation becomes clear. Honestly, it’s also surprising so little attention had been given to Glenn Miller’s early music education before.”

Since the early ’90s, singer-songwriter Silent Bear has been using his blues-tinged folk music to fight for Native American rights. In 2012, he helped organize a concert to raise awareness for Leonard Peltier, an imprisoned Native American civil-rights activist, and this year, he sang out against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Supporting the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Silent Bear not only attended protests and demonstrations, but he wrote “The Dakota Access Pipeline Dirty River Blues,” a song adapted from Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm." Because of the Army Corps of Engineers' recent decision to reroute the pipeline, Silent Bear's free show at Baur Restaurant, 1512 Curtis Street, may turn out to be more celebratory than politically charged, but as usual, Silent Bear's contemplative stage banter and soft-spoken charm will be on full display. For more information, visit baursrestaurant.com.
Svper Ordinary Gallery closes out 2016 with something new and different for 2017 with The Birth of the Clinic, an exhibit of works by Mauro C. Martinez. The Laredo, Texas-bred painter layers surfaces with a dissociative blend of photorealism, graphics and paint abstraction aimed at capturing the ambiguities of modern life. This is Martinez’s first solo foray in the U.S. outside of Texas. Svper Ordinary, located inside the Source at 3350 Brighton Boulevard in RiNo, will host a free opening reception with the artist in person from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, December 30; The Birth of the Clinic runs through January. Visit svperordinary.com for information, and learn more about Martinez and his work at maurocmartinez.com.

Attention, bass-heads: Celebrate the coming year with all your favorites — including Bassnectar, the Chainsmokers, Disclosure, GRiZ and Tiesto — at Decadence, which starts Friday, December 30, at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street. If past years have proved anything, it’s that the two-night concert extravaganza offers heart-racing, head-bashing DJ sets that you’ll remember for the next 365 days. Doors open both nights at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are still available for the eighteen-and-over show. Get all the details at axs.com.

Keep reading for more events.

Saturday, December 31

Worried you’ll be stranded or forced into drunk driving to get home on New Year’s Eve? Have no fear: RTD has you covered. From 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 31, to 7 a.m. New Year’s Day, bus and light-rail services, Access-a-Ride and Sky Ride will be free to all customers. Because of the downtown fireworks display on the 31st, the Mall Ride will offer limited service between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., and the D, F and H light-rail lines will be shut down between the Theater District/Convention Center and the 18th and California/Stout stops. RTD warns customers to expect extra riders clogging the routes and encourages people to plan ahead. For more information, go to rtd-denver.com or call 303-299-6000.

When’s the last time you donned a powdered wig? If your curiosity is piqued, you’re in for a treat: The high drama and style of the Baroque Period will dominate the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art’s New Year’s Eve Dirty Baroque Ball — powdered wigs, masked courtiers, exuberantly ornamented music and all — from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, December 31, at 1750 13th Street. Once there, consult with mediums, pose for photos against the backdrop of a seventeenth-century French painting, and at midnight, witness a champagne sabrage (the artful method of popping the cork with the slash of a saber) before you toast 2017. Ooh la la! Admission to the Dirty Baroque Ball is $35 in advance for BMoCa members and $45 for non-members; the price goes up to $55 on the day of the event. For tickets and information, visit bmoca.org.

Cart-Driver, 2500 Larimer Street, normally rolls with a casual, come-as-you are vibe. But on Saturday, December 31, the hip pizzeria and oyster bar will offer a more upscale attitude with three reservation-only seatings, each tailored to your partying needs. If you already have big plans for New Year’s Eve, you can still pre-game for $35 per person from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Start out the night with Prosecco and Italian spritzes, served along with cicchetti (Italy’s answer to tapas), oysters and pizzettas. If you’d rather pull up for a full feast, the second seating, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., offers a five-course dinner for $75, including drink pairings. Standouts on the menu are gnocchi with black truffles; fire-roasted vegetables with maple agrodulce; butter-poached monkfish; and a boozy apple crumble for dessert. The third seating, from 10 p.m. to midnight, runs $50, which will get you bottomless bubbly as well as oysters, pizzettas and unlimited cicchetti. Space is tight, so get your tickets in advance at cart-drivernye.brownpapertickets.com.

New Year’s Eve doesn’t quite feel right without fireworks. Spare yourself a third-degree burn and let the capable folks at the Downtown Denver Partnership — which is sponsoring two eight-minute New Year’s Eve Fireworks shows on Saturday, December 31 — handle the blowtorch. The first show, at 9 p.m., is more family-friendly, while the one at midnight is reserved for night owls. Both will sync to the music coming from DJs playing on the 16th Street Mall, and the fireworks will shoot from the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel and another, undisclosed location. For more information, visit downtowndenver.com.

The stunning A Hudson Christmas at the Hudson Gardens show opened in November and ends Saturday, December 31. Don't miss thousands of twinkling lights in the trees and endless paths filled with dazzling displays of color and sound. For more information, visit hudsongardens.org.

Sunday, January 1

If you’re feeling cooped up on January 1 after a lot of eating and indoor family time (or you need to sweat out some booze), bundle up the family and head to 16th and Arapahoe streets in downtown Denver for a few laps around the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park, a free urban rink that’s open through February 14. The rink’s hours are posted online; skate rentals (usually $2) are free on New Year’s Day. For more information, visit downtowndenver.com.
New to Colorado or just haven’t managed to hit the slopes yet, for whatever reason? January is Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month, and nearly every ski area in the state is running special promotions for first-timers of all ages. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland are among the closest to Denver and offer some of the most beginner-friendly terrain; some deals are geared specifically to adults, so you don’t have to worry about being in a lesson with three-year-olds. Take advantage of Arapahoe’s great deal for skiers ages fifteen and up that includes a full-day lift ticket and a half-day lesson (visit arapahoebasin.com for details, including available dates and accompanying gear-rental deals). Hooked? Ask about A-Basin’s “4 Lessons 4 U” four-packs, which start at $399 and include lift tickets. For similar deals across Colorado, the U.S. and Canada, visit skiandsnowboardmonth.org.

The Aurora Fox’s production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess makes your head swim with the sweep and majesty of the chorus’s offerings and the sheer beauty of the songs. Porgy and Bess takes place in South Carolina’s Catfish Row, a deeply impoverished but lively and self-contained world by the treacherous sea. Powerful stevedore Crown is Bess’s lover; when he gets into a fight over a game of craps and kills his opponent, he flees, telling Bess he’ll be back for her when the furor dies down. No one in Catfish Row will take Bess in until she knocks on the door of the crippled beggar, Porgy. He gives her shelter, and she learns to love him for his kindness and decency. The casting of this production is wonderfully varied; don’t miss it. Porgy and Bess is at the Fox, 9900 East Colfax Avenue, through Sunday, January 1. For more information, call 303-739-1970 or visit aurorafox.org.

For decades now, Denver’s beloved Broncos have nurtured one of professional football’s most storied rivalries, with the Oakland Raiders. Chalk it up to roster conflicts, a troubled shared history or fan behavior, but Denverites have a special kind of disdain for the Raider Nation. As a result, any time the two teams square off on the gridiron, it’s cause for celebration, particularly when the Broncos enjoy home-field advantage. Kick off your new year with a literal kickoff at 2:25 p.m. on Sunday, January 1, when the two teams meet at Sports Authority Field, 1701 Bryant Street. Visit ticketmaster.com to buy tickets.

Monday, January 2

Hold your horses! Today’s Western art isn’t all about cowboys cooking by the campfire. Contemporary Western artists are exploring new frontiers — and attracting new collectors in the process. Young Guns, a kickoff event for the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale, is designed for art aficionados under the age of forty. On Monday, January 2, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the National Western Complex Expo Hall, they’ll get a chance to see the 2017 exhibit, chat with curator Rose Fredrick — who says this show has “a lot more color, a lot more experimentation” and even fiber pieces — and purchase art. Yes, there will be cocktails, too. Tickets are $45, and the National Western is at 4655 Humboldt Street; find out more at coorswesternart.com.

Each Memorial Day weekend, improvisers convene at California’s Ocean Pines for Camp Improv Utopia, where they learn from experts and play and perform while indulging in camp-like activities such as ax-throwing. In honor of the retreat, Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd Street, presents the Improv Utopia Camp Night and Community Jam on Monday, January 2, opening its doors to alums and prospective campers alike and creating a unique opportunity to riff and mingle with like-minded Utopians. The free event starts at 8 p.m.; visit voodoocomedy.com to learn more.

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