Getting the turkey on the table is the least of your challenges this week: You also need to keep your relatives entertained on a very long weekend. If you’re hoping to avoid the nervous breakdown that family time often brings, we recommend getting out of the house and enjoying a few festive happenings. Here are our top ten family-friendly events over Thanksgiving weekend:
1. Southwest Rink
Southwest Rink at Skyline Park
Now through February 14
Technically, the weekend hasn't started yet — but who cares? Grab the kiddos and head to 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver for a few laps around Southwest Rink at Skyline Park, a free urban rink that opened on November 22, and will have a special holiday skate on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The rink's open daily through February 14, and hours are posted online; bring your own skates or rent a pair for $2.
2. Denver International Airport Ice Skating Rink
Now through January 1
At 9 a.m. on November 25, Denver International Airport will open a skating rink on the plaza south ofhe terminal, complete with carolers and seasonal music. The rink will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and not only is skating free, but you can also borrow skates for free. Although there might be more convenient places to skate, if you're delayed flying out of DIA, or the person you're picking up is delayed, this is a great way to distract the kids. Find out more at flydenver.com.
3. Steuben’s Arvada
7355 Ralston Road
10 a.m. Friday, November 25
Steuben's in Arvada is opening early — at 10 a.m.– for a special brunch. If you've still got family in town, head to this new/old diner in Arvada for chilaquiles (with shredded beef, avocado and a sunnyside egg), scratch-made biscuits & sausagegGravy, or cayenne etouffée (crawfish, shrimp, andouille, dirty rice and a fried egg). Adults in the crowd can top it with a mimosa, bloody Mary (add bacon for just a buck), or michelada. Brunch lasts until 3 p.m. Find out more here.
4. Black Friday
Punch Bowl Social
Friday, November 25
With old-school entertainment, people-pleasing fare and a stellar beverage program, Punch Bowl Social continues to draw in the crowds for family-friendly events. On Black Friday, you’ll get a shot of Wild Turkey bourbon if you bowl a turkey (that’s three strikes in a row). Don’t forget to check out the other old-school games, too, including ping-pong, darts, shuffleboard, Skee Ball, vintage arcade games and karaoke.
5. YMCA of the Rockies
Snow Mountain Ranch and Estes Park Center
Through November 25
Although both YMCA facilities held big feasts on Thanksgiving, the fun continues. At Snow Mountain Ranch, you canj oin the Moose on the Loose hike on Friday; other family-friendly weekend activities include holiday cookie decorating, animal tracking, dodgeball, bingo, and campfires with s’mores. At YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center, there will be hikes and fun and games all weekend. Lodging is still available over the weekend at both YMCA of the Rockies properties, and day passes are available at $20 for adults and $10 for kids; children under five are free. And on Cyber Monday, YMCA of the Rockies will offer a lodging deal with rates as low as $64.
Keep reading for more family-fun events.
6. Lights in the Lobby
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa
Skip Black Friday lines and steer your family to the Brown Palace's iconic lobby, which is decorated with more than 130 poinsettias, 100,000 LED lights and 4,800 ornaments. This longstanding and heartfelt holiday tradition is a fantastic way for families to segue into December. Don’t miss the massive chandelier suspending from the stained-glass ceiling of the hotel’s eight-story lobby; it will be covered in more than 10,000 beads. Visitors can enjoy holiday decorations over cocktails and small plates in the atrium from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m.; seating is available on a first-come basis. For more information, visit the Brown Palace’s website.
7. Downtown Denver’s Grand Illumination
Friday, November 25
This spectacular event illuminates the downtown landscape, from Denver Union Station to Civic Center Park, and along the 16th Street Mall. Spectators can choose any downtown viewing spot they'd like, but for families, we recommend the Denver Pavilions, which offers easy post-lighting access to restaurants, shops and a holiday carousel. The countdown begins at 6:30 p.m., and all of the holiday lights go live together. Denver Union Station is particularly spectacular, with brightly colored floodlights brightening the historic structure. Grand Illumination is free, and the lights are lit nightly through the holiday season. For more information, visit the event website.
8. Blossoms of Light
Denver Botanic Gardens
Starting Friday, November 25
Through January 1, Denver Botanic Gardens invites families of all ages to its York Street location from 5:30 to 9 p.m. to embrace the holiday season with Blossoms of Light. This annual display features over a million colorful lights draped in designs throughout the site. Enjoy sparkling passages and new displays — all enhanced through HoloSpex glasses. Warm drinks and tasty treats will be available for purchase. For more information, visit the Denver Botanic Gardens website. Buy tickets online, or at the Bonfils-Stanton Visitor Center; members receive two complimentary tickets to both Blossoms of Light at York Street and Trail of Lights at Chatfield Farms.
Don your best elf costume and head to Golden for Small Business Saturday. The town’s seasonal 5K starts at 8:30 a.m. under the Welcome to Golden arch, and takes runners and walkers of all ages through the heart of Golden along Clear Creek. The finish line’s on 12th Street, and features a free pancake breakfast. Prizes will be awarded for the best elf costumes, with categories for adult, child, group and pet. For a $39 race-day entry fee, participants get a reusable goodie bag with discount coupons to Golden businesses. After the run, stores in Golden’s historic downtown will open their doors early to serve up cookies, cider, live music and some special holiday deals — a perfect reason to buy local this Saturday.
10. Family Yoga
Sunday, November 27
Feeling stressed after a weekend with your favorite people? Practice gratitude while unwinding at Family Yoga from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Belly Bliss’s Cherry Creek studio. This active, hour-long class is a great opportunity to introduce babies, toddlers and older children to yoga. No prior experience is required, and your first class at Belly Bliss is free. Visit Belly Bliss’s website for more details.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.