Monday, December 23
The Denver Pavilions Carousel started spinning for a sixth year this past weekend, and will keep twirling through January 2. While rides are normally $3 (or free with a voucher from a Denver Pavilions merchant, hotel or community partner), on Monday, December 23, rides are absolutely free, and the Denver Choir League will add to the merriment with a holiday concert from 5 to 6 p.m. The Carousel runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 500 16th Street; find out more about Denver Pavilions programming here.
In the United States, Hanukkah is too often viewed as Jewish Christmas, when it's really a celebration of Jewish resistance against assimilation. To mark the occasion — the victory of the Maccabees and the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem — the Orthodox group Chabad’s Jewish Life Center puts on one of Denver’s biggest, brightest and least orthodox Hanukkah celebrations. Light Up the Night starts with a Car Menorah Parade that leaves the Shops at Northfield at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, December 23, and heads to Stapleton Town Center, 7352 East 29th Avenue, where at 5:30 p.m. there will be a grand menorah lighting, BMX stunt show, hot cocoa, doughnuts, and other games and festivities. For more information and to register for the car parade, go to jewishstapleton.com/parade.
The weather outside might be frightful, but life according to Escape to Margaritaville is anything but. A musical based on the songs of Jimmy Buffet's long and illustrious career, Margaritaville debuted on Broadway in 2018 and is now hitting the road, promising to take you to a place where the sand is hot, the water is warm and margaritas flow like wine. The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 23, at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, where it runs through January 5; find tickets and more info at denvercenter.org. Cheeseburgers in paradise not included.
Last Christmas Eve saw disappointed diners (Jewish and otherwise) heaving sighs of dismay as Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen took a hiatus from hosting its annual Jewish Christmas meal. But on Tuesday, December 24, the "Jewish Christmas" Chinese Food Pop-Up — inspired by the tradition of Jewish families heading out for a feast of Chinese food on the eve of a Christian holiday — is back at the eatery's Stanley Marketplace location, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora. From 6 to 9 p.m., people of all faiths are invited to gather for Reuben egg rolls, smoked salmon rangoon, teriyaki kippered salmon and kung pao pastrami, along with beer, wine and spiked cider and cocoa. All-inclusive tickets are $80 for adults and $25 for children under twelve at eventbrite.com; proceeds from sales will benefit Conscious Alliance, a nonprofit feeding the hungry via food drives at concerts and the sale of music-themed art and memorabilia.
Wednesday, December 25
Highland Tap & Burger, 2219 West 32nd Avenue, is opening its doors on Christmas Day for its annual Orphans' Christmas; the bash, which has been happening for nearly a decade now, promises free food and drink to whatever motley and merry assortment of folks show up from 1 to 5 p.m. It also serves as a fundraiser for various causes around town; this year, the beneficiary is Denver Public Schools. In lieu of a cover or canned goods, you're asked to show up with cash or a pre-paid debit card to donate to the cause.
There's no shame in staying home on Christmas to watch movies, eat seasonal treats and enjoy your newly unwrapped presents. But the day will offer plenty of magic outside your front door — especially at A Very Harry Potter Christmas Part 2! On Wednesday, December 25, the hip punks at Occidental, 1950 West 32nd Avenue, joined this year by Williams and Graham, will reprise the one-night-only nerdy party that pays homage to those witchy Brits. Sneak through Occidental's version of Diagon Alley to find magical surprises, watch the HPs on the big screen and partake in themed cocktails; be sure to wear your best Harry Potter-themed costume for the bar's own Tri Wizard Cup Tournament. The event is 21+, but don't forget to bring your childlike wonder. Entry is free and the fun starts at 6 p.m.; find more info at facebook.com/occidentaldenver.
If being cooped up in the house with family is dragging you down and you want to celebrate Christmas gaily, head to Gladys: The Nosy Neighbor, at 500 Santa Fe Drive, for a night of queer Yuletide glee during Showtunes Goes Homo for the Holidays. The holiday musical sing-a-long, which takes place from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Wednesday, December 25, is the perfect place to throw back a few and feel the Christmas spirit with your real family — not those people who raised you. For more information, go to facebook.com/gladysdenver.
Thursday, December 26
Have you been sleeping on Natura Obscura? The immersive arts installation and myth-infused dreamscape by Prismajic at the Museum of Outdoor Arts (on the second floor of the Englewood Civic Center Building, 1000 Englewood Parkway) has been one of the surprise successes of 2019, and was extended months past its original closing date. But now that time is drawing nigh: If you haven't experienced the multi-artist technological wizardry in all its Jungian glory, there's no time to lose. You can buy timed tickets for $15 online or $20 at the door for Thursday, December 26, through the closing date of Sunday, December 29; for available hours and more information (including how to download the accompanying app), go to naturaobscura.org.
Book time at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, 2401 Welton Street, from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, December 26, for Celebrate Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), a special performance that honors the African first-fruits harvest tradition. The Kwanzaa cross-cultural events will continue through the week at various Denver libraries, with a discussion of Kujichagulia (self-determination) at 12:30 p.m. Friday, December 27, at the Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway. All programming is free, and light refreshments will be served; find more information at denverlibrary.org.
Friday, December 27
Right about now, when all the used wrapping paper is in the trash, the doldrums set in. In other words, it's the perfect time to get going — and growing — by learning how to make your own terrarium, and maybe throw in a few aliens for good measure. The Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver can get you started when it brings back Black Sheep Friday: Extra Terrariums, a favorite from the guided DIY pastime’s first ten years. Led by MCA friend Thadeaous Mighell, the workshop provides materials and the creative inspiration for you to follow through. Get ready to make on Friday, December 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the rooftop MCA Cafe, 1485 Delgany Street; admission is free for members and teens, and free with museum admission, which is just $5 after 5 p.m. — which is when happy hour conveniently begins. Learn more at mcadenver.org.
Do things really seem funnier when you’re drunk? Local comedians will put that question to the test — while dressed as Star Wars characters — at Drunk Star Wars, a soppy competition hosted by Rey, aka Denver comic Allison Rose. Whether or not you choose to get drunk, too, is up to you, but the contestants are likely to be completely out to lunch and off the planet. They'll start cracking jokes in hopes of grabbing the $150 cash prize at 8 p.m. Friday, December 27, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Cantina scene, anyone? Admission is $10 in advance and $20 each for a VIP table for two at eventbrite.com, or $15 at the door. Find details on the Drunk Star Wars Facebook page.
Slam Nuba celebrates the second night of this year’s pan-African holiday — dedicated to the principle of Kujichagulia, or self-determination — with the Nuba Kwanzaa Show, a slammin’ round of performance poetry by favorite local bards. Join the poets on Friday, December 27, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street. Admission is $7.50 at eventbrite.com or $10 ($5 student with ID) at the door; learn more at Slam Nuba’s Facebook page.