Though it feels like everyone's in a mad rush to Thanksgiving (and Christmas after it), there are plenty of opportunities to slow down and enjoy the season. Loads of Denver holiday traditions return this week, including the Downtown Denver Rink, Light the Lights and Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens, to name just a few. There are also plenty of new events to discover over the next few days, while you roast and then digest that turkey. Keep reading for more!
Tuesday, November 20
If your family is looking to make a new holiday tradition, consider the Downtown Denver Rink, which opens on Tuesday, November 20, for ice skating seven days a week until February 3. Not only is the skating free, but you can rent your own skates for the price of that Starbucks hot chocolate you'll need to burn off. Open on Arapahoe Street between 16th and 17th streets, the rink hosts events throughout the winter season, so there's no excuse to stay home; find more information at downtowndenver.com.
Wednesday, November 21
The South Broadway Ghost Society keeps a murky profile as an online art and writing journal looking for challenging work “that not only begs questions of the mainstream, but also of progressives and creative types.” Anonymity is an option for submissions, hence the reference to ghosts. The group will go live for an evening of readings and other entertainment, zine-making, spooky storytelling and a midnight dance party on Wednesday, November 21, from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Mutiny Information Cafe, 2 South Broadway. A $5 donation to pay the performers is requested at the door; learn more on the event's Facebook page, and get to know the ghosts at soboghoso.org.
Capitals of haute couture the world over can agree on one thing: Nothing is more effortlessly stylish than an all-black ensemble. After previous editions inspired by the fashions of glamorous cities like Paris and Dubai, the Fifth Annual All Black Attire Party turns to Italy in its ongoing quest for monochromatic elegance. Strut through a red-carpet reception guaranteed to make each guest feel like a VIP before hitting the dance floor for thumping beats provided by three different DJs. Revel in swanky swagger while exploring the expressive potential of a limited color palette at an unusually well-dressed affair, which gets started at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 21. This year's venue is Temple Nightclub, 1136 Broadway; tickets are $20 to $50 at eventbrite.com. Visit the Temple Denver Facebook events page to learn more.
Thursday, November 22
"It sucks you have to work on Thanksgiving,” says the sticker that members of the House for All Sinners and Saints Lutheran congregation will slap on the lunches that they’ll prepare during the tenth annual Operation: Turkey Sandwich. It sucks, but the fact that this crew of volunteers will be assembling and then distributing over 1,000 lunches around the city on Thursday, November 22, is pretty sweet. Want to do good before you move on to your own feast? Head to the Denver Community Church, 1595 Pearl Street, at 10:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning...and if you want to come with a cooked turkey to donate, all the better. To find out more or to sign up, go to facebook.com/houseforall.
Friday, November 23
Since its debut in 2016 on the Westin Hotel’s outdoor plaza, the free Denver International Airport Ice Skating Rink has been a hit for both travelers with layovers and local families looking for wintry fun. Even the skates are free, as are the occasional special performances sprinkled throughout the rink’s run. Skate away any time between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily from Friday, November 23, through January 6 at the airport, 8500 Peña Boulevard; the rink is easily accessible without going through security. Short-term parking is $5 an hour, or opt for rapid transit via the A Line commuter train, which drops you off within walking distance of the plaza. Learn more at flydenver.com/events.
Eager to make Black Friday a little less bleak? A slew of your favorite things awaits when Best of Denver
winner the Sugar Plum Bazaar returns with a fresh trove of shop-ortunities. Mosey through row after row of independent vendors hawking handcrafted wares, including artwork, clothing, specialty foods, jewelry and dozens of other potential gifts you're unlikely to find anywhere else. A charming holiday tradition that will transform the McNichols Building into a merry marketplace brimming with the creations of over 120 different makers, Sugar Plum proves that the most memorable present can never be mass-produced. The sales floor will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. Friday, November 23, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 24. Admission is free; visit sugarplumbazaar.com to learn more.
Nothing cuts through the gloom of November's early nightfall like the cheerful sight of a city aglow, so make your evenings merry and bright at Light the Lights, an annual ceremony that's kicked off the Mile High holiday season for a century. Crowds of caroling carousers will usher in the moment between 6:30 and 7 p.m. when Mayor Michael Hancock flips the switch on a lights display that makes the stony facade of the City and County Building look as festive as a fruitcake. Before the lighting, guests can get their holly jolly on at a family-friendly winter festival that includes live entertainment, food trucks, hot chocolate and a beer garden. Organizers will also be collecting hats, scarves, gloves and coats for families in need. The celebration begins at 3 p.m. Friday, November 23, in Civic Center Park; admission is free. Search "Special Events Calendar" at denvergov.org for more information.
Denver Union Station kicks off the holiday season with the Grand Illumination, a free gathering from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 23, with classic holiday hits by the Denver Dolls, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, Christmas carolers and the lighting of the station’s new outdoor Christmas tree on the plaza at 1701 Wynkoop Street. (The Rockies’ Dinger will flip the switch.) The Union Station Holiday Market by Denver Flea will debut at 5 p.m. the same day; the gathering of hundreds of makers continues weekends through December 16, and tickets are $5. Come back to the station Sunday, November 25 (and subsequent Sundays through December 23), for free visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Unwrap more details at unionstationindenver.com.
For sheer beauty, no holiday lighting display in town beats Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens, but this year Blossoms is outdoing itself. The new, improved nighttime spectacular has been upgraded to include a trendy sound-reactive component to light up the DBG’s UMB Amphitheater that visitors can control in between programmed holiday music cycles. And as always, you can pick up a pair of Holospex and a hot chocolate and just enjoy strolling in the brightly lit darkness of the gardens. Blossoms of Light opens on Friday, November 23, and runs from 5 to 9 p.m. nightly through January 1 at the gardens, 1007 York Street. Admission is $11 to $16 in advance at botanicgardens.org (opening night is sold out); prices go up $5 at the door, if tickets are still available.
The holiday season has officially started, and what better way to get in the spirit than with Miracle, a Christmas-themed pop-up bar? Founded in 2013 by New York City bar owner Greg Boehm, the gaudy-meets-millennial-chic concept first came to Denver last year. This time around, Miracle will set up at Avanti Food & Beverage's Wolf Bar (the food hall's upstairs bar), 3200 Pecos Street, and will run from Friday, November 23, through December 31 from 5 p.m. to close weeknights and 3 p.m. to close on weekends. Order drinks dubbed Run Run Rudolph, Gingerbread Flip, Snowball Old Fashioned and Bad Santa or take "naughty" or "nice" shots. Book a table by calling Avanti at 720-269-4778 (reservations are highly recommended, based on last year's wait times). To help get you in the giving mode, the bar will be selling holiday mugs straight from the menu and donating 10 percent of profits to Action Against Hunger. See miraclepopup.com for more details.
Raise a glass of well whiskey in celebration as the hi-dive, 7 South Broadway, celebrates fifteen years of rocking hard, a milestone that's sure to put the passage of time into stark relief for steadfast scenesters. With a surprise lineup that's sure to be stacked with some of the best bands to grace its stage, the two-day anniversary blowout is the bar's way of thanking patrons who helped shape a music venue into a charmingly scuzzy community space for local music lovers. The party gets started at 9 p.m. Friday, November 23, and Saturday, November 24, with different acts taking the stage each night. Admission is $12, or $20 for both nights, via ticketfly.com or in cash at the door. Fifteen cheers to fifteen more years!
The holidays aren't all sweetness and sugarplums. On Friday, November 23, Chuck Roy's Dirty #XXXmas Comedy Show will put the X in Xmas, delivering plenty of raunchy jokes. Host Chuck Roy, a standup star who teaches comedy at the Community College of Denver, will be joined by a cast of comic Santa's helpers, including Terri Barton Gregg, Steve Young, Rick Bryan, Ron Ferguson, Meghan DePonceau, Brett Crandall, Dickey Bill Wagner, Mike Langworthy and David Testroet. The fun begins at 8 p.m. Friday, November 23, at Noonan's Event Center, 13521 East Iliff Avenue in Aurora. For more information on this very hairy Christmas event, call 720-246-0304; tickets are $10 at eventbrite.com.
Saturday, November 24
If you’re looking to make good this year on the local-shopping objectives of Small Business Saturday, the 2018 Horseshoe Holiday Market is one of the best places to start, though it can get a bit crowded. But folks are there for good reason, thanks to the Horseshoe’s curated vendors of vintage and artisan goods, more than 100 of whom will be set up over the weekend in the nooks and crannies of the Highlands Masonic Temple and Event Center, 3550 Federal Boulevard. The Horseshoe is never a disappointment, remaining ever true to its heartfelt promise of providing “Lucky Finds.” Shop from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on Saturday, November 24, and Sunday, November 25; admission is free, and food trucks will be lined up outside. Learn more at horseshoemarket.com, and if you still have energy for more shopping, check out our full Small Business Saturday holiday market list at westword.com.
Romantic-era Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky unwittingly created a Christmastime tradition that would endure for centuries with The Nutcracker, an adaptation of a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann set to a score that's as light and airy as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Largely considered a flop upon its 1892 premiere at St. Petersburg's prestigious Mariinsky Theatre, The Nutcracker stands as one of the most frequently produced works of the balletic canon; indeed, metro Denver ballet lovers can choose from at least five local productions this holiday season. But only the Colorado Ballet can claim victory in the Goldstar National Nutcracker Contest, an accolade that the company has touted loudly and proudly ahead of its 58th season. The Nutcracker debuts at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 24, and continues through Monday, December 24, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Tickets, $30 to $155, are going quickly; buy yours and learn more at coloradoballet.org.
Boulder poet and queer advocate Andrea Gibson commands an enthusiastic national community of fans through the sheer power of words that set them free, whoever and wherever they are — and for them, it’s cause for celebration when the poet issues a new volume (or disc, in the case of the sixteen-poem recording Hey Galaxy, released in January). Now Gibson is ready to introduce a new poetry collection, Lord of the Butterflies (Button Poetry, $16), to Denver devotees on Saturday, November 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 East Colfax Avenue. Gibson will read first and then participate in a Q&A moderated by Bethy Leonardi; learn more at tatteredcover.com.
The international muralist Okuda San Miguel (aka Okuda), an old hand at reimagining the insides of old churches, blew some minds locally a while back when he painted the interior of what is now called the International Church of Cannabis on South Logan Street with his signature rainbow-colored facets. Now you can get to know Okuda and his works better at Mirus Gallery, 1144 Broadway, where The Plastic Island, a solo exhibition commenting on the unsustainability of plastics in a rapidly changing environment, opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, November 24. Admission is free, but an RSVP is appreciated at eventbrite.com; the show runs through the end of the year.
Fans still reeling from the loss of a great American songwriter can gather for one last dance at Free Fallin' — The Music of Tom Petty, an evening that honors the dearly departed Heartbreakers frontman with high-culture accoutrements. Conductor Christopher Dragon leads the Colorado Symphony and Canadian rockers Jeans ’n Classics through grand interpretations of Petty's most memorable songs, making sure his musical legacy is handled with care. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 24, at Boettcher Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Don't back down from a grand orchestral tribute to a rock-and-roll legend: Go to coloradosymphony.org to buy tickets, $10 to $99, and find out more.
Dress like a cat and lap up liquor like a human when the Cat Crawl returns to Denver. A benefit for Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue, the bar crawl starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 24, at Bang Up to the Elephant, 1310 Pearl Street, and from there will pad on furry little feet to Your Mom’s House, X-Bar and Charlie’s Nightclub Denver. All of the stops will offer specials and complimentary shots that should make for a purrfect evening. Tickets are $20 at eventbrite.com.
Sunday, November 25
The Sie FilmCenter’s monthly Big Gay Matinee! series, which casts a laser focus on campy gay cult classics, will kill it in November with one of the campiest movies ever made: Roger Vadim’s sexy, science-fictiony, comics-inspired romp Barbarella, starring Vadim’s wife at the time — the very young and gorgeous Jane Fonda — against a psychedelic ’60s backdrop. Yeah, they don’t make movies like this anymore. Drag performer Heavenly Powers will warm up the audience before the show, so be in your seat by 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 25, at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, to enjoy every single minute. Admission is $7 to $11.50; find tickets and more information at denverfilm.org.
Say you just woke up from your three-day Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced stupor, tasked with finding something to do that doesn’t involve shopping, eating leftovers or singing Christmas songs. Our suggestion? The River North Music & Arts Showcase, which should sufficiently re-energize you to face the holiday season head-on. Musical acts include 21 Taras, FLOATGOAT, Yarrow and headliner Float Like a Buffalo, and a selection of food-truck fare and thirty fine artists doing their thing will round out the one-night fest. The action starts at 4 p.m. Sunday, November 25, at the Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer Street; admission is $10 in advance at ticketfly.com and $15 at the door.
Monday, November 26
In the weeks after the death of Stan Lee — the brain behind such Marvel characters as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Black Panther — people will be debating who the next great comic artist will be. Could it be a kid you know? Well, there’s no harm in dreaming: Pop Culture Classroom, the host of Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con), is holding a workshop taught by professional artists for aspiring creators ages eight to fourteen who are interested in learning how to sketch, ink and publish their own stories. Comic Series: Comic Drawing 101 starts at 4 p.m. Monday, November 26, at the nonprofit’s headquarters, 2760 West Fifth Avenue. Tickets are $10 at eventbrite.com; for more information about this and other Pop Culture Classroom offerings, go to popcultureclassroom.org.
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