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Colorado holiday guide: Getting festive – 12 days of December action

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We can’t guarantee geese a-laying or swans a-swimming, but whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year (see No. 1), you deserve a little holiday fun.

There’s a lot to do in and around Denver. So here’s our 12 days of Christmas.

1. Say “hi” to the big guy
What’s Christmas without Santa Claus? Everyone’s favorite present-slinger will hold court at several locations this season, including Larimer Square (Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas Eve) and Fort Collins’ Old Town Square (Wednesdays-Sundays through Dec. 9 and daily Dec. 11-24). Find Santa through Dec. 24 at the Cherry Creek Mall, FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield and Park Meadows in Lone Tree.

2. Go back in time
Grab your dancing shoes for the third annual 1940s White Christmas Ball, Dec. 7 at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. The retro-themed holiday party features dancing to live big-band music, classic film characters, a pin-up hair and makeup workshop, swing-dance lessons, chestnut roasting, ice carving, a group conga line and more.

3. Join the parade
Denver’s annual two-night celebration of the holidays, the 9News Parade of Lights — featuring floats, marching bands and cultural groups — begins at 8 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Bannock Street and West 14th Avenue. Watch for free along the two-mile route, or see tonight’s parade on 9News.

4. Get lit up
Looking for a holiday light display to brighten your season? The Denver Zoo’s Zoo Lights, featuring 38 acres of lights and more than 150 animated animal sculptures, runs through Jan. 2, while the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Blossoms of Light, featuring thousands of lights synchronized to holiday tunes, runs through Jan. 1. At Chatfield Reservoir, Trail of Lights offers an illuminated path through the Colorado countryside. Other light displays include A Hudson Christmas at Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Living Lights at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster and Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs.

5. Get your skate on
Work off some of those holiday calories, or just have some family fun, at one of the metro area’s many ice skating rinks. In downtown Denver, the Southwest Airlines Rink returns to Skyline Park at 15th and Arapahoe streets through Feb. 14, offering DJs on Friday nights, skating lessons on Saturday mornings and live music on Saturday afternoons. Other skating spots include the Rink at Belmar in Lakewood, the Pond at Southlands in Aurora and the Cube Ice Rink at the Streets of Southglenn in Centennial. In Boulder County, WinterSkate operates rinks at the Twenty Ninth Street Mall in Boulder and at Steinbaugh Pavilion in downtown Louisville, while the Ice Rink at One Boulder Plaza offers skating in the heart of downtown Boulder.

6. Make a joyful noise
Holiday concerts abound this season, offering everything from classical to jazz to rock. Highlights include a host of offerings — Colorado Christmas, Too Hot to Handel and more — from the Colorado Symphony, sing-along performances of Handel’s Messiah Dec. 15 and 16 in Boulder, Tuba Christmas (featuring hundreds of tuba players playing holiday favorites) Dec. 23 in Skyline Park, and male vocal ensemble Cantus, performing its All is Calm concert, based on real events during World War I, Thursday at the University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

7. Go local
When it comes to city and neighborhood holiday celebrations, it’s tough to beat the lineup of events in Golden: horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers, a community candlelight walk, weekly parades, shopping, music and theater productions, light displays and more (check out for details). Other neighborhood and city celebrations include Winterfest on Old South Pearl Street (Friday-Saturday), Arvada’s Lagniappe Celebration and tree-lighting ceremony (Tuesday), Highlands Ranch’s Hometown Holidays (Dec. 7), the Parker Christmas Carriage Parade Dec. 8), and Holiday in the Highlands: Old Fashioned Christmas (Dec. 9) in north Denver.

8. Christmas by the cup
Tired of all the activities? Then take a moment to sit down, relax and indulge a little with some coffee (or tea) and dessert. Check out D-Bar — located at 1475 E. 17th Ave. in Denver — where you can cure holiday stress with some crème brulee, milk and cookies, bread pudding and various flavors of pie. The Brown Palace, which decorates during the season like a pro, offers afternoon tea, but openings during the holiday season book up fast, so reserve a spot now.

9. See visions of sugarplums

Here’s one day where you literally take the 12 days to heart. You’ll see (at least) nine ladies dancing at one of the many local performances of Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday ballet “The Nutcracker.” Don’t miss the traditional Colorado Ballet performance at Ellie Caulkins Opera House (running through Dec. 27). Boulderites can see their Boulder Ballet performing with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra Saturday-Sunday at Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, while Fort Collins residents can check out the Contemporary Dance Academy’s performance at the Lincoln Center Dec. 9-11.

10. Keep dreaming
Everyone needs a little Bing Crosby in their life at Christmastime. You can see the classic movie come to life on the stage during the Denver Center Theatre Company’s production of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” You have plenty of opportunities to see it — it’s playing the Buell Theatre through Dec. 24.

11. Market merriment
German beer and brats as part of a holiday celebration? Talk about the perfect Christmas treat. You’ll find them at the 12th annual Denver Christkindl Market, which adds German flair (and food) to the holiday season. You can shop for handcrafted gifts from German and other European vendors, all while listening to Christmas carols and snacking on apple strudel. The free market in Skyline Park downtown continues through Dec. 22. And if that’s not enough, visit the Georgetown Christmas Market, held Saturday-Sunday and Dec. 8-9. The outdoor European market features handcrafted gifts, horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers, roasted chestnuts, appearances by St. Nicholas in his traditional robes, and the Santa Lucia Children’s Procession.

12. Shop for joyWant to see where Colorado really ODs on Christmas? Then check out St. Nick’s, one of the country’s most extravagant Christmas shops, located at 5221 S. Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. The year-round, family-run, 20,000-square-foot shop has been filling children with awe and wonderment since 1976. Here you’ll find an ornament for nearly every hobby and interest, plus wreaths and stockings, yard art and lights, trains and Christmas villages, nativities and nutcrackers, and of course, lots and lots of trees.

By Kathryn Mayer and Greg Glasgow

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  • comment avatar Karen November 30, 2012

    Totally bookmarking this list. Awesome!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson December 1, 2012

    Makes me soooo excited for the holidays.