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Guide to Denver’s Holiday Happenings & Santa Sightings

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The holiday season is a magical time to visit Denver with theater, music and dance performances. Plus, Santa sightings, holiday shopping and lighting extravaganzas. There’s fun for all ages. Visit Denver shares these memorable ways to celebrate the holidays this year.

THE POLAR EXPRESSTM TRAIN RIDE

WHEN: Nov. 24–26 and 29–30; Dec. 1–3, 6–10 and 13–23, 2017
WHERE: Colorado Railroad Museum

The story of The Polar ExpressTM is theatrically re-created and combined with a magical train ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Children get to meet Santa and experience all the sights and sounds of this classic tale as if happening all around them.

BLOSSOMS OF LIGHT

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2017–Jan. 1, 2018
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens

Embrace the holiday season at Blossoms of Light. The first night will display over one million colorful lights draped in elegant designs highlighting the Gardens’ winter beauty. Enjoy sparkling passages, new displays and romantic kissing spots under the mistletoe, all made even more beautiful through HoloSpex glasses. Warm drinks and tasty treats will also be available. 

ICE SKATING AT DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018
WHERE: Denver International Airport

Heading out of town? Get to Denver International Airport early and enjoy their free ice skating rink, entertainment and family-friendly music on the DEN plaza. Or make a special trip just for the fun of it!

DENVER CHRISTKINDL MARKET

WHEN: Nov. 17–Dec. 23, 2017
WHERE: Skyline Park
The Christkindl Market includes vendors from Germany and other countries, as well as local artisans, offering high-quality, handcrafted gifts such as traditional hand-carved wooden figurines, handmade candles and ornaments. Traditional German food will tempt your taste buds. Sip on warm Glühwein (hot spiced wine) as you listen to traditional Christmas carols and live German music. Entry is free and the entire family is invited to enjoy this great tradition! 

DOWNTOWN DENVER RINK AT SKYLINE PARK

WHENNov. 21, 2017–Feb. 14, 2018
WHERESkyline Park, the corner of 16th and Arapahoe
One of the most popular holiday events in Denver, the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Parkin Downtown Denver returns in 2017 with ice skating and family fun. The rink is free and open to the public with the option to bring your own skates or rent a pair at a minimal cost. 

SANTA’S VILLAGE

WHEN: Nov. 24–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE
Chatfield Farms Botanic Gardens
Explore Chatfield Farms as it is transformed into a magical Christmas village. Santa’s Village is a family-friendly holiday event including hayrides, holiday gifts, a trail of lights, Santa’s Workshop and so much more.

COLORADO BALLET’S ‘THE NUTCRACKER’

WHEN: Nov. 25–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House

It’s not the holidays until you see visions of sugar-plum fairies dancing before your eyes. Colorado Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is a cherished family holiday tradition and the largest production of the holiday favorite in Colorado.

ZOO LIGHTS

WHEN: Dec. 1–31, 2017
WHERE: Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights spans 70 acres of Denver Zoo’s campus with nightly entertainment, animal encounters, Santa meet-and-greets and, of course, illuminated animal sculptures that swing through trees, jump across lawns hide in bushes and appear in places where they’re least expected.

ANNUAL TUBACHRISTMAS

WHEN: Dec. 17, 2017
WHERE: Downtown Denver
Tired of the same old holiday soundtrack? Revive your holiday spirit at the Annual TubaChristmas Concert in Skyline Park! Tap your toes to your favorite holiday tunes being played by 300 tuba players from all over the region. Skyline Park will be decorated for the season, making it a perfect setting to experience this holiday spectacular.

DENVER PAVILIONS HOLIDAY CAROUSEL

WHEN: Dec. 15, 2017–Jan. 2, 2018
WHERE: Denver Pavilions

Create Memories for years to come at the Denver Pavilions beautiful downtown Holiday Carousel. Throughout December, families can enjoy the magic of the holidays from the perch of a horse on a beautiful carousel. $3 per ride.

OLDE GOLDEN CHRISTMAS

WHEN: Candlelight Walk, Dec. 1, 2017; Christmas Parades, Dec. 2, 9 and 16, 2017
WHERE: 911 10th Street, Golden

Olde Golden Christmas includes a community candlelight walk, Victorian carolers, free Newfoundland dog-pulled cart rides, holiday art market, parades, shopping, music and theater productions, Santa Claus, holiday lights, art and more!

NOON YEAR’S EVE

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Enjoy the sights, sounds. and excitement of Times Square, all before bedtime! Each hour, count down to a glittering ball drop and pop bubble wrap fireworks as fountains of confetti flutter all around for Noon Year’s Eve!

NYE GREAT GATSBY WHITE ROSE GALA

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Known as one of Denver’s Top New Year Eve Parties, the NYE Great Gatsby White Rose Gala is a high end and elegant charity event where you are enveloped by musical and theatrical performances that take you back to the Roaring 20’s.

NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW & RODEO

WHEN: Jan. 6–21, 2018
WHERE: National Western Complex

Held every January, the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is the world’s largest stock show, involving more than 15,000 animals. Enjoy rodeos featuring top-notch bull riders, horse shows, livestock competitions and auctions. 

Santa Sightings

SANTA’S FLIGHT ACADEMY

WHEN: Nov. 9–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Santa’s Flight Academy is a wholly interactive and magical hero’s journey that transforms children into key members of Santa’s Flight Crew. Create memorable and sharable moments for families, including the Flight Suit Visualizer and the Flight Navigation Station. Experience a magical snow and light show inside Santa’s sleigh and, of course, a visit with Santa Claus.

SANTA’S VILLAGE

WHEN: Nov. 24–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE
Chatfield Farms Botanic Gardens
Explore Chatfield Farms as it is transformed into a magical village. Santa’s Village is a family-friendly holiday event including hayrides, holiday gifts, Santa’s Workshop and so much more.

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA

WHEN: Dec. 9–10, 16–17 and 22–24, 2017
WHERE: Downtown Aquarium
Join Sharkey and Santa for a delicious breakfast buffet at Denver’s Downtown Aquarium! After breakfast, explore the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit with more than one million gallons of extraordinary marine life. 

SANTA ON THE SQUARE

WHEN: Saturdays (Nov. 25 – Decc 2310:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sundays (Nov. 26 – Dec. 2412:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Larimer Square, Larimer Street, between 14th and 15th streets
Throughout the month of December, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be visiting Larimer Square. It’s the perfect opportunity to tell Santa what you want for Christmas and to make sure you’ve made the Nice list this year. Photos will Santa and Mrs. Claus are free but please bring your own camera.

PHOTOS WITH SANTA

WHEN: Nov. 10–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Park Meadows Retail Resort
Colorado’s largest enclosed shopping center will offer plenty of time with Santa this holiday season. With events from Pet Nights to Family Portraits, Park Meadows offers a Santa experience for the entire family.

SANTA’S TOY FACTORY

WHEN: Nov. 11–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Southwest Plaza
Kids can make like elves and test new toys and even digitally design their own at Santa’s Toy Factory in Southwest Plaza. There are also plenty of opportunities to meet jolly St. Nick himself, including a Holiday PJ Night with Santa, Ugly Sweater Night with Santa and Caroling Night with Santa. Pet lovers can even bring their four-legged friends for Pet Photos with Santa!

 

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