AURORA | For many, it’s the saddest more boring holiday season ever. The pandemic has ground the region to a halt, and even those trying to make good from bad are souring on the chore.
Despite this being the darkest time of year in many ways, a bevy of theaters, museums and more are offering something to lighten your mood and days. Here are few selections of what’s up for the holidays at or not too far from home.
“From Vintage, With Love”
One merely has to glance at the Billboard Hot 100 to discern that the canon of holiday music has remained squarely frozen in the 20th century. Half of the top 10 tracks listed in the pop culture catalogue this week were first recorded more than a quarter century ago, with the average date of original release among the five landing somewhere in the tail end of the Johnson Administration. And that late 1960s date is generously buoyed by the current number one single in all the land: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which first met listeners’ ears in 1994. Thankfully, Aurora’s Vintage Theatre is endeavoring to jettison those hackneyed saws this season with a new original production entitled “From Vintage, With Love.” The roughly hour-long concert features more than a dozen holiday-themed tunes for listeners to enjoy, most of which are lesser-known b-sides that generally see more dust than tinsel each year. A loose narrative binds the cast — composed of Randy Chalmers, Isabella Duran, Elisha Horne, Traci Kern and Mary Louise Lee — while a live band led by Music Director J. Aaron Brooks-Roberts propels the musical journey. The show is expected to be available digitally through the beginning of January.
Available digitally anytime through at least Jan. 3. Ticket information can be found at vintagetheatre.com/fromvintagewithlove. Tickets are $20. Once payment is remitted, attendees will receive a YouTube link to the pre-recorded performance in their email inbox. Run time is approximately 56 minutes.
Blossoms of light at Denver Botanic Gardens
Though it’ll surely look a bit different this year, there’s something about seeing the Denver Botanic Gardens all dolled up during the winter months. One of the region’s primary cultural institutions will once again become bedecked with lights this season for the Garden’s annual “Blossoms of Light” event. The grounds will be festooned with various illuminated trickery, with treats and warm drinks available to nosh and sip while you take in the wonder of it all. Of course, masks are required and capacity will be limited, so be sure to snap up your tickets soon. The event is set to run through Jan. 16.
4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily through January. The Denver Botanic Gardens York Street location, 1007 York St., Denver. Tickets are $21 for non-member adults and $18 for non-member children. Visit botanicgardens.org for additional ticket information.
Ah, yes, that time of year when that pocket of land above Denver’s City Park lights up with more than 1 million bulbs. Zoo Lights is back at the Denver Zoo for the 30th time this year (good grief does that make us feel old), though, as with everything this year, it’ll look slightly different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the event is still charging ahead and tickets are selling out fast due to limited capacities, so be sure to swipe yours before they’re gone. Reservations are currently sold out about a week in advance, so snag your chance to see your favorite animals all aglow soon.
Time slots start at 5 p.m. daily through the end of the month. The Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St, Denver. Tickets start at $15. Visit denverzoo.com/events/zoolights for more information.
The Music of Black Nativity
While live-theater has largely been jettisoned from the metro area through the end of the year, a slate of local artists and producers are continuing to breathe live into fabled performances that can still be enjoyed from the comfort of your sofa. The crew at the Aurora Fox is offering just such an experience with a virtual presentation of Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity” this year, complete with the slate of gospel tunes that has made the show a holiday staple for more than half a century. First staged in 1961, the show follows the millennia-old tale of the Christian nativity with a traditionally all-Black cast. Kenny Motten directs the latest take on the venerable show at The Fox.
7:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 31. Virtual. Tickets are $20. Visit AuroraFoxArtsCenter.org for more information.
Happy Brew Year Challenge Kickoff
Well, so much for that dry January. But if you’re going to imbibe while welcoming 2021, you may as well drink some tasty brews, buy from local joints that could really use your business and maybe even burn a calorie or two along the way. (Note the use of the singular “calorie” there.) The folks at Rocky Mountain Brew Runs are encouraging local beer aficionados to drink beer and run miles in a month-long contest intended to boost local breweries. Participants will have to post screenshots of barley pops they’ve swilled and miles they’ve logged on fitness apps for a chance to win a bevy of local prizes, such as entry to future running races, massages, apparel and, of course, more beer. Bottoms up, Aurora.
Times are flexible throughout January 31. Virtual. Visit RockyMountainBrewRuns.com for more information. Free.
Live Streamed ApocaLips Comedy Show
The proudest son of Illinois sure had a way with words. And one of ol’ Abe’s lasting witticisms is particularly fitting for these seemingly perpetual times of pestilence. The phrase: “I laugh because I must not cry,” should be erected on every billboard from hither to thither, as it may be the only way we make it through these dark — as in there is such little daylight these days — and gloomy times. Enter the ApocaLips Comedy Show, a digital staging of funny women and men to help balm those mental wounds that scar and reopen every time you open Twitter and consider sending your first fleet. (Hint: Don’t do that.) Hosted by pros Mike Langworthy and Chuck Roy, the show features a smattering of talent from across the region. And better yet: 10% of the proceeds go to efforts aimed to connect siblings separated by the foster care system. So laugh for a good cause this Sunday, because it sure as hell beats crying. Usually.
7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays through the end of the year. Online. Search for the event on Facebook or EventBrite for additional information. Ticket entry, which comes with a proprietary Zoom link, is $10 or $25 for a VIP ticket. Email [email protected] with questions.
Christmas Movie expo at the Gaylord Rockies
We’re not sure how, but apparently this is still happening. But if this time of year comes with the requisite warning of “you’ll shoot your eye out,” then boy do we have the exhibit for you. Eastern Aurora’s megalopolis known at the Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Convention Center is staging a real-life walk down memory lane this Christmas season — so as long as residents don’t muck it up further by, you know, giving each other exponential cases of COVID-19 — with a staging of 13 iconic Christmas exhibits dedicated to the bona fide Clause canon. Replicas of film props, audio clips and other themed tchotchkes will line the individual stalls designed with a nod to the likes of “A Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Elf” and nearly a dozen more. So grab your bowl of spaghetti coated with maple syrup, because it’s Christmas time, people. And if you want the full Gaylord experience, the hotelier is also featuring a slew of other events that can be combined for additional cost with the movie tour, like a skating rink, bumper cars, snow tubing and pictures with Santa. Visit the Gaylord website for additional information.
Time slots begin at 4 p.m. daily, The Gaylord Rockies Hotel and Convention Center, 6700 N. Gaylord Rockies Blvd. Tickets are $14 for children and $25 for adults. Visit tickets.gaylordrockies.com for more information.
It’s a Wonderful Light at Corey Christiansen’s
Corey Christiansen knows wattage. For several years, the Aurora Public Schools spokesman has been bedecking his house with enough Christmas lights to fill the back of a tractor trailer. (That’s some back-of-the-napkin math, but we’re fairly confident in our calculations there.) This year is no different for the Christiansen household, which is once again sporting some 50,000 tiny bulbs in honor of the holiday season. The illuminated epicenter of cheer will be lit up each night through the first weekend of 2021 with a dual purpose: to magnetize the minds of Aurora residents and raise awareness and funds for the Autism Society of Colorado. Attendees are encouraged to donate to the organization by visiting bit.ly/3m0JFtT.
5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 3, 4822 S. Picadilly Ct. Free. Search “It’s A Wonderful Light” on Facebook for more information.
Greenwood Village Drive-Up Light Show
This year seems to be the poster child of socially distanced light shows across the metroplex, and we are here for it. Greenwood Village Community Church is hosting their own version of scintillating seasonal ephemera through the end of the year for south Aurora residents or those who are hell-bent on roasting their pupils at every major light display from here to Timbuktu. Somehow, we know that those people are out there. While we are fearful of what their optometrists may have to deal with, we commend their commitment to the month of Kris Kringle, Rudolph and the like. Just maybe consider bringing some sunnies along to protect those peepers.
5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Dec. 31. 5600 E Belleview Ave., Greenwood Village. Free. Search “Drive Up Christmas Light Show” on Facebook for more information.
The sinking of the Lusitania exacerbated which global conflict? Author Mary Ann Evans wrote under what famous nom de plume? What are the five largest cities in Colorado? These aren’t questions that keep us up at night; they’re typical trivia topics routinely shouted across neighborhood haunts. This week, the crew at Rosefly productions is offering a smattering of free trivia rounds to keep your noodle both sharp and entertained during these uncertain times of contagion. Whether you’re a trivia wizard or a relative novice, you’ve got nothing to lose by tuning in any time in the next week. En garde, quiz-heads.
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 23, 26, 29. Online through Rosefly Productions. Free, but tips are encouraged via Venmo or Paypal. Zoom ID: 588 431 545. Visit the Rosefly Facebook page for more information.
Day of Jubilee
Days of Jubilee used to mean free coffee, free tunes and free arts compliments of a handful of local creatives. While the in-person java remains a bit of a distant thought given the current state of the pandemic, we’ll take the music and creativity. Two out of three is far better than nothing. A cadre of north Aurora groups are gathering for the first version of first Friday in the city’s Cultural Arts District on the first day of the new year. The even will feature a pre-recorded set from Lee Clark Allen and a virtual exhibition from artist Shane Bryant. The best part? The gathering can be peeped from the comfort of your bedroom, where you may or may not be recovering from bidding good riddance to 2020 the night before. No judgement on that front.
4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 1, Facebook Live. Search for “Day of Jubilee” in the search bar to find the video link. Free. Visit the People’s Building Facebook page for additional information.
Castlerock light show
Eat your heart out, Clark Griswold.The man with the best Christmas light display in all the land would have nothing on the multi-layered event taking place in Castle Rock through Dec. 26. Local DJs are pairing curated tunes with a choreographed light show in front of a decked-out local home for a socially distanced holiday affair. Here’s the rub: attendees are asked to park on the municipal street in front of 4028 Ashcroft Ave. and tune their dials to 89.7 to hear the holiday music. The playlist includes a bevy of holiday classics — the queue alternates between two song catalogues on alternating days — though the final number is just listed as “COVID Song.” We’re not worried, but we are a little worried about that one.
5:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 26, 4028 Ashcroft Ave., Castle Rock. Free. Search “House of Christmas Lights” on Facebook for more information.