The sun now dips below the Front Range too early. Porches and sidewalks are crusted with ice and snow most mornings, and slushy by afternoon. But soon enough, Christmas trees will bounce on the top of car roofs en route to a living room near you.
In other words: It’s the cusp of the holiday season. Crack out the menorahs, Christmas lights and check your bank account balances before the big splurge.
At worst, the holidays are rife with meaningless trips to Macy’s and massive piles of dirty dishes. But at their best, these days can become memorable and meaningful time with your loved ones, whoever they are.
In the interest of helping you avoid cabin fever with your in-laws, The Sentinel has listed the best and brightest holiday festivals to hit the Denver metro, and beyond.
Here’s to scarves, floppy hats, hot chocolate and hugs on cold nights.
Say glühwein 10 times fast. Then, try that after drinking a few mugs of the hot, cinammon-y and altogether delicious wine at the annual Denver Christkindl Market. The German Christmas — or Weihnachten — festival is rife with authentic German cuisine, tasty wintry beverages and cute, Christmas nick-nacks. It’s one of the best events to grace the 16th Street Mall.
Hours vary, from Nov. 22 to Dec. 23. 1515 Arapahoe St. Free entry.
Light the Lights, at Denver City Hall
Politics aside, Denver’s City Hall is magnificent. And every holiday season, the local government mothership becomes a beacon of Christmas cheer. Come see the magic happen Thanksgiving weekend, when some Patagonia-wearing city staffer flips the switch to illuminate the tall pillars and facades of city hall in kaleidoscopic colors. It basically becomes Who-Ville down there, and a who’s-who of Denverites revel in Civic Center park to watch the transformation. If you miss the lighting event, don’t fret — the stunning colors are hard to miss until the holiday season ends, in Colorado, that means Stock Show in January.
Lights switched on between 6:30-7 p.m., but food and alcohol available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 29. 1437 Bannock St. Free.
Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms
Legend has it that a certain Kris Kringle will be in the Littleton area this holiday season. It seems Mr. Kringle is sick and tired of the North Pole, and all he wants to do is hang out with Denverites young and old. We’ve heard through Kringle’s booking agent that he’ll be chilling out at Chatfield Farms starting Thanksgiving weekend and then every night starting Dec. 16. Come take a photo with Mr. Claus and walk the promenade of starry lights. One tip: He likes cookies.
Weekends only from Nov. 29 to Dec. 15, but nightly thereafter. 8500 W Deer Creek Canyon Road in Littleton. $20 for adults and kids. More information, and tickets, at https://www.botanicgardens.org/events/special-events/santas-village-chatfield-farms.
Aurora Holiday Tree Lighting
Central Park is overrated. Show a little hometown spirit in early December, when City Hall switches on the lights for its annual Holiday Tree Lighting. The event is free. Just bring your “Oohs” and “Aahs” when the display flicks on.
Plus, City Hall has leaked that a celebrity of some kind will be personally attending the event. However, they’ve been rather vague so far. As of press time, City Hall has only said there will be “A very special…visit from someone from the North Pole.”
“Join us to find out who our special guest will be!”
Our guess? Jeff Bezos.
5-7 p.m., Dec. 3. Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway. Free.
When the Denver Zoo says they’ve got a million lights twinkling over 80 acres of the zoo, they’re dead serious. We find that the blue lights complement elephant hides rather well. Kids and adults all over the Denver metro have agreed for almost 30 years of “Zoo Lights,” although it’s unclear whether the 3,300 animal “residents” of the zoo enjoy the crowds, and lights, as well. Find out by walking the zoo promenades, checking out the “Rainforest Dance Party” and gawking at ice sculptures. “Cool” takes on a double meaning.
But the law of Zoo Lights? It always sells out, and it’s very crowded. Parking is difficult. Find more information and buy tickets online at www.denverzoo.org/events/zoolights/.
Nov. 29 to Dec. 30 evening. 2900 E 23rd Ave. Tickets from $15 to $20.
Flame out on candle night in Golden for the holidays. For 30 years running, this regional favorite will please the Dickens out of the grinchiest humburglar. Start at the Foothills Art Center at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6, get a candle or bring your own. Light your light and take in an endless supply of good cheer and charm as you make your way to Golden Visitor Center singing carols as you parade. The Golden Lions Club has cheery hot beverages at the top and bottom of the hill on Washington Street. Come early for parking and walk to 15th and Washington Street for the parade start.
Get outta town
Grab your inlaws or just your pal or partner and show them what the rest of the world thinks all of Colorado is like: Georgetown! Nestled in the canyon that always inspires ooohs and aaaahs, and the frequent winter home to Colorado’s famous big-butted sheep, Georgetown during the holidays becomes a movie set, and you’re the star. This Victorian holiday nexus offers wandering carolers, snowy roof-tops, roasted chestnuts and horse-drawn wagon rides. Pictures become postcards and no-one doesn’t like it.
Weekends on Dec 7-8 and 14-15.