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9Things to do in Colorado this weekend: Dec. 17-19

The holiday season has arrived in the Centennial State with parades, concerts, festivals, fairs and family-friendly winter events.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado celebrates winter's arrival next week with holiday festivals, parades, musical performances, craft shows and more.

Denver Zoo Lights, Blossoms of Light, A Hudson Christmas, Camp Christmas, Cirque Dreams Holidaze and Winter Wonderlights are just some of the must-see traditions in Denver and Colorado this weekend along with annual productions of "The Nutcracker," "Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum," and "A Christmas Carol."

Celebrate the holiday season this weekend by experiencing the unique culture, food and geography that makes Colorado so special at one of these fun events this December weekend.

> Have an event tip? Send it here.

Credit: Alex Kirk, KUSA

Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals

DENVER — The Denver Broncos are making a push for the NFL playoffs and the Cincinnati Bengals are their biggest obstacle yet. Win on Sunday and the Broncos' postseason dreams are still alive. Lose on Sunday, hope may be extinguished. Teddy Bridgewater, Javonte Williams, Patrick Surtain II and the Denver Broncos play the Bengals this Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Although the game is sold out, some tickets are available for resale at Ticketmaster.com.

RELATED: Broncos playoff picture: 5 teams vying for final 2 AFC playoff spots

Credit: stock.adobe.com

Alamosa Christmas Light Parade

ALAMOSA — Downtown Alamosa will welcome next weekend's big winter-season holiday with its annual Christmas Light Parade on Saturday night. This weekend’s parade, which feature more than 40 floats, steps off at 6 p.m.

Credit: BillionPhotos.com - stock.adobe.

Colorado Springs Philharmonic's Christmas Symphony

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs Philharmonic celebrates the Christmas season Sunday with its annual Christmas Symphony. Led by conductor Thomas Wilson, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic will perform Christmas classics, seasonal favorites and a very merry sing-along. The symphony is scheduled for Sunday at the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts. Find your tickets at CSPhilharmonic.org.


DENVER — Admit it, tubas get no respect. But some 300 tubas, euphoniums and other low-register brass instruments spread holiday cheer on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Denver Center Performing Arts Complex (the outdoor, but covered Galleria area). It’s all part of TubaChristmas 2021, a nationwide series of free concerts performed by local, volunteer musicians who play tubas and other big brass, and who assemble only hours before concert time to rehearse their “heavy metal” tunes. This event was first published by MileHighOnTheCheap.com. For more local deals and discounts go to MileHighontheCheap.com.

Arapahoe Philharmonic's Holidays at the Movies

LITTLETON — Arapahoe Philharmonic is taking a trip down movie memory lane with music from classic holiday movies like "Home Alone," "Frozen," "Me Me in St. Louis," "Gremlins," "Babes in Toyland," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Nightmare Before Christmas." The Holidays at the Movies concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec 17 at Denver First Church. For more information or concert tickets, visit Arapahoe-Phil.org.

RELATED: VOTE NOW: Christmas movie bracket

Credit: AntonioDiaz - stock.adobe.com

Christmas Sweater 5K

DENVER — Grab the Christmas sweater and jog over to Denver's Washington Park for the Christmas Sweater 5K run/walk this weekend. Waves in the race will begin at 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sunday, Dec 19. Dress in a tacky sweater – the more tinsel, bows, reindeer and candy canes, the better. Finishers will get a Christmas sweater race medal, a themed shirt and a finish line expo with vendors, food and cookies. Register online at ColoradoRunnerEvents.com.

Credit: Song_about_summer - stock.adobe.

Last Chance Gift Fest

LONGMONT — The Last Chance Gift Fest runs Saturday and Sunday at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. Over 150 vendors will be at this show which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission and parking are free each day for the event which also offers arts crafts, toys, home décor, food and more. There will be live music from Kenny Lee Young on Saturday and Chance Gallagher on Sunday starting at noon.

Downtown Lakewood Holiday Bazaar

LAKEWOOD — Denver BAZAAR is taking over a massive indoor space near the Belmar Plaza for a holiday shopping experience in downtown Lakewood. There will be more than 80 vendors, fashion trucks and a holiday-themed pop-up bar this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the Downtown Lakewood Holiday Bazaar.

Belleview Station Holiday Bazaar

DENVER — More than 50 craft vendors, fashion trucks, live music, a holiday-themed pop-up bar and street food are at Belleview Station in the Denver Tech Center this weekend. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Credit: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP

Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche are back at Ball Arena in Denver this Saturday night. The Avs host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 p.m. Ball Arena is requiring proof of a negative test or COVID-19 vaccination to attend this event. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com.

Credit: Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion's Living Lights

WESTMINSTER — Colorado’s newest holiday lights event opens this weekend. Butterfly Pavilion's Living Lights will light up in a rainbow of colors as visitors walk among exhibits and see the world of invertebrates in a new way. This entertaining and educational event features biofluorescent invertebrates including scorpions, glowing exhibits, a Firefly Forest with aerial artists and captivating performers culminating in an electrifying kid’s glow-in-the-dark dance party and unveiling of the Firefly Princess.

Living Lights runs nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Friday, Dec 17 through Sunday, Jan 2. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit Butterflies.org.

The Nutcracker

DENVER — The Colorado Ballet's 60th production of The Nutcracker is back this holiday season at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Colorado Ballet's production has been one of Denver's most popular holiday traditions for decades. With a story that sparks the imagination of audiences young and old, The Nutcracker showcases exceptional dancers as well as Tchaikovsky’s beloved score performed by Colorado Ballet Orchestra.

This year's production features new costumes and new sets created especially for Colorado Ballet. The Nutcracker plays through Thursday, Dec 24. Performances sell out each year, so get your tickets early at ColoradoBallet.org.

RELATED: Colorado Ballet celebrates new costumes, set after COVID-19 brought challenges

Colorado Conservatory of Dance's The Nutcracker

DENVER — The Colorado Conservatory of Dance's annual production of The Nutcracker is a Denver holiday-season tradition since 1993. The production from students and community members also features world-class international guest artists. The Nutcracker will be performed this weekend at the Performing Arts Complex at Pinnacle Charter School. Tickets are on sale at CCDance.org.

Ballet Ariel’s The Nutcracker

LAKEWOOD — Ballet Ariel's production of The Nutcracker has returned to the Lakewood Cultural Center. Featuring Tchaikovsky's famous score and dancers from Ballet Ariel's professional company and school, The Nutcracker follows Clara and the Prince's adventure of toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes and Sugar Plum fairies. Ballet Ariel will hold performances through Thursday, Dec 23. Tickets are available at Lakewood.org/Tickets, at 303-987-7845 or the Lakewood Cultural Center box office.

The Nutcracker of Parker

PARKER — The Nutcracker of Parker is a Douglas County holiday tradition. Presented by Parker Arts and the Colorado School of Dance, this 17th annual, family-friendly production of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic will play the PACE Center through Saturday, Dec 18. For tickets, head to ParkerArts.com.

> Have an event tip? Send it here.

Credit: Adams Viscom
"A Christmas Carol" at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

A Christmas Carol

DENVER — Colorado's largest production of A Christmas Carol has reopened this holiday season at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Based on Charles Dickens' classic novel, the Denver musical adaptation traces curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge's triumphant overnight journey to redemption.

A Christmas Carol was last performed by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) Theatre Company in 2018. The production was paused in 2019 for theater renovations and was canceled due to the pandemic in 2020.

A Christmas Carol will play the newly-renovated Wolf Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex through Saturday, Dec 26. Tickets are on sale now at DenverCenter.org starting at $30.

RELATED: 'A Christmas Carol' returns after 3-year absence

Miners Alley Playhouse's A Christmas Carol  

GOLDEN — Miners Alley Playhouse's holiday tradition is back. This hilarious and face-paced production of A Christmas Carol uses five actors to bring Dickens' beloved characters to life. The Josh Hartwell adaptation uses nothing more than simple props, fun physicality, and the power of imagination to tell the classic story of redemption. Miners Alley Playhouses' A Christmas Carol has performances scheduled through Thursday, Dec 23. Tickets can be found at MinersAlley.com or by phone at 303-935-3044.

Credit: Stan Obert for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
"Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum" is a Colorado holiday tradition performed by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum

DENVER — Performed by the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum has been a Colorado multicultural celebration for 30 years. The production, which blends dance, live music, spoken word and seasonal celebrations and customs from around the world, is a holiday tradition you'll never forget. The 2021 production runs through Sunday, Dec 19 at the Cleo Parker Robinson Theatre. Tickets for Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum are sold at CleoParkerDance.org.

PHOTOS: Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum

Credit: Gaylord Rockies

Mission: Save Christmas

AURORA — A brand-new Christmas experience is open at Gaylord Rockies this holiday season. Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf will be open at the Aurora hotel resort and convention center through Sunday, Jan 2. The new, all-ages multisensory marquee experience lets guests join Buddy the Elf in answering the call from Santa to help muster enough Christmas cheer to help Santa’s sleigh fly. Overnight packages and event tickets can be purchased at ChristmasatGaylordRockies.com. Advance online reservations are required for all ticketed events.

RELATED: New 'Elf' holiday experience coming to Gaylord Rockies 

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

AURORA — Gaylord Rockies’ family holiday show Cirque Dreams Holidaze — which last played at the Bubly theater at Gaylord Rockies in 2019 — is back this holiday season. A cirque adventure and Broadway-style musical wrapped into one family-friendly holiday show, Cirque Dreams Holidaze is a celebration of toy soldiers, snowmen, reindeer, gingerbread, penguins, holiday characters and Santa. The show features more than 300 dazzling costumes and world-class aerialists, singers and dancers. The show plays through Sunday, Jan 2.

RELATED: 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' returns to Gaylord Rockies

Mile High Tree

DENVER — The Mile High Tree, a seven-story tall, 39-foot diameter conical structure will once again feature dynamic light shows choreographed to multi-cultural holiday music on the tallest pixel LED technology tree in the country. The giant tree will appear for a second-straight year on the 16th Street Mall at Welton Street. The Mile High Tree will be lit up nightly through Saturday, Jan 1 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Entry to see the tree is free and open to the public.

RELATED: America’s tallest digital tree returning to Denver

Credit: Hudson Gardens & Event Center

A Hudson Christmas

LITTLETON — A Hudson Christmas is an outdoor festival of Christmas lights at Hudson Gardens that is sure to brighten your holiday spirit. Back after two long years, the garden's woods are transformed into a winter wonderland of brightly lit trees set against the night sky, reflecting off bodies of water. With friends and family, hot chocolate, tasty treats and photo opportunities, A Hudson Christmas is a must-see Colorado tradition. A Hudson Christmas will be open select dates through Christmas. Tickets can be found at HudsonGardens.org.

Credit: Adams VisCom

Camp Christmas

LAKEWOOD — Guests can journey through Denver Center for the Performing Arts' biggest holiday experience ever at Camp Christmas. New this year, the experience will be an outdoor/indoor extravaganza at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park, featuring artist Lonnie Hanzon's fantastical wonderland of lights, dazzling decorations, music and memorabilia in various yuletide scenes across a six-acre landscape. Camp Christmas runs through Sunday, Jan 2. Get your tickets at DenverCenter.org.

Blossoms of Light

DENVER — Denver Botanic Gardens' Blossoms of Light has been the Garden's signature event for over three decades. The holiday tradition transforms the York Street gardens into a holiday wonderland. The family-friendly event is brighter and bigger than ever before with thousands of ever-changing displays of light and color. Blossoms of Light runs through Jan 8. Get your ticket reservations early at BotanicGardens.org.

Trail of Lights

LITTLETON — Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms has been transformed into a glistening path of lights. The Trail of Lights holiday experience offers singing Christmas trees, synchronized music in a children's play area, light tunnels, model tractor displays, hot beverages, nuts, kettle corn and more. Trail of Lights at Chatfield Farms will be open various evenings through Sunday, Jan 2. Tickets are sold at BotanicGardens.org.

Olde Town Arvada Makers Market

ARVADA — Olde Town will be hosting its first-ever Holiday Makers Market this year. The market runs each weekend through Sunday, Dec 19. This event was first published by Mile High on the Cheap. For more local deals and discounts, visit MileHighontheCheap.com.

Denver Christkindl Market

DENVER — The 21st annual Denver Christkindl Market is open daily through Thursday, Dec 23 at the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park. The Denver Christkindl Market recreates the joy of strolling a European village square during the holidays.

Guests to the market can savor the season while enjoying authentic Glühwein (mulled spiced wine) and European drinks while shopping for unique artisan gifts and holiday treats sold by local Coloradoan, European, and international merchants in wooden huts. Daily entertainment will also take place at the Greek Amphitheater Stage including German polka music, German traditional dancers, holiday hymns in multiple languages, accordion and blue grass music, high school bands and more.

RELATED: Christkindl Market returns to downtown Denver

RELATED: Visit these holiday markets to find unique gifts this Christmas

Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Electric Safari offers 60 light sculptures illuminating the zoo's 50 acres. Along with the warming fires throughout the zoo, the astounding displays will fill you with warmth and holiday spirit as you gaze out at the sparkling lights of Colorado Springs. Electric Safari is open most nights through Jan 1. Reserve your passes at CMZoo.org.

PHOTOS: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Electric Safari 

Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo

DENVER —  The Denver Zoo will light more than two million lights for its 31st annual Zoo Lights celebration. Zoo Lights will span 80 acres and with new installations and offerings as well as returning favorites including nightly ice-carving demonstrations. Zoo Lights runs through Sunday, Jan 2 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Denver Zoo officials said Zoo Lights tickets sell out each year. The zoo encourages folks to book tickets online in advance to secure a spot.

PHOTOS: Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo

ElectriCritters at Pueblo Zoo 

PUEBLO — ElectriCritters will be delighting kids of all ages for a 28th year at the Pueblo Zoo. The 2021 event continues through Sunday, Dec 26. The Pueblo Zoo tradition features 150 magical light creations, hot cocoa, tasty treats, holiday shopping, and free photos with Santa Claus on Dec 19, Dec 20 and Dec 21. Visit PuebloZoo.org for tickets.

Christmas in Color

FEDERAL HEIGHTS & MORRISON — Denver's biggest drive-through Christmas light displays are open for another holiday season. Christmas in Color has drive-through light displays at Water World in Federal Heights and Bandimere Speedway in Morrison. The display features more than one million LED lights arranged into tunnels, trees, giant candy canes, snowflakes and more, all synchronized to festive holiday music on the FM radio dial. Tickets are on sale now at ChristmasinColor.net.

RELATED: 2 drive-through Christmas displays with 1 million LED lights each returning to Colorado

Credit: Deen van Meer; Disney

The Lion King

DENVER — Broadway is back in Colorado for the first time in 22 months. Disney's "The Lion King" is playing at the Buell Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex through Sunday, Jan 2. More than 95 million people have experienced the incredible music, sets and costumes of this Broadway spectacular. A winner of six Tony Awards, "The Lion King" continues its reign as one of the biggest musicals in history. For tickets and showtimes, visit DenverCenter.org.

Credit: Marvel/Disney

Movies this weekend

Last weekend's top film, "West Side Story," welcomes a Marvel blockbuster sequel to movie theaters this weekend. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" could become the first movie of the pandemic era to open higher than $100 million.

"West Side Story" and Disney's "Encanto" should have long legs through the holiday season. Newcomers coming over the upcoming Christmas weekend include "The King's Man," "Sing 2" and "The Matrix Resurrections."

Opening this weekend

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Nightmare Alley

Last weekend's box office

  1. West Side Story — $10.5 million
  2. Encanto — $9.4 million
  3. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — $7.1 million
  4. House of Gucci — $4.1 million
  5. Eternals — $3.1 million

RELATED: Well-reviewed 'West Side Story' debuts to $10.5M

> Would you like to see your favorite Colorado festival, fair, expo, concert, drama, musical, ballet, run or event listed in 9Things? Send it to alexander.kirk@9news.com.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about the holidays in Colorado

RELATED: 7 of the biggest holiday light events in the Denver area

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