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9Things to do in Colorado this Thanksgiving weekend

Colorado celebrates Thanksgiving and welcomes the holiday season with lightings, parades, The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol.

COLORADO, USA — Happy Thanksgiving, Colorado!

Before and after you enjoy the turkey this weekend, consider one of these fun Thanksgiving and holiday season events in all corners of the state.

Before the turkey day runs and walks, the Mile High City will welcome the holiday season with the annual lighting of the Denver City and County Building. Colorado holiday season traditions beginning this weekend include The Nutcracker, Blossoms of Light, Hudson Christmas, Zoo Lights, Union Station's Grand Illumination and more.

Kick off the holiday season right by experiencing the unique culture, food and geography that make the Centennial State special at one of these parades, festivals, lightings and happenings this weekend.

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Credit: stock.adobe.com

Light the Lights

DENVER — For the better part of a century, Coloradans have gathered outside Denver’s City and County building for a celebration kicking off the holiday season. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will kick off the City & County Building’s holiday festivities on Wednesday, Nov. 23, flipping the switch to turn the building into a festive scene for the whole season. The interactive holiday show will play twice per night at 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. through Jan. 22, 2023 and the National Western Stock Show.

Credit: Briargate Family YMCA

Mile High United Way Turkey Trot

DENVER — The 49th annual Mile High United Way Turkey Trot takes place Thanksgiving Day at Denver's Washington Park. The trot is a four-mile run/walk with proceeds supporting the Mile High United Way. Opening ceremonies begin at 8:45 a.m. Registration can be completed at UnitedWayDenver.org.

Turkey ROCK Trot

CASTLE ROCK — Castle Rock's Thanksgiving morning tradition returns Thursday. The 18th annual Turkey ROCK Trot is a 5K family run/walk/stroll perfect for the serious runner or the whole family. The 5K event begins in waves at 9 a.m. at the Douglas County Event Center. The free 1K Kids Dash starts at 8:30 a.m. The Turkey ROCK Trot Health and Wellness Expo opens at 7:30 a.m. Thursday with health and wellness vendors, giveaways, bounce house, face painting, balloon twisting and flapjacks. For race registration, visit TurkeyROCKTrot.com.

Stanley Harvesting Hope 5K

DENVER — The 8th annual Stanley Harvesting Hope 5K arrives Thanksgiving morning at Denver's Central Park. The event features a 5K and a kid's fun run. Dogs, strollers, wheelchairs are all welcome along the race's paved course. All of the event's proceeds are donated to the non-profit Foundation for Prader-Willi Research. You can register at HarvestingHope5K.com.

Turkey Trot 5K

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Briargate YMCA in Colorado Springs is hosting its 25th annual Turkey Trot 5K and Kids' Tiny Trot on Thanksgiving morning. The runs serve as a fundraiser for the YMCA and its many programs. The free kids' run starts at 8:15 a.m. and the Turkey Trot follows at 9 a.m. You can register for the Trot at PPYMCA.org.

Gobble Wobble

LITTLETON — The Gobble Wobble is a 5K race at Littleton's Clement Park. The run/walk is open to serious athletes, aspiring runners, families and children alike. The 12th annual Gobble Wobble begins just south of the new big playground near the Columbine Library at 8:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Registration is available at GobbleWobbleRun.org.

Turkey Day 5K

FRISCO — The 9th annual Turkey Day 5K takes place in Frisco on Thanksgiving morning. The event is open to all ages and takes place on the Summit County Recreation Path and Town of Frisco side streets. The race begins Thursday at 9:30 a.m. starting at the old Community Center. The event will sell out so register soon at TownofFrisco.com.

> Have an event tip? Send it here.  

Credit: Visit Estes Park

Catch the Glow Parade

ESTES PARK — Estes Park will kick off the holiday season with its annual Catch the Glow Parade. The lighted parade steps off Friday at 5:30 p.m. and runs the length of Elkhorn Avenue with marching bands playing holiday tunes, dancers with twinkly lights and terrific floats.

Greeley Lights the Night Parade

GREELEY — The 25th annual Greeley Lights the Lights Night Parade and Grand Lighting Ceremony takes place Saturday starting at 5:30 p.m. on 9th Avenue from 15th Street to Lincoln Park. The free parade and the lighting ceremony serve as the official holiday kick-off for the City of Greeley and surrounding areas.

Salida Christmas Mountain Lighting & Parade of Lights

SALIDA — Salida holds its annual Parade of Lights starting at 6 p.m. Friday. Salida will be transformed into Christmas Town following the parade with the lighting of "the world's largest Christmas tree" — a 4,500-bulb string of lights on Tenderfoot Mountain shaped into a Christmas tree. The huge holiday symbol, which can be seen over the Arkansas River Valley for miles, will be lit through the New Year.

Pueblo Parade of Lights

PUEBLO — The 32nd annual Pueblo Parade of Lights marks the start of the Christmas season in southern Colorado. One of the largest Christmas parades in Colorado, the parade features brightly-colored floats, school marching bands, drill teams, saddle club horses, classic cars lined with lights and much more. The Pueblo Parade of Lights steps off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday from the Mesa Junction down Union Avenue to Main Street and then 6th and Court. The 2022 parade theme is “Holidays in the Steel City.” 

Credit: Mike Watson; Colorado Ballet

Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker

DENVER — Colorado Ballet will perform "The Nutcracker" for a 62nd year this holiday season. Colorado Ballet’s production returns to its home at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for 26 performances. "The Nutcracker" will run Saturday, Nov. 26 through Saturday, Dec. 24 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Tickets range from $40 to $175 at ColoradoBallet.org.

For a second year, "The Nutcracker" will showcase its new sets and costumes created especially for Colorado Ballet by designers Thomas Boyd and Holly Hynes. The production will feature five different casts of dancers and live music performed by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.

RELATED: Colorado Ballet brings 'The Nutcracker' back for 62nd year

Credit: Colorado Springs Philharmonic

Colorado Springs Philharmonic's The Nutcracker

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs' only professional performance of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker will play this weekend only at the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic production features the Oklahoma City Ballet and Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale. Seven performances of The Nutcracker are scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday in downtown Colorado Springs. Grab your tickets at CSPhilharmonic.org.

Credit: Denver Union Station

Denver Union Station’s Grand Illumination

DENVER — Denver Union Station's Grand Illumination will be grander than ever in 2022. The free holiday celebration on Friday includes the grand lighting of the station and the 40-foot outdoor Christmas tree. There will be a vintage holiday performance by the Denver Dolls, a lights projection show on the building and an appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Entertainment runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Credit: Town of Parker

Mayor’s Holiday Lighting

PARKER — The Town of Parker is excited to welcome in the holiday season with its annual Mayor's Holiday Lighting on Friday. The Mayor and Parker Chorale will lead a sing-along to Silent Night to kick off the event, followed by the Town Tree and Grand Park Lighting. After the lighting at O'Brien Park, guests are encouraged to enjoy the sights of ice sculpture displays, holiday characters, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus and holiday food vendors. Live entertainment includes the Parker Chorale, local high school choirs and Colorado School of Dance. The event begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m. 

PHOTOSMayor’s Holiday Lighting in Parker

Holiday Tree Lighting

LONGMONT — Friday's Tree Lighting Ceremony will officially kick off the holidays in downtown Longmont. The 6:30 p.m. ceremony will have caroling and holiday sing-along, crafts, snacks, warm drinks, goodie bags and an appearance by Kris Kringle before culminating with the lighting of the big tree at the 6th Street Plaza.

Montrose Tree Lighting

MONTROSE — The historic Montrose County Courthouse is the site of the annual Tree Lighting on Friday. The event will have Christmas carolers and hot cocoa. "Letters to Santa" begins with Santa’s Mailbox located at Santa’s Cabin at Demoret Park.

Littleton Candlelight Walk

LITTLETON — The 38th annual Littleton Candlelight Walk and Tree Lighting takes place Friday in historic downtown Littleton. The walk offers free hot cider, holiday entertainment, a parade down Main Street, live reindeer and a visit from Santa. Festivities start at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Santa will cap the evening with the lighting of the giant tree in Bowles Plaza at the west end of Main Street.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

GRAND LAKE — Grand Lake’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held Friday at Town Park. Grand Lake will ring in the holiday season with festive carols, warm fire pits, hand-crafted cookies, hot cocoa and a tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday.

Beaver Creek Tree Lighting Ceremony

BEAVER CREEK — The 42nd annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday kicks off the holiday ski season at Beaver Creek. There will be live music, an ice-skating show, photographs with Santa and the lighting of the tree in Beaver Creek Village.

Holiday Tree Lighting

KEYSTONE — Keystone's 10th annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Carnival offers cookies, hot chocolate, a visit from Santa Claus, holiday tree lighting and more. Warren Station will have hot toddies, cocoa, letters to Santa and a photo booth from 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Saturday leading up the 5:15 p.m. tree lighting in the River Run Village. The holiday festivities are free.

Credit: Hotel Colorado

Hotel Colorado Lighting Ceremony

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — One of Colorado's most historic hotels is ready for the holidays. Hotel Colorado will have live Christmas music and entertainment all day Friday leading up to its 32nd annual lighting ceremony and firework show. The free celebration includes musical entertainment, visits with Santa Claus, ice carving, photo booth and more. More than half a million Christmas lights will be turned on simultaneously followed by a firework show from the top of the hotel.

Credit: Todd Powell

Wassail Days

FRISCO — Frisco's Wassail Days kicks off on Saturday before continuing to Sunday, Dec. 4. Frisco businesses will be serving special wassail recipes during the event while visitors try to fill up their "12 Sips of Wassail" card. The festival begins with the Frisco Holiday Lighting at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Frisco Historic Park Gazebo. The lighting includes hot cider, hot mulled wine, cookies and s’mores kits.

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. 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 popular Colorado tradition. A Hudson Christmas will be open weekends beginning Friday and select dates through Christmas. Tickets can be found at HudsonGardens.org.

Credit: Denver Botanic Gardens

Trail of Lights

LITTLETON — Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms will be transformed into a glistening path of lights starting this Friday. 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. 1. Tickets are sold at BotanicGardens.org.

Credit: City of Greeley Culture, Parks, and Recreation

Festival of Trees

GREELEY — The 33rd annual Festival of Trees returns this weekend with the Union Colony Civic Center lobby being turned into a true winter wonderland. The festival features beautifully-crafted trees, each decorated in their own unique theme and style, all vying for prizes. The nine-day Festival of Trees, which opens Friday and runs through Saturday, Dec. 3, also offers visits from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, carriage rides, entertainment and more. Check out the full Festival of Trees schedule at GreeleyGov.com.

Credit: Rocky Mountain Train Show

Rocky Mountain Train Show

LOVELAND — The Rocky Mountain Train Show will be steaming in to Loveland at The Ranch Events Complex at the Larimer County Fairgrounds this Saturday and Sunday. Perfect for families and train enthusiasts alike, this year's event covers over 36,000 square feet in the North and South Exhibit Halls and will showcase operating layouts, LEGOs, numerous activities for kids and more. There will be 15 operating train layouts of different scales and sizes and over 200 tables of vendors selling trains, books, paints, scenery material and everything you might need to set up your own spectacular model train. The Rocky Mountain Train Show is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at the show or at RockyMountainTrainShow.com.

Wheel of Fortune Live

DENVER — "American Idol" alum Clay Aiken is hosting a new "Wheel of Fortune" live tour. The show tour stops at Denver's Bellco Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 26. Tour organizers said players at "Wheel of Fortune Live!" will have the chance to spin a replica of the iconic Wheel and solve the puzzles on the tour’s puzzle board to win prizes that include up to $10,000 in cash, a trip to Paris, Hawaii and more at every show. Tickets for the Denver show are on sale at AXS.com

Credit: Visit Creede

Creede Chocolate Festival

CREEDE — Chocolate lovers, rejoice! The two-day Creede Chocolate Festival runs Friday and Saturday with business owners showcasing all things chocolate. Wildly unique samples range from tiramisu, tortes and chocolate-covered pretzels, to jalapeno bean fudge and chocolate-dipped bacon. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will also be found around town during the holiday shopping weekend.

Credit: Jeremy Daniel

My Fair Lady

DENVER — The iconic "My Fair Lady" is the newest musical theater production to play the Buell Theatre in Denver. Featuring classic songs like "I Could Have Danced All Night," "The Rain in Spain," "Wouldn’t It Be Loverly" and "On the Street Where You Live," the Lincoln Center Theater production tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a "proper lady." "My Fair Lady" plays the Buell Theatre through Sunday, Nov. 27. For tickets and showtimes, visit DenverCenter.org.

Credit: Colorado Symphony

Home Alone in Concert

DENVER — The Colorado Symphony is celebrating the holiday classic "Home Alone" this weekend with a concert and movie screening on Friday and Saturday at Boettcher Concert Hall at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For tickets and showtimes, visit ColoradoSymphony.org.

Credit: Gaylord Rockies Resort

ICE! at Gaylord Rockies

AURORA — Gaylord Rockies Resort has brought back a crowd-pleasing arctic holiday tradition for the first time since 2019. The Aurora hotel's ICE! exhibition uses  more than two million pounds of ice to celebrate the classic animated special "A Charlie Brown Christmas." ICE! features more than 10 scenes from the holiday special with ice carvings more than 30 feet tall. The exhibition also has two-story-tall ice slides, ice tunnels and arches and a separate area dedicated to a Nativity scene.

Credit: Visit Loveland Colorado

Winter Wonderlights

LOVELAND — Winter Wonderlights, a walkable holiday lighting attraction at Chapungu Sculpture Park at Centerra, features 150,000 holiday lights including LED mappable snowflakes and illuminated African stone sculptures. There are 30-minute music and light shows every night. The light and music show features eight songs and moving lights on a 23-foot-tall LED Christmas Tree.

Credit: Denver Botanic Gardens

Blossoms of Light

DENVER — Blossoms of Light, the signature event at Denver Botanic Gardens is back this holiday season, transforms the York Street gardens into a twinkling wonderland. More than one million lights are used to highlight the Gardens' winter beauty. Ticket reservation windows can be purchased at BotanicGarden.org through Jan. 7.

RELATED: Denver Botanic Gardens transforms for the holiday season

Credit: Christmas in Color

Christmas in Color

FEDERAL HEIGHTS — Christmas in Color has drive-through light displays at Water World in Federal Heights, Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, and at Aurora's Arapahoe County Fairgrounds. The displays each feature 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 at ChristmasinColor.net.

Credit: Denver Christkindlmarket


DENVER — The 22nd annual Denver Christkindlmarket has opened at Denver's Civic Center Park. The traditional European market is located under the lights of the Denver City and County Building and, new in 2022, alongside the Mile High Tree. The Christkindlmarket has merchants selling gifts and food in wooden huts, food vendors and a Kinder Wunderland with attractions for children and families. The market will be open daily through Friday, Dec. 23.

RELATED: Christkindlmarket returns to downtown Denver

Cherry Creek Holiday Market 

DENVER — The Cherry Creek Holiday Market is back for a third year with more than 80 rotating vendors, an expanded concert series every Wednesday to Sunday, and a light activation drawing guests onto Fillmore Plaza. Nestled in Cherry Creek North, the event is part of a larger Winter Wanderland. The market is open through Dec. 24.

RiNo Holiday Bazaar

DENVER — Denver BAZAAR brings its holiday shopping extravaganza to Zeppelin Station in Denver's River North (RiNo) neighborhood on Small Business Saturday and Sunday. The outdoor market will have more than 80 vendors and fashion trucks, a holiday-themed pop-up bar, and live entertainment.

Horseshoe Holiday Market

DENVER — More than 100 vendors will be on hand for this weekend's Horseshoe Holiday Market. The market will be held at the Highlands Masonic Temple. The market runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Fall Frenzy & Holiday Fair

AURORA — More than 100 crafters and vendors will be at this unique and upscale fair at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. With shopping for the entire family, Fall Frenzy & Holiday Fair admission is $3 and parking is free.

16th Street Mall Holiday Festival

DENVER — The 16th Street Mall Holiday Festival returns Saturday and Sunday. The outdoor festival has seasonal items, handcrafted goods, specialty foods, home décor and unique holiday gifts. The festival will be held on the 16th Street Mall between Tremont and California Street. This event was first published by Mile High on the Cheap. For more local deals and discounts, visit MileHighontheCheap.com. 

Credit: Adams Viscom

A Christmas Carol

DENVER — Colorado's largest production of "A Christmas Carol" is back 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. The joyous "A Christmas Carol" plays the Wolf Theatre through Dec. 24.

Credit: Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

Bridge of Lights

CAÑON CITY — The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is letting guests drive across the Royal Gorge Bridge — 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River — amidst thousands of twinkling lights. "Bridge of Lights" is a drive-through event and all guests must stay in their vehicles. Driving across the Royal Gorge Bridge is not regularly offered outside of pre-arranged car club groups. The park will also be playing holiday music throughout the drive on the park-wide sound system. "Bright of Lights" runs select dates through Dec. 31.

Credit: Gaylord Hotels

Cirque: Spirit of Christmas

AURORA — Gaylord Hotels is ready for the holiday season with a new cirque production at its Aurora resort. "Cirque: Spirit of Christmas" is an all-new show at the Bubly Theater at Gaylord Rockies. The show centers on Noel, a young child who recaptures her love of the holiday season in a dreamlike adventure that rekindles the spirit of Christmas.  Performances feature a contortion group act, female Mongolian speed jugglers, trapeze artists, aerialists, wire walking, acrobatics, singing, dancing and theatrical storytelling, accompanied by an original Broadway-style score.

RELATED: New cirque show opening at Gaylord Rockies

Credit: Pueblo Zoo

ElectriCritters at Pueblo Zoo

PUEBLO — ElectriCritters will be delighting kids of all ages for a 29th year at the Pueblo Zoo. The 2022 event opens the day after Thanksgiving and continues through Dec. 27. The Pueblo Zoo tradition features 150 magical light creations, hot cocoa, tasty treats and holiday shopping plus free photos with Santa Claus on Nov. 27, Dec. 4, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18. Visit PuebloZoo.org for tickets.

Credit: KUSA

Mile High Tree

DENVER — America's tallest digital tree is the Mile High Tree, a seven-story tall, 39-foot diameter conical structure in Denver. The tree features light shows choreographed to multi-cultural holiday music on the tallest pixel LED technology tree in the country. This holiday season, the giant tree has moved to Denver's Civic Center Park. The tree will be set up next to Denver Christkindlmarket, the city's German holiday market, near the City and County Building. The Mile High Tree will be lit up nightly through Dec. 31 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Entry is free.

RELATED: America’s tallest digital tree returning to Denver

Credit: Adams VisCom

Camp Christmas

LAKEWOOD — "Camp Christmas" has opened for the season at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park. The quirky, six-acre holiday experience is organized by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and artist Lonnie Hanzon. A wonderland of lights, dazzling decorations, music and memorabilia in various yuletide scenes, "Camp Christmas" also has a classic carousel, hot cocoa, sweet treats and Santa Claus. "Camp Christmas" will be open through Dec. 24. Get your tickets at DenverCenter.org.

Credit: Lighthouse Immersive Studios

Immersive Nutcracker

DENVER — The creators of the Immersive Van Gogh exhibition have opened "The Immersive Nutcracker, A Winter Miracle" at Lighthouse ArtSpace Denver at 3900 Elati Street. Set to the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, visitors will experience a young girl's magical Christmas Eve journey through over 500,000 cubic feet of projections composed of over 1 million frames of video. The 30-minute, family-friendly immersive experience features animated characters alongside footage of professional ballet dancers.

RELATED: Immersive Nutcracker experience opening in Denver

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Ralphie VI

Colorado Buffaloes vs. Utah Utes

BOULDER — The season has mercifully come to an end for the Colorado Buffaloes football team. The CU Buffs end their season on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a rivalry game against Utah. The Buffs (1-10) fired their head coach earlier in the season and are on the hunt for the next person to lead the program.

Credit: Disney

Movies this weekend

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” extended its box-office reign in its second week of release with $67 million in ticket sales. “Wakanda Forever” has amassed $546 million globally thus far, and should continue to drive sales over the Thanksgiving weekend.

New movies this weekend

  • Strange World
  • Bones and All
  • Devotion
  • The Fabelmans

Last weekend's box office

  1. "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," $67.3 million.
  2. “The Menu,” $9 million.
  3. “The Chosen,” $8.2 million.
  4. “Black Adam,” $4.5 million.
  5. “Ticket to Paradise,” $3.2 million.
  6. “She Said,” $2.3 million.
  7. “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile,” $1.9 million.
  8. “Smile,” $1.2 million.
  9. “Drishyam 2,” $1 million.
  10. “Prey for the Devil,” $935,000.

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

Have a thankful weekend!

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