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9Things to do in Denver and Colorado this Christmas weekend

Christmas weekend arrives in the Centennial State with festivals, fairs and family-friendly winter events.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado celebrates winter's arrival with holiday lights, holiday shows and more.

Denver Zoo Lights, A Hudson Christmas and Winter Wonderlights are just some of the must-see traditions in Denver and Colorado this weekend along with the return of "A Christmas Carol" in Denver. New Colorado traditions "Mission: Save Christmas," "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" and "Camp Christmas" highlight are helping to spread the magic of the season.

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.

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Credit: Levi Severson

Christmas Lights

COLORADO — Piling into the car, singing carols, sipping on hot chocolate and looking for houses with the most festive Christmas lights is one of the best ways to celebrate the holiday season. If you're looking for a little help planning your holiday light viewing route, we have some suggestions to hit the most popular displays. 

If you have a favorite display, add it to the "Near Me" section of the 9NEWS app. Your photos will be added to a statewide map highlighting the best places to see light displays around the state.

READ MORE: Use these maps to see the best Christmas lights in your neighborhood

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.

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

Mile High Tree

DENVER — The seven-story tall, 39-foot diameter Mile High Tree features light shows choreographed to holiday music on the tallest pixel LED technology tree in the country. The giant tree is appearing 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.

Credit: Denver Union Station

Merry & Bright Lights Show

DENVER — Merry & Bright Lights transforms the exterior of Denver’s Union Station into a spectacular canvas spreading holiday cheer. This outdoor light show features interactive visual imagery created by local Denver artists projected across the Station’s historic façade. With classic holiday music accompanying the joyful imagery, Merry & Bright Lights is a can’t miss holiday experience that continues through Monday, Dec. 27.

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. The displays will be open through Sunday, Jan. 2.

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

Credit: Butterfly Pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion's Living Lights

WESTMINSTER — 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 through Sunday, Jan 2. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit Butterflies.org.

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 Saturday, 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

RELATED: Denver Zoo Lights offers low-sensory night

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 and holiday shopping. Visit PuebloZoo.org for tickets.

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 Friday, Dec. 31. Tickets can be found at HudsonGardens.org.

Credit: Visit Loveland

Winter Wonderlights

LOVELAND — Loveland's Winter Wonderlights lights and musical light show runs every night 5 to 9 p.m. through Sunday, Jan. 2. This year, Winter Wonderlights has added 20,000 additional lights, bringing its display to 100,000 holiday string lights, twinkling bulbs, LED mappable snowflakes and heart arches, illuminated African stone sculptures and a new 23-foot LED mappable Christmas tree.

PHOTOS: Winter Wonderlights

RELATED: Winter Wonderlights returns to Loveland

Credit: Adams Viscom

A Christmas Carol

DENVER — Colorado's largest production of A Christmas Carol plays one final weekend 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 will play the newly-renovated Wolf Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex through Sunday, Dec. 26. Tickets are on sale now at DenverCenter.org.

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.

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

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

Credit: Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center

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

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures via AP
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in a scene from "The Matrix Resurrections."

Movies this weekend

"Spider-Man: No Way Home" shattered pandemic-era box office records last weekend with $260 million and earned the third best opening of all time behind "Avengers: Endgame" and "Avengers: Infinity War." Before last weekend, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" held the record for best opening of the pandemic with $90.1 million. This weekend, three major sequels open!

Opening this weekend

  • Sing 2
  • The Matrix Resurrections
  • The King's Man

Last weekend's box office

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home — $260 million
  2. Encanto — $6.5 million
  3. West Side Story — $3.4 million
  4. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — $3.4 million
  5. Nightmare Alley — $2.8 million

RELATED: 'Spider-Man' nets 3rd best opening of all time



> 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.


SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Holiday season in Colorado

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