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9Things to do in Denver and Colorado this weekend

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

COLORADO, USA — It's the most wonderful time of year in Colorado!

This weekend Colorado celebrates the coming winter season with holiday festivals, parades, musical performances, craft shows and more.

Winter and Christmas festivals are planned this weekend in Brighton, Longmont, Boulder, Thornton, Berthoud, Vail, Fruita, Denver, Castle Rock, Calhan and more.

Celebrate the holiday season this weekend by experiencing the unique culture, food and geography that makes Colorado so special at one of these 40 fun and festive events. No matter where you live in Colorado, there's a magical weekend experience awaiting you.

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Credit: jakkapan - stock.adobe.com

Festival of Lights Parade

BRIGHTON — Brighton's 26th annual Festival of Lights Parade is set to step off at 5 p.m. Saturday. The all-ages nighttime parade features more than 75 lighted entries with the theme of "A Hometown Holiday Tradition." The parade travels south on North Main Street, turns onto Bridge Street to 10th  Avenue to Southern Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

Thornton WinterFest

THORNTON — The three-day Thornton WinterFest begins with Santa's arrival Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Carpenter Park fields. Santa and his elves will help the Mayor and City Council turn on the lights of Santa's Village. Afterwards will be ice skating, choir performances, food vendors, a beer garden and more. The festival continues Saturday and Sunday with the Ugly Sweater Fun Run, a holiday marketplace, ice skating, holiday concert from the Thornton Community Band and fireworks set to holiday music at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night.

Longmont Lights

LONGMONT — The City Longmont has a weekend of activities planned for its annual Longmont Lights. Beginning Friday at 5 p.m. the festivities include Santa's workshop, hot cocoa, fire pits, food trucks, live music, ice skating and fireworks display at 7:45 p.m. Longmont Lights continues Saturday with the Parade of Lights on Main Street at 5 p.m.

Fruita Parade of Lights

FRUITA — Fruita's Hometown Christmas celebration is this Saturday and includes the 2021 Parade of Lights & Tree Lighting. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Fruita with the tree lighting immediately following at 6:30 p.m. This year's theme is Winter Wonderland. 

Calhan Christmas Parade of Lights 

CALHAN — Christmas comes to southern Colorado early this weekend. The annual Calhan Christmas Parade of Lights arrives Saturday with live music, floats, vendors, food, light displays, vintage vehicles and Santa Claus. Admission is free at the El Paso County Fairgrounds.

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Credit: Olde Golden Christmas Parade

Olde Golden's  Holiday Parade

GOLDEN — Olde Golden's Holiday Parade is back for one day with elves, marching bands, floats, Victorian carolers, antique cars, the Grinch, Buffalo Bill and Santa. The parade route runs along Washington Avenue from 10th Street to 13th Street starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Credit: Colorado Mammoth

Colorado Mammoth vs. San Diego Seals

DENVER — Professional lacrosse is back at Ball Arena this weekend! The Colorado Mammoth return to Ball Arena in Denver on Saturday, Dec. 11 for their first home game since early 2020. The Mammoth host the San Diego Deals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are available online here.

The Mammoth are putting the final touches on a Party Zone that will be able to host more than 300 of the team's biggest fans. Featured between sections 108 and 118 of Ball Arena, Mammoth fans will be treated to a rotating variety of games and entertainment with a rotating band and DJ appearances. The unique, standing-room-only area will feature a fun mix of yard games, drink options, social opportunities and more. Party Zone standing-room-only tickets are $30 and include a free draft beer.

RELATED: Colorado Mammoth to debut Party Zone this season

Credit: Breckenridge Tourism Office
Ullr Fest, in Breckenridge, is an annual party dedicated to asking the Norse god of snow to provide the town with plentiful flakes.

Breckenridge Ullr Fest

BRECKENRIDGE — The 58th annual Ullr Fest runs Thursday to Sunday in the streets of Breckenridge. Snow lovers of all ages will enjoy the annual Ullr Parade down Main Street, curling, ice skating, film screening and more. Breckenridge Distillery and the Breckenridge Mountain Rotary will attempt to break the "unofficial" world record for the largest shot-ski at 4 p.m. Thursday.

RELATED: This Colorado ski town broke the shot ski world record

Berthoud Snowfest Parade

BERTHOUD — The annual Berthoud Snowfest lighted holiday parade is set to step off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a tree lighting and caroling at Fickel Park. The Colorado Snow Sculpting Championship has been postponed due to warm weather and a lack of snow. The event will move to January with ice carving beginning Wednesday, Jan. 12.

Credit: Downtown Boulder

Freezie Fest

BOULDER — Boulder's annual Freezie Fest takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Pearl Street Mall. The celebration of all things winter offers free train rides on the Snowflake Express, holiday crafts and kids' activities and visits with Santa.

Reindeer Games

CASTLE ROCK — Castle Rock's Reindeer Games is a fun, family-friendly, winter-themed wonderland. The free event runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the Millhouse and Amphitheater at Philip S. Miller Park. There will be live reindeer, s'mores, hot chocolate, sleigh rides, outdoor games, obstacle course, Santa Claus and more.

Saturday Night Lights

DENVER — Cherry Creek North is celebrating the magic of the holiday season with Winter Wanderland, a collection of free outdoor events for all to enjoy. Cherry Creek North also has nearly a million twinkling lights wrapping more than 600 trees. This Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday Night Lights will have festive entertainment featuring fire performances, stilt walkers, acrobats, jugglers and more.

Credit: Powabunga

Powabunga

VAIL — Powabunga is back at Ford Park in Vail from Thursday to Sunday for four epic days and nights of live music and mountain activities. Powabunga's 2021 lineup includes Rüfüs Du Sol, Elderbrook, Bob Moses, Chanel Tres, Vintage Culture, LP Giobbi, Taches, Channel Tres, N2N, Julia Sandstrom, Gavlak, Chris Cauldron, Golden, Housewife, Max Baum, and Haasy. Visit Powabunga.com for updates, to purchase tickets and to see the full 2021 lineup.

Credit: Colorado Symphony

Colorado Symphony's A Colorado Christmas

DENVER — The Colorado Symphony will perform its annual Christmas concert for three performances this weekend at Boettcher Concert Hall. The family-friendly concert features traditional Christmas carols, your favorite new winter tunes and some new surprises. There will also be a performance of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, narrated live by Denver vocalist Devin DeSantis. Performances are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at ColoradoSymphony.org.

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 opens Saturday, Dec. 11 and 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: Amanda Tipton Photography for Colorado Conservatory of Dance

Colorado Conservatory of Dance's The Nutcracker

DENVER — The Colorado Conservatory of Dance opens its annual production of The Nutcracker this Friday, Dec. 10. A Denver tradition since 1993, the production from students and community members also features world-class international guest artists. The Nutcracker will be performed Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the following 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 returns to the Lakewood Cultural Center beginning Saturday, Dec. 11. 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 six matinee performances and two evening 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 opens Thursday, Dec. 9 and will play the PACE Center through Saturday, Dec. 18. For tickets, head to ParkerArts.com.

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Credit: Dickens: A Family Holiday Experience
Credit: Dickens: A Family Holiday Experience

Dickens: A Family Holiday Event

DENVER — Coloradans are invited to immerse themselves in a festive experience like no other at "Dickens: A Family Holiday Experience." The one-night only, choose-your-own-adventure holiday event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Four Mile Historic Park. 

The activity options include two theatrical performances of the famed “A Christmas Carol” narrative (the Christmas tale will be played out along the path through the park), an exploration through a holiday market, ice skating, interacting with Christmas carolers, story time with Charles Dickens, a visit from Santa and more. The indulgences continue for guests of all ages with a hot cocoa bar, food trucks and full bar with holiday cocktails. Tickets are available for purchase online on Eventbrite.

Credit: Visit Loveland Colorado

Winter Wonderlights

LOVELAND — The last LIVE! Celebration this season at Loveland's Winter Wonderlights is this Saturday, Dec. 11. The lights and musical light show runs every night 5 to 9 p.m. through Jan. 2, 2022, but for those families who want to come out to see Santa, get giveaways and watch live performers, this Saturday is the night to come.

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: 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 from Friday, Dec. 10 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 and holiday shopping plus free photos with Santa Claus on Dec. 19, Dec. 20 and Dec. 21. Visit PuebloZoo.org for tickets.

Credit: Santa's Workshop

Santa's Workshop, North Pole, Colorado

CASCADE — There are just two weekends left to experience Santa's Workshop at the most festive time of year. Colorado's North Pole will be open most days through Thursday, Dec. 24 before Santa must depart to deliver gifts to the children of the world. Santa's Workshop, an outdoor park outside of Colorado Springs, offers rides, live shows, gift shops, Santa's house and more. Tickets can be found at NorthPoleColorado.com.

Credit: AP Photo/Brian Westerholt

Denver Broncos vs. Detroit Lions

DENVER — Denver Broncos football is back in the Mile High City! The Broncos (6-6) host the Detroit Lions (1-10-1) at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High. Led by head coach Vic Fangio and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos need a victory on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive. Although the game is sold out, there are many tickets available for resale at Ticketmaster.com.

RELATED: Broncos send out playoff ticket notices to season-ticket holders

Credit: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP

Colorado Avalanche vs. Red Wings/Panthers

DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche play not one, but two games at home in downtown Denver this weekend. The Avs face off with the Detroit Red Wings this Friday at 7 p.m. and the Florida Panthers at 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for both games are sold through Ticketmaster.com.

Credit: Colorado Eagles

Colorado Eagles vs. Bakersfield Condors

LOVELAND — The Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, are back at home this weekend at Loveland’s Budweiser Events Center. The Eagles are set to host the Bakersfield Condors at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Snag your tickets at ColoradoEagles.com.

Credit: stock.adobe.com

Winter Arts Festival

BLACK HAWK — The 18th annual Gilpin County Community Center's Winter Arts Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday in Black Hawk. The festival features an arts and crafts fair, photos with Santa, balloon artists, kids' crafts, face painting and more.

16th Street Mall Holiday Festival

DENVER — Start tackling your Christmas shopping list at this weekend's 16th Street Mall Holiday Festival. The shopping event takes place in downtown Denver for one final weekend on Saturday, Dec. 11. The marketplace features one of-a-kind seasonal items, handcrafted goods, holiday gift ideas, specialty foods, home décor and unique holiday gifts.

Boulder Holiday Gift Festival

BOULDER — The 17th annual Boulder Holiday Gift Festival is Boulder’s biggest holiday shopping event. With an array of gifts that are locally made, the festival also features at free concert starting at noon with Kenny Lee Young. The event runs Sunday, Dec. 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Boulder YMCA with more than 100 vendors.

The Big HoliGay Bazaar

DENVER — Sponsored by the Denver Milk Market, the four-day Big HoliGay Bazaar pop-up event features an eclectic mix of artists, creators, clothiers, jewelers, writers, musicians and more. The first Bazaar is set for Saturday, Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy custom drink menus, live entertainment, music, joy and cheer.

Handcrafted Holiday Market

LONGMONT — Still working to check off people from your holiday shopping list? Over 30 vendors will be selling unique craft items at this weekend's Handcrafted Holiday Market at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. The annual market opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Kris Kringle Market

VAIL — The Kris Kringle Market takes place Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the streets of Vail. The market is the perfect place to find a unique holiday gift or souvenir, such as handmade toys, Christmas ornaments and decorations, cookies, chocolate treats, roasted nuts and more.

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

Credit: Denver Christkindl Market

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 Christkindlmarket 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

Credit: Lone Tree Brewing Company

Beers & Cheers Comedy Show

LONE TREE — Lone Tree Brewing Company kicks off its 10th anniversary with a Beers & Cheers Comedy Show this weekend. The 21-and-older show begins at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $10 online.

Credit: YMCA of Pikes Peak

YMCA Jingle Bell 5K

FOUNTAIN — The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region holds its 12th annual Jingle Bell 5K and Kids' Reindeer Romp this Saturday. Runners (and walkers) should come to Fountain Creek Regional Park with reindeer antlers, ugly sweaters, Santa suits, bells, bows and cheer because Santa Claus himself will be on hand. Registration and donation information is available online.

Santa Cause Run

GRAND JUNCTION — Grand Junction Parks and Recreation and Kiwanis have teamed up for this weekend's Santa Cause Run. The 5K run/walk takes place Saturday at 10:15 a.m. at Las Colonias Park Amphitheater. A 1K for the will get underway at 10 a.m. Santa Clause 5K registration can be completed online.

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

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

Credit: Bobbi Sheldon

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: Denver Botanic Gardens

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.

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.

Credit: Niko Tavernise
Rachel Zegler as Maria in 20th Century Studios’ "West Side Story."

Movies this weekend

Several movies battled for the post-Thanksgiving weekend box office crown. "Encanto," "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" and "House of Gucci" will continue to gobble up the box office bucks the second weekend of December, but they face new competition as Steven Spielberg's long-awaited "West Side Story" and Adam McKay's star-powered Netflix movie "Don't Look Up" arrive in theaters this weekend.

Later this month, "Spider-Man: No Way Home," "The Matrix Resurrections" and "The King's Man" promise a big holiday season at the cinema.

Opening this weekend

  • West Side Story
  • Don't Look Up

Last weekend's box office

  1. Encanto — $13.1 million
  2. Ghostbusters: Afterlife — $10.4 million
  3. House of Gucci — $7.0 million
  4. Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers — $4.3 million
  5. Eternals — $4.1 million

RELATED: 'Encanto' wins box office for 2nd straight weekend


> 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

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