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9Things to do in Colorado this weekend: Dec. 9-11

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 special attractions.

Winter and Christmas festivals are planned this weekend in Brighton, Longmont, Fort Lupton, Boulder, Thornton, Fruita, Breckenridge and Calhan. 

Breckenridge's 59th annual Ullr Fest is back this weekend. The annual party is dedicated to asking the Norse god of snow to provide the town with plentiful flakes. More than one thousand people will attempt to break the unofficial shot ski world record on Thursday.

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.

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Credit: Romolo Tavani - stock.adobe.com

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 Winterfest 5K and 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.

Fort Lupton Parade of Lights

FORT LUPTON — Downtown Fort Lupton and Fort Lupton Chamber of Commerce host the annual Fort Lupton Parade of Lights on Friday, Dec. 9. After the parade, there will be a tree lighting and photos with Santa, in the Bank of Colorado Operations Center parking lot on 4th Street.

Festival of Lights Parade

BRIGHTON — Brighton's 27th annual Festival of Lights Parade is set to step off at 5 p.m. Saturday. The all-ages nighttime parade features more than 65 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.

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, holiday music 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 — The Fruita Parade of Lights returns Saturday, Dec. 10. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Fruita. This year’s theme, A Griswold Christmas, will showcase the quirky family fun that comes with the holiday season.

Calhan Christmas Parade of Lights 

CALHAN — Christmas comes early to southern Colorado this weekend. The 6th 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, Dec. 10.

Credit: Breckenridge Tourism Office

Ullr Fest

BRECKENRIDGE — The 59th 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, bonfire 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 

Credit: Downtown Boulder

Freezie Fest

BOULDER — Boulder's annual Freezie Fest takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 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.

Credit: Stan Obert for 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 more than 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 2022 production runs through Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Cleo Parker Robinson Theatre. "Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum" tickets are sold at CleoParkerDance.org.

PHOTOSGranny Dances to a Holiday Drum

Credit: Matt Christine Photography

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

DENVER — Chip Davis' Mannheim Steamroller Christmas has been a holiday staple for more than 35 years. Featuring multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas returns to Denver's Buell Theatre on Saturday and Sunday. Davis has crafted a show that brings the magic and spirit of the holiday season alive with signature Mannheim Christmas tunes. For tickets, visit DenverCenter.org.

Credit: Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Forbidden Broadway

DENVER — The Tony Award winning "Forbidden Broadway" is your one-stop ticket to non-stop laughs. The  all-new satirical roast of over 30 Broadway hits features hilarious costumes and silly spoofs of the songs you know by heart. "Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation" spoofs "Frozen," "Wicked," "Phantom," "Dear Evan Hanson," "Moulin Rouge," "Hamilton" and more. The musical plays the Garner Galleria Theatre through Jan. 1. For tickets, visit DenverCenter.org.

Credit: Colorado Symphony

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. "A Colorado Christmas" also features the Colorado Symphony Chorus and Colorado Children's Chorale. Tickets are available at ColoradoSymphony.org.

A Classic Parker Holiday 

PARKER — The Parker Chorale and the Parker Symphony Orchestra will hold three performances this weekend of "A Classic Parker Holiday." The holiday spirit-infused concert offers an evening of traditional carols, familiar songs and a few surprises. Performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 2 p.m. Sunday at PACE Center. Tickets are sold at ParkerArts.org.

Holiday Concert

GOLDEN — The Jefferson Symphony Orchestra (JSO) will perform its annual Holiday Concert this Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Green Center at Colorado School of Mines. The festive showcase will feature guest artists Johanne Brahms, Edvard Grieg, Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as the 80 members of the JSO’s full ensemble. For tickets, visit JeffSymphony.org.

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Credit: Amanda Tipton Photography for Colorado Conservatory of Dance

Colorado Conservatory of Dance's The Nutcracker

DENVER — The Colorado Conservatory of Dance (CCD) opens its annual production of "The Nutcracker" on Saturday, 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 Saturday and Sunday and the following weekend at the Performing Arts Complex at Pinnacle Charter School. Tickets are on sale at CCDance.org.

Credit: Ballet Ariel

Ballet Ariel's The Nutcracker

LAKEWOOD — Ballet Ariel's production of "The Nutcracker" returns to the Lakewood Cultural Center beginning Saturday, Dec. 10. 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 one evening performances through Friday, Dec. 23. Tickets are available at Lakewood.org/Tickets, at 303-987-7845 or the Lakewood Cultural Center box office.

Credit: Mike Watson; Colorado Ballet

Colorado Ballet's The Nutcracker

DENVER — Colorado Ballet is performing "The Nutcracker" for a 62nd year. Colorado Ballet’s production returns to its home at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for 26 performances through Dec. 24 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Tickets range from $40 to $175 at ColoradoBallet.org.

RELATED: 'The Nutcracker' is back for 62nd year

Credit: Dmitry Naumov - stock.adobe.com

Boulder Holiday Gift Festival

BOULDER — The annual Boulder Holiday Gift Festival is Boulder’s biggest holiday shopping event. The event runs Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Boulder YMCA. The festival is the perfect spot to find the perfect gift from local exhibitors. 

Country Holiday Fair

CALHAN — A Country Holiday Fair will be held Saturday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the El Paso County Fairgrounds. Attendees can meet Santa, shop for gifts, listen to holiday music, explore food trucks, enjoy kids' activities, and enjoy live entertainment.

Winter Arts Festival

BLACK HAWK — The 19th annual Winter Arts Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday in Black Hawk. The festival features photos with Santa, cookie decorating, live music and local booths.

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. 10. The marketplace features one of-a-kind seasonal items, handcrafted goods, holiday gift ideas, specialty foods, home décor and unique holiday gifts.

Big HoliGay Bazaar

DENVER — The Big HoliGay Bazaar pop-up event features an eclectic mix of artists, creators, clothiers, jewelers, writers and musicians. The first Bazaar is set for Saturday, Dec. 10, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Denver Central Market. 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 Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Vail Village. 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: Arthritis Foundation

Jingle Bell Run

DENVER — The annual Denver Jingle Bell Run is a festive race that aims to raise funds for The Arthritis Foundation. Guests are encouraged to come dressed in their best seasonal outfits with family, friends and co-workers to run or walk while spreading smiles and good cheer. The Jingle Bell Run begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Denver's Washington Park. Registration can be completed at Events.Arthritis.org.

Jingle Jog 5K

FOUNTAIN — The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region holds its 13th annual Jingle Jog 5K and Kids' Reindeer Romp this Saturday. Runners and walkers should come to Fountain-Fort Carson High School with reindeer antlers, ugly sweaters, Santa suits, bells, bows and cheer. 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.

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Credit: The North Pole: Santa’s Workshop

The North Pole: Santa's Workshop

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 Saturday, 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: Drew Litton

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

DENVER — Denver Broncos football is back in the Mile High City. Russell Wilson and the lowly Broncos (3-9) host Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High. Although the game is sold out, there are many tickets available for resale at Ticketmaster.com

New York Rangers vs. Colorado Avalanche 

DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche are home at Ball Arena on Friday. The Avs face the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com.

Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets

DENVER — The Denver Nuggets welcome division rival Utah Jazz to Colorado this Saturday night. The Nuggets and Jazz tip off at 7 p.m. at Ball Arena. For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com.

Credit: Gaylord Hotels

Cirque: Spirit of Christmas

AURORA — "Cirque: Spirit of Christmas" is an all-new show at the Bubly Theater at Gaylord Rockies Resort. 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.

Guests can book at tickets.gaylordrockies.com and use the code BUY2GET2 for a buy two, get two ticket promotion through the end of the season. Blackout dates apply.

RELATED: New cirque show opening at Gaylord Rockies

Credit: Adams Viscom

A Christmas Carol

DENVER — Colorado's largest production of "A Christmas Carol" is now playing 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: Visit Loveland

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: The 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 and select dates through Christmas. Tickets can be found at HudsonGardens.org.

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Credit: Denver Botanic Gardens

Trail of Lights

LITTLETON — Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms' 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 Nativity scene.

Credit: Bobbi Sheldon

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 is 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.

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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: Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights

DENVER — Denver Zoo is illuminated for its annual season Zoo Lights. The beloved Colorado tradition features over one million lights over the zoo's 80 acres. There will be ice carving artisans, seasonal cocktails and holiday treats. Zoo Lights will be lit through Jan. 15. Most evenings sell out in advance and tickets will not be available at the door. Reserve your tickets at DenverZoo.org.

PHOTOS: Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo


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

Electric Safari

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Electric Safari opens this weekend with 85 light sculptures illuminating the zoo's 50 acres. Along with the warming fires throughout the zoo, displays will fill you with warmth and holiday spirit as you gaze out at the sparkling lights of Colorado Springs. Electric Safari is open this Friday through Sunday and select nights through Jan. 1. Reserve your passes at CMZoo.org.

PHOTOSCheyenne Mountain Zoo's Electric Safari  

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

Credit: Allen Fraser/Universal Pictures via AP
This image released by Universal Pictures shows David Harbour in a scene from "Violent Night."

Movies this weekend

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” kept the box-office crown for the fourth straight weekend. Holiday thriller “Violent Night” debuted with $13.3 million.

Though “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Puss in Boots 2,” “Babylon" and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” loom in the coming weeks, theaters continue to see fewer films in wide release than they did pre-pandemic.

New movies this weekend

  • The Whale
  • Father Stu (re-release)
  • Empire of Light

Last weekend's box office

  1. "Wakanda Forever," $17.6 million
  2. “Violent Night,” $13.3 million
  3. “Strange World,” $4.9 million.
  4. “The Menu,” $3.6 million.
  5. “Devotion,” $2.8 million.
  6. “I Heard the Bells,” $1.8 million.
  7. “Black Adam,” $1.7 million.
  8. “The Fabelmans,” $1.3 million.
  9. “Bones and All,” $1.2 million.
  10. “Ticket to Paradise,” $850,000.

RELATED: 'Wakanda Forever' No. 1 for 4th straight weekend

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 terrific weekend!

SUGGESTED VIDEOSColorado holiday season


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