Holiday festivities in Denver | VailDaily.com

Holiday festivities in Denver

Liana Moore
Special to the Daily

Is Colorado home for the holidays? The holidays are a magical time of year throughout our snowy state, and it is the perfect time to take advantage of the holiday school schedule and head down to see light extravaganzas and other holiday festivities in Denver. Here are the brightest Denver holiday light displays and most festive events to choose from.

Blossoms of Lights at Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens' light events return with festive cheer during the holiday season. This marks the 30th year of Blossoms of Light at the York Street location. From Nov. 23 to Jan. 1, from 5 to 9 p.m., this annual holiday lights extravaganza transforms the York Street location into a twinkling winter wonderland. With fresh and exciting new features, along with some fan favorites, this year's display will be brighter and more expansive than ever before.

This lights extravaganza has new features and more lights, including a refreshed interactive light display in the UMB Amphitheater. The field of LED lights is sound reactive, allowing visitors to change the color themes and movement patterns between pre-programmed holiday song cycles. In addition, carolers stroll the Gardens on select evenings.

Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights is back for its 28th year, and sure to be bigger and better than ever. Running until Sunday, Jan. 6, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., the holiday magic spans across over 70 acres. This Denver holiday spectacular boasts more than two million lights, nightly entertainment, sweet treats, animal encounters and a Festival of Lanterns. Plus illuminated animal sculptures swing through trees, jump across lawns, hide in bushes and appear in places where they're least expected.

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Grand Illumination Kicks Off Holidays at Union Station

Denver Union Station officially launched the holiday season on Friday, Nov. 23, with Denver's Grand Illumination celebration. Visitors won't want to miss the landmark train station's new outdoor Christmas tree, a 40-foot tall tree featuring more than 7,000 holiday lights.

Denver Union Station will be hosting several festive events throughout the holiday season.

The Union Station Holiday Market by Denver Flea is a ticketed event featuring a variety of wide variety of locally made goods including outdoor gear from Mountain Standard, local honey from Bjorn's Colorado Honey and jewelry from Harper Made. The Holiday Market will be held on the outdoor plaza with two remaining weekends: Friday, Dec. 7 through Sunday, Dec. 9, and Friday, Dec. 14 through Sunday, Dec. 16.

Free visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, Dec. 16 and Dec. 23. Sundaes with Santa are also available from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Enjoy a make-your-own-sundae bar featuring a variety of sauces and toppings for $5 per person.

LIGHT! at Gaylord Rockies

New this year, LIGHT! at Gaylord Rockies is a free spectacular interactive holiday experience immersing visitors in color, fanciful patterns and wondrous light. Walk through indoor and outdoor paths of magical illumination and music.

A forest of fully lit, color-changing trees, colorful lights and dancing snowflakes pave the way to the resort. Explore numerous breathtaking interactive lighting displays throughout the resort, both indoors and outdoors, including:

• A forest of color-changing trees.

• A field of glowing orbs, appropriately named "The Valley of Light."

• Giant musical wind chimes.

• A 12' tall giant holiday ornament, perfect for Instagram-worthy holiday portraits.

• Beautifully lighted indoor waterfalls and rapids.

Insider tip: Spend the night, or the weekend. Rates start at $119 per night when you book the locals offer at the Gaylord Rockies.

Holiday Festivities at The Dairy Block

The Dairy Block, Denver's vibrant new micro-district in the heart of Lower Downtown, is also festively ringing in the holiday season. Outdoor decorations light Denver's first pedestrian alley, carolers, along with new shopping and dining outlets, visits from Santa and a pop-up shop celebrating local experiences comprise the holiday festivities.

Denver Milk Market is hosting Santa and his sleigh for free family photos. Every child that has their photo taken with Santa can head to Morning Jones inside the market to receive free gingerbread cookies and milk. Santa will be located at the lobby entrance to Milk Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, Saturday, Dec. 15, Sunday, Dec. 16, Saturday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec. 23.

Insider tip: The Maven at Dairy Block, a modern hotel with an energetic lobby filled with art is encouraging guests to stay cozy this holiday season with special room rates starting at $179 per night, including 50 percent off valet parking and a waived destination amenity fee.

Holiday Performances at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

Based on Charles Dickens' classic novel, "A Christmas Carol" is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge's triumphant overnight journey to redemption. "A Christmas Carol" illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Catch the show at Stage Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex from now until Monday, Dec. 24.

It's not the holidays until you see visions of sugarplum fairies dancing before your eyes. Colorado Ballet's "The Nutcracker" is a cherished family holiday tradition and the largest production of the holiday favorite in Colorado. The show runs until Sunday, Dec. 23, at Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Insider Tip: If you attend "A Christmas Carol" or "The Nutcracker," be sure to book a room at The Curtis, a DoubleTree by Hilton. Not only is it ideally located, but are also offering a new overnight package designed to offer lovers-of-the-stage a relaxing night out. Priced starting at $199 per night, the Curtis Denver Center for the Performing Arts offer includes overnight accommodations for up to four people, a $50 credit to The Corner Office for a pre- or post-show snack or cocktail, a theater-themed welcome amenity and complimentary self-parking, a $40 value.

The Christkindl Market

The Christkindl Market runs until Sunday, Dec. 23, at Skyline Park, and includes vendors from Germany and other countries. Also including local artisans, offering high quality, handcrafted gifts such as traditional hand-carved wooden figurines, handmade candles and ornaments. Traditional German food will tempt your taste buds. Sip on warm Gluhwein (hot spiced wine) as you listen to traditional Christmas carols and live German music. Entry is free and the entire family is invited to enjoy this great tradition.

Liana Moore is chief mama blogger at Insider Families. She can be reached at http://www.insider families.com, https://www.instagram.com/insiderfamilies, http://www.facebook.com/InsiderFamilies or liana@insiderfamilies.com.