Five things to do in Denver and Boulder |

Five things to do in Denver and Boulder

Ted Alvarez
Special to the DailyColorado Symphony Orchestra performs "A Charlie Brown Christmas" Tuesday in Denver.

Christmas lights are beautiful and all, but frankly, Hispanic culture has us beat on the holiday lighting front. Luminarias, or candles placed in paper bags lining streets and driveways, provide a warm glow, a classy alternative to gaudy, multicolored fringe lighting or blow-up Santas. Traditionally, the flickering, beautiful lights are meant to guide the spirit of the Christ child to one’s home, and while it began in New-World Hispanic communities like Santa Fe, it’s spread all over the world. Lucky for you, you can get a little bit of that Old-World Hispanic flavor even in Denver: For just one night, the ArtDistrict on Santa Fe will be lit up with thousands of Luminarias de Santa Fe.

Beyond the light show, all of the ArtDistrict galleries will be open for visitors, and Christmas cheer of all cultural stripes will be provided by holiday carolers, mariachi groups, Aztec dancers, and ” of course ” the Santa Claus.

What: Luminarias de Santa Fe Christmas light display.

Where: ArtDistrict on Santa Fe, Denver.

When: Friday, 5 to 10 p.m.

Cost: Free.


There are myriad benefits that come from giving a loved one a handmade gift: In addition to saving a little bit of scratch during tough economic times, you’re bettering the chance that they’ll remember and appreciate your gift, rather than just tossing it into the closet with all the other useless crap they get every year. Moondance Botanicals’ DIY: Handmade is Best workshop gives you the chance to handcraft personalized gourmet bath salts, body scrubs, spritzers, aromatherapy candles, cologne blends and more for your loved ones. Plenty of stamps, labels, ribbons, and packaging ensure that your items will look as professional as anything from the Body Shop. And while Moondance’s scent expert coach you, you’ll be able to enjoy mulled wine, Italian soda, and herbal truffles. Voila ” handmade gifts that’ll keep your people smelling fine and fancy well into the new year, and all without breaking the bank.

What: DIY: Handmade Is Best workshop.

Where: Moondance Botanicals, Denver.

When: Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m.

Cost: $2-$7 per item made.

Info: 303-263-7275 or

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be Santa ” either the real, gift-giving dude at the North Pole or one of the legions of stand-ins at malls across the country ” you’ll get your chance at Denver’s SantaCon ’08. All you need to do is dress up as the round old man with a belly like a bowlful of jelly and join legions of other Santas as they march through town spreading merriment and maybe making a bit of mischief.

Wearing just a Santa hat does not qualify; to truly participate in SantaCon, you need the full regalia ” red coat, boots, the whole shebang (you can probably get away with not having a beard … especially if you’re a lady). Along with walking the streets and riding public transportation routes in Denver, you’ll hand out goofy toys and sing carols long into the night. Rumor has it that SantaCon often features ol’ St. Nick indulging in a little bit of the old hard stuff, but cut those Santas some slack ” they’ve got a busy couple days coming up, and could use something to take the edge off.

What: SantaCon ’08 march and gathering.

Where: Denver Metro Area, starting at the Blue Bonnet.

When: 11:30 a.m., Saturday.

Cost: Free.


Everyone has their favorite Christmas carol, and they’re usually one of the classics ” “Silent Night,” Jingle Bells,” or maybe even “The Christmas Song.” For me, though, nothing feels more like the season that Vince Guaraldi’s incredible score and songs to “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the seminal and perhaps most poignant holiday special in existence. From boppy jazz numbers to elegant instrumentals to off-key Children’s choirs, Guaraldi captures the joy, yearning, and even sadness that can permeate the holiday season. No treacle or fake joy here: A beautiful instrumental like “Skating” perfectly reflects the beauty and fun of a first snowfall, while “Christmas Time Is Here” feels both joyous and wistful. On Dec. 23, the David Benoit Quartet and the Colorado Children’s Chorale accompany the Colorado Symphony Orchestra for a live, one-night performance of this Christmas classic at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

What: Colorado Symphony Orchestra performs “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Where: Boettcher Concert Hall.

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $15-$73.

Info: or call 303-623-7876.

You’ve know you’ve done it before and you’ll do it again: You’ll wait till the last second to buy all your Christmas gifts. That’s OK, because Denver’s got your back with the 11th Hour Highlands ShopNite, an exclusive event in which all the chic boutiques of Highland Square in Denver’s Highlands offer closeout discounts until 11 p.m. You’ll find trendy custom clothing stores, boutique bead and jewelry studios, craft foods, arts, and more. Studio Bead, for instance, features custom-made bead jewelry that is actually cool ” I’d wear some of their pieces, and I’m a dude). Discounts of at least 35 percent on custom-made items will be on offer from nearly all participating boutiques. By going, you’ll ensure that your loved ones get last-minute gifts that actually rock, instead of a closeout copy of “The Lone Ranger” in Spanish from Wal-Mart’s bargain bin.

What: 11th Hour Highlands ShopNite late-night Christmas shopping sale.

Where: Highlands Square, Denver.

When: Monday, 5 to11 p.m.

Cost: Free.


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