14 fam­i­lyfriendly events to take in this hol­i­day sea­son

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post By Erica Boni­face

All right, Colorado par­ents. Are you ready for this? It’s time to dust off the Elf on the Shelf. Hang those stock­ings. Put out your ridicu­lously awe­some in­flat­able light-up lawn dis­plays. Bake cook­ies. And burst to the seams with hol­i­day cheer. Yes, the hol­i­days are here. It’s time to make the magic hap­pen for your kids. And, luck­ily, Colorado doesn’t shy away from all the fes­tiv­i­ties. From Den­ver up to Glenwood Springs, we’ve rounded up some of the best hol­i­day fam­ily-friendly events that you and the lit­tles can en­joy. We’re talk­ing hot choco­late, car­ol­ing, ice carv­ing, gift-buy­ing, plays, pro­duc­tions and more.

Here’s a guide to this year’s hol­i­day sea­son.

Den­ver Christkindl Mar­ket

Hours: Nov. 18-Dec. 23, Sun­day-Thurs­day, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri­day and Satur­day, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Ex­tended weekend hours, Dec. 19-23 Price: Free Lo­ca­tion: Sky­line Park (16th Street & Ara­pa­hoe) in down­town Den­ver Web­site: den­ver­christkindl­mar­ket.com/

Noth­ing brings out the in­ner made-for-TV Christ­mas par­ent in you more than tak­ing a stroll through Den­ver’s Christkindl Mar­ket. Christ­mas mar­kets are fam­ily tra­di­tions in Ger­many and through­out Europe, so in­stead of trav­el­ing overseas, all you have to do is head to the 16th Street Mall to get into the hol­i­day spirit. Trust us when we say you’ll be singing Christ­mas car­ols be­fore

you leave (or maybe that was just us after drink­ing too much mulled spiced wine). If you’re struggling on what to buy your hard-to-shop-for aunt, the gifts and dec­o­ra­tions are orig­i­nal and unique. Did we men­tion they have spiced wine?

Dolls’ Tea Party at the Ox­ford Ho­tel

When: Sun­day, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m., 12:30 and 3 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: The Ox­ford Ho­tel, 1600 17th St., Den­ver Price: $59/adults (13+) plus taxes and fees; $44/chil­dren (un­der 12) plus taxes and fees Web­site: theox­ford­ho­tel.com/ourho­tel/dolls-tea-party/

The Ox­ford Ho­tel’s Dolls’ Tea Party is a clas­sic tea with hot co­coa for chil­dren and a light snack of tea sand­wiches and as­sorted treats. It’s a great way to not only make memories but also en­joy the joy­ful win­ter cel­e­bra­tion with sib­lings, friends and fam­ily. The kid­dos will love a ballet per­for­mance by the Ar­vada Cen­ter for the Arts and Hu­man­i­ties that is de­signed es­pe­cially for chil­dren — with a chance to meet the bal­leri­nas and take pho­tos with them.

The Po­lar Ex­press™ Train Ride

Hours: Nov. 10-Dec. 23 Show Times: 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. Price: $35-$75 (for chil­dren ages 2-11); $45-$100 (adults) Lo­ca­tion: Colorado Rail­road Mu­seum, 17155 W. 44th Ave., Golden Web­site: col­orado­rail­road mu­seum.org/the-po­lar-ex­presstrain-ride/

The Po­lar Ex­press Train Ride at the Colorado Rail­road Mu­seum has quickly be­come a hol­i­day tra­di­tion for Colorado families. You and the fam­ily will feel like you’ve stepped into the North Pole as the story “The Po­lar Ex­press” is brought to life. Kids re­ceive “golden tick­ets” at the en­trance and once aboard the train, danc­ing chefs and wait­ers ar­rive to serve cook­ies and hot choco­late to kids. The story is per­formed in its en­tirety dur­ing the trip. The only thing miss­ing? Well, Tom Hanks. But we’ll take it.

Win­ter on the Moun­tain

Hours: Daily Dec. 18-Jan. 3, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (closed Christ­mas Day) Price: Win­ter FunDay Pass (in­cludes tram, cave tours and at­trac­tions). $40/adults; $35/chil­dren ages 3-12 Lo­ca­tion: Glenwood Cav­erns Ad­ven­ture Park, 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs Web­site: glen­wood­cav­erns.com/ win­ter-moun­tain-glenwood-cav­erns-ad­ven­ture-park/

If you’re want­ing to dodge the city for a weekend, head up In­ter­state 70 to Glenwood Springs and en­joy one of the largest lights dis­plays on the West­ern Slope at Glenwood Cav­erns Ad­ven­ture Park. It’s bound to be­come a fam­ily fa­vorite in no time, since it’s per­fect for kids of all ages. You’ll be daz­zled with a half mil­lion lights, lighted thrill rides, a gi­ant mu­si­cal Christ­mas tree, tram rides, fire pits for roast­ing s’mores, live mu­sic, Santa vis­its and more.

Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Hours: Nov. 26- Dec. 24 (visit web­site for show times) Price: $30-$120 Lo­ca­tion: El­lie Caulkins Opera House, 1385 Cur­tis St., Den­ver Web­site: Coloradobal­let.org

You’ll feel like a kid again when you walk into El­lie Caulkins Opera House for a per­for­mance of the Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker. The dresses. The tights. The gi­ant Christ­mas tree. The grand­mas yelling at the kids to stop run­ning down the stairs. Ahhh, hol­i­day memories. Colorado Ballet’s pre­sen­ta­tion of The Nutcracker is a larger-than-life tra­di­tion that brings the story to life with lav­ish cos­tumes, danc­ing, mag­i­cal sets and a lit­tle bit of magic. As long as your kids don’t mind gi­ant rats danc­ing in tights, you’ll be in for a pleas­ant treat.

(Pro par­ent­ing tip: You can place your drink or­ders be­fore the production and have a glass of wine wait­ing for you dur­ing in­ter­mis­sion.)

Was­sail Days in Frisco

When: Dec. 2-11 Lo­ca­tion: 1 Main St., Frisco Web­site: townof­frisco.com/

If the hol­i­days are stress­ing you out, put the kids in the trusty mini­van and head up to Frisco for Was­sail Days. Was­sail is a hot spiced cider, and is the per­fect way to warm your Scrooge spirit. Dur­ing Frisco’s Was­sail Days, lo­cal ven­dors serve up their se­cret recipes. The kids will love re­ceiv­ing a “12 sips of Was­sail Card” and vis­it­ing 12 dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. Once the card is filled out, they’ll re­ceive a com­mem­o­ra­tive Frisco Was­sail Days mug. While you’re in town, en­joy the light­ing dis­play along Main Street.

Golden’s Home­town Can­dle­light Walk & Fire­works

When: Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: Foothills Art Cen­ter, 809 15th St. Price: Free Web­site: city­of­golden.net/event/ can­dle­light-walk/

This has to be on your hol­i­day sea­son bucket list. The whole fam­ily will en­joy walk­ing down Wash­ing­ton Av­enue in Golden with a can­dle in hand, singing hol­i­day car­ols and en­joy­ing a fire­works show that will light up the cold win­ter night sky. After the walk, you’ll en­joy hot bev­er­ages, cook­ies and entertainment pro­vided by lo­cal busi­nesses.

Christ­mas with the Chil­dren’s Cho­rale

When: Dec. 3 at 1 p.m.; Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. Price: $19-$75 Lo­ca­tion: Boettcher Con­cert Hall at Den­ver Per­form­ing Arts Com­plex Web­site: chil­dren­schorale.org/

If hear­ing 400 young singers with a crazy amount of hol­i­day cheer doesn’t lift your mood, well, then, you may need to talk to your doc­tor. This year’s con­cert will in­clude all the old Christ­mas clas­sics and some new ones, a visit by the big guy in red and a spe­cial sur­prise vis­i­tor. The con­cert’s sure to get you into the groove of the hol­i­days and hum­ming car­ols for days.

Cas­tle Rock Sea­son of the Star Event Se­ries

When: Ev­ery Satur­day through Dec. 31 Price: Free Lo­ca­tion: Fes­ti­val Park, 199 Perry St., Cas­tle Rock Web­site: cr­gov.com/2622/Sea­son-ofthe-Star

Cas­tle Rock doesn’t shy away from the hol­i­day sea­son -- and we like it. On Dec. 3 , 8 a.m.-1 p.m., en­joy Win­ter­Fest with ice carv­ing, The Cold War Clas­sic Cy­clocross Race, Win­ter­Fest 5K, Bye Bye Bon­fire and en­joy food and bev­er­ages. On Dec. 10, 2-5 p.m., en­joy Sto­ry­tellers and s’mores: Kids will love sit­ting around a camp­fire while lis­ten­ing to sto­ries and mak­ing s’mores (make sure to bring a blan­ket or chairs). On Dec. 17, 2-5 p.m., the kids will en­joy the Cas­tle Rock Win­ter Ex­press train rides around Fes­ti­val Park, which will be trans­formed into the North Pole with Santa. On Christ­mas Eve, var­i­ous churches will be at Fes­ti­val Park from 4-5 p.m. host­ing a se­ries of can­dle­light ser­vices.

OK, we had you at S’mores, didn’t we?

Car­riage Rides in Olde Town Ar­vada

When: Satur­days, Dec. 3-17, noon3 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: 57th Av­enue and Olde Wadsworth Blvd. Price: $10/adult; $5/child ages 2-16 Web­site: ar­vada.org/about/new­sev­ents/events-dur­ing-the­hol­i­day-sea­son

When you watch those tear­jerker Hall­mark Chan­nel Christ­mas movies, doesn’t it al­ways seem like the main char­ac­ters fall in love in the tiny town’s park while rid­ing a horse-drawn car­riage? If you’ve ever watched those scenes and thought, “Hey, I want to fall in love on a car­riage ride,” well, here’s good news: Ar­vada of­fers car­riage rides through Dec. 17. You can fall in love all over again as you take the kid­dos along for the ride.

Ru­dolph the Red-nosed Rein­deer: The Mu­si­cal

When: Dec. 16-18 Price: Starts at $20 Lo­ca­tion: Boettcher Con­cert Hall at The Den­ver Cen­ter for Per­form­ing Arts Web­site: rudolph­the­mu­si­cal.com/

OK, is it cool if we jump up and down like Will Fer­rell did in the movie “Elf” for a se­cond? YASSSSSS. This looks like so much fun, and we’re so happy it’s com­ing to Den­ver. (Ru­dolph! We know him!) This na­tional tour is tak­ing the beloved TV clas­sic “Ru­dolph The Red-Nosed Rein­deer” and bring­ing it to life on stage. All the fa­vorite char­ac­ters will be there, from Mr. and Mrs. Claus to Her­mey the Elf, Bumble the Abom­inable Snow Mon­ster, Clarice, Yukon Cor­nelius and, of course, Ru­dolph.

Hol­i­days in the Hangar

When: Dec. 11, noon-4 p.m. Price: $12.50/adults; $9/se­niors, ac­tive mil­i­tary mem­bers and vets; $6/kids ages 4-16; free for kids 3 and un­der Lo­ca­tion: Wings Over the Rock­ies Air & Space Mu­seum, 7711 E. Academy Blvd., Den­ver Web­site: wingsmu­seum.org/hol­i­days/

Planes, Santa, mi­mosas and live rein­deer? Say no more. It’s as if the Wings Over the Rock­ies Air & Space Mu­seum read our minds. On Dec. 11, the whole fam­ily will en­joy the 2nd an­nual Hol­i­days at the Hangar with carol­ers, live rein­deer, mi­mosas (holla!), cookie dec­o­rat­ing, a hol­i­day movie in the the­ater and, of course, pho­tos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The kids can even write a let­ter to Santa!

Santa Ex­press Train

When: Nov. 18-Dec. 24, up to three daily depar­tures Price: $30-$60 Lo­ca­tion: Royal Gauge Rail­road, Santa Fe De­pot, Hwy 50 & 3rd St., Canon City Web­site: roy­al­go­rg­er­oute.com/spe­cial-events/santa-ex­press-train/

All aboard! Chug along the Royal Gauge Route Rail­road on the Santa Ex­press Train. The fam­ily will travel to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus while wear­ing cozy pa­ja­mas and re­lax­ing. Along the way, kids will get to sing Christ­mas clas­sics, eat cook­ies, sip on hot co­coa and be en­ter­tained by Santa’s elves.

Dec­o­rate Gin­ger­bread Houses

When: Dec. 11, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.; Dec. 18, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. Price: $10/mem­bers; $20/non­mem­bers Lo­ca­tion: Chil­dren’s Mu­seum Den­ver Mar­sico Cam­pus, 2121 Chil­dren’s Mu­seum Dr., Den­ver Web­site: my­childsmu­seum.org/

En­joy dec­o­rat­ing gin­ger­bread houses with the kid­dos and then visit the hands-on ex­hibits with the kids. They can ex­plore, learn and cre­ate. Talk about fam­ily bond­ing time.

The Po­lar Ex­press Train Ride at the Colorado Rail­road Mu­seum aims to make kids feel like they’ve stepped into the North Pole. “The Po­lar Ex­press” is per­formed in its en­tirety dur­ing the trip. Pro­vided by The Po­lar Ex­press

Rus­sian/Ukrainian sou­venirs, wooden carved dolls and San­tas were among the items for sale at a re­cent Den­ver Christkindl Mar­ket.

The Colorado Ballet’s 56th an­nual production of “The Nutcracker” re­turns to the El­lie Caulkins Opera House start­ing Nov. 26. Pro­vided by Colorado Ballet

Dur­ing Frisco’s Was­sail Days, lo­cal ven­dors serve up their se­cret recipes, and you can en­joy the light­ing dis­play along Main Street and a Christ­mas Tree light­ing. Pro­vided by Todd Pow­ell, town of Frisco

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