Hol­i­day light­ing events that will brighten the sea­son

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

Sure, Colorado is known for its slick moun­tain re­sorts. The up­scale eater­ies. The craft beer. The sled­ding hills with fresh pow-pow. But an­other thing the state to­tally hits outta the North Pole? Hol­i­day light­ing events.

At­trac­tions across the state light up the cold win­ter night’s sky with thou­sands of hol­i­day lights, warm drinks, fes­tive tunes and more for you and the fam­ily to en­joy.

From the Den­ver Zoo Lights to the 9NEWS Pa­rade of Lights, we’ve ral­lied up 11 of the sea­son’s hottest Colorado hol­i­day light­ing events that have be­come tra­di­tions for fam­i­lies each year. What are you wait­ing for? Grab your plan­ners, get bun­dled up and go out and have some il­lu­mi­nat­ing fun.

Ad­ven­ture Golf Hol­i­day Lights

When: Through Dec. 11, Thurs­day-Sun­day, 5:30-9 p.m. Then, open daily from Dec. 15 through Jan. 1, 5:30-9 p.m. Price: $10/adult (13-59); $8/child (4-12); $8/se­nior (60+) Lo­ca­tion: Ad­ven­ture Golf & Race­way, 9650 N. Sheri­dan Blvd., West­min­ster Web­site: www.ad­ven­ture­gol­fan­drace­way.com/plan/hol­i­day­light.cfm

A great way to brush up on your putt-putt skills, with 54 holes of minia­tures golf and nearly 100,000 twin­kling, col­or­ful lights. The folks at Ad­ven­ture Golf se­ri­ously know what’s up when it comes to cre­at­ing the magic. Kids will love the vol­cano that erupts ev­ery 10 min­utes and the light hol­i­day treats and bev­er­ages in­clud­ing hot co­coa, s’mores and Y-E-S, adult spir­its.

But­ter­fly Pav­il­ion Liv­ing Lights

When: De­cem­ber through Jan­uary, 6-9 p.m. (check web­site for spe­cific dates) Lo­ca­tion: 6252 W. 104th Ave., West­min­ster Price: $11/adults; $9/se­niors (65+) and West­min­ster res­i­dents; $6/chil­dren ages 2-12 Web­site: www.but­ter­flies.org/event/liv­ing­lights/

If you’ve ever been to the But­ter­fly Pav­il­ion, then you know all about its creepy, crawly and mag­nif­i­cent an­i­mals, bugs and but­ter­flies. Dur­ing the hol­i­days, how­ever, you get to see those an­i­mals in a whole new light. Lit­er­ally. Af­ter dark, bring the fam­ily to see the light dis­plays. Oh, and mom: You’re in luck. They ac­tu­ally bring in bar­tenders to serve up beer, wine and var­i­ous cock­tails. (OK, we buried the lead on that one, didn’t we?)

Den­ver Zoo Lights

When: From Dec. 2 to Jan. 1 Lo­ca­tion: Den­ver Zoo, 2300 Steele St., Den­ver Price: For peak nights, $17/ adults; $12 for chil­dren ages 3-11; $14 for se­niors (65+). Web­site: www.den­ver­zoo.org/zoo-lights-2016

Zoo Lights at the Den­ver Zoo is the Rocky Moun­tain Re­gion’s largest light­ing event, with 70 acres of il­lu­mi­nated sculp­tures, fes­tiv­i­ties that in­clude meet­ing Santa Claus (select dates, check the web­site), live an­i­mal demon­stra­tions, ice carvers, jug­glers, car­ol­ers, singing princesses, in­stru­men­tal groups, de­li­cious hol­i­day treats for the kids — and adult bev­er­ages that just might make mom ac­tu­ally kiss Santa Claus. Ad­mire all the lights as you walk through the Den­ver Zoo look­ing at rhi­nos, hip­pos, moun­tain goats, ele­phants, gib­bons. (You get the point.) Dec. 26-30, the zoo will cel­e­brate Kwanzaa with African cul­tural hol­i­day mu­sic, en­ter­tain­ment and var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. Check out the cal­en­dar on­line for spe­cialty nights for ad­di­tional cel­e­bra­tions.

9NEWS Pa­rade of Lights

When: Dec. 2 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: Kicks off at Den­ver’s City and County Build­ing Price: Grand­stand tick­ets $19/adults (peo­ple over 12); $16/chil­dren ages 2-12; free else­where along pa­rade route Web­site: www.down­town­den­ver.com/pol-2016

9NEWS Pa­rade of Lights gives Dis­ney­land a run for its money. It’s ex­actly what you imag­ine, only bet­ter. Bun­dle up the kids and head to Den­ver’s City and County Build­ing to watch some of the state’s best high school march­ing bands play­ing Christmas clas­sics, floats with thou­sands of sparkling lights, Ma­jor Wad­dles, hot choco­late and var­i­ous ven­dors serv­ing drinks to warm the soul — and stick around to the end with an ap­pear­ance by Santa. Grand­stand tick­ets let you see all the ac­tion up-close.

Down­town Den­ver Grand Il­lu­mi­na­tion

When: Nov. 25, 6 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: Union Sta­tion, Sky­line Park, Larimer Square, Den­ver Pavil­ions, 16th Street Mall and D&F Tower Price: Free Web­site: www.den­ver.org/ event/down­town-den­ver­grand-il­lu­mi­na­tion/5211/

If you’re look­ing for a hol­i­day tra­di­tion, head to Down­town Den­ver’s Grand Il­lu­mi­na­tion with a Ther­mos full of hot co­coa for the kids and blan­kets. On Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m., some of Den­ver’s most iconic build­ings will flip the switch and light up the night’s sky. 9NEWS will have a live “light the lights” count­down at Union Sta­tion, which be­gins at 6 p.m., but check out all the build­ings dur­ing Down­town Den­ver’s Grand Il­lu­mi­na­tion. In ad­di­tion, Union Sta­tion, Den­ver City and County Build­ing, Sky­line Park, Larimer Square, Den­ver Pavil­ions, 16th Street Mall and the his­toric D&F Tower will all of­fi­cially turn on their hol­i­day dis­plays.

Colorado Springs Fes­ti­val of Lights Pa­rade

When: Dec. 3 at 5:50 p.m.

Lo­ca­tion: Te­jon Street, down­town Colorado Springs Price: Free, do­na­tions ac­cepted on­line Web­site: http://cs­fes­ti­val­oflights.com/

If you want to step away from the Mile High City for an evening of hol­i­day fun, put Colorado Springs Fes­ti­val of Lights Pa­rade on the fam­ily itin­er­ary. Now in its 32nd year, the pa­rade is set for Dec. 3 at 5:50 p.m. Ev­ery­one will love watch­ing bright floats, high school march­ing bands, Santa Claus and other hol­i­day fes­tiv­i­ties. Grab your warm clothes, bun­dle the kid­dos and take in all the daz­zling lights. It’s a mem­ory you’ll cher­ish for­ever. Yes, even if your 2-year-old has an epic tantrum over eat­ing an­other candy cane. Ah­h­hhh, mem­o­ries.

Blos­soms of Lights

When: Through Jan. 1 (in­cludes Dec. 24, 25 and 31) from 5:30-9 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: Den­ver Botanic Gar­dens, 1007 York St., Den­ver Price: $13/adults; $11/adult mem­ber, se­niors (65+), mil­i­tary; $10/chil­dren ages 3-15 Web­site: www.botan­ic­gar­dens.org/events/spe­cialevents/blos­soms-light

Get ready for an im­pres­sive, make-your-jaw-drop hol­i­day light ex­trav­a­ganza at Den­ver Botanic Gar­dens’ Blos­soms of Lights. Guests will love the grand il­lu­mi­nated O’Fal­lon Peren­nial Walk and the Ro­man­tic Gar­dens. Walk through the gar­dens to ad­mire twin­kling lights, warm and tasty drinks and get a sou­venir mug.

Chat­field’s Trail of Lights

When: Through Jan. 1 (in­cludes Dec. 24, 25 and 31), 5:30-9 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: Botanic Gar­dens at Chat­field, 8500 Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton Price: $11/adult; $9/adult mem­ber, se­niors (65+), mil­i­tary; $8/chil­dren ages 3-15 Web­site: www.botan­ic­gar­dens.org/events/spe­cialevents/trail-lights

Walk through a wind­ing path with gor­geous scenery and mag­nif­i­cent light dis­plays at Botanic Gar­dens Chat­field for the an­nual Trail of Lights event. For 2016, they’ve added longer trails with more lights, Farmer Green and an­i­mal light sculp­tures at Green Farm Barn, a mag­i­cal en­chanted for­est, in­sect light sculp­tures at Laven­der Gar­den, mu­sic in the chil­dren’s play area, a warm­ing hut, fire pit and more. On Dec. 6 and 7, the kid­dos will love story time and cookie dec­o­rat­ing with Mrs. Claus.

Gun­ni­son Night of Lights

When: Dec. 2, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Price: Free

Lo­ca­tion: Down­town Gun­ni­son Web­site: www.gun­nison­cham­ber.com/events/de­tails/ gun­nisons-night-of-lights-321

Head to Gun­ni­son for the Night of Lights, which makes for a fun cou­ple of hours for the fam­ily. Santa will light the com­mu­nity Christmas tree at 6:30 p.m., and there will also be light sculp­tures, live en­ter­tain­ment, fun games and more.

Lake­wood Lights

When: Dec. 2 and 3, 5:308:30 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: Lake­wood Her­itage Cen­ter, 801 S. Yar­row St., Lake­wood Price: Free Web­site: www.lake­wood.org/ Hol­i­dayLights/

Ex­pe­ri­ence thou­sands of lights with many fam­i­lyfriendly ac­tiv­i­ties, from hay­wagon rides to mu­seum tours, pho­tos with Santa, mu­sic, hol­i­day or­na­ment­mak­ing, shop­ping and more. If you head out on Fri­day night, Dec. 2, you can lis­ten to Green Moun­tain High School’s Shad­ows of the Moun­tains choir.

Christmas Eve Torch­light Pa­rade

When: Dec. 24, 6-8 p.m. Lo­ca­tion: Tel­luride Re­sort in Tel­luride Price: Free Web­site: www.all­tel­luride.com/events/christ­mas_eve_­torch­light_­pa­rade.php Want­ing to get away for Christmas? Load up the gifts, pack your suit­cases, your stock­ings and don’t for­get the wiener dogs — or the kids — and head to Tel­luride for the an­nual Christmas Eve Torch­light Pa­rade. Up to 100 Tel­luride Ski Area em­ploy­ees can be seen from town as they ski down Coon­skin to Tel­luride Trail while hold­ing glow­ing torches. Pretty cool, right?

Pro­vided by Den­ver Botanic Gar­dens

Den­ver Botanic Gar­dens’ an­nual (and wildly pop­u­lar) “Blos­soms of Light” re­turns to its York Street lo­ca­tion.

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