It’s a beer Festivus for the rest of us!
It may not seem like it, but humans haven’t fully explored every place on Earth. Among the most isolated is Madagascar, a large island nation off the coast of east Africa. As part of the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, David Krause, senior curator of vertebrate paleontology, and Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs, will present their findings on the Great Red Island’s plentiful dinosaur fossils on Tuesday, December 12. "These dinosaur hunters will share firsthand the amazing opportunity to work at this singular location on our planet and how ongoing expeditions continue to reveal significant scientific findings," says the museum. Dinosaurs of the Great Red Island kicks off at 7 p.m. in the Phipps IMAX Theater at the DMNS, 2001 Colorado Boulevard; tickets are $8 for members and $10 for non-members. Learn more at dmns.org.
Wednesday, December 13
Friends who agree to disagree about their favorite holiday classics can now share their choices in one big show, thanks to Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s production of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!), a holiday mashup-of-all-mashups to suit every taste. From the chaotic Nutcracker to the inevitable Christmas Carol, they’re all there in high-speed snippets, like your holiday-season life flashing before your eyes. BETC’s theatrical romp opens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 13, and runs almost daily through Christmas Eve at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder. Bring the family — or at least those members ages nine and up who can handle swear words and the truth about Santa. Information and tickets, $20 to $36.50, are available at tickets.thedairy.org.
Sarah Staton’s sale-turned-traveling retail installation has given dozens of artists a start.
Thursday, December 14
The worlds of art and commerce intersect in SupaStore, an ongoing project by British artist Sarah Staton, who’s given dozens of artists worldwide a kickstart in her DIY sale-turned-traveling retail installation. Now it’s Denver’s turn to experience the experiment: Staton is bringing SupaStore Human – We Are the Product to the Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax, 312 East Colfax Avenue, for a run through February 2018. But first she’ll lead a participatory plaster-casting workshop on Thursday, December 14, from 6 to 8 p.m.; castings of body parts from the workshop will become part of the Denver installation. SupaStore Human officially opens for business with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 15, with an artist talk at 6:45 p.m. Appropriately for the holidays, items will be for sale. Learn more and keep track of future exhibit-related events at Dikeou at dikeoucollection.org.
Good storytelling remains sacred as a conduit to our distant roots, reminiscent of words shared eons ago around campfires and, more recently, at murky bars and on city street corners. Mostly truth, possibly embellished by the imagination, yarns bring us together, and that’s why the Moth, a national live storytelling showcase and open-mic competition, sells out regularly, generating a radio show, podcast and online story library along the way. Want to see the Moth at its best? Denver, which proudly nurtures its own outpost, will host this year’s Denver Moth GrandSLAM, a final showdown to determine the city’s story champion, on Thursday, December 14, from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue. Get tickets, $27.25, at newmancenterpresents.com. To learn more about the Moth, visit themoth.org.
Saber Acomodar: Art and Workshops of Jalisco 1915–Now
Get inside the whole premise of MCA Denver’s Saber Acomodar: Art and Workshops of Jalisco 1915–Now exhibit, which presents modern Mexican works that reference and commingle with the artisan culture of Guadalajara, when the curator, Patrick Charpenel of the Museo del Barrio in New York City, who brought the show together, sits down in conversation with artist Eduardo Sarabia to discuss the beautiful union between old and new practices in the central Mexican state of Jalisco. Be a part of the dialogue at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 14, at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street. Tickets range from $5 to $10 at eventbrite.com. Learn more about Saber Acomodar at mcadenver.org.
Friday, December 15
Although many people regard holiday shopping as an ordeal, visitors to the Denver Pavilions, 500 16th Street, may find their seasonal wonderment restored by the Holiday Carousel. A centerpiece of the Pavilions’s glittering holiday displays, the Holiday Carousel offers visitors the opportunity to indulge in the simple childlike joy of riding around in merry circles. The carousel (which sharp-eyed guests might recognize from its appearance in the film Selena) will open to the public on Friday, December 15, at 11 a.m., and will be open nearly every day through the new year, even offering rides on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Rides are only $3, or free with a voucher from a Pavilions vendor. Find more information at denverpavilions.com.
Baby, it’s cold outside, and it seems like Denver’s no closer to lessening the city’s homeless crisis than it was a year ago, when the “Move Along to Where?” forum brought out multitudes of concerned citizens to hash out solutions. To keep that conversation alive and raise money for the tiny-house advocates at Colorado Village Collaborative, RedLine Denver and the Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project are, on a positive note, hosting a Move Along to Here! party, with art, music, beverages and all-you-can-eat Sexy Pizza. Learn more about how tiny house villages can give our homeless denizens a foothold on life on Friday, December 15, from 7 to 10 p.m. at RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street; although the event is billed as “pay what you can,” the cost is a suggested $15 donation (or more, if you can) at eventbrite.com. For more information about the tiny-house revolution, visit coloradovillagecollaborative.org.
House of Embers is an immersive party at a secret location.
Atlas Obscura, an international collaborative-community project focusing on the minutiae and hidden wonders of cities around the world, demonstrates its foothold in Denver this holiday season with one night at The House of Embers, an immersive party at a secret location that requires a good bit of audience participation. Details are hush-hush, but it sounds like something mysterious in a possibly haunted unnamed building that celebrates the solstice with food, drink and dark explorations. Be prepared to bump elbows with your fellow explorers on Friday, December 15, from 8 to 11 p.m.; admission is $65 in advance under the Events section at atlasobscura.com. And be prepared for an evening of active involvement; guests must sign a waiver prior to entering.
Looking for a different spin on the Festival of Lights? Grab your dreidels and celebrate like the Israelis at Israeli Hanukkah in Denver, a family-friendly night hosted by the Israeli American Council Colorado at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center. The inexpensive catered Shabbat dinner and menorah-lighting party, which also includes kids’ activities and a folksy sense of community, starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 15, at the MACC, 350 South Dahlia Street, in the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center. Tickets are $8 (free for children age three and under); get yours at eventbrite.com.
Audacious Theatre takes on Dickens.
Get to work on your holiday beer belly at Drunk Christmas: It’s Dickens. Drunk., the local Audacious Theatre performance group’s boozy homage to Dickens and the “spirits” of A Christmas Carol. It’s a fundraiser for a new troupe dedicated to immersive work that goes overboard, with the whole Christmas razzle-dazzle of raffles, baked goodies and a happy round of Christmas karaoke. Be part of the fun on Friday, December 15, or Saturday, December 16, from 8 to 9 p.m. at Fiction Beer Company, 7101 East Colfax Avenue; for tickets, $15, go to audacioustheatre.wellattended.com.
Saturday, December 16
Colorado’s foothills are at their most majestic during the early winter, when the crests and treetops are blanketed with pristine snow. Celebrate the season with a uniquely local event that pairs a visit with Santa Claus with a jaunt through nature on the scenic Lair O’ the Bear hiking trail, 22550 State Highway 74 in Idledale. Sponsored by Always Choose Adventures, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting "nature deficiency disorder," the event invites families to join the Jolly Old Elf in a mini-amphitheater (located about 1,000 feet up the path from the trailhead) before going off to explore on their own. The organizers suggest an $8 donation for each participant. Although Lair O’ the Bear is one of the gentlest and most family-friendly trails on the Front Range (and an ideal trek for leashed pets), guests must sign a liability waiver and be prepared for the innately Coloradan possibility that inclement weather conditions could scuttle their fun. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 16; learn more on the Always Choose Adventures Facebook page.
After a premiere event in August, the Black Cube nomadic museum’s vehicle-inspired Drive-In installation series moves on from its original construction-lot stage to an indoor location for Drive-In: Car Culture, a sequel with an auto-showroom vibe. Once again built upon society’s modern relationship with the ubiquitous automobile as it parallels changes in how artists survive, this leg of the Drive-In journey conjures traveling saleswomen and endurance tests, among other points of view taken by twelve handpicked artists. Attend Drive-In: Car Culture on Saturday, December 16, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Black Cube’s unofficial headquarters, 2925 South Umatilla Street in Englewood. Admission is free, as is the thinking; learn more at blackcube.art/exhibition/drive-in-car-culture.
How old were you the last time your parents took you to the mall for Christmas pictures with Santa? Five? Six? Probably old enough to feel a little uncomfortable perching on a strange man’s lap and negotiating for gifts. So what’s a grown-up Christmas lover to do if they don’t want to re-create the underlying creepiness of the classic photo shoot but still want a hilarious reminder of the quid pro quo nature of the holiday? Brewability Lab, 12445 East 39th Avenue, has the answer at Santa Lizard Selfies for a Cause, on Saturday, December 16. Visit the brewery from 6 to 9 p.m. and down a few cold ones, make a donation of non-perishable food items or money to the Developmental Pathways food drive, and get your picture taken with a lizard decked out as St. Nick. Visit dpcolo.org for more on Developmental Pathways, a nonprofit supporting people with disabilities and their families, and Brewability’s Facebook page for details about the event. The cold-blooded Santa Lizard will surely warm your icy, transactional heart this holiday season.
It’s a doughnut world, round and sweet, at least in the Spectra Art Space universe, where the Donut-Topia! Art Experience will extol the fried-dough dessert with arty accolades for the holiday season on Saturday, December 16. Doughnut geeks can opt for the VIP experience, including a special ticketed early-shopping hour with doughnut goodie bags, a Voodoo Doughnut Mile High feast and other perks from 7 to 8 p.m., while the rest of us can party and nom on doughnuts for free from 8 p.m. to midnight at Spectra, 1836 South Broadway. VIP admission is $60 at eventbrite.com; after 8, the fun is deliciously free.
It’s not too late to put up the aluminum pole, but if you haven’t spent the year training for the Feats of Strength, it’s going to be a long night. And while traditional Festivus dinner involves sipping from a flask while the patriarch of the family holds court with the Airing of Grievances and those around you look on soberly and disapprovingly, Denver Beer Festivus gives you the opportunity to celebrate the season with like-minded lushes. From 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 16 (3 to 7 p.m. if you have been preparing for the Feats of Strength and are ready to rain blows upon your nearest and dearest), join your real tribe at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, for a bacchanal with over fifty Denver breweries. Tickets, $40 to $65, are on sale at denverbeerfestivus.com. It’s a Festivus miracle!
If you love old-school holiday trappings — tinsel, mulled wine, overcooked turkey, wrapping paper and bows — it doesn’t get any more traditional than G.F. Handel’s Messiah, which was written more than 275 years ago and still endures as a Christmas classic. It may even be more famous as a cinematic and TV score: Excerpts (particularly the famed "Hallelujah" chorus) have appeared in tear-jerker Manchester by the Sea, seminal cop drama Hill Street Blues and the unofficial end of Kal Penn’s acting career, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. So even if the spiritual significance of the work doesn’t resonate with you, there’s no way you can fail to be charmed by the 35th Boulder Messiah Sing-Along happening on Saturday, December 16, and Sunday, December 17, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street in Boulder. Choose among three performances (5 p.m. on Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday) to sing along as much or as little as you like; scores of the work will be loaned out at the door, so you don’t even have to come knowing the words or music. Just come prepared to belt out that "Hallelujah" with the gusto of the underappreciated vocalist we know you are. Tickets, $15 to $20, are on sale at eventbrite.com.
Spare yourself and outfit your pooch in an ugly Christmas sweater this season.
Sunday, December 17
Put some swing in your step with Holiday Celebration, a pair of performances from the Denver Jazz Orchestra, a twenty-piece band comprising some of the finest musicians in the state. Under the guidance of Jerry Noonan and Andrew Hudson, the DJO will perform big-band renditions of holiday songbook favorites on Sunday, December 17, at venerated local jazz venue Dazzle, 1512 Curtis Street. Doors open at 5 p.m., and showtimes are at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Innovative yet still preserving the genre’s traditions, the Denver Jazz Orchestra is a sonic gift that this city’s music lovers can enjoy all year. Visit dazzledenver.com to buy tickets, $15 to $20, and learn more.
If you’ve accumulated one too many scratchy acrylic sweaters since the rise of the ugly Christmas sweater party, consider giving instead of receiving this year. Skip scouring the aisles of Walmart in search of garish garb for yourself, and take it out instead on Man’s Best Friend — because your canine doesn’t care whether it’s wearing couture or cut-rate, especially if you take it to the Ugly Sweater Pawty at Diebolt Brewing Company on Sunday, December 17. From 1 to 3 p.m., the brewery, 3855 Mariposa Street, is hosting a shindig for shih tzus and Saint Bernards alike; proceeds will benefit MaxFund, a no-kill animal shelter. For $15, you’ll get professional photos and caricature drawings of your dolled-up dog as well as plenty of swag, including dog treats, toys and raffle prizes. And if you insist on breaking out your own ugly seasonal sweater, no one will hold it against you (they’ll just drink more beer in an effort to forget). Get your ticket at eventbrite.com and get ready for a very hairy Christmas.
Monday, December 18
The Feast of the Seven Fishes has become more familiar as an Italian Christmas Eve tradition over the past decade, even if its precise origins are unclear. Is it southern Italian? Northern Italian? Italian-American? Catholic? Baptist? Who knows and who cares — especially when epic seafood spreads are popping up on Christmas Eve menus around town like the Elf on the Shelf pops up to coerce kids into finishing their veggies. Coperta, the Italian eatery at 400 East 20th Avenue, is getting in on the action early; its kitchen will be turning out the Feast starting on Monday, December 18, and continuing through Sunday, December 24. For $55, diners will get seven seafood dishes: anchovies and butter; salt cod agnolotti in spicy tomato sauce; blue crab with chicory, garlic and linguini; and eel agrodolce (a sweet and sour gastrique) served over polenta, among others. Wine pairings will be available for an additional $25, so get your friends and family together and take advantage of seven days of seven fish by calling Coperta at 720-749-4666 to reserve a table; seatings start at 5 p.m. nightly.