Heebonism (shown here in 2015) has evolved into the Dreidel Dance.
Take a break from the holiday merry-go-round for a perfect little stage reverie: The Broadway tour of Waitress, a sweetie of a show with music and lyrics by Grammy-nominated pop star Sara Bareilles and developed by an all-female team, will drop into Denver just when most local stages (including those in the Denver Performing Arts Complex) are on a Christmas binge. The story of a waitress with a penchant for pie-baking and the hint of romance on her horizon, Waitress premieres at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 19, and runs through New Year’s Eve at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Learn more and buy tickets, starting at $25, at denvercenter.org.
Feeling left out, Jewish brethren and sistren? December can be a lonely time for Jews, who creep through malls bombarded by Christmas carols and whose personal holiday of Chanukah has often already ended by the time Christmas hits its stride. Relax. Now you have The MeshugaNutcracker!, a new, fully klezmerized take on The Nutcracker, complete with dancing dreidels, a retelling of the Judah Maccabee story and loads of special guests, including Broadway star Bruce Vilanch. Fathom Events presents the feature-length film across the nation and in metro Denver for one night only, on Tuesday, December 19, at 7 p.m.; tickets are still available for showings at the Denver Pavilions 15 (500 16th Street), Aurora 16 (14300 East Alameda Avenue in Aurora), and River Point 14 (3565 South Platte River Drive in Sheridan). Get tickets, $12 to $14, at fathomevents.com.
Wednesday, December 20
Just five days before Christmas, the Colorado Symphony is keeping the holiday season alive and well with its annual Holiday Brass concert, which returns to Boettcher Hall, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, on Wednesday, December 20, at 7:30 p.m. With brassy renditions of advent hymns like "O Come, All Ye Faithful," traditional carols from all over world, including "Good King Wenceslas" and "Fum, Fum, Fum," along with sing-along standbys such as "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," "Jingle Bells" and many more, the evening has plenty of gifts in store for everyone. Call 303-623-7876 or visit coloradosymphony.org to get tickets, $20 to $94, and more information.
For folks getting in some slope time as Christmas approaches, there are many ski-town options for celebrating the season, too. But for a contemporary stab at re-creating a homey sense of community, Vail’s Art in Public Places winter holiday events, which begin Wednesday, December 20, and run through Friday, December 22, have our vote, simply for mixing culture into the fun. Pre-Christmas events include adult and family lantern-making workshops, followed by the town’s early-evening Holiday Lantern Walk (led by Santa and the World’s Tallest Elf) on December 22; also on the slate that night is a kickoff for Vail Winterfest Ice Theater on the Gore Creek Promenade, a season of family-friendly film screenings in a sculpted-ice theater that ends when the ice melts. Learn more about these events and more at artinvail.com/events/programs.
Thursday, December 21
If the holiday season is moving too fast, slow it down at a knitting circle that will calm your heart rate and provide an opportunity to give back in some small, mindful way. In cahoots with the Healthy Knitter blog’s national World Wide Knit-In for Peace Day, Fancy Tiger (with herbalist Tonja Reichley and the local Do Good Craft Club) invites knitters to bring a project to work on and a donation of unexpired and non-perishable foods to its shop at 59 Broadway for a drive benefiting the Gathering Place, a women’s shelter. Reichley will be brewing Dandelion Wild Apothecary organic teas for knitters free of charge. Knit one, purl one between noon and 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 21; for information, visit fancytigercrafts.com/products/knit-in-for-peace-2017.
On the other hand, if you’re so sick of the holidays you could wring a reindeer’s neck, don’t miss the Comedy Works Holiday Roast, which pins the most recognizable holiday figures, played by some of Denver’s most beloved comics, against each other in a showdown you’ll remember for Christmases to come. Watch Santa kick Rudolph’s ass at 7:30 p.m on Thursday, December 21, and Tuesday, December 26, at the Comedy Works South location, 5345 Landmark Place in Greenwood Village. Get tickets, $14, and more information at comedyworks.com.
Friday, December 22
Punk rock’s all about community and being inclusive of “all backgrounds, beliefs and lifestyles,” says Ratio Beerworks. The brewery will host a Punk Rock Drag Show at 8 p.m. Friday, December 22, as part of the brewery’s 12 Days of Giving series. The evening will serve as a fundraiser for the LGBTQ rights group One Colorado and will include performances by Kai Lee Michaels, Yvie Oddly, MaryJane Champagne, Frenchie QS Bardot, Biscuit, Eva Lucien and Willow Pill. Show your holiday spirit at Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street; a dollar from every beer served will go to One Colorado. For more information, call 303-997-8288 or visit Ratio’s Facebook page.
Hailing from New Orleans, the Rebirth Brass Band has taken its brass funk to parties nationwide since the 1980s, packing houses with fans who can’t resist the group’s infectious music. Now the outfit (which you might have seen on HBO’s Treme) is bringing the New Orleans heat to warm up two (hopefully) cold winter nights in Denver. Catch the band at 9 p.m. on Friday, December 22, or Saturday, December 23, at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue; tickets start at $19.99 at bluebirdtheater.net.
As neighborhoods like River North rapidly gentrify, it’s no surprise that local artists are producing more doomsday art — even from places touted as utopian artist enclaves, like GRACe, short for the Globeville Riverfront Arts Center. Shot at GRACe among all the discarded car parts and junk (aka artistic gold) out front, short film Camp Crash is a “dystopian mashup of Meatballs and Mad Max,” according to its creators, that was shot as a precursor to an eleven-episode web series. Mutiny Information Cafe, 2 South Broadway, will screen Camp Crash at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 22. Pizza from Piehole and coffee from Mutiny will be provided. For more information, visit facebook.com/campcrashserial.
Downtown Aurora, it turns out, is a cooler place than you’d ever know, a multicultural community teeming with artists trying to make a go of it and earn the suburb some cred. Good reason to throw a holiday party. Join the Aurora Cultural Arts District for the Holiday Pomp! Christmas Gala, an old-fashioned kind of 21+ shindig with an ugly-sweater contest, caroling, refreshments and an all-Aurora array of vendors. Party with the district on Friday, December 22, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at ACAD’s headquarters, 1400 Dallas Street in Aurora. Admission is free, and a portion of all purchases will benefit the cultural organization. ACAD will also be collecting donations at the door of warm clothing, personal-care items, non-perishable foods and more for Aurora Warms the Night care kits (aurorawarmsthenight.org). RSVP at eventbrite.com.
Tie on some skates, channel the unwanted toys befriended by Rudolph in the 2001 kid flick Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, and roll toward the new year at Exdo Event Center’s Island of Misfit Toys Onesie Roll. The last Roll skate party of 2017 doubles as a toy drive, so don’t forget to bring a new toy to donate (you’ll be rewarded with a free drink just for having a big heart!). The fun kicks off at 9 p.m. on Friday, December 22, at Exdo, 1399 35th Street, and will even include an appearance by Santa. Admission is free for the first hour and $10 at the door after that, or come prepared by paying $5 in advance at tickets.exdoevents.com.
In September, a local artist named Falli got to open for the Insane Clown Posse when it came to Boulder. Falli might not be a nationally known musician, but he’s familiar to local Juggalos and Juggalettes as the man behind the five-year-old Bonanza Toy Drive, happening this year at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, December 22. Held at Seventh Circle Music Collective, 2935 West Seventh Avenue, the toy drive will host a bevy of local hip-hop heavy hitters including DJ DontGivAFuk, Riaga, Benji, TRUE, Talksiq TNTT and, of course, Falli himself. Bring gifts for kids and cash donations, and enjoy an evening of loud music and goodwill. Find more information at the event’s Facebook page.
Black Christmas is an early example of horror tropes that make us roll our eyes these days. There’s a "The call is coming from inside the house!" moment, a serial killer hiding in a closet, and the unresolved ending, with the murderer remaining unidentified and uncaught. But when the film was released in 1974, all of these elements were played without irony by stars Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey in their roles as sorority girls in distress. Not only will modern audiences appreciate the beginnings of slasher cinema, but they’ll also marvel at the unabashed sexuality and feminist underpinnings that somehow make the ladies seem more interesting and capable than most scream queens of 2017. Return to a simpler (albeit more deadly) time when the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, screens the classic at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, December 22. Tickets, $7 to $11, are available at denverfilm.org.
Jello Biafra throws one hell of a dance party.
Some traditions never die on Colfax Avenue. Case in point: Jello Biafra’s Incredibly Strange Dance Party, a dance night at the Lion’s Lair with spins by the Boulder-born punk-rocker who rose to fame in the ’80s as a major personality and lead singer of the Dead Kennedys. You might remember that he also ran for president in 2000. Jello’s back in town for the holidays with a blend of pogo-worthy vintage garage, soul, surf, punk and other pop-cultural aural tidbits. Dance the night away on Friday, December 22, from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Lion’s Lair, 2022 East Colfax Avenue. Purchase tickets, $12.50 in advance and $15 the day of the bash, at brownpapertickets.com.
Saturday, December 23
In case you think all comedy these days is aimed at the male hivemind, think again: Local ladies will be fighting back with Mentalpause, an evening of jokes tailor-made by KOOL 105’s Stephanie McHugh, twenty-year comedy veteran Nancy Norton and funny girls Judy Wolf and Vicki Edgar for the middle-aged set — because getting older is funny. Really, it is. Let them convince you when the Dairy Arts Center hosts the hilarious quartet on Saturday, December 23, at 8:30 p.m. in the Boedecker Theater, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; tickets are $12 at tickets.thedairy.org.
Don’t put away that ugly Christmas sweater just yet!
The holiday gift-shopping season is coming to a close, but inside the Stanley in Aurora, there’s still a Santa’s sack full of great last-minute gifts at the humming marketplace’s eleven cool boutiques. Once you’ve finished shopping, get your nails prettied up for the holidays at Base Coat Nail Salon or your hair done at Clementine’s. The Stanley will make ironing out these last-minute details fun by throwing a Christmas Sweater Saturday on Saturday, December 23, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., with boutique open houses, caroling and general holiday cheer — and don’t forget to wear your ugliest. Visit stanleymarketplace.com/events for details.
The moon, some palm trees, a snow-white beach: This is a scenario you’ll never experience in Colorado, even during this abnormally warm winter. But you can find a close second at the Hidden Idol Tiki at Beetle Bar, a secret hideaway with cocktails just beyond the red door behind Southside Bar | Kitchen. There the mood is right for Night Beat: Hawaiian Christmas, a conceptual evening of sophisticated drinking to the tune of ’50s rock and rhythm-and-blues vinyl classics. Come with a group and be sure to order a flaming bowl. This truly alternative holiday party goes from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Hidden Idol, 3014 East Colfax Avenue, on Saturday, December 23, and it’s free. Learn more at Hidden Idol Tiki at the Denver Beetle Bar Facebook page.
Sunday, December 24
What should you eat on Christmas Eve if you don’t celebrate the birth of Christ — or you’re just not interested in one of the many seafood feasts happening around Denver? Rosenberg’s Bagels & Deli, 2501 Dallas Street in Stanley Marketplace, is holding the Jewish Christmas Chinese Food Pop-Up from 5 to 10 p.m. on Sunday, December 24, for anyone interested in a culture-and-comfort-food mash-up. For $60, you’ll get plenty of Jewish-inspired Chinese-American dishes (say that five times fast) and drinks; under 21s will enjoy the night for half that. Past menus have included smoked-salmon rangoon and kung pao pastrami, and vegetarian and vegan options are confirmed for this year’s event. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Project Angel Heart. Visit eventbrite.com for tickets, and stay tuned to Rosenberg’s Facebook page for updates on this year’s menu.
Heebonism might be a thing of the past, but don’t miss E-3 Event’s Dreidel Dance!
Sadly, Heebonism is a thing of the past: The fondly remembered Christmas Eve club night for young Jewish professionals has closed up shop. But the three “Es” who produced that event as E-3 Events — Ean Seeb, Ezra Shankin and Eric Elkins — recognize that fellow Jews in Denver still need a place to hang with friends when their gentile cronies are all gathered ’round their Christmas trees. So they’re throwing the Dreidel Dance, a free-form little party, rather than a huge extravaganza, on Sunday, December 24, from 9 p.m. to midnight at Interstate Kitchen and Bar, 1001 Santa Fe Drive. Dreidel Dance is cover-free, and drink specials have been mentioned; check out the event’s Facebook page for updates.
You can bet Santa’s dreaming of a white Christmas right now, because he’d like to enjoy a little of that pow-pow himself before hopping on his sleigh. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, December 24, Santa and one of his elves will be at Arapahoe Basin, 28194 U.S. 6 in Keystone, to talk to kids and give out candy in the A-Frame Lodge and Mountain Goat Plaza, while the Summit County Choral Society offers carols until 1 p.m. After Santa’s done with that mission, he’ll board the Black Mountain Express Lift to Black Mountain Lodge to visit older fans. But don’t try to distract Santa from his duties; he’ll be leaving A-Basin precisely at 1 p.m. because, well, Santa has work to do. For more information, go to arapahoebasin.com.
Monday, December 25
Christmas Day can be lonely — or at the very least, boring — if you don’t celebrate it. If you’re all caught up on Netflix or need to detox after weeks of keeping-up-with-the-Joneses drinking, and the idea of staying in all day sounds soul-crushingly dull, participate in JEWISHcolorado’s Christmas Mitzvah Project. People of all faiths (or none at all) can register at classy.org to perform a mitzvah (very simply, a good deed) at nonprofits around town on Monday, December 25. You might find yourself visiting with hospital patients, decorating holiday cookies for policemen or assembling care packages for homeless shelters. Either way, you’ll be giving back at a time of year that’s all too often just about receiving — and that’s a good way to spend any day.