Union Station illumination, ice skating downtown, zoo holiday lights, The Nutcracker and more are on this list of things to do this weekend in and around the Denver area.
Skaters were disappointed last year, but the Downtown Denver Rink returns this weekend for its 11th season. Ice time in Skyline Park, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 20.. Hours will change after Christmas Eve. Skating is free, skate rentals $7 for ages 12 and under, $9 for 13 and over.
One of the most spectacular ways to start the holiday season, the state’s zoos are lighting up in a glittering way. The 125-year Denver Zoo Lights is underway now through Jan. 2 with two million LED lights across 80 acres, 5-10 p.m. Special nightly activities including ice carving. $15-25, denverzoo.org. ElectriCritters at Pueblo Zoo begins Friday to Dec. 26, 150 animal creations, 250,000 lights. $7-9, pueblozoo.org/events. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s 31st Electric Safari, voted one of the best in the country, begins Dec. 3 to Jan. 1. cmzoo.org
Spectacular country displays as you wind through a mile path lined with trees in Littleton’s Chatfield Farms during Trail of Lights, Fridays to Sundays through Jan. 2. Light tunnels, singing Christmas trees, antique and model farm tractors and a children’s play area. $15, children under 2 free. botanicgardens.org 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Road. Blossoms of Light are at the Botanic Gardens York Street.
Grand Illumination night for the holiday tree and Merry & Bright Lights covering Denver Union Station Plaza. From 5–8 p.m. Friday, the Denver Dolls perform, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive and the giant tree outside becomes a Christmas tree. An interactive light show, with holiday music, has been created by Denver artists and will be projected from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly.
For “60+1” years a Denver tradition, Colorado Ballet’s cherished Nutcracker returns in 26 live performances with five different casts through Christmas Eve. New sets and original costume designs. Note: Ellie Caulkins Opera House follows strict Covid protocols. Tickets for matinees and evenings Saturday and Sunday range from $40-175. coloradoballet.org or call or call Patron Services, 303-837-8888 ext. 2.
An especially touching way to celebrate the season, the Farolighting Lighting and Pinecone Ceremony, Tesoro Cultural Center in Morrison on Sunday. Called farolitos, Spanish for lantern, or luminarias, Spanish for light, they are paper bags anchored with sand and holding candles to light paths, trees or buildings. For the ceremony, messages to those lost or far away are written and placed inside pinecones which are tossed into a bonfire to send the messages heavenward. tesoroculturalcenter.org
NOTE: Check websites for last-minute changes or Covid restrictions.