Rad Things (to) Do – December

Austin Nettleton

Ohhhhhh the weather outside is frightful… no, really, what is going on? Why did it just start snowing a week ago? Did someone let Old Man Winter sleep in again?

Despite the unseasonably warm weather, the holiday season is in full swing around the metro area, and there is no shortage of ways to get festive in the 303 this year. End 2023 the right way with this month’s edition of Rad Things (to) Do!

Festivals, parades and holiday-themed events

There’s no doubt Denver knows how to celebrate the holiday season.From the 9News Parade of Lights to strolls through winter wonderlands to one of the largest electronic music festivals in the western United States on New Year’s Eve, there is quite literally something for everyone. There’s even a holiday-inspired metal and beer festival! 

9News Parade of Lights

The 9News Parade of Lights makes its annual stroll through downtown Denver at 6 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 2! Over 40 floats, including RTD’s new winter parade bus, will head in a counterclockwise direction down 14th, 17th, Arapahoe, 15th and Glenarm streets, ending at Civic Center Park, where the Denver City & County Building will be lit up in holiday colors.

Learn more about the event and purchase grandstand tickets at https://www.winterindenver.com/parade. Please note that RTD services will be affected 3-9:30 p.m.that day. Select bus routes and light rail lines will be suspended or detoured due to the parade and its side events. Visit the News Stop for more information. 

Cherry Creek North Winter Wonderland Experience

Head on down to Cherry Creek and experience the magic of the Cherry Creek North Winter Wonderland Experience. Illuminated by over 1 million Christmas lights, Fillmore Street comes alive with a holiday market, craft cocktails, shopping and more. The event goes through Christmas Eve, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy what it has to offer.

Catch any Cherry Creek-bound route (3, 3L, 83D and 83L) to 1st Avenue and Fillmore Plaza to check it out.


A holiday season favorite returns for another year! Denver’s Christkindlmarketis now open at Civic Center Park, accessible via any Civic Center Station-bound bus route. The annual event brings a German flair to Christmas in the Mile High City with a variety of vendors and events and, most importantly, incredible culinary offerings from Germany, including famous German Glühwein and Bavarian-style beers.

The free event runs through Dec. 23. For a full list of vendors and activities, visit https://www.christkindlmarketdenver.com.

Zoo Lights

Another Denver holiday tradition comes to life this season. Denver Zoo’s “Zoo Lights” flicker on for the first time Saturday, Dec. 2. Three million lights illuminate over 80 acres of the Denver Zoo, creating a magical experience for the whole family. Seasonal cocktails, holiday treats, ice carving and more are offered, so there is something for everybody.

The event goes through Jan. 7, 2024. Tickets, schedules and more can be found at https://www.denverzoo.org/events/zoolights/. The zoo can be accessed via a short walk away from Colorado Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, serviced by Routes 20 and 40.

Denver Botanic Gardens’ Blossoms of Light

Enjoy a spectacle of dazzling lights at Denver Botanic Garden’s Blossoms of Light. This family-favorite event runs through Jan. 7, 2024.

Denver Botanic Gardens (accessible via Route 24 with a stop in front of the Gardens near York Street and 9th Avenue

New Year’s Eve Firework Show

Once again, the midnight sky above the skyscrapers of downtown Denver will light up in spectacular fashion as the Downtown Denver Partnership and Visit Denver team up to fire off the biggest fireworks show this side of the Rocky Mountains on Dec. 31! Prefer being asleep by midnight? Don’t worry, as there will be an early fireworks show at 9 p.m., both in downtown Denver.

Take advantage of Zero Fare for New Year’s Eve and take any downtown bus or train to enjoy the fireworks spectacle. Travel at no cost from 7 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 7 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Decadence 2023

Colorado’s second largest electronic music festival welcomes in 2024 at the Colorado Convention Center Dec. 30 and 31! Headlined by some of the biggest names in electronic music today, such as Skrillex, Illenium, Two Friends, Subtronics, Zeds Dead, Steve Aoki, Sofi Tukker and Galantis, this year’s Decadence promises to close out 2023 and start 2024 with a bang.

Take advantage of Zero Fare for New Year’s Eve and take any Theatre District·Convention Center Station-bound light rail line and have a New Year’s Eve to remember. Ride at no cost from 7 p.m. Dec. 31 to 7 a.m. Jan. 1.

Check out the full lineup and get tickets today at https://www.decadencenye.com.


While it might be getting chilly in the city, Denver’s sports teams are getting hotter than a yeti stranded in the Sahara Desert in the summer with its winter coat still on. The Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets have gotten off to a fast and fiery start to their seasons and are looking to keep that momentum up through December, while the University of Colorado Buffaloes women’s basketball team has broken into the Associated Press (AP) Top 10 at No. 7, with the men’s team sitting just outside of the AP Top 25 at No. 27.

However, the biggest story of them all just happens to sit at the corner of Federal Boulevard and Colfax Avenue, where the Denver Broncos have been on a hot streak of wins, with talks stirring up around the league of the team being a possible dark horse for a playoff run. Russell Wilson finally remembered how to cook and has been serving his wide receivers a heaping plate of great passes.

The Broncos have a favorable home schedule in December to keep the momentum going, with arguably the worst New England Patriots team in the history of the NFL fumbling their way to town on Dec. 24, followed by a San Diego… oops, Los Angeles Chargers team in the midst of an identity crisisvisiting Empower Field at Mile High Stadium on New Year’s Eve. Could the Broncos finally make it back to the playoffs?

Empower Field at Mile High Stadium (accessible via the E and W lines at Empower Field at Mile High Station)

Denver Broncos (NFL):

  • Dec. 24: vs. New England Patriots
  • Dec. 31: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Ball Arena (accessible via the E and W lines at Ball Arena·Elitch Gardens Station, as well as Routes 1, 15L and 20 at Auraria Parkway and 9th Street)

Colorado Avalanche (NHL):

  • Dec. 5: vs. Anaheim Ducks
  • Dec. 7: vs. Winnipeg Jets
  • Dec. 9: vs. Philadelphia Flyers
  • Dec. 11: vs. Calgary Flames
  • Dec. 13: vs. Buffalo Sabres 
  • Dec. 17: vs. San Jose Sharks
  • Dec. 21: vs. Ottawa Senators
  • Dec. 23: vs. Arizona Coyotes
  • Dec. 31: vs. San Jose Sharks

Denver Nuggets (NBA):

  • Dec. 14: vs. Brooklyn Nets
  • Dec. 16: vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Dec. 18: vs. Dallas Mavericks
  • Dec. 25: vs. Golden State Warriors
  • Dec. 28: vs. Memphis Grizzlies
  • Dec. 29: vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Colorado Mammoth (NLL):

  • Dec. 22: vs. Georgia Swarm
  • Dec. 30: vs. Vancouver Warriors

Magness Arena (accessible via the E and H lines at University of Denver Station)

University of Denver Pioneers (NCAA men’s hockey):

  • Dec. 1-2: vs. University of North Dakota Eagles
  • Dec. 30: vs. Minot State University Beavers

University of Colorado Events Center (accessible via Routes 204, 225, DASH, GS, SKIP and FF1 at Broadway and Regent Drive)

University of Colorado Buffaloes (NCAA men’s basketball):

  • Dec. 3: vs. Pepperdine University
  • Dec. 15: vs. University of Northern Colorado Bears
  • Dec. 21: vs. Utah Tech University Buffaloes
  • Dec. 29: vs. University of Washington Huskies
  • Dec. 31: vs. Washington State University Cougars

University of Colorado Buffaloes (NCAA women’s basketball):

  • Dec. 5: vs. University of Texas – Arlington Mavericks
  • Dec. 21: vs. University of Northern Colorado Bears
  • Dec. 30: vs. University of Utah Utes


2023 has been an exceptional year for concerts in the metro area. This year saw Denver’s very own Illenium perform to a nearly sold-out Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, the return of pop punk and emo powerhouses Paramore and Blink-182 perform at the Ball Arena, Ice Cube giving all Denverites a good day at the Mission Ballroom, and Fall Out Boy packing Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater with over 15,000 fans revisiting their emo days. Of course, all of these were headlined by the one and only Taylor Swift selling out both nights of her stop at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium and being the talk of the town for weeks on end after.

Concertgoers in Denver have the opportunity to close out 2023 with a bang, as the city’s many music venues plan to party all the way into 2024 with killer acts from artists and bands such as Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Bear Grillz, Matchbox Twenty, August Burns Red, Skid Row, Buckcherry, The Menzingers, Hot Mulligan and WAR, just to name a few.

Check out all of the concerts accessible this month via RTD services and end the year with some fantastic live music.

Ball Arena (accessible via the E and W lines at Ball Arena·Elitch Gardens Station, as well as Routes 1, 15L and 20 at Auraria Parkway and 9th Street)

  • Dec. 1-3: Disney on Ice Presents: Frozen & Encanto
  • Dec. 12: Adam Sandler (comedy) – “The ‘I Missed You’ Tour”
  • Dec. 15: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (folk)

Mission Ballroom (accessible via the A Line at 38th·Blake Station)

  • Dec. 1: Bear Grillz (EDM/bass) – “Bear Grillz presents ‘Underland’”
  • Supporting acts: Muerte (dubstep), Stoned Level (dubstep), RZRKT (bass), Vastive (hip-hop/bass), Perry Wayne (bass), Stryer (bass/rock)
  • Dec. 6: Meateater (television/podcast) – “Meateater Live”
  • Dec. 8: Grace Potter (rock) – “Sing it to me, Santa”
  • Supporting acts: Tracksuit Wedding (country/rock), Ryan Chrys(southern rock)
  • Dec. 9: Tchami(progressive house) and Malaa(house/trap) – “The Return of No Redemption”
  • Dec. 10: MoneybaggYo (hip-hop/rap)
  • Dec. 11: Lovejoy (alternative/indie) – “Channel 93.3’s ‘Not So Silent Night’”
  • Supporting acts: Colony House, Ella Red and Seth Beamer (alternative/indie)
  • Dec. 12: TV Girl (alternative/indie)
  • Supporting act: Jordana (alternative/indie)
  • Dec. 13: The Menzingers (punk/ska)
  • Supporting acts: Microwave (pop punk/emo), Cloud Nothings (noise rock/pop punk) and Rodeo Boys(pop punk/ska)
  • Dec. 15: Papadosio(psychedelic rock/jam band)– “Papadosio presents ‘Dream Outlaw’”
  • Supporting acts: Desert Dwellers (world fusion/glitch hop), Snakes and Stars and 5AM Trio (alternative)
  • Dec. 16: Troyboi (EDM/trap) – “Shut **it Down Tour”
  • Supporting acts: Evan Giia(pop) and MZG (glitch hop/bass)
  • Dec. 30-31: Clozee (glitch hop/bass) – “Microworlds”
  • Supporting acts: Vincent Antone* (rock/bass), Yoko* (experimental bass), Daggz* (experimental bass), Lyny** (bass/dubstep), Super Future** (bass), Pheel** (glitch hop)
  • (*) denotes Dec. 30 only; (**) denotes Dec. 31 only 

Paramount Theatre (accessible via the D, H and L lines at 16th·California Station or the Free MallRide at 17th Street and Glenarm Place)

  • Dec. 1: War(soul/funk)
  • Dec. 2-3: Jonathan Van Ness (comedy)
  • Dec. 5: Chris Isaak (rockabilly/country) – “97.3 KCBO Presents: ‘Chris Isaak’”
  • Dec. 7: Hot Tuna (blues/rock)– “97.3 KCBO Presents: ‘Hot Tuna’”
  • Dec. 8: The Musical Box(variety)
  • Dec. 9: Chris Distefano (comedy) – “Right Intention, Wrong Move Tour”
  • Dec. 10: Kidz Bop (child-friendly/pop) – “Never Stop Live Tour”
  • Dec. 13: Jimmy Carr (comedy) – “Terribly Funny Tour”
  • Dec. 15: The Fab Four (tribute) – “The Fab Four Performs The Beatles’ ‘Rubber Soul’”
  • Dec. 16: Face Vocal Band (a capella) – “Best. Christmas. Ever”
  • Dec. 17: Michelle Buteau(R&B) – “The ‘Full Heart, Tight Jeans’ Tour”
  • Dec. 23-24: Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet (ballet)
  • Dec. 30-31: Nikki Glaser (comedy) – “The Good Girl Tour”

Fillmore Auditorium (accessible via Route 15 at Colfax Avenue and Emerson Street or Colfax Avenue and Clarkson Street)

  • Dec. 1: Matchbox Twenty (pop/rock) – “Alice 105.9 Presents: ‘Alice in Winterland featuring Matchbox Twenty’”
  • Supporting acts: John Rzeznik (pop/rock) and Phillip Phillips (pop/folk)
  • Dec. 2: August Burns Red (metalcore) – “Rescue & Restore 10 Year Anniversary Tour”
  • Supporting acts: Spite (metalcore/hardcore) and Crystal Lake (metalcore/deathcore)
  • Dec. 3: Sexyy Red (hip-hop/rap) – “KS107.5 Snow Show featuring SexyyRed”
  • Dec. 7: Chuu (pop) – “Howl in USA”
  • Dec. 12: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (alternative/indie) – “New Friends Tour 2023”
  • Supporting acts: Michigander (alternative/indie) and Arlie (rockabilly)

Ogden Theatre (accessible via Route 15 at Colfax Avenue and Emerson Street or Colfax Avenue and Clarkson Street)

  • Dec. 1: Maddy O’Neal (glitch hop)
  • Supporting acts: Chmura (dubstep), Jaenga (bass), Mantra Sounds (bass) and CatParty(jamtronica)
  • Dec. 2: Hiss Golden Messenger (indie/folk)
  • Supporting act: Adeem the Artist (country)
  • Dec. 9: John Craigie (americana/folk) – “Keep it Warm 2023”
  • Supporting act: Madeline Hawthorne (folk)
  • Dec. 12: Skid Row and Buckcherry(hard rock) – “The Gang’s All Here Tour”
  • Dec. 13: Silverstein (pop punk/post-hardcore/emo)
  • Supporting acts: Stray From The Path (metalcore/hardcore) and Avoid (metalcore/alt-metal)
  • Dec. 14: Drinkurwater (dubstep) – “Level Up Séance Tour 2023”
  • Supporting acts: Green Matter and Bruer (dubstep/bass)
  • Dec. 16: The Main Squeeze(soul/funk)
  • Supporting acts: Antwaun Stanley, Nate Werth, Adam Smirnoff, Parris Fleming, Isaac Teel, D.J. Williams, Nicholas Gerlach and DJ Parrisian(funk/soul/R&B)
  • Dec. 22-23: Tape B (dubstep/bass) – “Tape B Presents: ‘Old School and New’”
  • Supporting acts: Conrank*, Xaebor*, Gunpoint*, Flozone*, Levity**, BlurrdVzn**, Stvsh** and Détre** (dubstep/bass)
  • (*) denotes Dec. 22; (**) denotes Dec. 23

Oriental Theater (accessible via Route 44 at West 44th Avenue and Tennyson Street)

  • Dec. 1: René Vaca (comedy)
  • Dec. 3: Crash Test Dummies (pop/rock)
  • Supporting act: Carleton Stone (indie)
  • Dec. 6: The Slackers (punk/ska) – “KGNU Presents: ‘The Slackers on Tour’”
  • Supporting acts: Voodoo Glow Skulls, Chris Murray and Los Mal Hablados(punk/ska)
  • Dec. 8: Wednesday 13 (industrial/metal)
  • Supporting acts: Gemini Syndrome (hard rock/nu-metal), Infected Rain (nu-metal) and Black Satellite (industrial/metal)
  • Dec. 13: Zakk Sabbath (metal)
  • Supporting act: Native Howl (bluegrass/alt-rock)
  • Dec. 15: Alexandra Kay (country/pop) – “All I’ve Ever Known: The Tour”
  • Supporting act: Haley Mae Campbell (country/pop)
  • Dec. 17: The Okee Dokee Brothers (folk)
  • Dec. 22: Ryan Chrys & The Rough Cuts (rock/metal) – “Santa’s Guitar Christmas Show”
  • Supporting act: Dear Marsha (new wave)
  • Dec. 29: The Samples (jam band/bluegrass) and Freddy Jones Band (jam band/southern rock)
  • Dec. 30: The Iron Maidens (tribute/metal)
  • Supporting acts: The Blackouts (punk) and Poison’d(metal)

Bluebird Theater (accessible via Route 15 at Colfax Avenue and Cook Street)

  • Dec. 1: Vandelux(R&B)
  • Dec. 2: Cri (indie)
  • Supporting act: Nicky Elisabeth (progressive house)
  • Dec. 14-16: The Lil Smokies(bluegrass)
  • Supporting acts: Mama Magnolia* (bluegrass), Travis McNamara** (bluegrass) and Two Runner*** (americana)
  • (*) denotes Dec. 14 only; (**) denotes Dec. 15 only; (***) denotes Dec. 16 only
  • Dec. 21: Holdfast. (indie)
  • Supporting acts: Volores(punk) and Sophie Gray (electropop)
  • Dec. 22: DeVotchKa(indie/punk)

HQ (accessible via Route 0 at South Broadway and West Bayaud Avenue)

  • Dec. 1: Suitable Miss (punk)
  • Supporting acts: Relate (indie), Savings (pop punk/emo) and Capture This (pop punk)
  • Dec. 6: The Meteors (psychobilly)
  • Supporting acts: King Rat (indie) and Dryer Fire (punk/ska)
  • Dec. 7: Psyclon Nine (industrial metal) – “VignitiAnnosInferni Tour”
  • Supporting acts: Clockwork Echo (dark electronica), Guillotine (dubstep) and Corvin’s Breed (electro-industrial/metal)
  • Dec. 8: Pain Of Truth (hardcore) – “Not Through Blood Record Release Tour”
  • Supporting acts: Momentum, Torena and Wolfblizter (hardcore)
  • Dec. 10: Barrett Martin (grunge) – “Signing Earth Tour”
  • Dec. 16: Exmortus (thrash metal)
  • Supporting acts: Generation Kill (thrash metal), Hatriot (thrash metal) and Claustrofobia(thrash metal/hardcore)
  • Dec. 22: Chew Thru (hardcore), Electric Condor (punk) and Circling Over (sludge metal/black metal)
  • Dec. 30: Lacerated (metal) and Neuromorphic (slam metal/death metal)
  • Supporting acts: Divine Torture (death metal), Obscene Worship (death metal) and Grave Dancer (black metal/thrash metal)

Gothic Theatre (accessible via Route 0 at South Broadway and Eastman Avenue, or South Broadway and West Floyd Avenue)

  • Dec. 1: Armor For Sleep (emo/post-hardcore) – “Celebrating Twenty Years of ‘Dream to Make Believe’”
  • Supporting acts: The Early November and The Spill Canvas (emo/pop-punk)
  • Dec. 2: Top Flite Empire (hip-hop/rap)
  • Supporting acts: Kid Ikon, O.T.I.S., Telly, Spinks, 3HD and Ha$h (hip-hop/rap)
  • Dec. 8: Cattle Decapitation (death metal/deathcore) – “The Terrasitic Infestation Tour”
  • Supporting acts: Immolation, Sanguisuugabogg and Castrator (death metal/slam metal)
  • Dec. 13: Yvie Oddly (strut)
  • Dec. 15: The Railbenders(country/rock)
  • Supporting act: The Jons (indie)
  • Dec. 16: Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (rock/americana)

Summit Music Hall (accessible via Routes 0, 9, 15 and 20 at 18th and Blake streets, or via Route 52 at 20th and Blake streets)

  • Dec. 5: Jeff Rosenstock(punk)
  • Supporting acts: Georgia Maq(alt-rock/indie) and Small Crush (indie)
  • Dec. 9: Moon Taxi (alternative/indie) – “KCBO 97.3 Presents: Moon Taxi with The Stews”
  • Supporting act: The Stews (alternative/indie)
  • Dec. 12: Hot Mulligan (emo/pop punk) – “Why Would I Watch Tour”
  • Supporting acts: Heart Attack Man (pop punk), Spanish Love Songs (pop punk/emo) and Ben Quad (indie/emo)
  • Dec. 13: Deafhaven (black metal)
  • Supporting acts: TouchéAmoré (metal/post-hardcore) and Gatecreeper (sludge metal/death metal)
  • Dec. 15: Aqua (pop) – “Aqua World Tour”
  • Dec. 16: Atlus (country/pop)
  • Supporting acts: Gawne (hip-hop/rap) and Starletta (indie/pop)
  • Dec. 19: Andrés (post-hardcore)
  • Supporting act: The Seafloor Cinema (post-hardcore)
  • Dec. 31: Itchy-O (experimental EDM)

Marquis Theatre (accessible via Routes 52 and RX at 20th and Larimer streets, or via Route 38 at Larimer and 21st streets)

  • Dec. 1: Motherfolk (indie)
  • Supporting act: Kevin Devine (indie)
  • Dec. 2: Bravo the Bagchaser (hip-hop/rap)
  • Supporting act: Chicitychino and DJ Don P (hip-hop/rap)
  • Dec. 3: Harbour(indie) – “To Chase My Dreams Or To Just Lie Down Tour”
  • Supporting acts: Arms Akimbo and Sylmar (indie)
  • Dec. 9: milk. (indie/rock)
  • Supporting acts: Jacob Ray (R&B/chillstep) and Jake’s A Gentleman (EDM)
  • Dec. 10: Bea Miller (pop) – “Gauche Tour”
  • Supporting act: Ethan Tasch(pop)
  • Dec. 14: Big Wreck (alternative rock)
  • Supporting acts: Texas King and Daniel Greaves (indie/rock)
  • Dec. 16: God Module (industrial metal) – “Saturnalia 2023”
  • Supporting acts: Voicecoil(darkwave/electro-industrial) and Whorticulture(synthpop)
  • Dec. 30: Potato Pirates (punk)
  • Supporting acts: Over Time (hardcore), Sorry Sweetheart (punk/ska) and Zephr (post-hardcore/emo) 
  • Dec. 31: Laura Jane Grace (acoustic punk)
  • Supporting act: Mya Byrne (folk/country)


Another month into the holiday season means the calendar for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA)could not be more packed with holiday-themed plays, musicals and other theatrical performances. Check out what’s going on this month below and snag tickets to the following events at https://www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/.

DCPA can be accessed via the D, H and L lines at Theatre District·Convention Center Station and via the Free MallRide at 15th and Curtis streets.

Randy Weeks Conservatory

  • Ongoing through Dec. 23: Little Red – A Musical Adventure

Garner Galleria Theatre

  • Dec. 6-23: Yippee Ki Yay – The Die Hard Parody

Buell Theatre

  • Dec. 5-24: Six

Wolf Theatre

  • Ongoing through Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol
By Austin Nettleton