'Tis the season for caroling, choirs, and sparkling lights ― the kind of cheer that ushers even the most cold-averse out of hibernation. Downtown Denver is brimming with holiday performances ― from soul-stirring a cappella concerts to Charles Dickens ― while restaurants within walking distance of curtain call offer froufrou cocktails and après-show nibbles. Prefer boutiques to Broadway? The theater district is lined with finds guaranteed to entice last-minute shoppers.
From I-25, take Speer Blvd. east, then go north on Arapahoe St. to 13th, where you can enter the parking garage at the Denver Performing Arts Complex; several outdoor lots are also nearby. DPAC's main tenant, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, is at 1101 13th St.
Don't miss the Denver Brass Fest (Dec 2; free; at DPAC's open-air Galleria; 303/832-4676). Horn blowers of all ages ― and skill levels ― rehearse and perform seasonal favorites with the acclaimed and jovial Denver Brass.
Denver Performing Arts Complex: The citys hub for live theater includes 11 venues spanning four square blocks. This month, take in a musical rendition of A Christmas Carol; Season's Greetings, a comedy about Christmas gone wrong; or reunite with Molly Ringwald, in Sweet Charity. Info: Speer Boulevard at Arapahoe Street; or 720/865-4220.
St. Martin's Chamber Choir: Its holiday concert brings inspirational harmonies in a heartwarming setting. Info: Dec 22; $20; at St. Elizabeth's Church (across the street from DPAC), 1060 St. Francis Way; 303/298-1970.
16th Street Mall: The brightly festooned promenade caps Denver's New Year's Eve celebration with double fireworks, at 9 and midnight. Info: Free; Arapahoe and 16th Streets; www.downtowndenver.com
Tamayo LoDo's: Nuevo Latino hot spot, with chunky guac, shredded chicken tamales, and holiday toddies like the Snow Cap: brandy, crème de cacao, and homemade eggless eggnog. Info: $$$; 1400 Larimer St.; 720/946-1433.
Cry Baby Ranch: Rustle up whimsical gifts such as Western-style prints, rugs, and pillows. Info: 1421 Larimer St.; 303/623-3979.