Mile High skies to light up like never before this holiday season

Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

New Mile High Tree in Sculpture Park among dozens of family opportunities this holiday season

The 16th annual Mile High Holidays press conference on Tuesday touted a wide array of new family events and activities that promise to light up Denver this holiday season like never before.

The new Mile High Tree will be the largest of its kind in the United States. Photo by John Moore

Mile High Holidays is an annual statewide effort by Visit Denver to encourage visitors and locals alike to fully celebrate the season in and around the metro area. Denver holiday traditions include parades, performing arts, shopping, lights displays and more. The 2019 kickoff event was held at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, with the backdrop being the “Mile High Tree,” a new 110-foot, seven-story attraction in Sculpture Park that is being touted as the tallest pixel LED technology tree in the country. That’s 10 feet taller than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City.

The tree, which will be viewable from Speer Boulevard and from under the arch at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, will be plugged in at a special ceremony at 5 p.m. November 30 and continue through January 31. The tree will host free, nightly public light shows choreographed to multi-cultural holiday music. The tree can also accommodate up to 140 guests at a time for an immersive  viewing experience from inside the tree. Pre-programmed shows will take place every every 30 minutes from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. nightly through December 31, with January hours yet to be determined.

The tree, made up of 60,000 lights, was created by Spain-based ILMEX Illumination, part of Ximenez Group, a leading international firm in artistic and decorative lighting,

“The Mile High Tree will be the tallest art installation in the history of our city as well as a perfect community centerpiece for bringing people of all cultures together for seasonal celebrations,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver. “And as the newest iconic attraction on the Denver skyline this holiday season, we couldn’t think of a more perfect focal point for our regional holiday marketing campaign.”

Another addition to the holiday scene in Denver is Night Lights Denver, a new, year-round installation that is being projected onto the Arapahoe Street side of the Daniels & Fisher Tower every Thursday through Saturday evening. It features rotating content designed by local artists. “It’s absolutely stunning, and it is getting world-wide attention,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

And, speaking of lights:

  • The Denver City and County Building’s holiday lights will be turned on from November 29 through January 25 at Colfax Avenue and Bannock Street.
  • Denver Botanic  Gardens’ signature Blossoms of Light extravaganza is adding a new 360-degree immersive light experience, making this year’s display more expansive than ever before. 5-9 p.m. nightly from November 29 through January 3 at 1007 York Street.
  • Zoo Lights features more than 2 million lights spread over 80 acres and among the Denver Zoo’s 3,000 animal residents. 5:30-8:30 p.m.  November 29 through December 30 at 2300 Steele St.
  • The 45th annual 9NEWS Parade of Lights will bring lights, marching bands, giant balloons and colorful floats to the streets of downtown Denver on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7.
  • This year’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks will be set off  over the 16th Street Mall at 9 p.m. and midnight on December 31. The identical fireworks shows will be synced to a music playlist from live DJs along the mall. Each show will run for about eight minutes. The DJs will play from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Tuesday’s press event culminated with antler-clad students from the Bear Creek High School theatre department singing the song “Welcome Christmas” from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, which is coming to the Buell Theatre from December 3-8. They will return to greet theatregoers with songs in the Buell Theatre lobby for the December 3 opening of Grinch. Ticket information

“Mile High Holidays is our way of inviting everyone throughout the Rocky Mountain West to join us in this celebration,” said former journalist Gloria Neal, now the city of Denver’s Denver Director of Public Affairs.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Bear Creek High School. Mile High Holidays. Photo by John Moore

Students from Bear Creek High School sing ‘Welcome Christmas’ at the Mile High Holidays press event. Photo by John Moore.

Live theatre performances presented by the Denver Center include:

Jeff Hovorka. Photo by John Moore.

“The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has something for everyone this holiday season,” said DCPA Broadway Director of  Sales and Marketing Jeff Hovorka – and he wasn’t kidding. Here’s a rundown of theatrical options over the next month:

And where are A Christmas Carol and The SantaLand Diaries this holiday season? Click either of those links to learn more. Meantime, other local theatres presenting variations on A Christmas Carol include:

  • A Christmas Carol, The Musical. Presented by the Arvada Center from November 22 through December 22 at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or
  • A Christmas Carol, adapted by Rebecca Remaly Weitz. Presented by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company from December 5-24 at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or
  • A Christmas Carol. Presented by Breckenridge Backstage Theatre from December 5-29 at 121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or
  • A Christmas Carol, adapted for five actors by Josh Hartwell. Presented by Miners Alley Playhouse from November 29 through December 23 at 1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or
  • The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens, an adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Presented by the Aurora Fox from November 29 through December 22 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or

Meanwhile, The SantaLand Diaries will be performed from December 13-22 by the Steel City Theatre Company, 241 S. Santa Fe Ave. in Pueblo,

Go to the Mile High Holidays website

Upcoming holiday events, activities and key dates:

  • The annual Christkindl Market runs November 22 through December 23 in Skyline Park, 1515 Arapahoe St.
  • Free ice skating returns to the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park from November 26 through February 16 at Skyline Park, 16th and Arapahoe street
  • Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 30. Seventy percent of the businesses in Cherry Creek North, it was said at Tuesday’s event, are locally owned, and 50 percent are women-owned. “This is a community that depends on your support,” said Jenny Starkey, Director of Marketing and Community Relations. Starting November 30, Cherry Creek North will be giving away 10,000 in gift cards to 200 area businesses (and they work on Denver parking meters).
  • Cyber Monday is December 3.
  • Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 10.
  • Gucci’s first-ever U.S. pop-up store, known as the Gucci Pin, will debut at Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The brightly colored, rectangular display will offer women’s ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories — featuring women’s bags in differing silhouettes including a new jewelry case, small leather goods such as wallets and card holders trimmed with red, yellow or white leather. The opening date has not yet been announced.
  • Cherry Creek North’s fourth annual Winterfest will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday December 14, at Fillmore Plaza. It will feature family activities including live ice-sculpting demos, carolers, fire pits, face-painters and giveaways.
  • The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, honoring the country’s rich Old West heritage, returns January 11-26.

A full list of events and activities can be found at

Photo gallery: 2019 Mile High Holidays

Bear Creek High students with Denver Director of Public Affairs Gloria Neal. Photo by John Moore.

Bear Creek High students with Denver Director of Public Affairs Gloria Neal. Photo by John Moore.

Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

Go to our complete gallery of Mile High Holidays photos