1. True Romance
World-renowned romantic crooner Andrea Bocelli brings his passionate vocals to Denver this month, drawing from his platinum album Amore—a fixture on the Billboard Top 200 chart for almost a year. The show comes just a month after his new release, Andrea Bocelli: Under the Desert Sky. Though praised for his masterful oscillation between classical and pop, the international sensation eludes the feel of a “crossover artist” by maintaining the integrity of his performances. In other words, don’t expect an Italian version of a classic pop tune or a funk-a-delic vibe in a Verdi piece.
Andrea Bocelli: Dec. 9, The Pepsi Center
2. This Old Rag?
Yes, indeed. For more than 20 years, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra has taken “America’s Original Music” (think vintage dance-hall tunes, vaudeville hits, and silent cinema scores) on the road. The orchestra’s exuberant sounds have earned it radio appearances on NPR, BBC, and Voice of America, as well as a long-standing gig for Walt Disney’s theme parks. In a one-night-only Denver performance, listen for favorites such as “Nutcracker Rag: A Sweet Travesty on Tchaikovsky,” “Variations on Oh Tannenbaum,” and “Reindeer Rag.” The program includes a silent black-and-white comedy with the orchestra playing the original ragtime accompaniment.
Paragon Ragtime Orchestra: Dec. 2, Newman Center for the Performing Arts
3. Grand Illumination
Follow the lights—1 million of them, to be exact—on a path through the trees and plants of the Botanic Gardens at the Blossoms of Light celebration. A peek at the lights through the 3-D HoloSpex glasses might transfix you, but don’t pass by the hot chocolate at the snack stations dotting the path. New this year are four enormous water lily sculptures illuminating the Monet Garden Horseshoe Pool, and the lighting of Robert Wick’s Living Bronze Sculptures. Green points for the energy-saving displays in the Water-Smart Garden and Woodland Mosaic. Don’t forget a date; strategically hung mistletoe marks the most romantic spots in the gardens.
Blossoms of Light: Dec. 2–Jan. 21, Denver Botanic Gardens
4.How Did He Come Up With That?
Urban architecture phenom Daniel Libeskind’s brilliance extends from England to Italy and Korea to Spain (and, lest we forget, Denver and the new Art Museum). In homage to his polished masterpieces, the Sandy Carson Gallery highlights examples of Libeskind’s creative processes in their earliest stages. The show includes sketched-on cocktail napkins, conceptual drawings, letters of correspondence, and ideas from Libeskind’s personal journal. Bonus: Also showing is photographer Andrea Modica’s haunting “Orchard Series”—a sample of her prestigious documentary work that hangs in the Met, the Whitney, the Corcoran, and more.
Inspiration Process and Place: Nov. 30–Jan. 5, Sandy Carson Gallery
5. Santa Loves the Mountains
Georgetown’s Victorian holiday market is your chance to do Christmas like it’s done in carols. Because let’s be truthful: They’re lovely song lyrics, but have you ever actually tasted roasted chestnuts (from an open fire or otherwise)? And you’re always skirting those horse-drawn carriages downtown, but when was the last time you hopped aboard for a cozy ride? No better place for those “I’ll-get-around-to-it-someday” traditions than a tiny mountain nook in the Front Range. Swing by “Christmas at the Hamill House” (the historic home of legendary 19th century silver miner William Arthur Hamill) for the tree lighting, carols, hors d’oeuvres, wassail, and some John Denver tunes by guitarist John Adams.
Georgetown Christmas Market: Dec. 2–3 and Dec. 9–10, Georgetown