Music: Duke Ellington Orchestra: "Big Band Christmas"
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. That may be true, but there's no need to worry about that with this toe-tapping show, filled with old-fashioned Christmas favorites. Trumpets, saxophones, and trombones bring the big-band sound of the '30s and '40s to the DPAC for a one-night performance. Thirteen-time Grammy Award winner Duke Ellington wrote American music that has been adored around the world and lives on after his death in this 16-member ensemble. Expect pieces like the classic "Take the 'A' Train" and parts of Ellington's Nutcracker arrangement. This is one holiday concert with plenty of swing. Dec. 15, Boettcher Concert Hall
Outdoors: Vail Snow Daze
Kick your ride into 4WD for your first drive up I-70 this winter. Destination: Vail, for a budget-friendly, lively week of festivities celebrating the launch of ski season. With a packed schedule of concerts and a plethora of giveaways, Snow Daze is a kickoff bash you can't afford to miss. Jam out to Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Grammy Award-nominated headliner Barenaked Ladies. Free music not enough? Get creative with the Dummy Demolition Derby, a hilarious spectacle in which contestants suit up a mannequin and send it flying down the mountain and off a jump. Or hit up the local watering holes with a group of Snuggie-wearing revelers during the oh-so-silly Snuggie Pub Crawl. Dec. 7-13, Vail Village
Benefit: Polar Plunge
Imagine a chanting, cheering crowd on the banks of a reservoir in the dead of winter. Then picture a throng of people in zany getups screaming as they charge into the icy water, and you've got the Polar Plunge—a mad dash into the freezing Chatfield Reservoir to raise money for Special Olympics Colorado. Last year's chilly affair earned more than $54,000 for the nearly 10,000 Special Olympics athletes in Colorado. Now it's your turn—dive headfirst or just get your toes wet. Either way, persuade some friends to man up, unearth your most outlandish costume, and start training for those arctic temps. Scared to take the plunge? Cheerlead from the beach while enjoying eats from local vendors and dance-worthy live music. Dec. 5, Chatfield Reservoir
Theater: Spring Awakening
Punk haircuts. Tattoos. Piercings. Teenagers have always been rebellious and angst-ridden—even in 19th-century Germany. Spring Awakening, an eight-time Tony Award-winning show, chronicles the lives of 12 young Germans approaching adulthood. Based on a play of the same name by Frank Wedekind—it was once banned in Germany and censored elsewhere—Awakening is chiefly the story of one couple's burgeoning love. Tackling themes such as suicide, abuse, pregnancy, and parent-child communication, the musical explores the fallout that can result when adolescents are trapped in a repressive society. A contemporary score and some much-needed humor jazz up the production, but this is more than just theater: It's a symbolic story about what happens when our youth aren't encouraged to explore, ask questions, or think for themselves. Dec. 1-13, Buell Theatre