The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
You know how it goes: “this year’s almost over, and the next is about to begin.” But with the start of a new decade ahead—and all sorts of throwback themes and puns that pair well with the year 2020—this New Year’s Eve stands out from ones past. So grab a pair of plastic 2020 glasses, a coat (just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean the weather will be any warmer), a reusable champagne glass, and start counting down. There’s no reason you should be stuck on the couch at home watching Ryan Seacrest host the ball drop when Denver has this much to offer.
If you want to celebrate the culmination of 2019 with the kids before bedtime hits, consider the Children’s Museum youngster-friendly daytime take on Times Square. From morning to afternoon, countdowns and a ball drop will take place each hour on the hour, along with consistent access to fun experiments hosted by museum staff like watching a mystery material overflow from a giant champagne glass. After hours of rainbow confetti, bubble wrap fireworks, and arts and crafts, even the parents will be too tired to stay up past midnight. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Children’s Museum of Denver at Marisco Campus, 2121 Children’s Museum Dr; $14-$16; Members receive a 50% discount
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
As much as New Year’s Eve calls for bright, blinking lights, the sometimes overwhelming luminescence isn’t for everyone. For the first time in the Denver Zoo’s history, their annual lights series will turn down and slow down for locals with sensory processing disorders to experience. The evening includes all of the lights and delights of a typical nighttime zoo excursion, but with a lower attendance cap number so visitors have more space (2,500 down from 6,500), reduction of flashing lights and strobes, and a messaging system so attendees know what to expect next. For those looking for a slower and more soothing NYE night, this event hits the mark. 4:30 p.m. to close; Denver Zoo, 2900 E 23rd Ave.; $14-$20
If you have the day off and want to get an early start celebrating, Denver Milk Market’s the place to begin. Get to the market at four in the afternoon when cocktails are only $4 to take advantage of the steal prices. Every hour, as midnight draws nearer, drink prices will increase by one dollar—that means if you grab a cocktail at nine pm it’ll cost you $9 (still a steal, especially on as busy a night as New Year’s.) Before hitting the town, consider loading up on their four-person dinner combos: oysters and salami board; shrimp cocktail and chocolate covered strawberries; or chicken wings, sliders, and pizza. And they all come with a bottle of champagne, wine, or a beer bucket, respectively. 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Denver Milk Market, 1800 Wazee Street; free entry
Even with extra rideshare drivers on the roads, getting around on New Year’s Eve is no picnic. If you’d rather be anywhere else than Denver’s downtown (and don’t mind getting a bit chilly) consider Copper Mountain’s ski-in, ski-out option. Following registration at the resort’s guest center, ticket holders take the gondola to Solitude Station, where hot drinks, charcuterie, and a dinner buffet await (the menu includes lots of seafood, roast beef tenderloin, and vegetarian options, not to mention something called a “chocolate extravaganza.”) After dinner, you can ski or ride back down to Center Village, where fireworks will then light up the night. Prospective skiers should be advised that this event isn’t for newbies, but luckily non-skiers can take part in the under-the-stars descent by walking back down to the station—just make sure to swap out your stilettos and oxfords for snow boots. 5:45 p.m. to after midnight; Camp Hale at Copper Mountain, 209 Ten Mile Cir, Frisco; $150 for 21 and over; $125 for 8-20 year olds
Despite its title, this event has no relation to Star Wars. The sabers here are of the Napoleonic variety, and used for popping bottles. This is the activity Noble Riot’s party centers around, along with unlimited servings of their house wine, bottle discounts, and a midnight toasting of grower champagne. If you’re particularly drawn to trying your hand at wielding a brass saber, you can also check out their exclusive Sabrage University class that takes place earlier on in the evening (5 to 6:30 p.m.) After getting a crash course in the history of the tradition and bottle physics, you’ll have the chance to pop some bubbly yourself (safety gear is provided.) If your saber skills prove proficient, invest in your own sword to impress your friends when the next New Year’s rolls around. 9 p.m. to close; Noble Riot, 1336 27th Street; $125 for party; $99 for saber class
Craving something a little more European for your end-of-year experience? Try Zeppelin Station’s Italian-themed disco party in RiNo. Hosted by Denver-based record labels Heavy Dose and Moody Recordings, the venue takes place on two levels. On the mezzanine, find Big Trouble bar serving whatever your heart desires, while down below disco tunes will play well past midnight. Swap champagne for prosecco and say saluti at this Italian festa. 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Zeppelin Station, 3501 Wazee St. Suite #100; $10
The new decade brings to mind the underground jazz clubs that proliferated in cities across the nation during prohibition a century ago. Lucky for us, prohibition hasn’t been around since 1933, so you don’t need to be covert attending this 21st century speakeasy. Complete with an unlimited assortment of drinks and hors d’oeuvres, the historic-themed party takes place in one of Denver’s most historic buildings: Union Station. An extra bonus for ticket purchasers is access to the venue’s alternative and much more contemporary experience: a silent disco and light show featuring three different DJs. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Denver Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop; $80 for general admission, $120 for the Cooper Lounge, $200 for VIP; must be 21 or older to attend
Flapper dresses and dancing the Charleston not your thing? Fear not. This decade-themed dinner and afterparty center on the ‘70s. Treat yourself to a five-course menu from executive chef Simon Purvis, with includes foie gras and grilled ribeye and concludes with the difficult dessert decision between a bedecked espresso sponge cake and orange vanilla meringue. After dinner, you can don sparkly bell bottoms and go-go boots to dance to their disco DJ and taste the bar’s specialty cocktails and bubbly (their champagne of choice is Moët & Chandon.) But the best feature of all may be the option to forego post-midnight traffic and purchase a room upstairs instead. 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.; EDGE Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Denver, 1111 14th St.; $250 for dinner and party; $50+ for party only; must be 21 and over to attend
What good is a globally celebrated holiday if it doesn’t feature a bar crawl? Here in Denver, just about anything calls for bar and brewery hopping, and December 31st is no different. This particular expedition, hosted by Barcrawlerz, requires pre-purchasing a wristband, which will get you into LoDo’s best bars—without paying the cover charge. Starting at Sports Column on Blake Street, participants can pick up their wrist band and a map of participating purveyors. Not only will your wristband help you get all the sweetest downtown deals, but ensure that your night never gets old. 6 p.m. to close. Sports Column, 1930 Blake St.; $15
Downtown Denver’s Hotel Born may have the chill(i)est party in town for New Year’s. Its outdoor area will transform into an outdoor ice bar stocked with more than 400 hand-carved ice mugs. If you’re anxious about staying warm, however, that won’t be a problem: the wood-fired grill of Citizen Rail restaurant will be blazing throughout the night and special flights from their Whiskey Den will arm you against the cold. Or just dance past midnight to the seven-piece Diamond Empire Band (they’ve performed alongside the likes of Bruno Mars and The Lumineers and cover anything from Vivaldi to Lizzo). Overnight packages are also available, so you can climb right into bed after catching 16th Street Mall’s fireworks show. 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Kimpton Hotel Born, 1600 Wewatta Street; $135-$165