Camp Christmas 2021, the return of “Elf: The Musical” and a guitar exhibit at DMNS

The winking brilliance of Camp Christmas

Through Jan. 2, 2022. As holiday lighting displays and winter markets begin to sparkle, so do the season’s weirder gifts. One of our favorites is from immersive art and digital animation pioneer Lonnie Hanzon, whose Camp Christmas art installation and selfie-heaven has grown from an indoor romp in Aurora to a six-acre, mostly outdoor fever-dream in Lakewood.

Opening Thursday, Nov. 18 and running through Jan. 2, 2022, this year’s expanded version features a kiddie carousel, audio tours, themed cocktails, Santa pic tickets and more. Despite that, the curation is as self-aware and savvy as ever, heaping gobs of music, lights and old-school decorations on surreal, interactive features (yeah, it’s a bit Meow Wolf-y).

The event is produced by Denver Center for the Performing Arts and suitable for all ages. Tickets are $8-$25, based on date and time. Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park, 801 S. Yarrow St. Visit denvercenter.org/tickets-events/camp-christmas for information on bilingual Santa dates and this weekend’s first-look previews. — John Wenzel 

RELATED: 10 can’t-miss holiday shopping markets near Denver

Is it too early for “Elf”?

Friday-Dec. 23. Directed by Gavin Mayer, the Arvada Center’s production of “Elf: The Musical” represents its first major holiday production since 2019. That’s true of most other shows in town, but it promises a surfeit of energy for the return of this 2010 Broadway adaptation, itself based on the popular Will Ferrell comedy about a human raised as an elf who’s suddenly dropped into New York City.

It’s also among the first Christmas-themed shows to launch this season, beating most “Nutcrackers” and “Christmas Carols” by a solid week or two. Sweet and anxious and a little twisted, as all good holiday shows should be, it debuts Friday, Nov. 19, at the Main Stage Theatre at Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., and continues through Dec. 23. A sensory-friendly performance will take place Nov. 26. Tickets: $53-$77. Call 720-898-7200 or visit arvadacenter.org. — John Wenzel 

The cool, cool science of guitars

Opens Friday. It may not seem the usual fare for a Denver Museum of Nature & Science touring exhibit — and maybe it isn’t — but “Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World” fits right in. In the hands of science educators at the City Park institution, the trusty six-string is a portal into kid-friendly STEAM topics such as sound waves, frequency, mathematical scales and engineering.

But the new exhibit, opening Friday, Nov. 19 for an indefinite run, also brings the history and culture with 70 rare and surprising examples, and some even invite hands-on interaction. That includes the world’s largest playable guitar, “measuring in at 43.5 feet long and certified by Guinness World Records,” according to organizers. Sound good?

The museum is open 9 a.m-5 p.m. weekdays, most Fridays 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Thanksgiving 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The exhibit is included in general admission, $15-$20, with kids 2 and under free. Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd. Call 303-370-6000 or visit dmns.org for more. — John Wenzel

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