Camp Christmas runs through Jan. 5 (except Dec. 25 and 28) at 2501 Dallas St., Aurora. Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (We were told that mid-day on a weekday is suggested, when possible.) Do make a reservation in advance. Free parking is in a large lot. Timed tickets: $8 to $21. Free: 2 and under. Denvercenter.org.
Yes, I know it’s a long way to Aurora for some of you, but Camp Christmas offers such a happy destination that I’m hoping readers will consider a trek.
The giant Hangar at Stanley Marketplace is home to this amazing, immersive theater/collection/event that carries visitors through a history of Christmas celebrations, beginning with Ancient Rome (They wanted to celebrate light in midwinter then, too.) Next is the Renaissance ...
And more twinkling trees and pizazz that one could possibly imagine!
Installation artist Lonnie Hanzon of Lakewood and his studio crew created a dazzling and musical world that will delight kids, their parents, grandparents and whoever else might venture through the door.
Creative producer Charlie Miller, of Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Off-Center, brings added resources to the project, as does Englewood’s Museum of Outdoor Arts, Denver’s Art Museum and Museum of Nature & Science and numerous individuals and studios.
What’s astonishing is how smoothly, seamlessly, it all seems to come together!
Hanzon would be the secret ingredient, with boundless imagination and organizational skills that pull bits of lore from here and there, combining all into a storyline that has you from the entry doorway. Enter at Ancient Rome/Saturnalia and go forth on an adventure.
Immersive art, which surrounds and stimulates from every direction, is trendy right now — and I say that in a positive way. Yes, this is over the top, but it made me happy for an afternoon and I remember the sights and sounds with a smile now as I sit at my desk to write.
Hanzon started with a Christmas fixation many years ago as he designed displays for Nieman Marcus in Dallas and Hong Kong’s Pacific Place. Closer to home, he designed early Parade of Lights events and store windows in Denver, as well as holiday installations at Hudson Gardens, Museum of Outdoor Arts, Red Rocks Community College, Pallazo Verdi and the Kenneth King Performing Arts Center at Metropolitan State University.
This year’s event is presented in collaboration with DCPA’s Off-Center theatrical experiences, which “put the audience at the center of the story.” The association enhances the theatrical elements in the display — such as a golden sleigh, with a gigantic reindeer, driven by Marie Antoinette!
Suggested toasts are presented throughout, as are puzzles/puns. Kids will enjoy putting special stamps in their “Field Guides” at each station.
Contributions and connections cover the metro area, including Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, those numerous creative types involved with Hanzon Studio over 35 years …
The marketplace contains a number of restaurants, should you wish for nourishment — and Camp Christmas includes a pair of bars, as well as Sugar Disco. One can wander and sip or nibble, there are many places to sit down and just look around you and it’s OK to carry drinks and food on your journey … Camp Counselors are available for information and help if needed!
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