Thanksgiving will wrap up this week, so that means holiday décor shaming can take a backseat until next year. If you’re feeling extra festive this season, don’t forget to check out the most “extra” Christmas event in town. Camp Christmas is officially open to the public inside of The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora and it’s more magical than we could’ve anticipated.
The massive, merry art installation took months to assemble and includes more than 1,000 Santa figurines, 44 decorated trees and carefully curated objects that tell the story of the holiday starting with the Romans and working up to the present day. Window display artist Lonnie Hanzon and immersive theater production company Off-Center collaborated to create an experience that would be educational and allow visitors to partake in holiday traditions and activities like they’re at camp and earn “Merry Badges.” Throughout the roughly 10,000 square feet of space, you’ll find themed decorations in designated areas nicknamed after specific time periods such as Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Atomic, Mid-Century, Sugar Disco (’80s) and Christmas Present. Alongside a test audience last week, we got a first look at the attraction. Here’s what impressed us most.
Almost everybody loves boozy eggnog, but Christmas-inspired cocktails give Camp Christmas its impressive start. Upon entering the attractions, you’ll find the Santa Bar adorned with 1,000+ Santa figurines and a festive menu including spiked hot chocolate with peppermint vodka amongst other alcoholic beverages, a peppermint martini, a ginger snap cocktail featuring apple cider whiskey, allspice syrup and ginger ale and many other delightful, decorative drinks. Grab one before you get nestled inside the attraction or warm up later in the festive Beach Bar — appropriately named because even Santa Claus needs some sun.
It’s hard not to notice this. Dangling from the ceiling, this dramatic display of Christmas lights exhibits the kind of decked-out elegance you’d only find in Whoville. Did we mention it’s timed to light up to the melody of all your favorite Christmas carols? If you enjoy too many Christmas-y crafted cocktails at the Santa or Beach Bar for adults, you might find yourself staring at this for far too long.
Marie Antoinette’s Sleigh
We admittedly were stoked about the miniature sculpted Blucifer reared up with his piercing red light eyes set against a holiday backdrop, but when we saw Marie, our jaws dropped. She’s not eating cake, but her golden sleigh gaudy with tassels to match her elaborate Christmas tree hairdo is the Instagram op nobody has thought of yet.
The Window Displays
Artist Lonnie Hanzon is best known for his intricate holiday window display designs for Neiman Marcus in Dallas and it’s obvious he brought his dexterity and impeccable craftsmanship to the various display cases throughout Camp Christmas. Aglow with miniature Santas, snowglobes, retro toys and ornaments, the cases could easily feel forgotten in the hullabaloo of holiday lights and tinseled trees, but instead, they are simply wondrous to marvel at if you’ve got a moment to spare.
Overall Wow Factor
We’ve been to a lot of pop-ups this year, but Camp Christmas lived up to the hype. If you’re into an I-Spy-esque atmosphere of awe-inspiring proportions, this attraction will grab your attention with its over-the-top wow factor. From the flickering candles to the red-and-green garlands, it’s obvious that this was created to be a festive feast for your eyes.
Camp Christmas is open now and closes Sunday, January 5, 2020. All ages are welcome. Children aged 2 and under are free. Tickets range from $8 – $21 depending on the date and time slot. You can purchase them from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace is located at 2501 Dallas St. #135, Aurora, CO 80010.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.