What to do in Denver, Dec. 17-23, 2021: Glowing scorpions at Butterfly Pavilion, a custom arcade at Understudy and more

Butterly Pavilion lights the lights

Friday-Jan. 2. Westminster’s family-friendly Butterfly Pavilion is putting a twist on holiday traditions with its Living Lights Festival, a new, indoor event that opens Friday, Dec. 17, and runs through Jan. 2.

Taking advantage of its vast and unique collection of invertebrates, staffers have cooked up an “enchanted journey to meet the Firefly Princess,” complete with aerial artists and other performers in costume, bioluminescent animals, and “an electrifying kid’s glow-in-the-dark dance party.”

Along with keepsake photos, this could make for a worthy, non-Christmas-specific holiday activity with the kids. 6-10 p.m. Friday-Jan. 2. Tickets: $12 for children, $13 for seniors and $20 for adults. butterflies.org/event/living-lights — John Wenzel

Arcade or art? It’s both!

Sunday-Jan. 30. The folks at the Denver Theatre District’s Understudy knew they were onto something when their Art Claw game gained some buzz shortly after its October 2020 launch at the Dairy Block. The artist-driven machine is now being followed up with a full arcade — or ARTcade, rather — at Understudy’s home base.

The 700-square-foot area inside the Colorado Convention Center offers a modest variety of games and prizes designed or customized by dozens of the city’s artists, organizers said, including pinball tables, the claw machine (of course), coin-op vending machines, a coin pusher and more. 890 C 14th St. Open noon-8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, through Jan. 30.

Note: It’s temporarily closed due to Convention Center construction but reopens Sunday, Dec. 19. Free admission, but bring quarters. understudydenver.com — John Wenzel

Denver’s winter melodies — holiday or otherwise

Friday. This weekend is stuffed, given that it’s our last full one before Christmas. Finding shows is easy — see performances from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, the Ars Nova Singers, Boulder Bach Festival, etc., plus touring holiday-music shows from Vail to Aurora.

But there are also refreshingly non-holiday shows, such as the one from Denver indie artist Joel Van Horn’s Covenhoven, whose riveting new album, “IV,” was released Oct. 15. With a who’s-who of local collaborators, the frequently licensed folk act (with songs in “Flaked,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Nashville”) will flesh out his live show “with friends” at the Mercury Cafe on Friday, Dec. 17. Van Horn hinted that two of those friends have sold out Red Rocks with their own bands.

Starts at 7:30 p.m. at 2199 California St. $25. Vax proof required. Tickets only at covenhoven.com — John Wenzel

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