1. Sip, don’t shop
Let somebody else fight the holiday-shopping crowds. Instead, politely elbow your way into the brewery production area at Payette Brewing Co., 733 S. Pioneer St., for its Black Friday beer festival. This annual celebration of dark beers will feature about 40 stouts and porters, plus food trucks and three live bands. The party runs from 1-10 p.m., and admission is free. Drink tokens are $4, which includes a taster glass. Sorry, no kids or dogs allowed. Online: payettebrewing.com.
▪ If that isn’t enough beer in your life, you can also join Barbarian Brewing on Saturday as it releases its two winter annual barrel aged beers: The Morrigan, a bourbon barrel imperial stout, and Elixir of the Gods, a Belgian-style quadruple that is aged in port barrels. The annual releases will be available in the bottle and on draft at the Garden City and Downtown Boise taprooms.
2. Light up the night
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Join your fellow Boiseans at a candlelit Downtown Boise Holiday Tree Lighting from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday. Mayor David Bieter will flip the switch on The Grove Plaza’s huge tree around 5:30 p.m. Local band Red Light Challenge will perform from 5-6:15 p.m. Online: downtownboise.org.
▪ Also at the Grove Plaza: The annual Empty Bowls benefit for The Idaho Foodbank is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday. Choose a handcrafted, hand-painted bowl, then fill it with soup donated by local restaurants. Bowls start at $10. Online: idahofoodbank.org.
3. Visit the Garden
Starting Thanksgiving evening, more than 400,000 lights will transform the dormant plants at the Idaho Botanical Garden into a frosty wonderland. Boise’s beloved Winter Garden aGlow will slurp electricity from 5:30-9:30 p.m. nightly. Admission is $12 adult, $10 member and youth 5-12, free 4 ages and under. You save $2 if you buy in advance online at idahobotanicalgarden.org.
4. See more trees
Decorated trees, wreaths and holiday decor — plus visits with Santa — highlight the annual Saint Alphonsus Festival of Trees. It runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 2-9 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the Boise Centre, 850 W. Front St. Prices: $8 general, $5 military, seniors and children 3-12, free for ages 2 and younger, $30 family pass. Online: saintalphonsus.org.
5. Score on Saturday
Sorry, but Mom says you’re not allowed to tackle the annoying, hyper cousin staying at your house this holiday. But you can take your cuz to go watch football players tackle each other Saturday. The Boise State Broncos take on Utah State at 8:15 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium. Online: broncosports.com.