Denver is known for its 300 days of sunshine and the abundance of urban adventure that comes along with its Rocky Mountain backdrop. This summer, The Mile High City will be home to new international events, blockbuster exhibitions, family-friendly festivals and plenty of hotel deals for an ideal summer getaway.
“This summer is going to be one of the best we have ever seen in the city,” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With the return of a professional cycling race, groundbreaking culinary events, world-class art exhibits and creative festivals, paired with our exceptional weather, this summer in Denver is going to be remarkable for our visitors.”
There is an abundance of activity in Denver this season – from romantic date nights and girlfriend getaway ideas to family events; sports and recreation options to music festivals and unique museum exhibits, and a bit of everything in between. There are also dozens of discounted hotel rates to encourage visitors to make a weekend of it.
Below are just a few of the exciting things happening in Denver in the coming months.
NEW: Slow Food Nations, July 14-16
For the first time ever in the United States, Slow Food Nations will gather leaders, farmers, chefs, educators and foodies for a weekend of tastings, tours and talks. For three days, downtown Denver will become the center of the North American food universe. Innovation meets tradition during exciting culinary workshops, seminars, dine-around dinners, tours, informal eating and drinking and a grand tasting hall. Under the banner of Slow Food Nations, Slow Beer, Slow Fish, Slow Meat, Slow Grain, Slow Wine, Slow Gardens, Slow Money and other Slow Nations will organize product-specific seminars, tastings, and culinary workshops for both experts and novices. Denver’s cellars, warehouses, and restaurants will become spaces for food enthusiasts, chefs and industry experts to interact with each other and taste new flavors.
Vikings: Beyond the Legend, through – August 13
In what is the largest collection of Viking artifacts to visit North America, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Vikings: Beyond the Legend lays waste to the one-dimensional stereotype of bearded barbarians with horned helmets and showcases a culture of surprising refinement, complexity, and achievement. Fresh insights revealed through new archaeological discoveries and more than 500 treasures, many never before seen outside of Scandinavia, show why the Vikings will always capture peoples’ imaginations.
NEW Colorado Classic & Velorama Colorado Festival, August 11-13
Professional bike racing will return to the Centennial State with the new Colorado Classic, a four-day series of races that will bring together top international men and women cyclists. Races are scheduled in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge with a big finale in Denver, where the women’s criterium will be on Friday, followed by the men’s Peak to Peak Highway out-and-back race on Saturday, and the exciting men’s city circuit on Sunday.
The Denver stages will also include a three-day street party spanning more than 12 city blocks. The aptly-named Velorama Colorado will feature live music – including headliners Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie – a bike expo with 150 exhibitors, food, craft beer and various cycling events in the River North Art District (RiNo). It will be coupled with an expanded Denver Flea highlighting nearly 200 artisan vendors.
Calder: Monumental, April 28 – September 24
American artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is considered one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century and is known for his bold, energetic sculptures. Calder: Monumental at Denver Botanic Gardens features these iconic works of bolted steel plate – which rise in sweeping curves or puncture space with geometric lines – revealing the artist’s exploration of forms, volumes and voids. Using shapes that resonate with the natural world, Calder’s large lively abstractions will interact with Denver Botanic Gardens’ vibrant landscape.
Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, through– October 22
Denver Art Museum’s Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place features site-specific installations by 13 Latino artists that express experiences of contemporary life in the American West. Energizing and vibrant artwork is presented by Denver artists and Dmitri Obergfell and Jaime Carrejo, as well as artists from around the country.
DINOS! Live, July 1 – October 31
Denver Zoo will take visitors back in time with DINOS! Live, an exhibit through which 20 animatronic dinosaurs will come to life around the park. Guests will see Mesozoic marvels, from a tyrannosaurus rex to a stegosaurus, and be able to compare them to animals that live at the Zoo and in the wild today.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is a world-famous outdoor concert and recreation venue located approximately 30 minutes from Denver. The only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world, Red Rocks is recognized for its star-studded concert roster and ambience, as well as its awe-inspiring hiking and biking trails. Headliners for the 2017 Summer Concert Series include Chris Stapleton, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Dispatch, Widespread Panic, Miranda Lambert and more. In addition to concerts, the venue also hosts comedy shows, with 2017 headliners such as Dave Chapelle, and a Film on the Rocks series, featuring cult classic films.
Arts & Culture
DIVISIONS by Wonderbound, April 14-30
This spring, Denver’s own adventurous, contemporary ballet company will partner with platinum-selling alternative hip-hop-artists, Flotbots, to create DIVISIONS, a work that explores personal relationships, collective struggle, conflicting paradigms and clashing social movements. Utilizing art as an instrument for social change, DIVISIONS is intended to be a universal comment on social divides. Both the musicians and the dancers will share the stage throughout the production, which will take place at various Metro Denver locations throughout the show’s duration.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, May 30 – June 18
The five-time Tony Award-winning new play by Simon Stephens, adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same title, will run for three weeks at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the story of an exceptionally intelligent teenager who falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.
Shade: Clyfford Still/Mark Bradford, April 9 – July 16
Contemporary works and abstract expressionist masterpieces converge in Shade: Clyfford Still/Mark Bradford, a collaborative presentation by the Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still Museum. Paintings by renowned contemporary American artist Mark Bradford will be on view at the Denver Art Museum, alongside related canvases by Clyfford Still. An exhibition of Still’s work curated by Bradford will also be on view at the Clyfford Still Museum. Shade underscores the legacy of abstract expressionism and Bradford’s exploration of abstraction’s power to address social and political concerns.
The Western: An Epic in Art and Film, May 27 – September 10
The Western: An Epic in Art and Film at the Denver Art Museum will be the first major exhibition to examine the Western genre and its evolution from the mid-1800s to the present through fine art, film, and popular culture. Featuring 160 works, the exhibition explores gender roles, race relations and gun violence—offering a visual journey that is more than cowboys and American Indians, pursuits and duels, or bandits and barroom brawls.
Frozen Premiere, August 17 – October 1
The beloved Disney tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves comes to life on the stage in August. Premiering at the Buell Theatre in Denver first – before it reaches Broadway in New York – the highly anticipated new musical will run through October 1, 2017.
Backstory: Western American Art in Context, through – February 11, 2018
Artists of the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries captured the landscapes and people of a rapidly changing West – as events set in motion dynamics that still shape the region today. Backstory: Western American Art in Context at History Colorado Center pairs nearly 50 masterpieces from the Denver Art Museum’s renowned collection with History Colorado’s wealth of artifacts to tell the stories beyond the art.
Cultural Events and Festivals
Denver Chalk Art Festival, June 3-4
More than 200 professional, amateur and student artists will show off their incredible talents in what has become one of Denver’s most treasured events. Over the course of two days, the artists will take to the streets armed with vivid pastel chalks and spend hours recreating major masterpieces or sharing original works of art.
Spectators will watch as the intricate chalk paintings come to life and spread out to adorn four downtown blocks in and around Larimer Square. Visitors will enjoy live music, food and beverages while also having the rare opportunity to interact with the artists as they work.
Denver Comic Con, June 30 – July 2
This three-day fan convention at the Colorado Convention Center features the best in comics, sci-fi and fantasy television shows, movies, Japanese animation, cosplay, toys, gaming and celebrities. Announced guest speakers include: Nathan Fillion, best known for his roles on “Castle” and “Firefly”; Wallace Shawn from “The Princess Bride” and “Toy Story”; Lou Ferrigno from “The Incredible Hulk”; Garret Wang, who played Harry Kim on “Star Trek: Voyager”; and Bonnie Bright, who played Ginny Weasley in all eight “Harry Potter” series films.
Denver PrideFest 2017, June 17-18
Denver PrideFest in Civic Center Park is recognized as one of the top ten pride events in the country. It is a two-day celebration of community, heritage, family and culture produced by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado (The Center); and this year, PrideFest will highlight the national Viva la Vida theme. More than 250,000 people from Colorado and surrounding areas come to enjoy the parade, rally, music, entertainment, food and much more. Saturday features activities and entertainment for kids, adults and pets – including the Dogs in Drag Parade. The official PrideFest Parade takes place on Sunday along Colfax Avenue, followed by celebrations in Civic Center Park.
SeriesFest Season 3, June 27 – July 2
SeriesFest is an international celebration dedicated to showcasing the best new pilots from established and emerging content creators, and it takes place in Denver, the birthplace of cable television. The annual event aims to create a global marketplace for storytelling by bringing together industry luminaries, emerging artists and passionate audiences to advance compelling and creative content and engage in meaningful dialogue. The majority of the festival’s screenings will take place at the state-of-the-art Sie FilmCenter, Denver Performing Arts Complex and Red Rocks Amphitheatre. New this year will be a “Late Night” category, featuring the strange, absurd, comedic or sketch series.
Cherry Creek Arts Festival, July 1-3
Cherry Creek Arts Festival is a world-class and award-winning celebration of the visual, culinary and performing arts, and enjoys an attendance of more than 350,000 visitors over three days. The Cherry Creek North event gives patrons the rare and special opportunity to meet and talk with international visual artists, sample fine cuisine, visit special exhibits and artist demonstrations and entertain their families with interactive art activities and exciting performing arts.
Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, July 29-30
The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in Sloan’s Lake Park is a free family-friendly festival highlighting Colorado’s rich Asian Pacific American heritage. A window to the Pan Asian world, this diverse festival is the only one of its kind in the United States. It showcases an array of traditional and contemporary performing arts, cultural customs, cuisine and a marketplace of unique and hard-to-find arts, crafts and vendors, in addition to two days of action-packed dragon boat racing.
Biennial of the Americas, September 12-16
The Biennial of the Americas festival connects the people of Denver with their community and with the Americas. Bringing together inspiring artists, innovators, leaders and experts from the Denver metro area and from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean together around the most pressing issues of our time, the festival features art exhibitions, installations and cultural programming.
First Friday Art Walks (First Friday of every month) – On the First Friday of every month galleries, studios and cultural attractions in Denver’s creative neighborhoods stay open late for a night of art, food, drink and fun. This year, RiNo (River North) Art District and the new Drink RiNo group will sponsor a free bus every First Friday from 5pm-12am (and Saturdays 2-10pm) that will have multiple stops at galleries, studios, breweries and eateries throughout RiNo. For more information, interactive maps and video tours of the arts districts and neighborhoods, check out VISIT DENVER’s Neighborhood Guides.
Musical Performances & Festivals
Five Points Jazz Festival, May 20
This free festival takes place on the third Saturday of May and celebrates the history of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Once known as the Harlem of the West, Five Points was home to several jazz clubs which played host to many of jazz music’s legends such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and many more. The festival features a diverse lineup of music – from Latin to blues to funk and many other styles of jazz.
Project Pabst, May 20
The popular music festival of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Project Pabst, will return to Denver for the second year in a row this May. The festival will be held on Larimer Street, between 27th and 28th Streets with two outdoor stages and will feature Danny Brown, Kurt Vile and the Violators, STRFKR, Noname, Twin Peaks, Deap Vally and more.
Denver Day of Rock, May 27
Denver Day of Rock is a free event in downtown Denver that features five stages of live music along Denver’s 16th Street Mall. Denver Day of Rock unites the community through music and family-friendly entertainment while raising funds to support Amp the Cause, a Denver nonprofit that raises awareness about critical family issues and local charities. This year’s lineup features country superstar, Cam, along with well-known acts such as Austin Young Band, The Dustbowl Revival, The Railbenders and more.
Underground Music Showcase (UMS), July 27-30
The Underground Music Showcase takes place at more than 15 different venues and stages along South Broadway and features more than 400 local and national acts. Having grown from just 300 attendees for four bands at one theater, UMS is one of the best ways to experience Denver’s incredible live music scene. This year’s headliners include The Yawpers, The Oh Sees, San Fermin, Lee Fields & The Expressions and more.
Zac Brown Band at Coors Field, July 29
Two years after their historic performance at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, Zac Brown Band will once again take the field for a live summer concert as part of their national Welcome Home tour.
Guns N’ Roses at Sports Authority Field, August 2
Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver will be the third stop for the Guns N’ Roses Not In This Lifetime tour. Lead singer Axl Rose reunited with three other original band members – guitarist Slash, keyboardist Dizzy Reed and bass player Duff McKagan – to create a reunion tour that became 2016’s most successful rock tour.
Justin Bieber at Sports Authority Field, August 12
Bieber will be coming to Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High as part of his wildly successful Purpose World Tour. Since the North American launch of the tour in March 2016, Bieber has sold out 64 U.S. and 52 international tour dates, thrilling fans around the world with a dynamic, must-see live show.
Ed Sheeran at Pepsi Center, August 15
Following the debut of Ed Sheeran’s newest album, Divide, the Grammy Award-winning artist announced an international tour – including a stop at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
Sports & Recreation
Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo, July 7-9
The Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo is one of the country’s best and biggest gay-centric rodeos. It features classic events including riding, dogging and barrel racing, along with royalty crownings for multiple genders.
CONCACAF Gold Cup, July 13
Denver will host a 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup group C stage double header at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, featuring matches between the Mexican national soccer team and the Jamaican national team, and El Salvador against Curacao.
Rocky Mountain Showdown, September 1
The Rocky Mountain Showdown celebrates a 120 year-old football rivalry between the University of Colorado Buffaloes and the Colorado State University Rams. Played at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos, the game features pregame events, music, entertainment, marching bands, cheerleaders and giveaways.
Professional Sports – Colorado Rockies and Colorado Rapids
Denver is home to seven professional sports teams, including Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies and Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids. Fans can catch the Rockies Home Opener on April 4, and there are plenty of games throughout the season. The Rapids kicked off their season on March 18, and tickets are available through the summer.
Epicurean & Craft Beer Experiences
The Big Eat, July 13
Showcasing Denver’s top independent restaurants in an outdoor setting at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, The Big Eat will feature bites and sips from 75 of Denver’s best restaurants. The event will also serve as the opening night of Slow Food Nations weekend.
A Taste of Colorado, September 1-4
This festival, held in Denver’s Civic Center Park and on the surrounding streets, highlights some of Colorado’s favorite food establishments – from ethnic specialties to traditional favorites, diners can enjoy full-sized or sample portions of their favorites throughout the festival.
Denver Food + Wine Festival, September 5-10
Denver Food + Wine Festival is a multi-day extravaganza of food, wine and spirits education, promotion and tastings. Events include new and classic options like Dinner Under the Stars, a Culinary Cinema Series, SHAKE DOWN (a cocktail event) and the signature event, The Grand Tasting. Denver Food + Wine Festival aims to highlight industry impact, promote workforce development and celebrate Denver as a culinary destination.
Denver Beer Trail
The beer scene in Denver is also not-to-be-missed. There are more than 100 brewpubs, breweries and tap rooms in the metro area, and the Denver Beer Trail invites visitors to explore the craft brew culture by highlighting 27 of Denver’s best new or classic breweries.
Original eTN articles are editorially regulated according to news values, significance, and accuracy, copyright protected, and independent of any advertising and sponsorship carried unless clearly marked otherwise.