This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, July 15Swallows return to Capistrano every year, but it's the BirdHaus Bash that returns like a migratory flock to the Denver Botanic Gardens each summer. This year's birdhouse auction, the tenth, comes to roost tonight from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the gardens. Some 200 fanciful entries -- ingeniously designed and built by local artists, architects, celebrities, students and bird lovers -- have been on display there for the past two weeks. Prizes for the most imaginative avian abodes will be handed out during the outdoor garden party, which includes live music by Denver band Oakhurst and a spread of eats provided by Mayor Hickenlooper's Wynkoop family of restaurants. For tickets, $5 to $40, call 720-865-3684 or go to www.botanicgardens.org ($100 patron tickets also admit revelers to a 5:30 p.m. preview party with the artists). The DBG is at 1005 York Street.

Something big is brewing down south in Colorado Springs, where organizers of the Colorado Festival of World Theatrehave been planning the event's 2005 launch for the past year. And just to keep us on our toes during the wait, they've devised an appetizer course: a five-day mini-festival held at the Broadmoor, 1 Lake Circle, and at other Springs-area locations. Tonight, the curious can savor some of what's to come, including Lyrics of a Hearthside, actor Joseph Mydell's one-man dramatic interpretation of works by poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (6:30 p.m., Black Box Theatre, Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 Cresta Road); On the Divide: The Stories of Willa Cather, readings by Eva Marie Saint and Jeffrey Hayden (6:30 p.m., Little Theatre, Broadmoor Main); a cabaret performance by actress Lucie Arnaz (7:30 p.m., Starz Nightclub, Broadmoor West); and Studio Festi's Of Angels and Light, an outdoor spectacle combining movement and light shows (9:30 p.m. on the Broadmoor driving range). To finish the fest, a sold-out cabaret dinner on Saturday is followed by A Mountain Celebration, a Western-style barbecue with Phantom of the Opera star Davis Gaines at 4 p.m. in the mountain town of Woodland Park. Admission ranges from $25 to $40 per performance; for reservations and details, call 1-719-475-1737 or log on to www.cfwt.org.

Friday, July 16Important splatters will be addressed this weekend at Invesco Field at Mile High, when the National Professional Paintball League's 2004 Super 7 World Series #3 Denver competitions offer a prelude to the Vans Warped Tour's Sunday stop at Invesco. Today and tomorrow, spectators are invited to take in preliminary rounds and stroll the NPPL's Paintball Village trade show free from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. And if the colorful (well, messy but colorful) team warfare sparks your fancy, come back Sunday for final competitions taking place during Warped. The extravaganza of all things youthful and rebellious features eight stages of battling bands, including headliners NOFX, Bad Religion, Yellowcard, Story of the Year and New Found Glory. For Warped tickets, $25.75, call 303-830-TIXS; for more on paintball, go to www.nppl.tv.

The Physically Handicapped Amateur Musical Actors League, aka PHAMALy, may be Denver's pluckiest theater troupe, but the group also boasts an overload of talent, enough to keep annual productions rolling for fifteen great years. And what was their first, staged back in 1989? It was the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, based on the lowbrow New York characters of Damon Runyon. PHAMALy celebrates a well-earned anniversary by bringing it back, with a cast that includes some folks who appeared in the show the first time around. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, today through August 1 at the Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets (no show July 18; additional date, 7 p.m. Monday, July 26). Both audio-description and sign-language interpretation will be offered July 25, and audio-description only on August 1. For tickets, $25, call 303-893-4100 or log on to www.denvercenter.org.

Saturday, July 17Nothing brightens up the long, hot summer quicker than the Foothills Art Center's annual Colorado Clay, a spunky juried showcase of ceramics that never fails to impress -- even when the most avid gallery hound can barely stifle a heat-induced yawn. The 2004 exhibit, juried by museum curator and author Peter Held, gives shape to the talents of sixteen contemporary Colorado ceramic artists working in divergent styles. The show opens today and continues, along with the adjunct Jeffco Clay student exhibit, through August 22 at the center, 809 15th Street, Golden. For details, call 303-279-3922 or log on to www.foothillsartcenter.org.

Sunday, July 18Rev up the old taste buds for Taste of the Nation. The annual food-tasting soiree benefiting Share Our Strength is a veritable wonderland of chow, featuring tempting dishes -- from black bean gazpacho and chilled prawn salad with vanilla vinaigrette to soft-shell-crab sandwiches -- and wines to match from more than fifty Denver restaurants and one hundred wineries. Topping it off (along with dessert) will be demonstrations by top toques Heath Stone, Jennifer Jasinski, Matt Selby and Andrew Lubatty. Taste at the Taste from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Johnson & Wales University, 7150 Montview Boulevard; if you park at the old Stapleton Airport, shuttles to the food-fest will be available. Admission is $65 in advance or $75 at the door; $200 admits the buyer to the VIP tent for private cooking demonstrations. Call 303-297-0408 or go to www.denvertasteofthenation.org.

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