Daredevil swoopers will be falling from the sky by the dozens through Sunday at the Go Fast! Parachuting Challenge, a monster skydiving event at the Mile-Hi Skydiving Center that's billed as the largest congregation of its kind to date. The heart of it, called "swooping" (an extension of skydiving that involves guiding one's parachute through a ground-level course before landing), will be on display today during freestyle competitions at 1 p.m., with a record attempt in what's known as the "Dirt-Water-Dirt" maneuver at 4 p.m. The agenda for the rest of the weekend promises such equally exciting events as aerial team competitions tomorrow and Saturday, pro challenges, non-competitive "boogie" jumps and more. Mile-Hi (at 229 Airport Road, Hangar 34G in Longmont), which boasts one of the biggest and newest swoop ponds in the world, is just the place to spectate. For more information, call 303-702-9911 or visit www.mile-hi-skydiving.com.
Kosher wines aren't just glorified grape juice anymore. Anyone who, as a kid, giggled hysterically under the holiday table after downing the allowed few sips of grapey, syrupy Mogen David wine, will probably accept this with a grain of kosher salt. But at A Matter of Taste, a strictly kosher wine-tasting hosted by the DU Center for Judaic Studies, guests will nosh, sample quality wines from around the world and sway to music by a Lamont School of Music jazz ensemble from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Reserve in Cherry Creek, 351 South Jackson Street. For tickets, $25 to $36, call 303-871-3020. Proceeds benefit the center.
Friday, September 16
Helping new conductor Jeffrey Kahane and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra kick off the CSO season this weekend won't be a chore for lucky audience members, especially not with dreamy virtuoso violinist (and Grammy Award winner) Joshua Bell on stage, gracefully bowing his way through Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. Bell performs and the orchestra fills out the crowd-pleasing bill with popular waltzes by Strauss, Ravel and others, tonight through Sunday afternoon at Boettcher Concert Hall, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For single tickets, $17.50 to $75, call 303-623-7876 or visit www.coloradosymphony.org.
Get a head start on the Festival of the Mabon and put some autumn equinox partying under your belt at a pre-festival Eve of Mabon Ceili Party welcoming early birds, musicians, campers and everyone else tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Planet Bluegrass Ranch, 500 West Main Street in Lyons. Then it's on to tomorrow's fest herself, a fantastical pagan celebration of live music hosted by Celtic Events and Planet Bluegrass and featuring headliner Nancy Griffith with her crack Blue Moon Orchestra (a sleeper all-star ensemble that includes James Hooker, Clive Gregson and Le Ann Etheridge) and many others. Workshops, artisan booths, Gaelic sports, pipers, dancers, demonstrations and re-enactments add to the fun. Ceili admission is free for festival ticket-holders and $5 for all others; for Mabon tickets, $30 (free for children ages twelve and younger), call 303-823-0848 or go to www.bluegrass.com.
Saturday, September 17
It's more than possible in these parts to spend summer's last gasp having a whole lot of fun. And to that end, a frenzy of community festivals will burst upon the scene this weekend like a spectacular fall garden. In downtown Aurora, it's happening at the Gateway to the Rockies Parade and Festival, an annual celebration that takes on new meaning as the city's Colfax Avenue business district continues to transform itself from pawnshop row to thriving arts district. Folks will march to a theme of "Celebrating Cultural Diversity" when today's parade kicks off at 10 a.m. from Havana Street and Del Mar Parkway, heads toward the Colfax drag and then east from Dayton Street to Galena. The festival proper, a multicultural affair with a pet parade, vendor booths, kids' activities and live entertainment, goes from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fletcher Plaza, 9898 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free; call 303-739-6660 or visit www.aurorabusiness.org/GatewayParade.cfm.
Meanwhile, Cletus Fest, the so-called "hillbilly fest" that got its start some years back as a backyard barbecue with music, takes a grand step forward by moving to the spacious climes of Invesco Field at Mile High. Barbecue will still star, along with live bluegrass and acoustic music, New Belgium microbrews and the Cornhole Classic beanbag-toss game, a Midwestern craze in which competitors try to throw corn-filled bags thirty feet into a six-inch hole. Hosted by KCUV 1510 AM and the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society, the event runs from noon to 10 p.m.; admission is $12 (with a $2 discount for those who show up in hillbilly attire), free for children ages twelve and younger. Things could be a lot worse than dancing barefoot on a football field; for details, log on to www.cletusfest.com.
Sunday, September 18
This is such a good ol' concert, we couldn't help but mention it. Not only are the eternally rockin' Allman Brothers -- led in fine voice by Gregg Allman and featuring such longtime members as drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, percussionist Marc Quiñones and bassist Oteil Burbridge -- simply made for playing Red Rocks on a late summer night under the stars, but the opener, Americana songstress Lucinda Williams (touring on the heels of a double live CD), could easily headline her own show. Cult favorite Williams and the Allmans, a band that jammed long before there were jam bands, perform at 8 p.m. at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison; for tickets, $47.50 to $53, call 303-830-TIXS.