With temperatures expected to exceed the 90 mark, you might feel inclined to stay in close proximity to an AC unit, like perhaps at a play or art gallery show. We've got plenty to chose from in this week's 21 best events calendar. If you're feeling adventurous, don't miss some of the best outdoors events of the summer, like PrideFest and Do at the Zoo. Keep reading for more things to do this week. And don't forget the sunscreen.
Tuesday, June 13
The Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Lit Fest — a celebration of the reading community for the reading community — continues into its second week with a free evening of visiting-author readings on Tuesday, June 13, at 8 p.m. Lighthouse will present readings from Ada Limón, Andre Dubus III, Jennifer Haigh and Akhil Sharma, who will also sign copies of their books. Beer and wine will be available, food trucks will be on site, and guests can shop for their favorites at the Tattered Cover book fair tent. Lighthouse is at 1515 Race Street; learn more at facebook.com/events/159195561283035.
Wednesday, June 14
Denver’s events calendar is filled with opportunities to get your grub on, and while most are worthwhile, they typically only benefit diners’ hungry bellies. Sampling for Hope: A Casual Food Tasting to Benefit SafeHouse Denver is different. It not only enlists some of the city’s finest chefs and caterers to create an array of bite-sized dishes for guests to sample, but the whole evening is served with a generous helping of altruism. The Westin Denver Downtown, 1672 Lawrence Street, is hosting the event, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14. VIP guests get to play judge, awarding their favorite sample in each category, and ticketholders can bid in the silent auction or donate $20 to participate in the Cork Draw raffle for a free bottle of wine. Tickets are $65; proceeds from sales benefit SafeHouse Denver’s upcoming Extended Stay Program, which provides crucial support to families in crisis and facilitates their progress into permanent housing. Buy tickets and learn more about SafeHouse at safehouse-denver.org.
It’s possible to stand up for racial justice and have a good time, too, which is a good reason to join the Colorado People’s Alliance’s second annual People’s Party, a fundraiser and family gathering bringing diverse folks together in solidarity for the common good. The kid-friendly event will foster understanding over shared food, drinks and frozen treats by Paletería Chihuahua from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at the City Park Pavilion, 1700 York Street. The $20 admission price (there’s also a pay-what-you-can option) supports COPA’s fight for social justice; buy tickets online at coloradopeoplesalliance.org.
Once a year, Susan Lyles and the And Toto Too Theatre Company lead theater-goers up and down Tennyson Street for the And Toto too Play Crawl, a summer fundraiser that helps the group further its mission of presenting plays by women playwrights. This year’s crawl, which begins with cocktails and crawl-group assignments at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, and ends with a dance party until 11 p.m. at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, will showcase two-minute plays by eleven Denver playwrights in unconventional sites in the Tennyson Street Cultural District, from tattoo parlors to barber shops. Hop to it: For information and tickets, $35, go to andtototoo.org/playcrawl-1.
Thursday, June 15
Nestled comfortably in Spanish Peaks country, the grounds of Hummingbird Ranch, 732 Country Road 653 in Pueblo, will reverberate with beats all weekend long as Sonic Bloom, which bills itself as “Colorado’s premier electronic music festival,” jams for four days starting on Thursday, June 15. While staying true to its EDM roots with acts like Space Jesus, the Polish Ambassador and more, this year’s Sonic Bloom will get a jam infusion from headliners Gigantic Cheese Biscuits, a supergroup comprising members of Colorado’s favorite jam bands. In addition to the fully packed music lineup, guests can take in the fiery spectacle of various performance artists, see live-painting art installations and even attempt slackline yoga. Four-day passes start at $233; get yours, along with schedule, parking and camping information, at sonicbloomfestival.com.
More Denver galleries are on the move this summer, including the mass migration of the Abend and 1261 galleries — along with a merger involving artists from the former Mike Wright Gallery — to a new space at 1412 Wazee Street. Abend will direct the first sign of life in the LoDo gallery they’ll all share with the opening of Palette, a group show curated by Dina Brodsky and Trek Lexington of works painted directly on palettes as a metaphor for the artistic process. Brodsky, a miniaturist who started the painted-palette fad last year with a show in New York City, says, “An old palette is kind of like a diary,” and that’s all you need to know to enjoy the results. Palette opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, and runs through July 8; Gallery 1261 has its turn after that, with an exhibit tentatively opening on July 13. Go to abendgallery.com for more information.
Do at the Zoo, the Denver Zoo’s largest annual fundraiser, returns for its 28th year on Thursday, June 15. The Zoo promises that the event, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m., will be “the wildest summer party,” with food and drinks from more than 55 of Denver’s top restaurants and breweries. Graze, sip and stroll around the animal habitats knowing that your $175 admission will go toward global conservation, science education and animal care. While the grounds are usually crawling with the two-legged critters known as toddlers, this is a 21-and-over party, so be sure to line up a sitter. Purchase your tickets at denverzoo.org, then come dressed in your finest safari attire and animal prints. It’s the best night of the year for a little monkey business.
A lot has changed over the 35 years that the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus has been belting out tunes; gayness is neither a criminal offense nor a psychiatric disorder, and same-sex marriage is the law of the land. But the songs have stayed the same. For The Big Gay Sing, the chorus will croon hits from Chicago, Kinky Boots and The Sound of Music in honor of members who’ve been around since the beginning. The group will light up Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman Street, with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, and Friday, June 16, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. For tickets, $20 to $50, and more information, go to dgmc.org or call 303-325-3939.
The Warm Cookies of the Revolution community has been battling all along to get people talking — to one another, face to face! — about how to join hands sociopolitically and make things happen on a grassroots level. But because the creatives behind Warm Cookies, billed as Denver’s civic health club, don’t believe in clubbing folks over the head with rhetoric, they throw in a diversionary tactic. At Warm Cookies: How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse, zombies will serve as an entry point into a conversation about how to build a more powerful person-to-person political resistance against the bad guys. Along the way, local character Andrew Novick will provide some undead fun to stir you and the kindred masses into fighting back as a front. Get on the same page and form a coalition with Novick and friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue in Civic Center Park. A $5 donation is requested at the door, and cookies will be served. RSVP and learn more at warmcookiesoftherevolution.org.
Kill three birds with one stone on Father’s Day weekend with an excursion to the mountains, a fun treat for Dad and a chance to chow down on some of the best barbecue in the state. The Colorado Barbecue Challenge hits the town of Frisco for three days starting Thursday, June 15, with a barbecue competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society for amateur pit masters, as well as a ton of great food and activities for the general public. While the competitive meat smokers will have their own schedule, the main event for the rest of us, who just want to eat, will take place on six blocks of Frisco’s Main Street on Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live music, pig races, cooking demos and a firefighter cookoff are all part of the entertainment, and there’s also the Bacon Burner 6K run for those looking to burn some calories ahead of the big pig-out. For a complete list of events and to register for the race, visit townoffrisco.com.
Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver.
Friday, June 16
The local Greek community will be loud and proud from Friday, June 16, to Sunday, June 18, at the Denver Greek Festival, one of the city’s longest-running summer events, now in its 52nd year. Enjoy more than 25 authentic Greek dishes along with Greek wines, beers and ouzo, then peruse vendors peddling all manner of Greek arts, crafts, jewelry and clothing. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 4610 East Alameda Avenue. Admission is only $3 ($1 for seniors and free for kids twelve and under), and there will be plenty of special activities throughout the weekend, including music, dancing, cathedral tours, cooking demonstrations and a wine-and-beer happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday. See thegreekfestival.com for a complete schedule and parking details. Opa!
While it’s a lot easier to stream music or buy digital songs these days, there was a time when vinyl reigned supreme. Honey Touché’s Vixens of Vinyl Burlesque Review will celebrate that time, from the ’50s through the ’80s, with music by Herb Alpert, Janis Joplin, Prince, Joan Jett, the Eurythmics, Led Zeppelin and more. The show stars headliner Diamondback Annie, the Los Angeles-based performer who mixes striptease and arena rock into her shows, along with former Denverite Midnite Martini and local favorites Miss Orchid Mei, Honey Touché, Indy Fire and others, while Fannie Spankings will serve as emcee. There will also be classic burlesque, aerial and circus arts, and live music with local rock act Sparkle Jetts. The 18+ fun starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 16, at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue; tickets are $16 to $21. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 720-420-0030 or visit theorientaltheater.com.
It’s no secret that bookstore workers tend to be aspiring writers themselves, hoping some day to see their work on the shelves — and fantasizing about the day they return to the place as a celebrated author, signing books for their former co-workers. Former Tattered Cover employee Matthew Sullivan is living that dream with his debut novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, a dark mystery set in — how about that? — an eclectic downtown Denver bookstore. The plot has to do with a young woman’s investigation of a store patron’s suicide, which forces her to revisit a notorious tragedy from her own childhood, with lots of ambience from the emerging LoDo of the 1990s along the way. Sullivan, who now lives in the Northwest, will be signing books and discussing his work on Friday, June 16, at the Tattered Cover Colfax, 2526 East Colfax Avenue; refreshments are at 6:30 p.m., and the grand event starts at 7. For more information, visit tatteredcover.com or call 303-322-7727.
Brandi Shigley is ushering in Fashion Denver’s lucky thirteenth year, and though she’s come a long way since her first market in 2004 at the old Andenken Gallery at 21st and Market streets, she hasn’t forsaken the now-blossoming Ballpark/RiNo neighborhood, where she got her start as a trailblazer: This year’s Fashion Denver Thirteenth Anniversary Bonanza, on Friday, June 16, goes down at the Rackhouse Pub, 2875 Blake Street. As always, Shigley has curated a great lineup of Colorado-based designers and accessories vendors, all selling lively looks to fit all budgets, from 4 to 10 p.m., while homegrown couture will hit the runway in two impromptu fashion shows, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations of hygiene products and supplies for the Denver Rescue Mission will be welcomed at the door. Get details at fashiondenver.com.
Cartoonists, comics geeks and zinesters: Break out your Sharpies, scissors and paper, because Denver Zine Library’s annual Zine Fest is here. The free annual event will start with a pre-party at Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, on Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m., and the festival itself, which will showcase zinesters from around the country, workshops and more, starts on Saturday, June 17, at 10 a.m. at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom and the Other Side, 2635 Welton Street. Workshops will cover podcasting, zine-making and self-care strategies for tough times. An after-party will round out the day, starting at 6 p.m. at Pon Pon, 2528 Walnut Street. For more information, go to denverzinelibrary.org.
Saturday, June 17
Last year’s Denver PrideFest was fueled by tears and outrage over the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, but during this year’s two-day event in Civic Center Park, “Viva la Vida,” is the general call to action. The message? You have to live your life. This year’s festival also promises to be more fun than a barrel of rainbows, beginning with Family Day, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, and continuing on Sunday, June 18, with the annual Coors Light PrideFest Parade (starting out from Cheesman Park at 9:30 a.m.) and another day of festivities in the park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Big Gay 5K, a Shrine to Humanity tribute to rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, drag queen shows, the Denver Dyke March, Dogs in Drag, live music including headliner Jennifer Holliday, a dance party with DJ Dave Audé and an ongoing melée of costumes in rainbow hues are just some of the photo ops you’ll encounter over the weekend. Festival attendance is free; go to glbtcolorado.org/pridefest for information.
The third weekend in June is traditionally rife with dueling festivals in Denver, but don’t let that clusterfuck keep you at home. In truth, it’s a more-the-merrier situation to seize, and we recommend making the rounds from one cultural group to another. With that in mind, you won’t want to bypass the Juneteenth Music Festival on Saturday, June 17, the Five Points neighborhood’s nod to the historical beginnings of African-American independence in the U.S. It’s a down-home grab bag of live blues, R&B and jazz music with a side of soul food, and also includes kids’ activities, merchant booths, a job fair, a car show and a parade leaving Manual High School at 26th Avenue and Gilpin Street at 11 a.m. for official Juneteenth festivities at 26th and Welton streets from noon to 7 p.m.; headlining hip-hopper Slick Rick performs at 1 p.m. Admission is free; learn more at juneteenthmusicfestival.com.
Nobody in these parts turns back the time-machine better than Khyentse James, the founder and creator of the annual 1940s WWII Era Ball, now taking off via propeller plane on Saturday, June 17, for its ninth big year: James gets every detail right, down to the headlining entertainment — the Glenn Miller Orchestra — the re-enactors and Sinatra impersonators, and the event location at Boulder Airport, complete with period aircraft, fly-bys, dramatic sunsets, the hangar decked out as Casablanca’s Rick’s Cafe and other convenient photo ops. You, of course, will have to do your part, too, by arriving in your vintage best, from spit-shined wingtips, tea dresses and ponytails to military uniforms, fedoras and victory rolls, ready to swing-dance the night away. Do so from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the airport, 3393 Airport Road in Boulder. Top-tier GA tickets, $75, are still available; find them and a full schedule at 1940sball.org.
Project Worthmore will raise money and awareness of refugees services in Colorado while encouraging fitness among all age groups at its annual Dignity Festival. The field day for families, which commemorates World Refugee Day, will include yoga to a live DJ, 5K and one-mile fun runs, kids’ activities and a rice-haul relay race for teams of eight, all scheduled from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, in preparation for a noon-hour community potluck picnic and awards ceremony. The surroundings — at Aurora’s DeLaney Community Farm, 170 South Chambers Road, where Project Worthmore and Denver Urban Gardens run an all-refugee training farm — couldn’t be more perfect for the occasion. Admission is $10 for children ages twelve and under, $35 for all others; get tickets in advance at eventbrite.com.
Sunday, June 18
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Treat the grill master in your life to a meal fit for a king. Ototo, at 1501 South Pearl Street, is hosting a special brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 18, that will showcase an assortment of meats and seafood cooked on its Robata grill. With dishes like dry-aged Waygu beef, whole fish and 24-hour marinated Colorado lamb with soy, mirin, garlic and ginger — and those are just the brunch options — your dad or the dad in your life will feel truly appreciated. For more information and to book a table, visit ototoden.com.
Monday, June 19
Few futuristic flicks hold up the way The Fifth Element, starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich, does. It’s the 23rd century, and Korben Dallas (Willis) is just another cabbie driving in New York City when the fate of the future — embodied wonderfully by Leelo (Jovovich) — literally falls into his flying car. Watch the movie in all its glory (Jean-Paul Gaultier designed the costumes, ferchrissakes) on Monday, June 19, at Red Rocks, as part of the Film on the Rocks series. Performances by Slow Caves and déCollage start at 7 p.m., and the movie starts at dusk. Red Rocks is at 18300 West Alameda Parkway in Morrison; for information and tickets, $15, visit denverfilm.org.
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