Harry Potter, meet Frodo Baggins. And while you two are getting chummy, make room for R2D2 and a Renaissance juggler.
Oh, and did you remember to bring your swords, wands and battle-axes? Because at the first-ever Opus: A Fantasy Arts Festival, anything fantastic goes.
"It's an escape," says organizer Sage Woodburn. "Something we all need these days."
The three-day event will tempt just about everyone with an interest in fantasy and the arts: The Opus schedule is stuffed as full as a Hobbit's stomach with music performances, robot battles, a Celtic fantasy-themed ball and costume contest, panel discussions, workshops and more.
"It's a cross between a fantasy convention and a Renaissance fair, but with far more entertainment," says Woodburn. Adds co-organizer Rion Bergquist, "We're hoping to provide a rolling experience of surprises. It's going to be so different than what most people expect.
For instance, the three-day extravaganza will feature "dark fantasy" rock tonight. And fantasy gaming of all sorts -- such as imaginary combat during which contestants wield foam swords or use karate techniques -- will be a big draw. But Opus is more than just a slugfest.
Organizers plan to educate, too, with art demonstrations and lectures on how to write science fiction. Japanese anime will play 24 hours a day, and during the daylight hours, Opus will be decidedly more family-oriented, with robot-building and spirit-doll sessions for kids. "There will always be something to do," promises Woodburn.
Opus kicks off at noon today at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in the Holiday Inn DIA, 15500 East 40th Avenue; tickets are $15 to $30 for a three-day pass and $8 to $15 for single-day passes. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.faefests.com or call 303-523-0527. -- Julie Dunn
If you missed your annual spring-break sojourn south of the border, Aztec Sol has just the consolation prize. The two-year-old tequila bar in northwest Denver has all the features of the best Mexican saloons: a painted cement floor, great greasy tacos from the attached Mexican restaurant, an outdoor patio, very friendly patrons and hundreds of tequilas. And owner Jose Lara, whose family brews the stuff in Jalisco, promises he'll soon have even more. In the meantime, he's pouring the town's most generous tequila shots -- and his largesse doesn't end there. Whenever the thermostat rises over 45 degrees, he's mixing $1 margaritas. Actually, he's mixing $1 margs for anyone who asks, anytime. Although Aztec Sol's official address is 2219 West 32nd Avenue, one sip and you'll swear you're in Puerto Vallarta. For hours and information, call 303-256-0787. -- Patricia Calhoun
Park It Here
Long before folks cruised in cars, City Park was the place for Denverites to gather for cheap entertainment. Whether dressed in spiffy bonnets or freshly pressed suits, regular folks attended nightly concerts or hit lovers' lane. And since it was such a hot spot, images of City Park splendors -- on postcards -- were plentiful. Kate Johnson, a City Park resident and postcard aficionado, offers a visual stroll down memory lane via her card collection. "It was the LoDo of yesteryear," Johnson says of the milieu portrayed therein. Using cards from the early 1900s up to World War II, she'll show the park's flavor while informing today's residents about the past, when she speaks tonight at 7 in National Jewish Hospital's Heitler Hall, 1400 Jackson Street. For more information, visit www.congressparkneighbors.org. -- Ernie Tucker
Shopping is child's play in Highland.
Parents John and Hillary Horan, who live in the Highland neighborhood with their two young kids, love their community. It's a great place to raise children, they say, but a hell of a place to shop for them. "We were tired of driving around all over town," Pa Horan says, so the couple hung up their landscaping business and opened Real Baby, a Highland Square shop.Horan says they also asked their neighbors what they'd like to see in a kids' emporium, and the result is a place that simply crawls with babies and their eager-to-shop parents. The owners already have plans to include clothing in bigger sizes, along with a baby registry.
Real Baby has cool cotton sushi-print shirts for boys and poofy party dresses, satin brocade suits and tiny pink polka-dot swimsuits for girls, as well as itty-bitty footwear, including beaded silk China Doll shoes, fire-engine slippers and cat sneakers with curly laces. It also provides stylish and comfortable knit drapery for expectant moms, chi-chi fabric diaper bags and Theodore Bean's leather-and-faux-leopard baby carrier.
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Toys shine, too. Predominantly made of wood or cloth, they're the kind that stretch imaginations, from a magnetic pizza-party game and pastel wooden bake set to go-everywhere mobiles for crib or car, nifty bed tents and handcrafted full-sized teepees. Go ahead, whoop it up: Real Baby is at 3616 West 32nd Avenue; call 303-477-BABY. -- Susan Froyd
Ladyfest laces 'em up.
Grab your leg warmers and start practicing that tricky "shoot the duck" move for tonight's Rollermania, a fundraiser for the upcoming all-female arts festival known as Ladyfest Out West. Just cruise on out to Roll-O-Rama, at 8370 Welby Road in Northglenn, where, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., you can boogie and groove along to local punk and electro-trash bands the Emmas, Catatonic Lydia and Baby while skating for the bargain-basement price of only $6. "We thought a roller-skating event would draw a more diverse crowd," explains Ladyfest spokeswoman Megan Smith. "We're hoping it'll get pretty crazy."
Advance passes to Ladyfest, which is scheduled to take place June 18 through 22 at the Mercury Lounge and several surrounding venues, will be available for $50 (full-price tickets are $60). Visit www.ladyfestoutwest.org for more. -- Julie Dunn