Colorado has welcomed many newcomers to the state, and with recreational marijuana tourism, many people are visiting to participate in that pastime — while catching their favorite bands at some of Denver's world-class venues. Here are some tips, from a Colorado native with show-going and venue-security experience, to avoid mistakes that might ruin your first Colorado concert experience.
1. Marijuana is illegal to smoke in public.
After a concert, many of us go home smelling like booze (spills happen, man) or like the marijuana cloud we've spent the last three hours entombed within. Truth is though, marijuana, medical or recreational, is still illegal to smoke in public in Colorado. If you choose to smoke at a concert, as many do, just be aware that you might be caught and face consequences with venue security or police. Bring your inhaler if you have and need one.
2. Alcohol isn’t allowed on the street.
Denver isn’t New Orleans. Alcohol cannot leave the venue to accompany your walk home. Colorado may have a lot of tasty craft beer and all those friendly, bearded beer drinkers to go along with it, but the state does have strict laws on how you indulge. By the same token, outside alcohol isn’t allowed into venues, so don’t try sneaking any into your next show and end your night before the music starts.
3. We’re called the Mile High City for good reason: Drink water, dammit.
Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level, and Boulder is even higher. So if you’re attending your first show here, remember that you can become dehydrated faster at a higher altitude. Drink more water than you regularly would to avoid any problems with altitude sickness or faster-than-expected or unintended intoxication.
4. Your skin will burn faster at outdoor events.
Denver has more than three hundred days of sunshine. With the higher altitude, there is less water vapor in the atmosphere and less protection from the sun. If attending a Red Rocks show or outdoor concert or festival, don’t forget to protect your skin with sunscreen…especially in the winter, because the sun's rays are more direct at that time of the year.
5. The weather changes quickly here.
Because Colorado is closer to the sun, outdoors might feel warmer than the actual temperature. Once that sun goes down, however, it will cool down fast, especially in the mountains. And Denver has plenty of four-season weather days — so even if it’s warm when you leave for the concert, remember that at the end of the night you might be waiting in the cold for that cab or bus to take you home.
6. Denver has plenty of transportation options to and from its many venues.
Denver is a relatively eco-friendly city, and there are several ways to get around for your event. RTD buses and light rail will get you to most venues and arenas and usually run as late as 2 a.m. Bike trails are very plentiful in the Denver and Boulder areas and offer safe places to lock up your bike. Taxis, Uber and Lyft will take you anywhere you want to go. Just be aware that several thousand people might have the same idea, so you might have to wait or pay a higher fare than usual. Lastly, don’t forget multiple forms of payment. RTD buses drivers don’t take credit cards and don’t give change, but you can purchase tickets from a kiosk with cash or a card at most stops.
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7. Your vertical ID might not be enough to purchase alcohol.
According to Regulation 47-192 of the Colorado State liquor rules, an ID with a picture and date of birth that is currently valid will be enough to allow you to purchase an alcoholic beverage. Just be aware that some specific venues and liquor stores may not accept vertical IDs or IDs with hole punches even if you show appropriate paperwork.
8. Red Rocks shows require stairs and walking….a lot of walking.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a special place to see your favorite band. If it's your first time there, don’t be surprised to discover that such a special place is difficult to get to (if it weren’t, it probably wouldn’t be that special, right?). Shuttles are available for those who need extra help reaching the ticket gates, but for the other several thousand people, expect a trek from the parking lot to the gates and several flights of stairs to climb if you’re not close to the stage. After the exercise, you’ll find that the views are worth it!