This is the first full week of summer, and the living is easy. So is entertaining yourself: Colorado's calendar is overflowing with festivals, shows and sales. Keep reading for the 21 best events in and around Denver from June 20 through June 26.
Tuesday, June 20
International borders are more arbitrary than people imagine. Rather than a hard boundary delineating one nation from another, cultures blend, enriching and influencing each other. The FBOMB Borderland, a flash-fiction reading series headquartered at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, will explore this overlap, celebrating its cultural richness while soberly examining its pitfalls. Gabino Iglesias, an author, journalist and critic hailing from Austin, Texas, is similarly fascinated by they way cultures intermingle at international crossroads; his new book, the gripping barrio-noir novel Zero Saints, was recently nominated for a Wonderland Book Award and optioned for a feature film. Iglesias will read from his novel as part of FBOMB starting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20. Attendees are invited to bring their own bilingual flash fiction to read during the open-mic slots (each reader gets four minutes), participate in the discussion or just listen. Learn more and RSVP for the free event at FBOMB Facebook events page.
Wednesday, June 21
Plenty of people still like the feel of a real book in hand, with pages you can turn and print that won’t make your eyes go wonky. But for old-school bookworms who also feel guilty about the trees that died to make their old-fashioned books, there’s a happy solution: Buy recycled tomes instead. A good place to start is the Denver Public Library’s Summer Used Book Sale, a literary extravaganza of bargains in every genre, from kid lit to cookbooks. This year’s sale, offering more than 60,000 books, CDs, DVDs and other media, takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Wednesday, June 21, through Saturday, June 24, at the Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway. Most items are priced at $5 or less, and teachers qualify for an additional 25 percent discount during the sale. For more information, go to dplfriends.org.
How time flies when you’re fucking things up. Fuckup Nights Denver will celebrate its one-year anniversary on Wednesday, June 21, at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, 1215 20th Street. Doors open at 8, and the show starts at 8:30 p.m., with fucked-up tales from Tristan Chan of Porch Drinking, Kiwi Schloffel of Craft Boner and Andy Seiler of Cue Motion. Editor Patricia Calhoun will be there, too, sharing one of the greatest Westword fuckups in forty years; you won’t know whether to puke or laugh (that’s a hint). Tickets are $20 to $25; find out more here.
Thursday, June 22
Top Taco is more than just a celebration of tacos and tequila; it’s a chance for Denver chefs to go mano a mano and come out victorious in one of three categories: traditional, creative or vegetarian. The cocktails will be judged, too, so bartenders had better bring their A games. The throwdown happens Thursday, June 22, at the River North Festival Grounds, 3715 Chestnut Place. A general admission ticket ($74) gets you all the tacos and drinks you can handle from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., plus four tokens to vote for your favorites. For $94, you’ll get in the door an hour early, and for $131.50, you’ll get all that plus a VIP lounge, a special tasting from eleven chefs cooking just for VIP guests, an exclusive tequila tasting and separate bathrooms. Go to toptacodenver.com for a complete list of participating restaurants and to purchase tickets.
Since the election, the United States has seen a massive uptick in activism. The organizers of Boulder-based Community Music Night are taking note and will bring together an array of musicians, artists, politicians, comedians, actors and activists at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street. They’ll be sharing their causes, spoofing the system and recruiting audience members to get involved in nonprofits, all in an attempt to use the arts to spark civic engagement. Tickets are $18.50 and can be purchased at bouldertheater.com; for more information, go to communitymusicnight.org.
The Museo de las Americas is anticipating the return of the Biennial of the Americas in September with Penitents: World End Rituals of Faith, an examination by Brazilian photographer Guy Veloso of the little-understood world of religious penitents in his homeland. In the exhibit, Veloso not only captures images of hooded processions, acts of self-flagellation and other end-of-the-world rituals, but he also shares his collection of artifacts used by the Brotherhood of Penitentes in Brazil. As a side trip, the Museo will present a companion voyage through southern Colorado’s own penitente heritage with a display of modern retablos by santero Francisco Zamora, juxtaposed with the museum’s own collection of nineteenth-century religious carvings. Penitents opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 22, and runs through September 16 at the Museo, 861 Santa Fe Drive. Veloso, along with a panel of historians and practicing penitents, will discuss the work and the movement it depicts in a Spanish-language conversation from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 23. For information about these and other related events, visit museo.org.
Celebrated the world over for its elegant musicianship, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields breathes new life into centuries-old compositions. The group has returned to the Bravo! Vail Music Festival for its second residency, with performances at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25, at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater, 503 South Frontage Road East in Vail. With virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell leading the way, the conductor-free ensemble will perform such repertoire staples as Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony before premiering a new composition from Edgar Meyer. The Bravo! Vail Festival continues through the summer, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra appearing June 28- July 5, the Philadelphia Orchestra July 7-15, and the New York Philharmonic July 21-28. Visit bravovail.org for a full schedule and to buy tickets, $28 to $129.
While science has pondered the mysteries of the lunar cycle for centuries, practitioners of witchcraft see the potential for magic with each new moon. At 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, Stu Messier, a witch priest with over twenty years of experience, will lead his community through the LGBT New Moon Circle at an event that combines lunar ritual circle-casting with discussion and fellowship at Ritualcravt, 2842 West 44th Avenue. Visit ritualcravt.com to learn more, register and buy tickets, $20.
Friday, June 23
For five years, Emerge Colorado has worked to get Democratic women involved in the political process, providing eligible candidates with the education, training and resources needed to pursue leadership roles. With seven Emerge candidates elected in 2016, the group is just getting started. But at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 23, the Emerge team and its supporters will take a break from all that hard work at Rolling the Patriarchy, a fifth-anniversary celebration at Tracks, 3500 Walnut Street, featuring a surprise guest speaker, hors d’oeuvre and tasty cocktails. After the reception, stick around for a roller-skating party with free skate rentals. After all, why shatter a glass ceiling when you can roller-skate over it? Buy tickets, $35 to $100, at emergeco.org.
Very few comedians have achieved arena headliner-level success; even fewer got there on the strength of their jokes alone. While Brian Regan is famous for his broad appeal, befuddled persona and clean act, he’s relatively unheralded as one of the sharpest joke-writers of his era. Over his decades-long career, Regan appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman 28 times before the venerated host retired, and recorded roughly half a dozen comedy specials, including his classic The Epitome of Hyperbole, but he’s only recently begun to appear on the big screen, in films like Top Five. Regan has a particular fondness for Denver (fully reciprocated by local comedy fans), which is why he’s taping his next standup special at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 23, and 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday, June 24. Tickets, $49.50 to $59.50, are selling quickly; visit altitudetickets.com to get yours now.
Do we still need to single out and showcase women artists in specific gallery shows? More and more, women who prefer gender-free equality in their designation as artists are saying no. But it remains a complex issue, generating sometimes uncomfortable feelings worth examining — perhaps in a women’s art show? Rule Gallery’s new exhibit, Pretty Powerful, does that, in a way: Six local and national artists — Sarah Bowling, Amber Cobb, Abigail Lucien, Margaret Neumann, Anne Noggle and Jenny Sharaf — have created satirical work meant to subvert the continuing male-dominated status quo of gender politics. The show, co-curated by Rule’s Hilary Morris and Cydney Wilkes of Leisure Studios, opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 23, and runs through July 29 at Rule, 530 Santa Fe Drive. Learn more at rulegallery.com.
In a month when zine-makers and comic artists take the spotlight at the Denver Zine Fest and Denver Comic Con, a little more attention never hurts, especially if you’re working for yourself. Prelude: Indy Illustrator & Comic Artist Showcase, which bills itself as an unofficial precursor to Comic Con, gives entrepreneurial makers in the comic-book and zine world who might be overlooked on the big floor of the convention center a chance to shine, without the distractions of international big-business competitors. The month-long show opens with a party with the artists from 7 p.m. to midnight on Friday, June 23, at Spectra Art Space, 1836 South Broadway; the event includes book signings, refreshments and live music. Admission is free, but a donation of $5 to $10 is requested at the door; go to the Facebook event page for details and to RSVP.
Families matter. Big open-air events don’t always do that statement justice, but it totally applies at the Union Station BuskerFest, back for a second year after reviving a lost downtown-Denver tradition last summer. Everyone has fun at the street-performance tour de force, where hula-hoopers, magicians, b-boys, jugglers, face painters, fire-spinners, circus artists, samba musicians and art cars entertain while folks stroll the plaza, eat and drink, get hands-on in the craft tent and watch films in Union Station’s basement. The roar of the greasepaint sounds off starting from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 23, and the fun continues from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop Street. Admission is free; find a full schedule at unionstationbuskerfest.com.
Keep reading for more events this week.
Saturday, June 24
The Westword Music Showcase got its start in LoDo back in 1995; since then, it’s grown into the biggest single-day music festival in Denver. And this year’s edition on Saturday, June 24, will be solid gold, with both national names and local favorites playing at eight venues and on two outdoor stages across the Golden Triangle. Watch for Americana crooner Shakey Graves, soulful rock-and-rollers the Revivalists, electronic masters Cut Copy and Bob Moses, as well as indie pop’s COIN, along with seventy of Denver’s best acts; there will also be vendors, food trucks and plenty of fun. The Showcase runs from noon until 10 p.m.; go to westwordshowcase.com for the full lineup and ticket details.
So much has changed since Renegade Brewing opened its doors on June 26, 2011. The west Denver brewery has grown from its initial taproom and a staff of three to having a separate production facility, a full lineup of canned beers distributed in five states, and a staff of twenty. To celebrate, Renegade is holding a 6th Anniversary Block Party from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, at its production facility in a business park at 918 West First Avenue (the brewery held previous anniversary parties at its taproom on Ninth Avenue). This time around, the evening will be ticketed, and there are several levels, ranging from $40 to $70, but all of them get you unlimited beer tastings, a $5 voucher for any of the food trucks that will be on the premises, and either a tasting glass or a stainless-steel pint beer vessel. There will also be live music from Hangman’s Hymnal. For tickets and more information, go to renegadeanniversary.com.
Though it’s news to many locals who blow past the eastern suburb, Aurora is full of global tastes and traditions just waiting to be discovered. Root out those cultural charms at the Aurora Arts Festival: Arts on the Block, newly expanded to two days in 2017 and ready to wow you with a little bit of everything, including ethnic eats, music, performances both on stage and popping up here and there, theater samplers, rides, art-making and vendor booths galore. Encounter the full-on Aurora experience from noon to 8 p.m. daily, Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25, at Fletcher Plaza, 9898 East Colfax Avenue. Admission is free, but there’s a small charge for rides; get more info at auroraculture.org. And after you enjoy this event, don’t be a stranger: Aurora is ready and waiting for you!
If one night of unlimited tacos wasn’t enough, this weekend brings two more nights of Mexican street food at the Denver Taco Fest on Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25. This event promises lucha libre wrestling, Chihuahua racing, live game shows and plenty of music — oh, and tacos and tequila, of course! The fun runs from noon to 8 p.m. both days at the Compound, 725 West 39th Avenue, and tickets start at just $5 for general admission, although tacos aren’t included; those will run you $2 a pop. For $20, you’ll get admission to Mexico in a Bottle, a special tasting area with Mexican craft beers, tequila and other agave spirits. Find out more and purchase tickets at denvertacofestival.com.
Sunday, June 25
There’s something about a unicorn that opens up the primeval realm hidden in everyone’s soul. Now you can let those faeries run free at the first annual Unicorn Festival, at Clement Park, 7306 West Bowles Avenue in Littleton. Dreamt up by Dana Cain Events and Michelle Baldwin’s Frolic and Vamp, the all-ages fest will turn the park into a rainbow-hued, glittery mini-amusement park of princesses, wizards, mermaids, a big dose of Harry Pottermania and, of course, unicorns. Lots of unicorns. You’ll never want to leave. “Our goal is to create an environment where wonder and imagination rule — a reminder to everyone that we live in a magical, beautiful world where all things are possible,” Cain explains. The Unicorn Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 25; tickets range from $5 to $10 in advance for general admission (children ages two and under admitted free), or $12 to $20 for a Disney-style, line-skipping, limited-edition Magic Pass. Learn more and pre-purchase passes at unicornfestival-colorado.com.
Local nonprofit group the Urban Angels is hosting Circle of Love, its third-annual dress drive, designed to provide dresses — and, in turn, hope, love and joy — to little girls suffering through unfortunate circumstances around the world. Clothing will be accepted from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at Studio Salon, 1135 Bannock Street; any monetary donations will be shared between Love a Child and Hope House. The event is free; go to fashiondenver.com for more information.
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Returning to downtown Longmont for the second year, the Colorado Latino Festival (#latinxfest) will highlight the vibrant Latino culture of one of Colorado’s most diverse cities. A partnership of the Latino Chamber of Commerce and Longmont’s Barrio E Cultural Center, the festival gets under way at noon on Sunday, June 25, and will wind down around 7 p.m. Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy live entertainment from over forty different musical acts and cultural performers, peruse the many vendors lining Main Street, and sample culinary highlights, all while gathering in a fun-loving, multicultural, coalition-building environment. The inaugural festival welcomed over 7,000 guests, and this year’s free fest could be even bigger. Learn more at festivalcolorado.com.
Monday, June 26
Have you read Paulette Jiles’s News of the World? Meant to, anyway? The folks at BookSocial won’t judge. This event, at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 26, at BookBar, 4280 Tennyson Street, is designed as a fun way to get people mingling, chatting (maybe even about the book), and “making vague promises to see each other again,” according to the organizers. Admission is free (and so is your first drink); find out more at bookbardenver.com.
For more events around town, go to westword.com/calendar.