Although the weather's still uncertain as April merges into May, Denver's cultural calendar is definitely blooming, with interesting entertainment opportunities all over town. Keep reading for the 21 best things to do in the seven days ahead.
Monday, April 29
Work Options for Women is cooking up its fifteenth annual Women Cook benefit on Monday, April 29, at the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street. The nonprofit offers free training for women who’ve had difficulty entering the workforce, in programs ranging from four weeks to two years in length; supporting its efforts at this event are some of the biggest female names in the food-service industry, from Dana Rodriguez (Super Mega Bien, Work & Class) to Caroline Glover (Annette), Carrie Baird (Bar Dough), Sheila Lucero (Jax Fish House), and Cindhura Reddy and Austin Nickel (Spuntino). The feast begins at 6 p.m.; get tickets, $125, at workoptions.org.
Tuesday, April 30
The Wright, a three-day summit and awards program celebrating the industry and culture of the outdoors, returns to multiple locations in Golden (“Where the West Lives”) April 30 through May 2, with panel discussions and special events that conclude with the eighth annual awards celebration, recognizing thirteen outdoor-inspired entrepreneurs from the Rocky Mountain region. Marianne Martin, first American winner of the Tour de France, gets the series in gear with a talk titled “Blazing a Trail From the Bike to the Boardroom” at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 30, at the American Mountaineering Center, 710 Tenth Street in Golden. Get the complete schedule and tickets to various events (free to $95) at somethingindependent.com.
Wednesday, May 1
The Spice & Tea Exchange in Idaho Springs is celebrating its third anniversary, and on Wednesday, May 1, will kick off a one-week celebration with live music, in-store specials, promotions and food samples during Wellness Wednesday and a Salute to Locals. Ten percent of all sales on this first day will go to Scraps to Soil, the town’s community compost program and community garden, The store is located at 1634 Miner Street; find out more at 303-993-8018 or spiceandtea.com.
Thursday, May 2
A nice meal for you could turn into a lifesaving meal for someone in need. During Dining Out For Life, participating Denver restaurants donate 25 percent of their sales (sometimes food, sometimes both food and drink) to Project Angel Heart, which provides medically tailored meals for Coloradans living with serious and chronic illnesses. Thursday, May 2, marks the 25th year of the fundraiser, and more than 250 eateries will be participating. Visit diningoutforlife.com for a complete list of restaurants donating to the cause — or to sign up your own eatery to join the effort. Then make reservations at your favorite spot; one meal is all it takes to make a difference, though some eateries will be participating morning, noon and night. Eat up!
Take the comedy train to Trinidad, where the inaugural Southwest Chief Bicycle and Comedy Festival will offer a four-day gauntlet of goofs. A way station for transcontinental travelers since the days of the Santa Fe Trail, the historic mining town has witnessed a return to prosperity — thanks in no small part to the economic boom created by the Green Rush — and is reinvesting its newfound riches in beautification and cultural enrichment, including the town's first comedy festival, founded by erstwhile Sexpot Comedy impresario and recent Trinidad transplant Wally Wallace and the L.A.-based independent film studio Bigtop Studios. Realizing that his new home town's location — roughly equidistant from Los Angeles and Chicago on Amtrak's Southwest Chief line — presented a rare opportunity for comedians from some of the country's best comedy scenes to converge, Wallace booked a rogues' gallery of standups from L.A., Chicago, Denver and Albuquerque, including top-billed headliners Billy Wayne Davis (Conan), Ron Lynch (Bob's Burgers) and David Gborie (who recently became the official voice of Comedy Central). The chuckles start chugging on Thursday, May 2, and continue through Sunday, May 5. For a schedule, tickets ($10 to $30 for individual shows, $120 to $150 for VIP passes) and more information, visit southwestchieffest.com.
For artist/gallerist Niza Knoll, the group exhibition Intolerance: Tales of Loss, Survival and Perseverance, opening this week at her gallery in the Art District on Santa Fe, is personal: The daughter of a family touched by the Holocaust, Knoll was so rocked by the sight of neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville in 2017 that she began to work out her feelings through art-making, and she invited fellow artists to do the same. Intolerance, the physical culmination of a period of active reflection on horrific past events, opens during this year’s Holocaust Days of Remembrance with a reception on Thursday, May 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Niza Knoll Gallery, 915 Santa Fe Drive, and runs through July 13. Find more information on the gallery’s Facebook page.
Multimedia monologuist Mark Rodgers has a shtick for the ages with his one-man spectacle DaVinci & Michelangelo Battle of the Titans, a journey back in time to the Italian Renaissance, as Rodgers channels two of the period’s most memorable figures. The two-hour program, an inspirational visual pageant of artworks, inventions and history brought into the present, shows for one night only: on Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m. at the Landmark Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway. Find tickets, $20, at discoverdavinci.com.
Button-mashers born in the ’80s have a particularly deep reverence for Square Enix's Final Fantasy saga, arguably the finest series of role-playing games ever committed to code. Aside from the commensurate epic battles, colorful characters and endlessly explorable maps, a key component of the franchise's enduring appeal is its eminently hummable soundtrack of arpeggios and fanfares, mostly arranged by composer Nobuo Uematsu. Conductor Arnie Roth joins the Colorado Symphony for a high-culture tribute to the often-overlooked achievements of video-game scores with Distant Worlds: The Music of Final Fantasy. Celebrate class and nerdery alike when airships of sound dock in Boettcher Concert Hall, which will be equipped with HD video presentations of some of the games' most memorable moments. A handful of tickets remain for the performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2 (the May 3 show is already sold out), so head to coloradosymphony.org with the haste of a Chocobo for tickets, $15 to $89, and further details.
Denver’s punk scene has been in mourning since the April 1 death of 26-year-old Brittany Strummer, a music writer for Punk News, Illegal Pete’s employee and punk superfan who was a constant presence at DIY shows in Denver and at festivals across the country. To memorialize Strummer in the way she would have wanted — by rocking out — punk bands Typesetter, Cheap Perfume and Ersatz Robots (who will be playing their last show) will perform at a free remembrance concert at 9 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at 3 Kings Tavern, 60 South Broadway. For more information, go to 3kingstavern.com.
Friday, May 3
Since it began in 2009 as an experiment in urban agriculture for early RiNo denizen and RiNo Art District co-founder Tracy Weil, Denver’s Heirloom Tomato Farms has grown into a working wholesale operation. But every May, Weil and his off-location partner in tomato-growing, Carolyn Janssen, sell a crop of tomato seedlings (plus assorted peppers and eggplants) to the public. Get ready for the 2019 backyard growing season at the Heirloom Tomato Plant Sale, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and repeats from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, at both growing locations: 3611 Chestnut Place and 475 Corona Street. Depending on stock, the sales will continue on weekends through May 19. All plants are $6; get more info and a sneak peek at the hundred or so mouthwatering heirloom varieties at heirloomtomatofarms.com.
Join PEN America members and local journalists as they gather in recognition of World Press Freedom Day Open Mic Night at 5 p.m. Friday, May 3, at BookBar, 4280 Tennyson Street. They'll read excerpts of important works that emphasize the importance of the free press (come at 4:30 if you want to sign up, too), culminating in the reading of PEN America’s Press Freedom Manifesto. The event is free, and light refreshments will be provided — including a World Press Freedom Day-themed sangria. We'll drink to that! Find out more at bookbardenver.com.
Live theater is everywhere these days, including Denver’s proliferation of brewpubs. Root Baby: A Play With a Drinking Game and a Rock Band, a full-length faerie fantasy that includes puppetry, live music and imbibing, is what's on tap next at Diebolt Brewing Company, 3855 Mariposa Street. The Sphinx's Riddle Theatre Co. production opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, and runs Fridays and Saturdays through May 18; find details and tickets, $15 (or $30 VIP), at eventbrite.com. Learn more on the event Facebook page.
The animated frivolity of Mexican comedy maven Luis de Alba transcends language barriers, even though only fluent Spanish speakers will catch the nuances of a performer who bayonets the bourgeoisie with merciless satire. Famous in his home country for creating the highly quotable and meme-worthy sketch character El Pirruris — who regularly appeared on the hit program El Mundo de Luis de Alba — de Alba peppers his act with more outlandish characters and an abundance of good cheer. The floppy-haired, besuited funnyman takes the stage at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, at the Denver Improv, 8246 East 49th Avenue; get tickets, $25 to $50, and more information at denver.improv.com.
Saturday, May 4
Custom furniture designer Where Wood Meets Steel is doing some spring cleaning and holding an open house at its shop/warehouse at 4903 Washington Street, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. Everything from stumps and burls to slabs and bases will be on sale, along with some finished pieces of furniture, including walnut credenzas. Stop in, fuel your imagination (and body with free refreshments), and purchase a few components for your own inspirational home-improvement project. Find out more at wwms.net.
Looking for a kinder, gentler, more culturally correct Cinco de Mayo fest? You’ll find it in Aurora, where diversity rules and the fun is people-sized. Aurora Cinco de Mayo 2019 runs from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4, and again from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 5, in Fletcher Plaza, 9898 East Colfax Avenue in friendly downtown Aurora, with traditional dancing, vendor booths, delicious Latin eats and live performances by local talents, including Chilean vocalist Victor Dominguez and Mexican songstress Vita Prado. Learn more at auroraculture.org or visit the Aurora Cinco de Mayo page on Facebook.
The prettiest place in town to watch the ponies has to be Union Station: Its soaring ceiling and wealth of natural light will make the celebration from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, one for the ages (of selfies). Live music will kick off the free Derby Day With Union Station festivities, and if you and your best-dressed date manage to impress the judges, you'll get a complimentary night at the swanky Crawford Hotel. Looking to rise above it all? Ascend the stairs to the Cooper Lounge, where you'll be able to look down on the rest of the station from the mezzanine while indulging in free drinks, apps and private TV screens — God forbid you should share a television set with a stranger from the street — for $80. Call the lounge at 720-460-3738 to get your VIP tickets, but if you're the type who thinks a house party is better when the whole city is invited, just show up.
There’s no better day of the year for a space-themed fundraiser than May the Fourth, and although A Galactic Adventure offered by the Catamounts isn’t exactly Stars Wars-related, it’s still rocket-fueled (with drink and galactic bites). And if your out-of-this-world costume happens to resemble Yoda or Princess Leia, no one’s going to turn you away. Enjoy a photo op in the Milky Way, get your chart read and bid for goodies in a live auction from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Galvanize Boulder, 1023 Walnut Street; find info and advance tickets, $50 to $55 ($65 at the door), which benefit the Catamounts’ theatrical season and outreach programs, at brownpapertickets.com.
Colfax Avenue’s storied tiki-bar past is vanishing, but Jonny Barber isn’t about to let that slip away. At his soon-to-open Colfax Museum, he and other members of the Denver Tiki Tribe have collected elements and memorabilia from a handful of local tiki havens — including Tiki Boyd’s and Tiki Lounge (which both inhabited the Ramada Inn on East Colfax at different times), Tiki Kai and the recently closed Hangar Bar — to create Sal’s Paradise Tiki Bar, a period-perfect display of retro tiki treasures (but, sadly, not an actual bar, though it will be pouring at special events). Catch the memorial's debut at the museum space, 6851 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 4; find details on the event Facebook page.
Opera Colorado's auspicious season draws to a merry close with the courtly comedy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, an enduring classic of the opera buffa repertoire composed in the Italianate style (complete with a libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte). The timeless tale of a guileful barber outwitting his rivals and earning the affections of his beloved Susanna premieres at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; catch reprise performances at the same time on Tuesday, May 7, and Friday, May 10, before the season concludes with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, May 12. Buy tickets, $25 to $250, and learn more at operacolorado.org.
Sunday, May 5
For many fans, mid-century design, with its playful colors and space-age angles, has never gone out of style. If you count yourself among the ranks of post-war design zealots, add the Denver Art Museum’s Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America to your art-going list ASAP. A collaboration of design curators Darrin Alfred of the DAM and Monica Obniski of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the exhibition covers lots of ground with its focus on timeless designs by Charles and Ray Eames, as well as those of Irving Harper, inventor of the ball clock, Colorado’s Herbert Bayer and others. Serious Play opens on Sunday, May 5, and runs through August 25 at the DAM, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, and is included in the regular gate admission of $8 to $13 (free for those eighteen and under). Learn more at denverartmuseum.org.
Get high and holistic at Inception: The Cannabis Coven Launch Party, a celebratory soirée for sativa-smoking spiritualists. Self-care remedies and metaphysical wonderment will abound at an amiably low-key introduction to the seminars, marketplaces and communal gatherings offered by the newly formed Coven. "Donate, congregate and elevate" while munching on snacks with a complimentary side of charm courtesy of chef cum comedian Adrian Mesa at the collective's stony soft opening on Sunday, May 5. The 21+ party gets started at 2 p.m. and winds down at 6. Get tickets, $10 to $15, and further details (a location will be provided at time of purchase) at eventbrite.com.
In order for an event to be considered for 21 Best, we need information three weeks in advance. Send it to email@example.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.