It might be February, but in China it's the start of a new year — so celebrate the Year of the Pig accordingly at the Far East Center. Another celebration on tap: the Denver Mac & Cheese Festival, which will ooze all kinds of goodness at Number 38. Those are far from the only happenings going down this week, which include the start of the Denver Jewish Film Festival, monster trucks, a Neal Cassady birthday bash and so much more. Keep reading for all the best events in Denver through February 11!
Tuesday, February 5
After decades of playing the leading man in goofy comedies and the odd art-house darling, Adam Sandler has returned to the stage with an acoustic guitar, an accompanying pianist, and an arsenal of silly new songs for 100% Fresher, a national tour in support of his recent Netflix special, 100% Fresh. Though the tour's title refers to the sometimes-justified scorn heaped upon Sandler's filmography, his tone on the road is jovial rather than embittered, and evokes the playfully caustic material that first endeared him to audiences on Saturday Night Live and classic albums like They're All Gonna Laugh at You. While the special is just a few clicks away for Netflix subscribers, they shouldn't sleep on the chance to see the Sandman live at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 5, at the Bellco Theatre, 700 14th Street; visit axs.com for tickets, $49.50 to $250, and more details.
Wednesday, February 6
The Denver Jewish Film Festival will continue its run of more than twenty years with a brand-new slate of contemporary Israeli and Jewish-themed cinema over two big weeks, starting on opening night with The Last Suit, a 2017 post-Holocaust dramedy filmed in Spain and Argentina and backed by a lively klezmer score that screens at 7:30 p.m. (a VIP celebration starts at 6) on Wednesday, February 6, at the Elaine Wolf Theatre in the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 South Dahlia Street. The fest unfolds with more screenings at the Wolf Theatre, Alamo Drafthouse Sloan’s Lake and Sie FilmCenter through February 18. Individual film admission is $12 to $14, and multi-film passes range from $105 to $270; a $55 opening-night VIP package is also available. Find a complete schedule and tickets at jccdenver.org.
As Westword’s longtime theater critic, Juliet Wittman is accustomed to reviewing shows. But starting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, she’ll be putting on one of her own, as she reads from her novel Stocker’s Kitchen. “Stocker is short, loud and profane, a passionate sensualist and a bully,” she reports, “yet despite his manifest flaws, brilliantly clean and delectable flavors emerge from his greasy kitchen.” An enchanting story emerges, too. Wittman will discuss Stocker and other characters in her creation at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl Street in Boulder; vouchers to attend are $5, but good for $5 off the book or other purchases that day. For more information, call 303-447-2074 or go to boulderbookstore.net.
The popular Buntport live serial sitcom Magnets on the Fridge made a comeback last year after a long hiatus, regaining its hit status right out of the gate. The updated version is back for a second season of Magnets on the Fridge #NewDenver, a mashup of current events in Denver and the “Old Denver” holdovers who must learn to navigate the city’s newfangled ways. It’s a topical blast, no matter which side you’re on; catch the opening episode on Wednesday, February 6, and every first Wednesday of the month from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street. Find tickets, $10, at buntport.com.
Thursday, February 7
Art & Soul 2019 is a major fundraiser and art auction for the Art Students League of Denver, a stalwart local art school offering year-round classes and art exhibitions. But it’s also a gala that invites participation: In addition to the central auction of donated works by Colorado artists, the party throws in artist demos and a monoprint workshop with ASLD faculty member Victoria Eubanks. Mystery bags of $100 worth of goodies are also an option, with food, live music and a cash bar to augment the fun. Attend Art & Soul from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, February 7, at the ASLD, 200 Grant Street. Tickets are available on two levels: $75 for general admission ($100 at the door), and $125 for a VIP experience with an artist meet-and-greet and early entry from 6 to 7 p.m. Find more information at asld.org.
Friday, February 8
Whether you use macaroni, rigatoni, penne, farfalle or fusilli — or cheddar, Gouda, provolone, Monterey Jack or mozzarella — there's really no wrong way to construct mac and cheese. On Friday, February 8, you can sample more than fifteen creamy, crusty and cheesy creations from local restaurants at the Denver Mac & Cheese Festival, which runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Number 38, 3560 Chestnut Place. Tickets start at $59 (which includes unlimited mac plus wine, beer and spirit samples) and top out at $109 (5:30 p.m. entry, a T-shirt, unlimited mac and an open bar). The most intriguing part of this fest? The commemorative spork that comes with each ticket purchase. Find tickets and info at eventbrite.com.
Can you smell the gasoline fumes and the stench of burning rubber? The Monster Jam Triple Threat Series is headed to Denver, bringing some of the world’s most loved monster trucks, like Grave Digger, El Toro Loco, Scooby Doo, Monster Mutt and Megalodon, back to town for a car-smashing, truck-flipping good time. The fun starts at 7 p.m. Friday, February 8, and runs through Sunday, February 10, at the Pepsi Center; buy tickets, $15 to $55, at altitudetickets.com. And don’t forget earplugs.
Adventure will drift from comics into the orchestra pit at the Symphonic Tribute to Comic-Con, which returns to Boettcher Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex for its fifth year of caped crusades and escapades. Guided by innovative conductor Christopher Dragon, the Colorado Symphony will present a program of superhero movie scores guaranteed to stir the derring-do spirit of X-Men and Wonder Women alike. Trading in black-tie attire for cosplay creativity, the symphony's night of nerdery will blend high culture and pop culture starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 8; find tickets, $15 to $89, and more information at coloradosymphony.org. Excelsior!
The Denver renegade who helped inspire On the Road would have been 93 this year, but the annual Neal Cassady Birthday Bash is just turning ten. The weekend-long celebration starts at 8 p.m. Friday, February 8, with the David Amram Quartet and Jello Biafra (see our story on the Dead Kennedys founder on westword.com) headlining an evening of music, poetry and reminiscences at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street; tickets are $25 at the door or at brownpapertickets.com. Then from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 9, the Alamo Drafthouse Sloan’s Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue, will host two discussions celebrating Cassady’s legacy: “Women and the Beat Legacy,” with filmmaker Heather Dalton moderating (I’m one of the panelists), and “Creativity in Difficult Times,” moderated by Mark Bliesener with Amram and Biafra, among others. At 7 p.m., the Alamo will screen Dalton’s film, Neal Cassady: The Denver Years. Admission to the talks are free; the film is $15 at the door or at drafthouse.com. Stay cool, Denver.
Saturday, February 9
The high-country casino town of Cripple Creek is a pretty place in winter, though tourists mostly come through in the summertime. But a dozen years ago, the town began attracting visitors in the off-season with an ice fest, which this year has a superhero theme. Cripple Creek Ice Festival — Superheroes in Ice begins on Saturday, February 9, and runs through Sunday, February 17. Artists will be carving comic-book heroes along the main drag, with a kids' ice slide and maze nearby. An Ice & Art Fest will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the Heritage Center, 9283 South Highway 67 in Cripple Creek; stick around for a meet-and-greet with the artists from 4 to 7 p.m. February 9. Admission is free; learn more at visitcripplecreek.com.
If your valentine has a traveler’s spirit, find something in tune with his or her heartbeat at the Hecho Con Amor shopping event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, at the Latino Cultural Arts Center’s Hijos del Sol gift shop, 2715 West Eighth Avenue. The day is a fundraiser for Latin American fair-trade artists and the center’s campaign to build a brick-and-mortar museum in Sun Valley. Choose from beautiful and whimsical artisan wares, from textiles and jewelry to hand-tapped tin cut-outs, milagros and ornaments. Learn more at Hijos del Sol's Facebook page.
Denver’s Chinese and Vietnamese communities are on the ball when it comes to throwing New Year and Spring Festival celebrations each year. One of the region’s best displays happens annually at the Far East Center, 333 South Federal Boulevard, where this year’s 25th-anniversary spectacular will welcome the Year of the Pig over two (free!) days with a rowdy explosion of firecrackers and dragon and lion dances galore. The biggest show is on Saturday, February 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; it commences with a kids' traditional-garb fashion show and Shaolin Hung Mei dragon dance, followed by martial arts and dragon and lion dance performances by three local troupes. On Sunday, February 10, a shorter day from 2:30 to 4 p.m. starts with the fashion show and ends with a lion dance. See the full schedule at the Truong An Facebook page.
If life feels too big to handle, consider going small. From 5 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys will host its first gathering of the Smalltalk Miniatures Club. Fans of mini-crafting will gather at the Garage, 3830 West 32nd Avenue, to hear the museum's education director talk about miniature-making as part of radical self-care; the talk will be followed by a discussion among members, some planning for future meetings, crafting (materials provided), snacking and a screening of the award-winning documentary Marwencol, which is about a man who used miniature-crafting to help heal his brain injury. Find out more about the free evening at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys Facebook page.
The artists behind the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council had a big 2018.They were priced out of their historic gallery in the Art District on Santa Fe, then moved into a new space farther south down the strip. In order to continue its good work, the gallery will host Heart & Sol of CHAC (formerly Milagros de Corazón), a fundraiser during which wooden hearts that have been hand-painted at a workshop earlier in the day will be auctioned off. Festivities go from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 9, at the gallery, 222 Santa Fe Drive; tickets, which include a complimentary drink, appetizers and entertainment, are $15 per person or $20 per couple at eventbrite.com.
The crew at Cabal Gallery invites you to spice up your Valentine’s Day preparations at Cabal in Love, an X-rated craft party — with materials provided — where you can make your own raunchy art piece, bring one you’ve already made to hang on the wall, or buy someone else’s. The fun goes from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 9, at Cabal, 1875 South Broadway, with live music by Vampire Squids From Hell. Cabal is an LGBTQ+-friendly space. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted; find more details on the Cabal Gallery Facebook page.
Downtown Aurora’s got plenty of well-kept secrets along East Colfax Avenue, including the 5280 Artist Co-op, a multi-disciplinary arts oasis that hosts poetry readings, theater presentations, art shows and music events by denizens of the Aurora Cultural Arts District. Theater is next on the docket at 5280 with Icons, A Tribute to African Americans in Art, a revue honoring such creative greats as Nancy Wilson, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Kathryn Dunham, Nikki Giovanni and evening-ending showstopper Nina Simone, performed by a wonderful cast of local actors and performers. See Icons at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 9, at ACAD headquarters, 1400 Dallas Street in Aurora; tickets are $10 at the door. Find more information at the 5280 Artist Co-op's Facebook page.
Music and weed are a natural pair, so why not enjoy the magical combo at a social lounge? The Coffee Joint, Denver's first licensed pot lounge, will host Grammy nominee and filmmaker Linda Chorney from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, February 9 (doors open at 6:30). Watch When I Sing, a new movie starring Chorney based on her "wild ride" as a gigging artist over three decades. Afterward, stick around for a Q&A session and a musical performance from the singer-songwriter — along with plenty of dabs. Tickets (21+) are $28 at eventbrite.com; learn more by calling the Coffee Joint at 720-583-4657.
Horns will blare, skirts will twirl and spirits will lift at Denver Brass: En Fuego!, a festive and fiery continuation of the Denver Brass's Music in Motion concert series. Let your heart and feet keep time with the Latin beats of "El Son de la Negra," "Malagueña," "La Virgen de la Macarena" and the West Side Story suite when the ensemble takes the stage at the University of Denver's Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue, for a pair of shows — at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 10. Escape the frigid climes this weekend with the hot-hot heat of an accomplished horn section; find tickets and more information at denverbrass.org.
Sunday, February 10
While Patrick Mueller’s Control Group Productions immersive dance troupe prepares for another year of creative performances, Mueller will host a hand-picked winter showcase of favorite regional contemporary dance ensembles with HOME — where dance lives, a pair of programs that shine a light on the work of Wild Heart Dance, the Life/Art Dance Ensemble, Art as Action, Mary Lynn Lewark and Other Rooms. Shows are on Saturday, February 9, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, February 10, at 4 p.m., at the Studio Theatre at the Colorado Conservatory of Dance, 3001 Industrial Lane in Broomfield. Find more details and tickets, $10 to $16, at controlgroupproductions.org.
Care to cycle over 50 to 100 sweet kilometers of snow, ice and dirt? Longing to face the elements on foot over 5.4 miles of trails and red-rock canyons? If so, the annual Old Man Winter Rally is your go-to for some rugged winter fun, highly enhanced by luxury aid stations where you can hydrate and gird yourself along the way, and capped off with beer, hot food and a roaring fire pit at the finish line. The hard part starts at 10 a.m. Sunday, February 10, and the fun part wraps up at 5 p.m. at Laverne Johnson Park, 600 Park Drive in Lyons; registration ranges from $55 to $119 in advance at eventbrite.com.
Monday, February 11
Not every bartender wants to be the next Tom Cruise, with flashy moves and a cheesy smile for the ladies. Some professionals value precision and quality when it comes to getting drinks to customers quickly. On Monday, February 11, you'll have a chance to watch the best women in the business compete in the Speed Rack Charity Female Bartending Competition. The shaking, stirring and pouring kicks off at 6 p.m. at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street, and continues for the next four hours. Your ticket, $25 in advance at ticketfly.com or $30 at the door, will land you prime viewing of the competition plus boozy punch samples and food from several Denver restaurants. All proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research, education and prevention.
Syntax Physic Opera will live up to its reputation as a hotbed of fringe culture when Cele Presents Cine III turns the bar and venue into a dine-in movie theater, with electronic-music artists live-scoring their favorite films. Steven Dermody will play alongside The Love Export, Seth Nichols will accompany Fall of the House of Usher, and Anarchy will score Cosmic Voyage. The program starts at 7 p.m. Monday, February 11, at Syntax, 554 South Broadway. Admission is $5 at the door; learn more at physicopera.com.
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