Hold your horses, cowboy: Are you ready to rope and ride at the 2019 National Western Stock Show, which starts January 12? (The kickoff parade will mosey through downtown starting at noon on Thursday, January 10.) If you'd rather steer clear of our cowtown heritage, this week Colorado gains a new governor in Jared Polis, who will celebrate at his cheeky Blue Sneaker Ball; Ullr Fest returns to Boulder; The Pharcyde rocks Ophelia's; and Denver will finally decide which is the better British rock group, the Stones or the Beatles. Learn about all that and more on our list of the best things to do in Denver!
Tuesday, January 8
Yee haw! The National Western Stock Show rolls back into Denver this week, and before everyone gets down and dirty at rodeos and concerts, the 2019 Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale will hold its annual red carpet reception to benefit the National Western Scholarship Trust on Tuesday, January 8, starting at 5:30 p.m. In addition to getting a chance to meet the artists, stick a red dot on featured pieces and rub shoulders with real mooovers and shakers, you can bid on more works by many of the featured artists in a special auction. Tickets to the reception, held on the third floor of the Expo Hall at the National Western Complex, are $225 at coorswesternart.com. The exhibit will remain up until January 27, through the run of the Stock Show, and grounds-admission tickets will get you in. Find the complete National Western schedule at nationalwestern.com.
Whether you voted for him or not, it’s time to dance Jared Polis into office. Break out your finest cocktail attire — and blue sneakers, if you have them — to welcome the incoming governor and new lieutenant governor, Dianne Primavera, at the Blue Sneaker Ball Inauguration Celebration, which starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, amid the dinosaur bones, taxidermied butterflies and moon-landing paraphernalia at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. A cheeky ode to Polis's preferred footwear, the evening will include performances by Cyndi Lauper and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Admission, $35 to $75, includes light snacks and access to both the concerts and select museum exhibitions (but bring cash for the bar); get tickets at eventbrite.com.
Got an urge to start the Great American Novel but finding yourself stuck in writers' block hell? Amanda E.K. — local poet, author and editor-in-chief of Suspect Press — is ready and willing to rev you up with prompts, thematic exercises and a welcoming attitude for writers of all skill levels and ages at a series of weekly Drop-In Writing Classes, beginning on Tuesday, January 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Hooked on Colfax, 3213 East Colfax Avenue. Drop-in fees are $10 cash per class at the door, or via @AmandaEK at Venmo; learn more about Amanda E.K. at suspectpress.com/about.
Wednesday, January 9
The Denver Architecture Foundation continues to build on a stellar series of programs with a look at the Marriage of Art & Architecture at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 9. Moderator Mary Chandler will lead a panel comprising Dean Sobel, director of the Clyfford Still Museum; Taisto Mäkelä, associate professor of the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning; Hugh Grant, director of the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art; and Jim Olson, founding partner of Olson Kundig, as they focus on two examples of the melding of art and architecture: the Kirkland Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum. The presentation will be at the Still Museum, 1250 Bannock Street; admission is $10 for DAF members and $15 for non-members. Find out more at denverarchitecture.org.
Tap into the power of ancient stories at Folktale Circle, a monthly gathering at metaphysical-goods store Ritualcravt, at 2842 West 44th Avenue. For this month's installment, pagan psychotherapist Amber Raye will read a folktale, “The Story of the Year,” and discuss how the imagery and symbolism in it can help us better understand our own lives. The program goes from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9; for information and tickets, $25, visit Ritualcravt's Facebook page.
Coloradans embrace winter mostly out of necessity — but also because snow can be a lot of fun. Breckenridge has celebrated the season for 55 years with Ullr Fest, which pays homage to the mythical Nordic god of snow through — what else? — a lot of parties. From Wednesday, January 9, through Saturday, January 12, an estimated 12,000 Ullr fans will gather in Breck for a host of celebrations, including a crazy-float parade, the world's longest shot ski, a bonfire and the Ullr Ice Plunge. The party starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday with the crowning of the Ullr King and Queen at the Riverwalk Center, 150 West Adams Avenue in Breckenridge; find more information, including a full schedule of events, at gobreck.com/event/ullr-fest.
Thursday, January 10
There’s a lot more than hunting and fishing to the 42nd annual International Sportsman’s Expo, which will fill the Colorado Convention Center for four days this weekend. The state’s largest consumer gathering for outdoor enthusiasts includes contests; programs on environmental stewardship, travel and all the latest gear; and even talks by Matt Wright, survivalist and Naked and Afraid competitor, who’ll discuss how to survive in extreme situations (and maybe describe that flesh-eating disease he contracted in the jungle). The expo runs from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday, January 10, and Friday, January 11; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, January 12; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, January 13. Admission is $16 daily for adults, while active military and kids under sixteen get in free; for tickets and a complete schedule of events, go to sportsexpos.com/attend/denver.
Itzhak Perlman may be widely heralded as one of the world's greatest living violinists, but instrumental virtuosity is only part of what makes the Israeli-born musician, conductor, educator and television presenter such an inspiration. After surviving a childhood battle with polio, Perlman performed his first recital at the prestigious Tel Aviv Academy of Music at age ten, and made his international television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show three years later. Winner of numerous Emmy and Grammy awards, Perlman was granted a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2015. Perlman joins Brett Mitchell and the Colorado Symphony for a one-night-only performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 10, at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The evening begins with Jennifer Higdon’s rousing Fanfare Ritmico, continues with Ginastera's Variaciones Concertantes, and concludes with Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61. Visit coloradosymphony.org for tickets, $75 to $175, and more information.
Friday, January 11
“Going postal” is now a stock descriptor in a world where large-scale shootings in the workplace, in schools and theaters, and in the streets are all too common. That’s the territory covered in 2016 MacArthur fellow and playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s satire Gloria — the story of what happens when a group of hopeful authors stuck in boring desk jobs at a New York magazine vie for the same big story. How desperate are they? Find out when Curious Theatre Company brings Gloria to Denver, beginning with a preview at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 11 (the Thursday, January 10, preview is sold out). Shows run Thursdays through Sundays through February 16 at Curious, 1080 Acoma Street; tickets range from $20 for the preview to $50 on opening night, January 12. Learn more and find tickets at curioustheatre.org.
Once upon a time, long before we were glued to our screens, people were engulfed in the mysteries of nature. Natura Obscura, an immersive installation from Prismajic and the Museum of Outdoor Arts, attempts to bring that experience back. Created by more than a dozen artists using the latest virtual-reality technologies, the interactive exhibit is a self-guided walk through a surreal forest, letting you enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of a magical environment. The blockbuster installation opens Friday, January 11, at the MOA, 1000 Englewood Parkway in Englewood, and continues through April 28, with extended museum hours, including evenings, throughout the run. For more information and tickets, $10 to $25, go to naturaobscura.org.
Legal to grow and farm in Colorado for several years now, industrial hemp is about to explode nationwide after the plant was legalized federally in December. To make sure Colorado's hemp industry keeps a leg up on the rest of the country, some of the state's leaders in hemp policy and business want to review 2018 and forecast what the future — and USDA regulations — will bring for hemp and the clothes, foods and CBD products it's turned into. The Colorado Winter Hemp Summit, held at Block One Events, 428 Linden Street in Fort Collins, will include speakers from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Hoban Law Group, Vicente Sederberg, the Colorado Hemp Project, NoCo Hemp Expo and more, as well as a networking lunch and happy-hour session. The summit starts at 10 a.m. Friday, January 11; tickets, $99 to $350, are at on.spingo.com/e/winter_hemp_summit_2019.
Communities have difficult conversations all the time, but not all of us have the tools to facilitate constructive discussions. Creative Strategies for Change, which uses art and education to dig into social-justice work, wants to help. The nonprofit will hold a three-day training session to help participants facilitate challenging dialogues and work toward solving issues at the community level using art, music and story. Training begins Friday evening, January 11, from 6 to 9 p.m., and continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 12, and Sunday, January 13, at the Whittier Community Center, 2900 Downing Street. Work exchange and scholarships are available for those who can't afford the $250 tuition; for tickets and more information, go to creativestrategiesforchange.com.
Beats, bars and Bizarre Rides will be front and center when The Pharcyde rocks Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, 1215 20th Street, on Friday, January 11, and Saturday, January 12. As pioneers of hip-hop's golden age, the Pharcyde offered vital counter-programming to the prevailing narratives of gangsta rap — not to mention the hand-wringing the genre inspired in parents and media reactionaries — with its defiantly oddball sensibilities, cerebral yet goofy lyrics and irresistible hooks. Although the ensemble's roster of original members has dwindled down to Bootie Brown and Uncle Imani, hits like "Runnin'," "Drop" and "Passin' Me By" will still get your head nodding. Doors open at 8 for the 9 p.m. performance; visit opheliasdenver.com to buy tickets, $23 to $43, and learn more.
The agile and alluring members of the Denver Dance ensemble defy gravity with Aerial Assault, an evening of high-flying hijinx at the Clocktower Cabaret, 1601 Arapahoe Street. Whether via dangling hoops, silks or aerial poles, the Marguerite Endsley-led company members exhibit a rare grace in midair choreography and a dancerly command of motion even though their feet rarely touch the ground. Aerial Assault debuts at 11 p.m. Friday, January 11, and returns for reprise performances on February 8 and March 8. General admission tickets are $28; VIP passes, $40, include priority seating and a complimentary tiara (or fedora). Buy tickets and learn more at clocktowercabaret.com.
Saturday, January 12
The Denver Film Society is on a paper chase this year with "The Fourth Estate," a new film and conversation series. It kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday, January 12, at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, with a showing of Steven Spielberg’s The Post, followed by a “Meet the New Press” discussion sponsored by the Denver Woman’s Press Club and Colorado Press Women. Dana Coffield of the Colorado Sun, Ashley Dean of Denverite and Susan Greene of the Colorado Independent will discuss their particular ventures and journalism in general; I’ll be moderating. Tickets are $7 for DFS members and $11.50 for all others; for information, go to denverfilm.org.
In the spirit of Richard Polt, author of The Typewriter Revolution and an advocate for the popular return of analog media — from vinyl records to typewritten prose and those poems folks are composing on the streets — Buntport Theater joins forces with Stories on Stage for A Typewriter Revolution: A Buntport Collaboration. The twist? Instead of giving dramatic readings of classic short stories, the Buntport crew will focus on writings from the typewriter revival, submitted by local authors at public typewriter stations at the Tattered Cover and the Denver Public Library's Park Hill branch. Given the performers, it’s an event that’s bound to be witty and offbeat. Pull the plug with Buntport at 1:30 or 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 12, at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive; get information and tickets, $15 to $28, at storiesonstage.org.
The Colorado Photographic Arts Center’s Veterans Workshop Series provides up-to-date photography training for local veterans looking for a creative outlet while seeking ways to reintegrate into society and new careers. Personal Visions: Projects by Veterans, a culminating exhibition that gave participating veterans a chance to show off their progress as photographers, opens with a reception on Saturday, January 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. and runs through February 9 at CPAC, 1070 Bannock Street. In addition, a series of talks with the veterans at CPAC begins at 6:30 p.m. on January 16 and continues on January 23 and 30; learn more at cpacphoto.org.
Denver’s literary community is popping with indie journals that showcase talented local writers, poets and artists, including Stain’d Magazine, the print output of Stain’d Arts, a nonprofit that also facilitates ongoing writing groups, workshops and open mics. For the release of Stain'd Volume III: Blood, founders Noah Kaplan and Delia LaJeunesse are hosting a party with live music by Emily Barnes and Anthony Ruptak, and a chance to pick up your copy. Celebrate on Saturday, January 12, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at ReCreative Denver, 765 Santa Fe Drive; admission is free. Find details on the event's Facebook page.
Sunday, January 13
Who’s better, the Beatles or the Stones? It’s an argument nearly as old as time, at least on the rock-and-roll clock, and it still rages on today in spite of the fact that its subjects are now either in their seventies or dead. Tribute bands Abbey Road and Satisfaction keep the controversy alive by touring with their Beatles vs. Stones Musical Showdown, an ongoing live musical debate that will stop at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, January 13. Defend your side or be persuaded by the opposite; tickets, $20 to $35, are available at theorientaltheater.com.
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Some of us never tire of shopping, especially when opportunities like the Denver Boutique Warehouse Sale pop up right after the holiday rush ends. The aggregation of favorite Denver boutiques peddling high fashion, resale and vintage clothing comes together periodically throughout the year, with deep 50 to 75 percent discounts and a free drink for all takers. Gather your BFFs and make it a day out on Sunday, January 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mile High Spirits, 2201 Lawrence Street; be sure to dress in leggings and sports bras for the open dressing room. Admission, which benefits Cocktails for a Cause, is $10 (or $20 for a limited VIP option with early-bird entry) at eventbrite.com.
Monday, January 14
Film adaptations of books, especially the classics, usually disappoint. That's not the case with director Robert Mulligan's 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. The Harper Lee-penned Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of attorney Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, and a defendant he's agreed to represent in court: a black man accused of raping a young white woman in Depression-era Alabama. Whether or not you've seen the movie a million times, Peck's turn as Finch, especially when he's in the courtroom, will leave you spellbound. The Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue, will screen the film at 7:30 p.m. Monday, January 14, and Monday, January 28; find tickets, $8, and more information at drafthouse.com/denver.
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