The weather is heating up, and so are Denver's entertainment options. The Americans for the Arts convention returns to the Mile High City for the first time in almost three decades on June 14, and it's going to find a very different city, filled with art shows and concerts and movie screenings and adventurous theater. And this weekend: both Denver Comic Con and PrideFest! Keep reading for the 21 best events on the entertainment calendar.
Tuesday, June 12
Love him or hate him, it's hard to argue with Wes Anderson's consistency and vision as a director. Since taking the film world by storm with 1996's Bottle Rocket, Anderson has parsed (and somehow made light of) dysfunctional families in The Royal Tenenbaums, explored the depths of the ocean in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, turned George Clooney into a fox (literally) in Fantastic Mr. Fox and explored young love in Moonrise Kingdom. The Denver Film Society will bring those four films to the big screen with Sunset Cinema, its annual summer film series. The 2018 iteration begins on Tuesday, June 12, with a free screening of Moonrise starting at 8 p.m. at the Galleria in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Bring your own chairs,nd don't miss out on the costume contest and film-themed trivia that starts at 7! Visit artsandvenuesdenver.com to see the full schedule and RSVP for the screening(s) of your choice.
Wednesday, June 13
The Chautauqua Silent Film Festival brings a fitting, old-timey and family-friendly feel to the Boulder retreat for nature lovers and culture vultures, just as it has every summer for more than thirty years. Think of it as a great way to get the kids to drop their smartphones and discover life as it was meant to be lived — in this case, sitting in a rustic, darkened room, watching a flickering screen with a crowd of strangers, all to the tune of live musical accompaniment. And don’t worry: After a while, they get used to the lack of color and get into the slapstick, sight jokes and melodrama. The 2018 fest starts on Wednesday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m. with a screening of Where the North Begins, a Rin Tin Tin adventure, and runs weekly on Wednesdays through August 15 at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road in Boulder. For information and tickets, $6 to $12, visit chautauqua.com.
Though the Denver Center’s Off-Center will be presenting a micro-theater experience in the Tennyson Street Business District next fall, it’s not really a new concept to this drag between 38th and 44th avenues. The And Toto Too Theatre Company has been furthering the careers of local women playwrights on Tennyson Street in exactly the same way annually since 2011 during the And Toto Too Play Crawl. Well, the Play Crawl must go on, in spite of the competition, and this year’s edition will travel from venue to venue with ten micro-plays along the way. It all starts and ends with parties at LOCAL 46, 4586 Tennyson Street, on Wednesday, June 13, from 5:30 to 11 p.m.; admission is $35 at andtototoo.org.
Thursday, June 14
The Americans for the Arts Convention is returning to Denver for the first time in almost three decades; since the confab of more than 1,000 arts leaders was last here, the city's cultural scene has exploded, and that boom continues with Special Guest, an evolving installation built as a movable talk-show stage with poetry readings, film screenings, dance performances and art, of course, created by such local talents as Molly Bounds, Derrick Velasquez, Laura Shill, Diego Rodriguez-Warner and Dmitri Obergfell. Presented by Meow Wolf (yes, that Meow Wolf), the free show opens at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, at Next Stage Gallery, an interactive space in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, run by CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media in a partnership with Denver Arts & Venues. The Americans for the Arts Convention will be in Denver through June 17; Special Guest runs through December 31. Find out more at nextstagecu.org.
Soccer fever will take over Denver when the month-long 2018 FIFA World Cup tips off on Thursday, June 14. Where can you get your kicks? This town's go-to standby is the soccer-centric British Bulldog, though pub-grub spots like GB Fish & Chips and Three Lions come close, as do the Irish Snug and Prost Brewing Co. If you favor Argentina, the hot spot is Maria Empanada on South Broadway, while Brazil reigns at Endo Brewing Company in Lafayette. Where to wrap it up for the July 15 finals? Join thousands of your very best soccer friends at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way in Commerce City, for the 2018 World Cup Watch Party, beginning at 8:45 a.m.; admission is free, but seating is limited to the first 4,500 people. Learn more at the Dick's World Cup Watch Party page on Facebook.
Although the name might imply easy times, budtenders have a complicated gig, particularly at stores where they have to dispense medical and recreational products that are the same — but different, depending on who's asking. To help them out with these tough questions, Simplifya, Cannabis Trainers and Vicente Sederberg have teamed up with Lightshade Labs, Native Roots, the Cannabis Business Alliance and the Marijuana Industry Group to teach Say What? Communicating With the Community, a class on the legal and medical aspects of budtending, as well as how to have good community relations with customers. The class will take place on Thursday, June 14, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Vicente Sederberg office, 455 Sherman Street. Tickets are $25 on Eventbrite.
Denver activist Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, a central character in the city’s La Raza Unida movement of the ’70s, was more than a revolutionary: He started out as a boxer, then discovered his way with words as a poet, speaker and playwright who channeled his experience into The Revolutionist, the story of a former rabble-rouser who hasn’t caught up with new political trends. Su Teatro will present the play (along with the Chicano Cultural Renaissance exhibit, with artwork inspired by Gonzales and the Chicano movement) as a lead-in to a celebration of what would have been Corky Gonzales’s ninetieth birthday on Monday, June 18. The Revolutionist opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14, and runs through July 1, when it closes with a special benefit lunch/matinee performance for Teatro VolARTE Scotland, which raises money to send Su Teatro’s youth company to Edinburgh, Scotland, for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Regular admission is $17 to $20, and tickets for the fundraiser are $30 at suteatro.org.
MCA Denver’s Three Things, Any Three Things series expands on the premise of its Mixed Taste programs — which pair lectures on unrelated subjects — by expanding the delivery to include storytelling, performance, music and whatever other weirdness a presenter prefers to use. This summer’s three-part series starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14, with the anything-goes theme of Charlatans/Animals/Goons + Malingering + Frantic Techno, as told by artist Lewis Neeff, forensic psychologist Renee Kadlubek and techno artist Anton Krueger, aka Bollywood Life. Additional programs are scheduled for June 21 and July 28, all at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street. For information and tickets, $10 to $15 per event or $20 to $40 for a series pass, go to mcadenver.org.
Curious Theatre Company will cede its stage to New York City’s innovative Ars Nova this month for Underground Railroad Game, a fringe-y, Obie Award-winning two-person show imagined by actors Jennifer Kidwell and Scott Sheppard and based on Sheppard’s experience as a fifth-grader whose teacher divided his lily-white class into groups of Union and Confederate soldiers tasked with protecting and/or recapturing slaves. What ensues is a riveting, non-PC audience-participation throwdown, a stark counterpoint to the love story between the two teachers in the play. Underground Railroad Game opens at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 14, for a special fundraising performance with drinks, dessert and an audience talkback, and runs through July 1 at Curious, 1080 Acoma Street. For information and tickets, $100 on opening night and $30 thereafter, go to curioustheatre.org.
Friday, June 15
The Denver Greek Festival, one of Colorado's most delightful cultural and culinary traditions, returns for its 53rd year of fun this weekend. Head to the glittering gold dome of the Assumption of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Denver, 4610 East Alameda Avenue, for a true celebration of Greek heritage. "Eat, drink and dance like a Greek," organizers advise, as you browse an on-site boutique offering authentic art and jewelry, sample over 25 handmade taste treats, or join traditional Greek dancers for a twirl or two. Beyond the Dionysian revelry, however, the festival also educates Denver residents about this city's thriving Greek community with informative tours of the stately Orthodox church. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. Daily admission is free for children twelve and under, $1 for seniors and $3 for the rest of the public; special ticket packages are available for $18.70 to $64 on the 2018 Denver Greek Festival Eventbrite page.
As shown by the success of RiNo’s Crush Walls and Denver’s Urban Arts Fund and ’Duct-Work mural project, our city currently loves street art, with public-art pieces gracing alleyways, retaining walls and highway pylons. So it's no wonder that the Black Cube Nomadic Museum chose to mount a new Downtown Denver Alleyways Project in collaboration with Stuart Semple’s Happy City art takeover. For the project, Semple and four Denver-area artists — Carlos Frésquez, Kelly Monico, Joel Swanson and Frankie Toan — have reimagined 16th Street Mall alleyways with murals and installations; see the finished projects during a free public launch party with tours and artist talks on Friday, June 15. Meet at 4 p.m. at the alley between Larimer and Market streets off of 15th; where the famed Montbello Drumline will lead the way through downtown alleys, ending up at a reception in the beer garden in Skyline Park at 6 p.m. Learn more at blackcube.art/exhibition/between-us.
How do you condense what Denver Comic Con is all about into one black-and-white paragraph? Answer: You don’t. The annual con is huge, stuffed with pop-culture delights and a zillion wandering superheroes, along with a pack of celebrity appearances with photo and autograph opportunities, an artist alley, cosplayers galore, panels, parties and — wait for it — fan-experience packages with noir-comics god Frank Miller. It all starts on Friday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the action continues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 16, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 17, at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street. Get the whole schedule, plan your attack, and purchase your three-day pass for $93.50 (single-day tickets range from $44 to $60.50 daily) at denvercomiccon.com.
The sad day has come when the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council must leave its home of more than twenty years in Denver's Art District on Santa Fe — but not before a proper goodbye. The festivities begin at 772/774 Santa Fe Drive on Friday, June 15, with a family-friendly CHAC Fiesta and Fundraiser from 5 to 9 p.m., complete with a silent auction, cultural activities for kids, a piñata, food, live music and Aztec dancers. Come back on Saturday, June 16, from noon to 4 p.m. to pick up some deals — and some tasty BBQ — at an afternoon moving sale. But no tears, please: Denver’s premier Chicano-artist gallery isn't closing altogether, but simply moving down the street to 222 Santa Fe Drive, where it will reopen on July 1. For information, visit the CHAC Gallery Facebook page.
Saturday, June 16
A fest with a 5K, a one-mile fun run, team relay races, a yoga class instructed through wireless headphones, kids' activities, food from City, O' City, beer from Great Divide and ice cream from Little Man — all on a community farm — already hits enough Colorado stereotypes to make it appealing to Denverites. But those offerings aren't the true draw of the third annual Dignity Festival, taking place Saturday, June 16, at the DeLaney Community Farm at 170 South Chambers Road in Aurora; rather, the festival is being held in honor of World Refugee Day and will help raise money for Project Worthmore, a nonprofit based in Aurora that assists Colorado's substantial refugee community by providing such services as English-language classes, a dental clinic and access to community farming. The event runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; admission is $35 for adults and $10 for kids twelve and under. Learn more at projectworthmore.org/dignity/festival.
The theme for the 2018 PrideFest is "Say It Loud, Say It Proud," and in the wake of the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision, this year's celebration of equality should be louder than ever. In fact, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the couple who took their complaint against the Lakewood baker who refused to make their wedding cake all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, will be the grand marshals of the Coors Light PrideFest parade, which leaves Cheesman Park at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, June 17. By then, PrideFest will have already filled Civic Center Park with a day of entertainment (on three stages), more than 200 vendors, a family-friendly area and plenty of loud and proud community. Admission is free at the park, where the party runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 16 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 17; other activities will abound around town. Find all the details at facebook.com/denverpridefest or glbtcolorado.org/pridefest.
Denver's Juneteenth was once one of the largest celebrations in the country marking the day that slaves in Texas learned that they were free, and while it suffered through some ups and downs over the past decade, the free festival is back in a big way. Head to the historic Five Points neighborhood on Saturday, June 16, for festivities starting with the annual Juneteenth Parade, which kicks off from Manual High School at 11 a.m. (staging at 9 a.m.); it winds up at the main stage at 27th and Welton streets in time for the #DreamBig Awards Ceremony at 1 p.m., followed by plenty of live music, kids' activities and a very adult Drink Garden. At 7 p.m., rapper Jadakiss takes the main stage to close out the day. Find out more at juneteenthmusicfestival.com.
Denver has been starved for good barbecue, and the inaugural Denver BBQ Festival will bring plenty to the Mile High City, and just in time for Father's Day. Not only that, but admission to the fest at Mile High Stadium, 1701 Bryant Street, is free...until Dad starts eating, that is. Ten "Legends of the Pit" from around the country — including Mike Emerson of Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis, Scott Roberts of the Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, Texas, and Denver's own Jason Ganahl of GQue Championship Barbecue — will be selling ’cue, and cold beverages will also be available. The free fest is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 17; you can also buy $99 tickets to a special preview party that runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 15. And yes, VIP packages are available, too, including one that will get you and Dad seats at the Denver Outlaws game. Get all the delicious details at denverbbqfest.com.
Boston-born Johnny Cupcakes, aka Johnny Earle, is a traveling salesman of a totally different stripe, packaging custom T-shirts and other hip graphic accessories in pastry boxes and taking them on the road. Cupcakes is strafing Colorado with pop-up markets this summer; he'll be at Vices Sneaker Boutique, 2201 Welton Street, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, when he’ll unpack some fresh cupcake- and sprinkle-themed gear. Yes, there will be cupcakes, too, courtesy of Denver’s Sweet Inspirations bakery, and if you RSVP in advance at eventbrite.com, you'll be able to enter a raffle for free merch. Admission is free, but you know you’ll want cupcakes — both the real kind and the tee kind — if you go, so bring some dough. Learn more and keep up with other Colorado appearances at johnnycupcakes.com.
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Sunday, June 17
Mariachi music has long been dominated by men, but times are changing. At 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 17, New York City's Flor de Toloache — billed as the first-ever all-women mariachi band — will take to the stage at Levitt Pavilion, 1380 West Florida Avenue in Ruby Hill Park. The Grammy-nominated band has become an international sensation, and will be joined by Denver’s own Los Mocochetes, the seven-piece Chicano funk band that has been gathering steam and inspiring audiences to dance. Find out more about this free concert and RSVP at levittdenver.org.
Tired of traditional gender roles? Troubled by your assigned sex? Prepping to come out as trans and looking for some support? Head to Mutiny Information Cafe, 2 South Broadway, on Sunday, June 17, for Gender F*cked: A Binary Busting Hour, put on by Audacious Theatre and Kai Monahan. Dubbed a queer variety show, the evening will include stories, power ballads and talks by people who identify as trans and non-binary. After the entertainment, audience members will be invited to participate in a short talkback about the struggles and social injustice that trans and gender non-conforming people face. The free program starts at 7 p.m.; for more information, call 303-778-7579.
Monday, June 18
Prepare for landing: Governor John Hickenlooper has declared this "Pollinator Month" in Colorado, and it's no coincidence that the Butterfly Pavilion's Pollinator Week starts on Monday, June 18, and runs through Sunday, June 24. The special celebration of "the world's tiny superheroes" includes animal and plant encounters, a milkweed seed giveaway, guided garden explorations, crafts, games, beeswax candle-making and a sommelier-led honey tasting and food pairing (June 23 only). Butterfly Pavilion is located at 6252 West 104th Avenue in Westminster; it's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Most Pollinator Week activities are included with general admission; for more information, go to butterflies.org.
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