Denver's reputation as a beer city will be on full display this week as the Great American Beer Festival comes roaring into town. If you want to get your intellect going, head to Denver Startup Week or Doors Open Denver, where you'll find plenty of local treasures. All that and more is in this week's calendar of 21 best events of the week.
Tuesday, September 18
Legal cannabis may be all the rage in Colorado, but some scientists argue that small doses of other, stronger psychedelic substances can also have medical and psychological benefits. Learn about studies on the subject and hear patient stories with Dr. Jen Fiser during Psychotherapy and Psychedelics, a chat about the subconscious patterns running your life and how psychedelics can impact them. Fisher, the clinical director of psychedelic therapy and depression treatment facility Innate Path, will lead the session at the Attic, 2345 Seventh Street, on Tuesday, September 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. Find tickets, $15, at eventbrite.com.
Wednesday, September 19
Ahoy, mateys! The Downtown Aquarium will be awash with swashbucklers and scalawags on Wednesday, September 19, when it hosts Talk Like a Pirate Day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the usual tours of the aquarium, with its mermaid sightings and other marvels, there will be family-friendly games and parrot appearances. Admission is $20.99 for adults, $14.99 for children under twelve — unless they’re dressed like pirates, in which case their tickets are half-off (with adult purchase). The Downtown Aquarium is located at 700 Water Street; find out more at aquariumrestaurants.com.
Real stories, without the embellishment of fiction, are often the most astute, which is why we crave the immediate truth-telling of documentary film. The ten-year-old DocuWest fest is bringing those real stories to town once again, but this year organizers are throwing in a musical touch and rebranding the event as the DocuWest Film and Music Festival. Movies and live music will cross paths from Wednesday, September 19, through Sunday, September 23, at Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake and the adjoining BarFly, 4255 West Colfax Avenue. Sidebars include a literary element in partnership with the Denver Public Library, a bit of comedy, and an open-entry “Micro-Docs” showcase. Tickets for individual programs are $12, and the music is free; see a complete schedule of films and concerts, and reserve seats for your favorites at docuwestfest.com.
Thursday, September 20
For an entire week every year, beer drinkers from around the world focus their bloodshot eyes on one special little town wedged between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. And every year, that little town responds by throwing some of the best parties around in honor of the Great American Beer Festival, which officially starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 20, at the Colorado Convention Center, where it runs through September 22. The 37th edition of the GABF is the main event, the bucket-list attraction with thousands of beers from more than 800 breweries; the fest generally sells out, but you can try your chances at greatamericanbeerfestival.org or after-sites. Or just plunge into the river of beery events running through the city that are open to non-conventioneers, including hundreds of special tappings, dinners, seminars, mini-festivals and other festivities taking place at dozens and dozens of beer bars, breweries, restaurants and venues; get all the details at westword.com/restaurants.
Which local storyteller spins the best extemporaneous yarn? Find out at the inaugural SPOKES Denver, a brisk hybrid of improv and narrative presented by the House of Pod on Thursday, September 20, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Invisible City, 1545 Julian Street. A consortium of local podcasters offering educational seminars and workshops, the House of Pod has quickly become an indispensable resource for Denver-based content producers and their listeners, so this foray into live shows is particularly notable. SPOKES challenges House of Pod-affiliated performers to riff a five-minute story based on audience prompts chosen at random from a game show-style spinning bike wheel. Audience members vote on their favorite storyteller, who will win a $100 cash prize and a free one-month membership from the House of Pod. Tickets are $10 at eventbrite.com. Visit houseofpod.org to learn more.
Another immersive adventure, Watching Night Falling departs from Stanley Marketplace with the innovative dance-theater troupe Control Group Productions — known for its outdoor performance rambles and out-of-the-box reveries in the Denver area — as your guide. Premiering on Thursday, September 20, at 6:45 p.m. sharp, the family-friendly urban fantasy begins at the Stanley outpost of the Infinite Monkey Theorem wine bar before heading outside for a three-quarter-mile urban walking tour along the Westerly Creek greenbelt, happening upon Control Group’s surreal living vignettes along the way. Watching Night Falling continues on weekends through October 7 at the Stanley, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora. Find information and tickets, $12 to $23, in advance at brownpapertickets.com. Admission is $15 to $25 at the door.
What do you do in a ski town as summer winds down but before the ski slopes open? Go to the movies. The 2018 Breckenridge Film Festival, which has been filling that particular bill for nearly forty years in the Colorado high country, gets started on Thursday, September 20, at 7 p.m. with a whopper of an opening-night showing of Love, Gilda, a loving salute to the late Saturday Night Live pioneer, at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center, 150 West Adams Avenue in Breckenridge. A party follows, and then it’s off for three more days of screenings of more than seventy films, including What They Had, with special guest Michael Shannon on September 22. Screenings of other features, plus documentaries, animated shorts, outdoor adventures and more, will take place at Riverwalk and other Breckenridge satellite locations; festival passes range from $40 to $200, or buy individual event tickets for $12 to $20 at breckfilmfest.org.
Friday, September 21
Lovebirds looking to host stylish nuptials can find all they need and more at a wedding pop-up shop hosted by custom wedding-dress designer Nuorikko and custom menswear shop Blank Label. Choose from elegant dresses and suits, cosmetics from the Lip Bar and hair styles from Frank's Gentlemen's Salon — and take advantage of special discounts — from Friday, September 21, through Sunday, September 23, at Blank Label, 1360 17th Street. “Clients can see all their options, discuss the process, estimate a timeline [and] even get fitted and place their orders," says Blank Label LoDo's Connor Lees. "We'll take care of the wedding party, from hair to hem.” The pop-up is free to attend, but be sure to schedule an appointment ahead at nuorikko.com/one.
The William Havu Gallery celebrates a trio of important anniversaries this fall, beginning with its twentieth year in the gallery’s current custom-built Golden Triangle space. But Havu’s 45-year career in the arts, which began with a framing shop in Aspen in 1973, included a series of early Havu Gallery iterations and an eight-year stint as 1/1 Gallery in LoDo leading up to the present space. And abstract painter Emilio Lobato, who was one of the first artists to show at Havu twenty years ago, marks another benchmark with Retro-Spectacle, a brand-new show that looks back. Join the party at an opening reception on Friday, September 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the gallery,1040 Cherokee Street; the exhibition runs through November 10. Learn more at williamhavugallery.com.
It’s a rare occasion when MCA Denver gives over its entire building to one sensational exhibit, but the work of Brooklyn-based sculptor and installation artist Tara Donovan warrants extra room to spread out and change the museum’s visual landscape. Tara Donovan: Fieldwork, which opens for a sneak peek with a typical MCA bash from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday, September 21, offers a tour-de-force view of the artist’s monumental site-specific works and sculpture made of everyday materials arranged in organic shapes, as well as her drawings and works on paper. Fieldwork continues through January 27 at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street. Tickets to the opening-night celebration range from $30 to $245 (regular admission thereafter is $5 to $8, or free for members and those ages eighteen and under) at mcadenver.org.
It’s never hit or miss with the Catamounts, a Boulder theater ensemble with a keen eye and ear for innovation on stage — not to mention great taste in food and drink — making every new production more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Or in this case, a barrel of pioneering explorers — in the unsettled West of Jaclyn Backhaus’s Men on Boats, a tweaked history of John Wesley Powell’s Colorado River expedition, with a cast of women portraying the all-male crew. Men on Boats opens with a preview on Friday, September 21, at 8 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, and runs on selected dates through October 13. Tickets — which vary nightly for show-only performances and those that include a community dinner or special cocktails — range from $16 to $40 at thedairy.org.
Saturday, September 22
The Denver Architecture Foundation’s Doors Open Denver welcomes the public to a citywide spread of tours at historic and notable buildings on Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23. Choices range from free self-guided explorations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily to a roster of timed $10 guided insider tours starting between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The Five Points neighborhood will be in the spotlight both days with cultural celebrations of live jazz, dance and comedy at the historic Rossonian Hotel, along with a variety of DOD-supported family-friendly activities all over town. Sightsee freely and learn things you never knew about your own city; find a complete schedule and register in advance for insider tours at denverarchitecture.org.
Got the urban blues? Give back and get away from it all on Saturday, September 22, for National Public Lands Day, a wonderful excuse for the outdoorsy crowd to get on their hands and knees and help keep our state’s parks and preserves — from Rocky Mountain National Park to the Great Sand Dunes — clean and pristine for visitors. This year’s celebration, now in its 25th year, also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the National Trails and National Wild & Scenic Rivers systems — an extra reason to lend a hand. Find a National Public Lands Day project near you at neefusa.org or rmconservancy.org. If you prefer to simply commune, some of Colorado’s national parks and monuments will offer free admission throughout the day; find the list of participating parks at nps.gov.
Pop-parodist extraordinaire Weird Al Yankovic has won legions of fans with his signature blend of sweet-natured silliness and genre-leaping musical chops, but until now, those legions have not had an opportunity to celebrate their fandom outside of live concerts. The inaugural Fest of Al aims to right that historic wrong with a two-day convention honoring the Weird Al oeuvre starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23, at the Stapleton North Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, 4040 Quebec Street. While the man who inspired the weekend won't be appearing, the performance roster presents a wide array of Al-inspired acts, including the Gregory Brothers, Wayne Faust, Shanna in a Dress, Smashy Claw, Polka Folka and many more. The festivities also offer Weird Al costume and trivia contests, a live podcast recording with the hosts of Weird Alphabet, and a discussion panel with Dirty Diamonds and Weird Me comics creator Kelly Phillips. Tickets, $40 to $80, are available via festofal.com. Dare to be stupid!
Get your shop on this weekend at Renegade Craft Denver, a traveling fair that brings more than fifty national artisans and makers to town with a selection of handmade goods you might not see anywhere else in Denver. Small and accessible, Renegade will camp outside the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, on Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, fortified with beats by local DJs, hands-on workshops, food trucks and cocktails. Fair admission is free, but be prepared to spend! For details and a complete list of vendors, visit renegadecraft.com/fair/denver-fall.
In its third year, Denver Digerati’s innovative and international Supernova Digital Animation Festival is bursting at the seams, with a week of supporting programming — from satellite gallery exhibitions to an educational forum — leading up to the main event. Supernova’s culminating Day of Animation takes place on Saturday, September 22, with ten nonstop hours of free themed animation programs on various giant LED screens around the Denver Theatre District and the Denver Performing Arts Complex — including a hot digital-artist competition decided by public vote (complete with “I voted” stickers). The free public screenings start at noon and run through 10 p.m. in outdoor and indoor locales; events conclude at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with an 8:30 p.m. after-party sporting continuous animation in the background. This year, some programs will screen in multiple locations; for all the details from A to Z, visit supernovadenver.com.
The Boulder Symphony is back for another season, delighting and uniting audiences with "Common Threads," a sonic exploration of music's binding power. The symphony commences the season with LOVE, a trio of romantic compositions conducted by Devin Patrick Hughes on Saturday, September 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Boulder Symphony Concert Hall at First Presbyterian Church, 1820 15th Street in Boulder. After opening with "Pax Universalis," a stirring work from contemporary composer Mohammed Fairouz, LOVE deepens with Robert Schumann's longing-filled "Piano Concerto," performed by internationally renown pianist Iris Zhang, and concludes with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Sheherazade," presented with a dramatic assist from the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Early birds can extend their knowledge at a pre-concert talk held in the First Presbyterian Chapel at 6:15 p.m. Tickets to Saturday's show are $20, with season passes available for $80 to $100 at bouldersymphony.org/season-overview.
The classical-music canon may be dominated by bewigged Teutonic men who died centuries ago, but Pro Musica Colorado makes a compelling argument for the role that female musicians and composers play at Women Among Men, an era-spanning performance from Colorado Symphony concertmaster and accomplished violinist Yumi Hwang-Williams. The program plays to Williams's considerable skills, starting off with Mozart's swoony "Serenade No. 6" and continuing with groundbreaking neo-classical Polish composer Grayzna Bacewicz’s "Concerto for String Orchestra" and Franz Joseph Haydn's "Violin Concerto in C Major." Hwang-Williams will then be joined by soprano Amanda Balestrieri for a Bach aria. Organizers recommend arriving early for a discussion with Pro Musica music director and conductor, Cynthia Katsarelis. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 22, at Central Presbyterian Church, 1660 Sherman Street; a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, September 23, will take place at Mountain View United Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place in Boulder. Get tickets, $35 to $55 (or just $5 with a valid student ID), and more information at promusicacolorado.org.
Sunday, September 23
Stretch your legs and soak up the remaining summer weather in Denver at Adventure Fest, billed as the "most fun and immersive outdoor festival of the year." Starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday, September 23, families are invited to the Conservatory Green in Stapleton, 8303 East 49th Place, to climb a rock wall, ride bicycles, demo SUPs and trail- and road-running shoes, and enjoy live music, food trucks and local beers (the first 1,000 attendees get a free one!). Admission is $15 for adults and free for kids ages twelve and under; find tickets and more information at adventurefest.co.
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Monday, September 24
Feed your entrepreneurial beast at 2018’s Denver Startup Week, five comprehensive days of networking and skill-sharing with others of your ilk in downtown Denver. Start off by meeting and greeting fellow go-getters on Monday, September 24, at an 8 a.m. kick-off breakfast in the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, or at a 6 p.m. Opening Night Block Party at Skyline Park, 1601 Arapahoe Street. From there, you'll break out into panel discussions, presentations, workshops and a job fair, scattered throughout the week at several locations. Highlights include the Startup Crawl, a walking party that stops at some of Denver’s best downtown startups, and a Female Founder Happy Hour at Bar Helix, both on September 25. Learn more and register at denverstartupweek.org.
Denver’s Massif Fashion Week is the real deal, looming a cut above the competition by pairing some of the city’s best models, designers, stylists and artists with national contenders over a week of runway shows, workshops, parties, and even a fashion-forward gallery show, beginning at noon on Monday, September 24, and running through Sunday, September 30. Along the way, Massif segues into four days of fashion shows, showing off Denver designers like Mona Lucero and Crystal Lee, as well as New York hotshots Guillermo Irias and Claudio Cina. The week wraps up with Night at the Museum, a benefit fashion show for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, sponsored by Athleta and the Aveda Institute Denver. All events are at Massif Studios, 2191 South Broadway; find a complete schedule and tickets at massiffashionweek.com.
As Boulder-based classical-music aficionados are well aware, the Grammy Award-winning Takács Quartet is among the most brilliant threads in Colorado's artistic tapestry. And with the addition of CU Boulder assistant professor of violin Harumi Rhodes, the 2018-’19 concert season should be amazing. The quartet's semi-regular concerts at the University of Colorado Boulder's grand yet intimate Grusin Music Hall, 1020 18th Street, regularly draw sell-out crowds, but a few tickets remain for the 7:30 p.m. recital on Monday, September 24. The stirring concert program is a fitting testament to musicianship at its finest. Come see why Takács concerts pack the house year after year; visit cupresents.org to purchase tickets, $27 to $36, and learn more. The Sunday, September 23, performance has already sold out, so don't wait.