No, filing your taxes isn't fun, but once you've gotten that out of the way, there's plenty of fun to be had in Denver this week, from learning about psychedelics and natural wine to taking a ride on Kaleidoscape, the new dark ride at Elitch Gardens, which officially opens April 20. And that, of course, is the day of the annual cannabis celebration at Civic Center Park. Keep reading for the 21 best events in Denver over the next seven days.
Monday, April 15
Dave Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and best-selling author, will be the focus of an evening both hilarious and heart-warming as he talks about his latest book, Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog. Barry’s anecdotes, routine humiliations and stream-of-consciousness accounts of the absurdities of daily life are anchored by his best dog Lucy, who teaches him how to live his best life. Tickets, $26, include a copy of the book and a place in the signing line, which will start long before the 7 p.m. speech. Because Barry is so popular, Tattered Cover is hosting this event at Trinity Methodist Church, 1820 Broadway. Find out more at tatteredcover.com.
Tuesday, April 16
If you’re trying to find time to write, looking for inspiration, or just have something you need to get off your chest and onto paper, follow Amanda E.K., the editor of Suspect Press, during her Drop-in Creative Writing session, a workshop for writers of all levels over the age of thirteen. Whether you’re looking to start a new project or hone something you’re already buried in, E.K. has guidance for you, offering writing prompts, themes and casual instruction. Your first class is $15 (in cash or by Venmo at @AmandaEK); subsequent classes are just $10. The weekly workshop takes place next at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in the basement of Hooked on Colfax, at 3213 East Colfax Avenue. Find more information on Amanda K Facebook event page.
Wednesday, April 17
Expand your mind, man, at a series of educational chats and lectures about cannabis and psychedelics at the University of Colorado Boulder's sixth annual Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium. With CU Boulder's history as a 4/20 celebration powerhouse, hosting a serious discussion about the potential medical use, social issues and harm reduction methods around cannabis and psychedelics is right in the university's wheelhouse (and could be in Denver's, too, if a ballot question decriminalizing mushrooms passes in May). Check out the free forum from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at the Wolf Law Building, 450 Kittredge Loop Drive on the CU Boulder campus. Register and find the symposium's symposium's schedule here.
The subject is depressing, but the performance will be uplifting when the Mizel Museum presents Survivors Sing: A Concert in Celebration of Courage and Resilience. Oscar "Osi" Sladek, Estelle Nadel, Zachary Kutner and Jack Welner will share inspirational stories of local Holocaust survivors through song. The concert starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, at the museum, 400 South Kearney Street; get there early, because the $8 ticket includes admission to the museum’s Abide and 4,000 Year Road Trip exhibits. Find out more at mizelmuseum.org.
What makes wine natural? That's a big topic of debate in the wine community, but if you want to find out for yourself, come to the Colorado Natural Wine Week Grand Tasting at Zeppelin Station, 3501 Wazee Street, on Wednesday, April 17, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. This is the sixth year for the vinous event, so organizers are bringing their A-game, with hundreds of American and international wines available for tasting, all poured by pros who can discuss natural wine until you're ready to shout "Just shut up and pour!" Tickets, available at conaturalwineweek.org, are $50 each or $90 for two, and include a $15 card for food at any of the Zeppelin Station food hall counters.
Thursday, April 18
Su Teatro and the Source Theatre, co-tenants at the Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, will join forces again for the 5th Ever WordFest and Artists of Color Summit, an annual event anchored by weekend performances from each group. The Source heads up the fest with The B Word, an adaptation of a narrative by journalist and scholar Greg Tate, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, and running nightly through Saturday, April 20; Su Teatro then takes the reins for AMAL, a performance about veterans adjusting to life after war by the Puerto Rican theater collective Combat Hippies, on the following weekend. Find tickets, $17 to $20, at suteatro.org.
Horror and mystery drive the Pandemic Collective’s zeal for presenting the darker side of theater, and to do it right, that means working with inventive stagecraft and a real sense of the uncanny. The premise of Laveau might or might not be made up, but Pandemic claims that it received this typewritten script haunted by voodoo nightmares and a New Orleansian vibe from an anonymous source. Told using shadow puppetry by Katy Williams Design, Laveau is an inventive evening that will send a chill down your spine. The show opens at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 18, and runs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through May 4 at Theater 29, 5138 West 29th Avenue. Purchase tickets in advance for $22 at eventbrite.com, and learn more at pandemiccollective.org.
"Valar morghulis!" Or maybe it's "Valar margaritas!" On Thursday, April 18, Mister Tuna, 3033 Brighton Boulevard, is celebrating the final season of Westeros watching with a Game of Thrones Chef Throwdown where swords (okay, chefs' knives) will clash in an Iron Chef-style battle from 10:30 to 11:55 p.m. You probably won't get a taste of Lord Manderly's meat pie or direwolf-shaped bread, but you can practice your Valyrian with fellow GoT fanatics while enjoying passed appetizers and drinks. The main event will see two Denver chefs turn three mystery ingredients into a variety of small plates and appetizers in thirty minutes to impress the judges. The winner will receive a custom blade from Carbon Knife Company, so cheer them on or yell "Shame!" Call Mister Tuna at 303-831-8862 for details, and purchase your $10 tickets at nightout.com. Night gathers, and now your watch begins.
Friday, April 19
This summer, a stockpile of figurative sculpture from across recent art history will take over the grounds at the Denver Botanic Gardens, with artworks both classical and abstracted displayed in picturesque niches set into the blooming landscape. Human | Nature: Figures From the Craig Ponzio Sculpture Collection spans the decades from Rodin to Fischl, turning the DBG, 1007 York Street, into an outdoor museum of art. The display opens Friday, April 19, and runs through September 15; admission is included in the regular gate fee of $9 to $12.50 (free for members and children ages two and under). Find advance tickets and more information at botanicgardens.org.
Since a band of anime-con veterans got together in 2016 to bless Denver with a welcoming fest offering something for everyone, the Colorado Anime Fest has only gotten tighter and better, providing a safe place for cosplayers, gamers, anime fans and the curious to gather and share their Japan-pop passion. This year’s event opens at 2 p.m. Friday, April 19, and runs through Sunday, April 21, at a new location, the Denver Marriott Tech Center, 4900 South Syracuse Street. There you'll find an abundance of the usual guest voice actors, photo shoots, video screenings and contests, along with a celebrity speed Q&A, a maid cafe with changing themes daily, a relaxing manga library and Japanese culture panels. Admission is $45 to $125 for a festival pass or $25 to $40 daily; learn more at coanimefest.com.
Celebrate 4/20 with three days of music and reefer at Cannival, a Gunnison campout for art, live tunes and "our freedom to enjoy legal cannabis," according to the event's promoters. The fun runs from Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, at the I Bar Ranch, 850 County Road 49 in Gunnison. Tickets (21+) range from $35 for a single day to $65 for a weekend pass, with VIP and camping options available. Learn more at cannival.net.
Americans spell it "whiskey," while in Scotland it's "whisky." Don't worry too much about the spelling, though; just ask for another pour. At the Whisky Extravaganza on Friday, April 19, you can sample the brown spirit made by dozens of distilleries from around the world, including Colorado's own Lee Spirits, State 38 Distillery, the Block Distilling Company, Deerhammer and Talnua Distillery. Get your "Drams & Bites" ticket for $95 at thewhiskyextravaganza.com and choose from 100 different pours, plus culinary pairings, a free cigar and a "nosing" glass. Or spring for the $195 "Connoisseur" ticket to gain access to whisky master classes and additional high-end bites and booze. It all happens from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the Four Seasons Denver, 1111 14th Street.
Safta, inside the the Source Hotel at 3330 Brighton Boulevard, wants to help you and your family celebrate Passover. Reserve a table on Friday, April 19, or Saturday, April 20, for a feast served family style with plenty of chef/owner Alon Shaya's comforting Israeli cuisine to choose from. Start with Seder plates bearing housemade matzo; beet-cured eggs; lamb ribs in date-honey glaze; and fig, date and pistachio charoset, to name a few dishes. Then move on to a multi-course meal of matzo ball soup, brisket, Yemenite curry and spiced almond cake. The dinner costs $65 per person; call 720-408-2444 or visit eatwithsafta.com for a reservation. Why is this night different from all other nights? Because Safta will help make it special. (By the way, you'll be able to order these dishes à la carte from April 21 through 27.)
Get ready for a hot evening of entertainment when the Cindy Brandle Dance Company premieres its new work, A World on Fire, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, at the Dairy Arts Center. "It's a labor of love that has been bubbling in my mind for the past year and will now come to the stage," says founder Cindy Brandle. "This is a personal journey, for me, into understanding." Specifically, understanding the complexities and challenges of the current culture; CBDC worked with local poets and writers who contributed stories and poetry about the #MeToo movement, racial discrimination, LGBTQ marginalization, gender inequality and the polarization of our country, all of which provided choreographic inspiration for the fifteen-year-old company. Two additional performances will take place on Saturday, April 20, at the Dairy, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; tickets are $25 ($20 student/senior) at thedairy.org.
Saturday, April 20
You've read about it — most recently in our cover story about Meow Wolf's wild ride into Denver. But now you can try Kaleidoscape for yourself, on Elitch Gardens' opening day Saturday, April 20. The dark ride isn't the only new amusement at this Colorado institution in the heart of Denver, but it's one you won't want to miss. Unlimited rides are included with the price of admission, which ranges from $39.99 for an any day pass to $69.99 for a season pass (and other deals are available). Learn all about Elitch Gardens here.
Denver’s diverse poetry community has been whooping it up and celebrating National Poetry Month in marathon style for thirty years with the Colorado Poetry Rodeo, aka Podeo, a tradition encompassing workshops, readings, open mics, slams and every other word-centric showcase the organizers can host in the space of fourteen hours. “What better way to celebrate 4/20 than to get high on our thriving literary community and the abundant creative energy we share?” points out poet/activist Roseanna Frechette. Catch this who’s who of local poetics starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 20, and running through 1 a.m. the next morning in the Jungle Room at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Come-and-go admission is $10 at the door; see the Facebook event page for a full schedule.
Make the annual pilgrimage to Civic Center Park on Saturday, April 20, for the the Fly Hi 420 Festival. The free day of stonerific fun will include dozens of food and cannabis memorabilia vendors, with performances by Jermaine Dupri and T.I. as well as Eye Am Shane, $ubxrox MetaOx and Big Legion & Hurox. The free event is open to all ages, but recommended to those eighteen-and-up; fest fans will start showing up around noon, and being there at 4:20 p.m. is a must. Remember: Cannabis consumption is technically banned, and no bags will be allowed inside. Find out more at milehigh420festival.com.
The brand-new Highlands Heritage Bike Ride starts rolling at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 20, at the North High School parking lot along West 32nd Avenue. The 2.5-mile route will take riders back through history,
with stops at such Highland landmarks as a Habitat for Humanity home; St. Elizabeth's, with its great view from the fourteenth floor; the corner of West 32nd Avenue and Zuni Street, where historian Rebecca Hunt will be speaking; and Stoneman's Row, a historic block along West 28th. The ride will end at noon at Zuni Street Brewing at 29th Street and Zuni, for beer and bonding. The ride is free to join; just show up by start time on your bicycle. Find out more here.
Need more art in your life? Head to Dateline Gallery, 3004 Larimer Street, between 4 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, for Got It for Cheap. Dateline recently picked up a Best of Denver award for the attention it gives local artists, but this is the second time it's hosting this traveling group show that includes works by 750-plus artists — all original pieces on paper that sell for just $30 each. Admission is free; arrive early for the widest array of choices. Find out more at ddaatteelliinnee.com.
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The University of Colorado’s Boulder Laptop Orchestra (aka BLOrk) was founded in 2008 by College of Music staffers John Gunther and John Drumheller, when it was only the second ensemble of its kind in the nation. But as the merger of music and technology continues to expand, the program, which pairs traditional instrumentation and laptop manipulations (plus cell phones, tablets and other toys that will eventually make the laptops obsolete) is here to stay. Plunk the whole thing down in Fiske Planetarium, 2414 Regent Drive on the CU Boulder campus, set to the venue’s Liquid Sky imagery, synced to out-there sounds from David Bowie, Björk, Radiohead, the Flaming Lips and Sun Ra, and you’ve got Songs of Space, a worthy way to come down from that 4/20 high. The show starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 20; find information and tickets, $15, at colorado.edu/fiske.
Sunday, April 21
Janet Leigh made her claim to fame in Psycho, arguably the greatest horror film of all time. What she’s less celebrated for — and rightly so — is her performance in Night of the Lepus, arguably the worst horror film of all time. The shlocky flick tells the story of mutant rabbits that threaten the fate of humanity. “Kill one, and thousands take their place,” says the melodramatic narrator in the film’s trailer. See for yourself just how bad it is when the movie screens at 9 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $8 at drafthouse.com.
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