We've seen busy weeks in Denver, but this one might top them all. Between a slew of big-name concerts, art shows and food festivals, there is truly something for everyone.
Monday, August 12
Three decades into an illustrious career, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals show no signs of giving up life on the lam. A child prodigy who evolved into a highly respected musician and frequently sought-after collaborator for the likes of Taj Mahal, Jack Johnson and Mavis Staples, Harper has won three Grammys and recorded twelve studio albums. His signature blend of rock, gospel, reggae and soul transcends genre, so don't miss the opportunity to kick back to his easygoing grooves, along with music from Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue and opening act Jessy Wilson, at the Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop Street, on Monday, August 12; doors open at 6:30 for the 7:30 p.m. show. Visit axs.com for tickets, $55 to $109.50, and more information.
Dedicated to promoting plays by female playwrights, Denver’s And Toto Too Theatre Company hosts full-scale stage productions as well as an annual play crawl and quarterly readings of plays in development. Local playwright Tracy Shaffer gets in the summer limelight this month with a staged reading of her new play, American in Hiding, a story that takes on the dark side of current events. Get in on the ground floor of the work at 7 p.m. Monday, August 12, at the Black Buzzard, 1624 Market Street; admission is free, but the company asks that you support the venue by purchasing food and drinks. Learn more and reserve your seat at americaninhiding.brownpapertickets.com.
Tuesday, August 13
You’ve been enjoying the great outdoors all summer; now it’s time to give back. From 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 13, join members of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and help pull invasive weeds from along the High Line Canal in Aurora. VOC is partnering with the High Line Canal Conservancy on the project, and the nonprofits will provide water and snacks. No registration is required; simply show up at the DeLaney Farm Historic District, 16300 East Centretech Parkway in Aurora, with gloves and an eagerness to do good. Find out more at voc.org.
Wednesday, August 14
Hello? Is it Lionel Richie you're looking for? If so, your search will end on Wednesday, August 14, when Ritchie's career-spanning Hello Hits tour delivers a retrospective on one of R&B's best careers at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. From his tenure with the Commodores to the present day, Richie has continued to pen and croon such classic ballads as "Say You, Say Me" and "Hello" alongside dance-floor jams like "All Night Long," remaining a dynamic live performer into his seventies. The concert starts at 8 p.m.; get tickets, $59.95 to $299.95, and learn more at redrocksonline.com.
Thursday, August 15
If you're looking for a meat-up, a meat-and-greet or a meat market, steak out the scene at RARE: The Denver Steak Championship, on Thursday, August 15. RARE is the first of its kind in Denver — a competition among chefs from more than twenty classic Denver steakhouses and new-school eateries to see who comes out on top in traditional and creative cooking categories. The grilling starts at 6 p.m. in the Galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and ticket holders will get to sample steaks, sip cocktails and cast votes for their favorite cuts of beef. This is the filet mignon of food festivals, so the price of admission is $150; get more details and purchase tickets at raresteakfest.com. Heed the cattle call!
Delve into the themes and theories that drive live action role playing, or LARP, at the Denver Immersive Retrospectacle, a one-night-only summit for fantasy combat creators, players and performers. In addition to offering a networking opportunity, the evening is devoted to the study of immersive gamers and the narratives and world-building behind their sword-swinging antics. Keynote speaker Jaakko Stenros is perhaps the foremost authority on the subject, authoring books, including LARP Design: Creating Role-Play Experiences, and doing research at Finland's Tampere University. Stenros's presentation on the innovations of Nordic gamers will follow live theater and dance performances. Dive in at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 15, at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and stick around for a post-event mixer from 9 to 10 p.m.; find tickets, $10 to $25, and more information at denvercenter.org.
A dead clown watching his own funeral procession sounds more like a sad scene from a Fellini movie than the basis for an evening of acrobatic thrills. But Cirque du Soleil's Corteo relates the tale of Mauro the clown with a rare balance of pathos and panache. A production that celebrates life through the stunning agility of the human body, Corteo renders its protagonist's memories of past lovers and favorite gags through Baroque-inspired fantasy. Cirque du Soleil will bring Corteo to the Pepsi Center for nine spellbinding performances, starting with a 7:30 p.m. show on Thursday, August 15. Find the full schedule and tickets, $39 to $115, at altitudetickets.com.
Barr Lake offers a cornucopia of nature at any time of day regardless of the season, but few folks are around to view the lake’s denizens of the night — the bats and owls and nocturnal hunters who come alive with glowing eyes after the sun goes down. High summer is the best time to observe the nightlife — hence the addition of the family-friendly Full Moon Hikes to Barr Lake State Park’s warm-weather activity calendar. Join a park guide at the nature center, 13401 Picadilly Road in Brighton, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 15, to see what goes on in the dark. Admission is included in the $8 park entrance fee (or annual parks pass), but participation is extremely limited, so an RSVP is required at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-659-6005.
Friday, August 16
Pitch a tent, stick your feet into the St. Vrain Creek, sip a beer and join about 5,000 others at the 29th Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, the annual family-friendly folk-music roundup at Planet Bluegrass, 500 West Main Street in Lyons. This year's edition runs from Friday, August 16, to Sunday, August 18, and includes a slew of enticing acts, from Ani DiFranco to Ben Folds to Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band. Also on the lineup: the Violent Femmes, who just dropped the characteristically quirky Hotel Last Resort. Along with the main-stage offerings, enjoy a songwriting competition, workshops and arts and crafts galore. Single-day tickets are $75, and multiday tickets start at $165; find them and more information at bluegrass.com/folks.
Liquid Mechanics Brewing will "light up" Lafayette by throwing a two-day anniversary party starting on Friday, August 16, with more than twenty beers on tap, three new packaged beer releases and nine live bands. The parking-lot party will also include gourmet eats, games, free caricatures and live music. The beer releases are Humulanova Double NEIPA, Rally Round the Family (a bourbon-barrel-aged barleywine), and Pocket Full of Shells (a bourbon-barrel-aged barleywine with coconut and vanilla). For details, go to the brewery's Facebook page.
LuneASeas, a performance incubation team, will present Le Voyage Dans La Lune, a science fiction- and silent film-inspired immersive show with original choreography, acrobatics, live music, physical theater and improvisation, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 16, at the McNichols Building in Civic Center Park; the night includes a Victorian costume contest and a silent auction to benefit Crossroads, a safehouse for women. But the real action starts earlier in the day, when Leah Casper and Steve Dewey of LuneASeas will host a movement workshop from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at McNichols. Tickets to Le Voyage Dans La Lune are $5 to $20 at luneaseas.org; workshop fees are on a pay-what-you-can basis.
Colorado Brazil Fest has been unfolding lazily over the summer with a string of concerts and events, but the best is yet to come: an evening with iconic singer Mônica Salmaso and beloved composer and guitarist Guinga, a centerpiece of the festival's concert series. The top-notch duo tunes up at 8 p.m. Friday, August 16, at Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield, for a program of popular Brazilian songs. Find tickets, $20 to $35, at eventbrite.com, and learn more about the festival at coloradobrazilfest.org.
Saturday, August 17
Puppetry isn’t just for kids, and all ages are welcome at the Rocky Mountain Puppet Palooza, a day of performances and workshops hosted by Stanley Marketplace and Katy Williams Design, founder of the Rocky Mountain Puppet Slam. See Colorado’s top puppetry acts at the outdoor fest on Saturday, August 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stanley, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora; in between the fun, pop inside for a lunch break or a cooling ice cream cone. Admission is free, but a $5 to $10 donation is suggested; get more information at katywilliamsdesign.com/puppetpalooza.
From specialty foods and toys to free nail trims and discounted vaccinations, the two-day Denver Pet Expo has everything you need to pamper your four-legged friend, along with obedience-training workshops to make sure they know who's boss. If you think you've got a real winner at the end of your leash — and what dog owner doesn't? — enter your pooch into one of the expo's many contests to determine the cutest, best costumed, most talented or most slobbery kisser in the crowd. Boasting nearly 200 exhibitors and a parade of rescued pets, the expo has plenty to offer aspiring pet owners, as well. The furry frenzy runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, August 17, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, August 18, at the National Western Complex. Visit denverpetexpo.com to buy tickets, $3 to $8, and learn more.
Coddle your inner swashbuckler in the style of James Bond during the Sword Experience, an unusual hands-on opportunity to relive the memorably violent fencing scene between Pierce Brosnan and Toby Stephens in Die Another Day. Wield your weapon according to choreographed training on Saturday, August 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard in Lowry — a place where Bond, the expert pilot, would feel right at home. Spectator tickets start at $30 and Sword Experience packages begin at $205 at swordxp.com.
Over the past three summers, Tacolandia has proved so much fun that we've moved it from Sunday to Saturday, August 17, to give you a full day to recover before you head back to work. Once again, more than forty taquerias and Mexican restaurants will be at Civic Center Park, offering unlimited samples of tacos and other delights, meaty and vegan alike. You can wash them down with Estrella Jalisco beer, Exotico Tequila and other spirits, then take a break to wander through the Saints & Sinners car show or watch lucha libre wrestlers in action. VIP tickets ($65) get you in to Tacolandia an hour early, at 3 p.m., with access to a special area with a private bar and food by El Coco Pirata; general admission tickets ($38) get you in from 4 to 7 p.m., or until you've had your fill of fun (and tacos). Find tickets and more information at westwordtacolandia.com.
Cherry Creek North is Denver's answer to Aspen, from the posh hotels to the upscale shopping and dining. If you couldn't make it to Aspen Food & Wine last month, you can still satisfy your urge to rub elbows with fellow wine aficionados and gourmands at Cherry Creek North Food & Wine, a party that will bring the best bites from more than twenty of the neighborhood's restaurants together with wine, beer, spirits and live music at Fillmore Plaza (East Second Avenue and Fillmore Street) on Saturday, August 17. Tickets are $85 each (with a $45 designated driver option) and include 6 p.m. entry, more food and beverages than you'll be able to consume, and a commemorative festival wineglass. Chat with chefs and wine pros, peruse the table decorations (there's a prize for the best), and cast your People's Choice vote for best food. Swirl away — but no spitting. Find more details and tickets at cherrycreeknorth.com.
Fifty years ago, hundreds of thousands of people showed up to the Woodstock Music Festival for three days of peace, love and acid trips. Babies were conceived, people slid in the mud, and music history was made as Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead, the Who and many more played the famous fest. To honor the anniversary, harmonica player Clay Kirkland and the Heart Gear Music label are throwing a Woodstock Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration Concert from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday, August 17, and from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 18, in the Jungle Room at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. The lineup includes Kirkland’s blues-rock band, Key on a Kite, plus the Rhythm Mystics, Chad "Chadzilla" Johnson, Ken Robinson, Ed Contreras and Megan Yalkut (who was born in Woodstock, New York, in 1967). Admission is $15; for more information, call 303-294-9258 or go to mercurycafe.com.
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Last year’s inaugural Wellness Your Way Festival, co-founded by Kroger Co. and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel and held in Cincinnati, Ohio, was such a hit that a Denver event was added in 2019. From Friday, August 16, through Sunday, August 18, the Wellness Your Way Festival at the Colorado Convention Center will offer panels, workouts, cooking demonstrations and speakers — everything you need to start on your way to a healthy lifestyle. Jewel herself will perform at a concert at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 17, alongside Josie Dunne and Rachel Platten. Doors to the fest open daily at 11 a.m., and tickets range from $10 for a festival day pass to $75 for a three-day pass with reserved seating for the concert. Get more info and tickets at axs.com.
Sunday, August 18
Arapahoe Acres in Englewood — one of the metro area’s most well-preserved mid-century modern neighborhoods, and the first of its kind in the U.S. to be added to the National Register of Historic Places — has a lot to celebrate: The community developed by Edward Hawkins in 1949 is still standing tall, seventy years after its inception. In conjunction with Denver Modernism Week, you’re invited to the Arapahoe Acres 70th Anniversary Modern Home Tour and Street Party, a pair of piggybacked events on Sunday, August 18. The day starts with a tour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. that meets up at 1501 East Dartmouth Avenue in Englewood; that's followed by the party from 1 to 5 p.m. in the 1300 to 1400 block of East Cornell Avenue. Admission to each event is $20; get tickets at eventbrite.com and learn more about Denver Modernism Week at denvermodernismweek.com.
A Gift of Jazz is a Denver nonprofit that offers jazz outreach and education for underserved communities around Denver. And at 3 p.m. Sunday, August 18, the group’s Blind Tiger series (named after Prohibition-era social events that often centered on jazz) will offer a real lesson when fifteen local jazz musicians, all women, join together in A Celebration of Denver’s Women in Jazz. The show is at the intimate Nocturne Jazz and Supper Club, 1330 27th Street, and tickets are $60; buy them at giftofjazz.org.