’Tis the season for fireworks, hot dogs, beer in the park and all the other things in Denver that mean summer. If you don't have plans for July 4 yet, keep scrolling for a plethora of ways to celebrate Independence Day, from parties in parks to a multicultural shindig in Aurora, Colorado's most diverse city. As always, there's plenty more on this week's event calendar to keep you busy (including one event on Monday, July 8, so you can start planning ahead)!
Monday, July 1
Feeling the need for speed and ’80s movie cheese? Turn I-70 into your own "Highway to the Danger Zone" as you speed toward Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 West Alameda Parkway in Morrison, for the Film on the Rocks screening of Top Gun. Subject to renewed interest thanks to the upcoming — and belated by decades — sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, the 1986 original remains an enduring cinematic artifact thanks to star-making performances from Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, as well as a hit soundtrack highlighted by Berlin's Academy Award-winning ballad "Take My Breath Away." Revisit the classic flick in the most scenic surroundings imaginable when the summer screening series returns on Monday, July 1. Be sure to arrive at 6:30 p.m. for pre-screening music and standup comedy performances. Visit redrocksonline.com to buy tickets, $16 to $32, and learn more.
At 3 p.m., on Monday, July 1, Old 121 Brewhouse will kick off a series of festive small-batch beer releases in honor of the Fourth of July, with Mexican Lager, a light beer brewed with lime zest. The brewery will also tap a homemade black cherry soda. On Tuesday, the brewery will tap Honey Brown Ale on cask. Old 121 will be closed on Thursday, July 4, and will return on Friday, July 5, with a patriotic American wheat ale, brewed with red wheat, white wheat and blueberries. Then, on Saturday, it will be raspberry wit.
Tuesday, July 2
July 4 is coming fast, but if you can’t wait two days to celebrate our break from the British, head to Four Mile Historic Park at 715 South Forest Street for an old-fashioned Independence Day Celebration. From 5 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, you can play frontier-style games, watch historic demonstrations, ride in a horse-drawn wagon and listen to bluegrass band That Damn Sasquatch. Food trucks will be on hand, drinks will be available, and if you stick around, you'll catch the Glendale fireworks at dark. (The City of Glendale is also helping to sponsor this bash.) Admission is $3 to $5 (free for kids under seven); for more information, go to the Four Mile Historic Park Facebook page.
Wednesday, July 3
Stars, Stripes and Spectacle Gather in the heart of the Mile High City for a musical celebration of American democracy when Independence Eve With the Colorado Symphony returns for another night of patriotic fanfare. Come as early as 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, to secure a clear view of stage and skies alike, then kick back for a grand blend of sight and spectacle. The program includes such stirring holiday favorites as "Stars and Stripes Forever," "God Bless America" and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Each composition synchs up with a brilliant light show, and the entire affair concludes with a fireworks display set against the Denver skyline. You can bring a picnic, but beer, wine and food-truck grub will all be available for purchase. Admission to Civic Center Park, Colfax and Broadway, is free; the show will proceed rain or shine. Find out more at coloradosymphony.org.
Put the "lit" in Littleton when Red, White & You returns with another opportunity for locals to get a 24-hour head start on Fourth of July fun. Keep your young ones occupied with the bouncy houses and climbing wall — each requires a separate ticket purchase — at the Kid Zone activity area while you avail yourself of the tap selection at the Foothills Foundation-sponsored beer and wine garden. Entertainment options include a stage for young performers and live music from the Nacho Men; of course, the whole affair is capped off by a sky-brightening fireworks display. And it's never too early for fireworks. The patriotic party runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 3; admission to Clement Park, 7306 West Bowles Avenue, is free.Visit ifoothills.org for more information.
Thursday, July 4
Whether or not you’ve visited the real Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, you’ll have the viewer’s advantage when Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition arrives on Thursday, July 4, at the Hangar at Stanley, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, for a summer exhibition that brings the Sistine masterpieces down to eye level. All 33 of Michelangelo’s original ceiling paintings have been meticulously reproduced for the touring show, along with the master painter’s later altar-wall fresco, putting you face-to-face with every detailed brushstroke. You can also view the panels during special adjunct events planned through the show’s run, including a lecture series, dance parties, yoga and more. See Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through August 13; find information and tickets, $10 to $16 (children six and under get in free), at stanleymarketplace.com.
Tired of the same old Fourth of July celebration? Happening in Aurora, the most diverse city in Colorado, the New American 4th of July celebration will bring together immigrants and refugees from metro Denver for a multicultural version of Independence Day. Organized by Colorado performing arts organization Roshni and Control Group Productions, the festivities will include a short parade celebrating diversity, music, a potluck lunch and theatrical performances. Attendance is free. Celebrate the real meaning of America from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the People’s Building, 9995 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora. Find more information about the event at the People's Building Facebook page.
Friday, July 5
Hit the streets for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, an annual gathering that transforms the Steele Street corridor between First and Third avenues into an open-air visual-arts gallery and bazaar. This year's edition shows off the work of more than 265 juried artists, with paintings, sculpture, jewelry and more for sale. In addition to shopping for one-of-a-kind handmade treasures, wander through the family-friendly Artivity Avenue, marvel at a collaborative mural installation co-created by Dayna Safferstein and Sarah Jones, and rock out to an array of live music performances. The party gets started at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 5, and continues until 6 p.m. Sunday, July 7. Most of the festivities are free, but tickets for Saturday's CherryArts Concert for Arts Education, headlined by Arrested Development, are $22 to $50, with proceeds going to the nonprofit CherryArts organization. Call 303-355-2787 or visit cherrycreekartsfestival.org to get yours and find out more.
Witness feats of feline finesse when the Amazing Acro-Cats pounce onto the stage and into your hearts at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street, starting at 7 p.m. Friday, July 5. An all-kitty circus troupe rescued and trained by animal show-business veteran Samantha Martin, the Acro-Cats can jump through hoops, perform balancing acts, and, in the case of accompanying act Tuna and the Rock Cats, play instruments. The spectacle requires a remarkable degree of obedience from a notoriously obstinate species, but Martin has argued that teaching her cats how to perform clicker-prompted tricks provides the mercurial house pets with an invigorating sense of purpose (even as she admits that fans love nothing more than when her furry performers ignore orders and wander into the crowd). The traveling cat-robats roadshow also functions as a fundraiser for partners in each city it visits, with a portion of the proceeds in Denver going to Feline Fix, a Commerce City-based spay and neuter clinic. The cats will be at the Bug through July 14, with varying showtimes; visit circuscats.com to buy tickets, $22 to $35, and learn more.
Haunted by memories of meals past? Enjoy a spirited eating experience with Nightly Spirits, which will offer its first haunted restaurant tour in the Mile High City on Friday, July 5, then continue them Tuesdays through Sundays. “We are so excited to expand in our home town of Denver, where our haunted pub tours have been one of the most popular things for locals and tourists to experience,” says Alex Castanon, Nightly Spirits operations manager. “We have been working on combining food and ghosts for a long time, and finally have the right partners to hold up our tour standards.” Those haunts include Rose & Thorn, Brass Tacks, the Celtic Tavern and Jovanina's, which all occupy old LoDo buildings. The $63 tour starts at 2:30 p.m. and includes tastings; go to nightlyspirits.com to register.
Go through your own journey as the Earth changes seasons with a cannabis-infused night of yoga, vision quests and dinner on Friday, July 5, during Cannabis Journey and Dinner, held at a private mountain home in Genesee whose location will be shared upon registration. A certified alternative healer "trained in Peru by shamans" will lead the night's activities, with cannabis use encouraged but not required. Tickets (21+) to the night's events, which run from 6 to 10:30 p.m., are $79 at eventbrite.com; learn more by calling 858-621-1556.
Cool off with a chill this summer when the Sie FilmCenter’s Scream Screen horror-film series returns for Xmas in July, a four-week compendium of holiday-themed chiller-dillers hosted by local scream queen Theresa Mercado. First up is Bob Clark’s 1974 sorority shocker Black Christmas, with an all-star cast including Keir Dullea, Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder in key roles, screening from 9:30 p.m. to midnight on Friday, July 5, at the Sie, 2510 East Colfax Avenue; get an early start at 8 p.m. in the theater’s Henderson-Withey Lounge with spins by DJ Dutch Confetti, a Santa photo booth and a BYO horror-holiday cookie exchange. The series continues at the same time on Fridays in July with Silent Night, Deadly Night, Christmas Evil and Don’t Open Till Christmas. Tickets are $7 to $12 at denverfilm.org; be sure to bring a non-perishable food donation for charity.
Grab a rainbow of rodeo activities this weekend when the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association hosts the 37th annual Rocky Mountain Regional Rodeo at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 West Sixth Avenue in Golden. The fun begins with a community barn dance and hoedown to live music by 25 South from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday, July 5; the rodeo competition begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 6 (doors open at 9), with such non-traditional events as a “wild drag race” and a rodeo toga party/beer bust from 8 to 11 p.m. Competition continues starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, July 7, and concludes with an awards banquet and $10 barbecue buffet; along the way, fans will be able to join in the premiere of “community goat dressing.” Find out for yourself what that entails! Admission is $12 per day; for more information, go to CGRArodeo.com.
Saturday, July 6
Joyride Brewing celebrates its fifth anniversary from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, with Edgewater's biggest party of the year. There will be a full slate of live music, multiple food trucks, a kids' zone and five collaborative beers celebrating five years. They were made with Downhill Brewing, Little Machine Beer, Strange Craft Beer Company, Station 26 Brewing and Westbound & Down Brewing. Find more information on Joyride Brewing's Facebook page.
This year’s Central City Opera Summer Festival’s got what you want, whether you prefer classic or modern: Giacomo Puccini’s tearjerker Madama Butterfly and Benjamin Britten’s Melvillian mid-century opus Billy Budd in repertory on the Central City Opera House main stage, 124 Eureka Street, and a double bill of rarely performed French one-acts — The Blessed Damozel and Litanies to the Black Virgin, by Debussy and Poulenc, respectively — at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, 135 Pine Street, both in downtown Central City. Madama Butterfly sets the fest in motion at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 6, and the others chime in for performances through August 6; get a full schedule and tickets, starting at $30 ($49 for subscription passes), at centralcityopera.org.
Denver-hewn comedian Stephen Agyei considers it nothing less than his civic duty to tell jokes about the booty. Sneaking sharp cultural insight into gleefully silly bits about public breastfeeding and the foibles of his African family, Agyei numbers among the brilliant locals who've alighted to Los Angeles to parlay their comedic skills into a showbiz career. Now he's returning to the city that raised him to record his first standup album: Join the crowd — and have your laugh recorded for posterity — when this perennial favorite of the Mile High comedy scene attempts to lay his hard-earned hour down on wax in a single take. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd Street; visit voodoocomedy.com to buy tickets, $13 to $15.
Mix yoga, cannabis and sensory movements with Medicinal Mindfulness and Vinyasa Productions, which will host Ganja, Glowga and Gongs, a pot-friendly all-levels yoga class for conscious consumers that runs from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 6. The lights, vibrations and smoke screens will go down at a private location in Boulder shared after you sign up (21+) for $49 on Eventbrite. Email email@example.com for more information.
Sunday, July 7
The U.S. Women’s Soccer team has been kicking ass at the FIFA World Cup, which will culminate on Sunday, July 7. Whether our girls make it or not (and chances are they will), head to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way in Commerce City, for the World Cup Finals Watch Party, which will include a Fan Fest where you can test your soccer skills. The party is free, but bring your wallet for food and drinks. Gates open at 8:30, and the first kick is at 9 a.m.; find more information under the Stadium & Field Complex tab at dickssportinggoodspark.com.
Curious Theatre Company’s Chip Walton couldn’t have been more prescient when he placed a bet on Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan’s Orwellian political drama Building the Wall and inserted it into the company’s schedule. The dystopian two-character story, primarily a blue-state/red-state conversation between a Trump-supporting prison supervisor who has been incarcerated for social-justice crimes and a history professor trying to understand the American political rift, continues a national conversation that’s become more intense in recent months. Just as some people have begun calling our border detention centers “concentration camps,” Building the Wall premieres at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 7, for a three-week run at Curious, 1080 Acoma Street, augmented by post-show community discussions led by experts in social-justice and immigration issues. Shows run though July 27; find information and tickets, $30 to $37, at curioustheatre.org.
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Harry Potter mania may have dwindled in recent years as offshoot stinkers of the franchise have been released. But that hasn’t stopped the DIY outfit Harry and the Potters — a band that brands itself as “the first wizard rock band” — from touring the world, singing anthems about the wizarding world. While Harry and the Potters are best known for playing libraries nationwide, when they play Denver — from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 7 — they'll celebrate the release of their new album, Lumos, at the city’s witchiest space: the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. For tickets, $12, and more information, go to mercurycafe.com.
Monday, July 8
Artsweek Golden delivers what it promises: seven full days of cultural events and opportunities with a focus on Golden museums, galleries and art collectives that culminate on July 13 and 14 with the al fresco Foothills Fine Arts Festival at 12th and Arapahoe streets, on the city’s downtown drag. But first, rev up with the members of the Ladies Fancywork Society, who will be busy yarn-bombing public sculptures along Washington Avenue on Monday, July 8, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; in the days to come, options include a Hawaiian quilt luau at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum on July 9 at 6 p.m., hands-on art for adults and kids, a Public Art Commission open house at the Golden Museum and public-art tour, live plein air painting with an exhibition to follow, silent film, and live music from the DIY collective GLDN. Most events are free; find the schedule and learn more at artsweekgolden.org.
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