It's festival season, as this week's 21 best calendar proves. The beloved Union Station Buskerfest returns, along with the Colfax ArtFest, Taste of Ethiopia and the Denver International Festival. Keep reading for all the details and even more events.
Monday, July 29
John Williams's “bah-dum, bah-dum” score may be the most memorable part of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws, the granddaddy of the summer blockbuster. But the movie itself is at once terrifying, political and poetic — with, yes, a killer soundtrack. Alamo Drafthouse will celebrate the film with a Jaws Movie Party at two area Alamos — but don't expect to just sit back and relax, as these screenings promise interactive props and all manner of participatory surprises to sink your teeth into. The party starts at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 29, at 8905 Westminster Boulevard in Westminster, and 7301 South Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. Find tickets, $13.30, and more details at drafthouse.com.
Tuesday, July 30
Hearing people talk about food or watching cooking videos just makes us hungry. Fortunately, the Modern Eater does more than just broadcast a weekly radio show and live Facebook streams about Colorado food and restaurants. The program's Summer Dinner Series promotes local produce, meats and other foods while serving guests a great meal from some of the city's top chefs. The guest chef on Tuesday, July 30, at the Modern Eater's Colorado Studio Kitchen, 490 Decatur Street, is Jim Pittenger, owner of Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs. Expect something a little different for your $80, though, since Pittenger has dubbed this a "No Dogs Allowed" feast. Score tickets on eventbrite.com for the interactive dinner, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Too late for this one? Visit themoderneater.com for a schedule of upcoming dinners.
Talk about an impressive résumé: Janine Davidson started her career as an Air Force officer and cargo pilot; has taught at universities and professional military schools, including a stint as an aviation and aerobatics flight instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy; served as the 32nd undersecretary of the Navy and the president's appointed "chief management officer" for the Navy and Marine Corps; and is now president of Metropolitan State University, the third-largest public university in Colorado. Hear Davidson talk about her inspiring life and work at "From the Pentagon to the Presidency: Lessons in Leadership," part of the Lowry Speaker Series, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, at the Eisenhower Chapel, 293 Roslyn Street. Admission is free; find more information at lowrydenver.com.
Wednesday, July 31
What do celery and emo rap have in common? Writer and radio producer Maya Kroth and cultural purveyor and emo rap fan David Moke will work to figure that out during Mixed Taste, a collaborative lecture series from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. At these events, two people get together, speak for twenty minutes about totally unrelated topics, then join the audience in a discussion that attempts to tie the topics together. Make your way to the entrance of the Denver Performing Arts Complex at 14th and Curtis streets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, for an outdoor pop-up bar before the lecture, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Seawell Ballroom. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at denvercenter.org.
Thursday, August 1
Thanks to developer and civic legend Dana Crawford, Union Station Buskerfest is back for a fourth year, bringing dozens of street entertainers ranging from acrobats to escape artists to jugglers, along with Artocade cars direct from Trinidad, to Wynkoop Plaza in front of the station.The action begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, August 1, with the grand entrance of all the performers as well as two locally made giant puppets, and acts will continue until 8:30 p.m. The fun continues on Friday, August 2, from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, August 3, from 10 a.m. to 9:15 p.m.; and Sunday, August 4, from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. All events are free, but there will be a special Group Fire benefit performance for Arts Street at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. For a complete schedule, go to unionstationbuskerfest.com.
Once a year when the sun is high, regional scooter fanatics get together for four action-packed days of Mile High Mayhem, a collection of events, meetups and mass road rallies hosted by the ACE Scooter Club. It all revs up at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, August 1, with a loaded “tea” at the Gallery at the Vape Loft, 116 South Broadway, followed by a ride to Cheesman Park Pavilion for a group photo op and then moves on to a social hour at Nallen’s Irish Pub. That’s just the beginning of a weekend full of fun that wraps on Sunday night with a free concert by the Reverend Horton Heat at Levitt Pavilion; find a complete schedule to chart your course at the Mile High Mayhem 22 Facebook page.
Metro State University’s Center for Visual Art offers a taste of what’s to come in Denver galleries this fall with the debut of Collectivism, a fascinating overview of thirteen artist collectives that utilize the hive mind and a DIY ethic to create work in the metro area and across the nation. Fine art, craft, architecture, performance, music, and film and video all come into play in the show, which opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, August 1, at the CVA, 965 Santa Fe Drive, and runs through October 19. Or catch the new show on First Friday, August 2, when the CVA will throw its annual Party in the Lot, a free outdoor block party from 6 to 9 p.m. with performances by the Secret Love Collective, DJ L.A. Zwicky and CVA Creative Industries interns, plus a raft of creative vendors. RSVP for the opening and learn more at msudenver.edu/cva.
Core gallery left the Art District on Santa Fe for 40 West, but fret not: There's a new co-op on the block, and the members of D’art Gallery (the “D” is for Denver), the city’s latest artist-run venture, can’t wait to show you what they’re doing with the old Core space at 900 Santa Fe Drive. Their first show, an introductory group showcase, doesn’t officially open until August 9, but they’re offering a sneak-peek reception on Thursday, August 1, from 6 to 9 p.m., where you can size up D’art’s membership. Intrigued? Learn more and see what’s coming up this fall at dartgallery.org.
Writing, acting, podcasting and comedy are highly competitive and demanding fields, and Phoebe Robinson has excelled in all of them. Host and co-host, respectively, of the hit podcasts Sooo Many White Guys and 2 Dope Queens (which was adapted into an HBO series of the same name), Robinson's on-screen career began with standup appearances on Last Comic Standing and Late Night With Seth Meyers, and recently expanded into ensemble roles in the casts of movies like Ibiza and What Men Want. As if her career weren't impressive enough, she's also authored the best-selling books Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay and You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain. Catch Robinson at the downtown Comedy Works, 1226 15th Street, Thursday, August 1, through Saturday, August 3. Showtimes vary; visit comedyworks.com to buy tickets, $30, and learn more.
Friday, August 2
Bill Pullman is best known for his big movie roles (including the fighter-pilot president in Independence Day). But he's also a playwright, who'll perform Seeking Charlie Russell, a piece he wrote about the legendary Western artist and the challenges of searching for meaning in contemporary life, at 4 p.m. Friday, August 2, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. Pullman is collaborating on the project with Visionbox Studio; Jennifer McCray Rincon, who founded Visionbox in 2010 and is head of acting and direction there, will direct the show. Tickets, $50, include a talkback with Pullman after the performance, and a $200 VIP ticket gets you into a private reception with the president (er, Pullman). To learn more and buy tickets, go to visionbox.org/upcoming.
What started in Lakewood as a neighborhood mural celebration has blown up into the Colfax ArtFest, which not only incorporates live painting and murals, but also activates a whole new level of arty activities, from art walks and trolley tours to a daylong, family-friendly party with a classic car show, vendor market, live music and food trucks. Set the weekend in motion on Friday, August 2, with the First Friday Colfax Art Crawl from 6 to 10 p.m. in the 40 West Arts District, and an after-hours ArtFest VIP party with a Beat theme from 9 p.m. to midnight at a secret location (pick up free tickets at participating galleries during the crawl). Then come back on Saturday, August 3, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the fest itself, starting out at the Lamar Station Plaza, 6501 to 6791 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, adjacent to Casa Bonita. Get all the details at colfaxartfest.org.
Nancy Smith’s annual Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Festival is known for being an international affair, bringing a faculty of global stars in a rarefied field that straddles dance and circus arts. That’s kept it going strong for twenty years, and in its 21st, it’s not slowing down. During the three-day Festival Showcase, you're guaranteed to be wowed by a world of aerial and acrobatic prowess on the trapeze, fabric, invented apparatus, rope and other contraptions. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday, August 2, and continue through August 4 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; purchase tickets, $25 to $27, at thedairy.org, and learn more about the fest and the company at frequentflyers.org.
For a musician who took his stage name from a species of great apes, Bonobo is not one to monkey around. The British-born, Los Angeles-based DJ and producer initially made his downtempo debut in the early aughts with the trip-hop-inspired Animal Magic, but later developed a signature ambient sound driven by soothing loops of jazz and world-music samples, culminating in his latest effort, the Grammy-nominated and Electronic Music Award-winning Migration. Since leaking a new single, "Linked," on July 1, Bonobo has been swinging across the country on tour; he'll land at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, at 7 p.m. Friday, August 2, with opening acts TOKiMONSTA, Mall Grab/Jordon Alexander, Quantic Music, B.Traits and Catching Flies. Tickets, $33.75 to $45, are at ticketmaster.com; learn more at bonobomusic.com.
Immerse yourself in the sounds of the wizarding world without leaving Denver during a presentation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince live in concert. Experience the penultimate chapter of the sorcerer's saga accompanied by a live symphony orchestra performing the film's epic score as the movie unspools. Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, Gryffindors, Slytherins and Muggles alike can relive the spectacle of their sixth cinematic semester at Hogwarts when the Harry Potter Film Concert series returns to Boettcher Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex for three performances — at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 2, and Saturday, August 3, and 1 p.m. Sunday, August 4; find tickets, $20 to $104, and further details at coloradosymphony.org.
Saturday, August 3
Belly up to and boogie down at the Taste of Ethiopia Festival, a colorful, tuneful and toothsome introduction to the cultural and culinary heritage of the Horn of Africa. Get acquainted with the sizable Ethiopian community that forms an essential component of Colorado's tapestry at a daylong celebration of the music, dance, fashion and flavors of one of the world's most ancient yet vibrant cultures. The free fun starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 9 p.m. Saturday, August 3, at the Parkfield Lake Park, 15555 East 53rd Avenue; visit tasteofethiopia.org to learn more.
The Black Cube Nomadic Museum’s ongoing MONUMENTAL installation project in the Denver Theatre District comprises many large public elements, but it also includes a community piece that lets ordinary folks try their hand at monument-building on a smaller scale. Led by sculptor Rian Kerrane, Black Cube’s free Community Monument Workshops will supply the materials and guidance to make model monuments for an exhibition titled Immortalize. Attend a drop-in workshop (be prepared to spend at least 45 minutes there) between noon and 4 p.m. on either of two Saturdays, August 3 and 10, at Understudy, 890 C 14th Street, where the finished sculptures will be on display through August 27, with a closing reception on Saturday, August 24. Learn more at understudydenver.com.
Your dreams of a trip around the planet might never materialize, but you can experience the insights and sensations of world travel in your own back yard at the Denver International Festival, an experiential mashup that’s international in scope. Music and dance, food trucks, live art, a beer garden, a marketplace and a Kids' Village will keep you busy from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, August 3, in Civic Center Park, Colfax Avenue and Broadway. Admission is free (much cheaper than a grand tour); get more info on the 2019 Denver International Festival Facebook page.
Everyone’s a musician at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver’s Singing With Strangers: A Make Your Own Music Show, a group bonding experience during which friends and complete strangers create art and music. Whether you make a whole day of it — options include workshops with local creatives, a communal dinner and an evening concert — or choose only to sit in on the finale with hip-hop duo the Reminders, you’ll quickly realize that this isn't your typical bumping-elbows program. See what we mean on Saturday, August 3, from 2 to 10 p.m. at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street (concert doors open at 7 p.m.). Admission to the complete package ranges from $14 to $50, and concert-only tickets are $7 to $25; sign up ASAP and find workshop and other details at eventbrite.com.
Who doesn’t love a ball game on a warm August evening under the stars? Ditto for Star Wars. Get both in one fantastic package at Star Wars Night on Saturday, August 3, from 6:10 to 10 p.m. at Coors Field, 2001 Blake Street. While the Colorado Rockies take on the San Francisco Giants, fans opting for the Star Wars package can dress up and join others of their kind in special seating sections and in a costume parade on the field before the game, and go home with a collectors'-edition Star Wars Night T-shirt. And it might just pay off to go as a Wookiee, if you’re aiming to catch a foul ball. Tickets range from $37 to $85 at rockies.mlb.com.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Memphis performance poet Kim Vodicka’s The Elvis Machine chapbook is unapologetically X-rated, set in the underworld of the uptight ’50s and illustrated by artists from her home town. If that piques your interest, get down and dirty with Vodicka at Mutiny Information Cafe, 2 South Broadway, on Saturday, August 3, from 8 to 10 p.m. for a live and unforgettable reading of the poems with musical and performative elements. Guest poet and guitarist Hannah Neal will be on hand; Stina French hosts, and a local squad including Lisa Flowers, Brice Maiurro and Zack Kopp complete the evening’s roster. Admission is free, and copies of The Elvis Machine will be available for purchase. Learn more at the Kim Vodicka Elvis Machine Facebook page.
Sunday, August 4
Join One Night Stand Theater on Sunday, August 4, for a one-time performance of Law and Disorder, a truly unique evening of two one-act plays filled with crime and punishment, cops and robbers, and the innocent and the guilty. The local troupe produces six shows a year; this performance starts at 7 p.m. at Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton Street in Aurora. If you miss it, you won't get another chance. For more information, call 303-725-4959 or go to onenightstandtheater.org. Be there...or else.
Know of an event that belongs on this list? We need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.