Here comes summer! Denver's hottest season starts this week, and the calendar's packed with cool events to enjoy in the months ahead. But don't wait for the solstice to get out and about. The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market returns to the Mile High City June 17 through 20, bringing movies, demos, concerts and other activities; no sooner does it leave than SeriesFest begins. And there's plenty more to do in and around Denver; here are the 21 best events in the week ahead.
Monday, June 17
If history is told by the victors, what happens to the stories of the marginalized, the oppressed? State Historian and author Tom "Dr. Colorado" Noel will attempt to answer that question during "Rethinking Colorado's Native American Heritage," a lecture he'll deliver at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 17, at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway. Not only will Noel take on historians' accounts of Native American history, but he'll also look at the way the community has chosen to portray its own past. Find tickets, $9 to $11, and more information at historycolorado.org.
Tuesday, June 18
There are book clubs for devoted readers, so why not art clubs? Find fellow art lovers at Culture Club, a new, 21+ monthly series kicking off at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the Center for Visual Art MSU Denver, 965 Santa Fe Drive. For this inaugural session, club members will mingle over noshes and participate in a collaborative surrealist exquisite corpse lino print workshop (you'll also learn what that means, if you don't already know). Show up, have fun and help shape future club meetings. Admission is $10, free for gallery members; find details and sign up at eventbrite.com.
Wednesday, June 19
If you're looking for a reason to dust off your bike and head out on an adventure, Return to Earth, the ninth full-length film from the adventure filmmakers at Anthill Farms, promises to take you on a two-wheeled journey through the jungles of Oahu, the dusty landscapes of Utah and the remote mountains of Patagonia. The movie, which screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at the Oriental Theater, will inspire you to wring the most from all of life's moments. The Oriental is at 4335 West 44th Avenue; find tickets, $10, for the all-ages screening at theorientaltheater.com.
Thursday, June 20
Take to the skies on fabulous wings of fancy when the Science Lounge series at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science continues with Science Is a Drag. Dixie Krystals, a queen of the local drag scene, will serve up an entertaining and educational seminar on the physics of flight at a queer- and nerd-friendly edition of the ongoing learning lounge, offered in partnership with the Center on Colfax as part of PrideFest. Get bewitched and bedazzled from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the museum, 2001 Colorado Boulevard. Buy tickets, $13 to $15, and learn more at dmns.org.
Youthful follies transform into grownup jollies at My Misspent Youth, an evening dedicated to recalling the travails of adolescence through the comfortably ironic lens of adulthood. The spoken-word soirée — part of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop's ongoing LitFest — harvests the bathetic fruit of a collaboration with storytelling group the Narrators for an event guaranteed to make you grateful to have survived your teenage years with your dignity intact (if you did). Join panelists Alexander Chee, Amitava Kumar, Elissa Bassist and Amanda Rea from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, at Lighthouse, 1515 Race Street, for a night full of the embarrassing anecdotes of yesteryear. Arrive early to avail yourself of a cash bar and complimentary slices courtesy of Sexy Pizza. Find tickets, $20 to $30, and further details at lighthousewriters.org.
Pack your tote bags and adjust your spectacles, die-hard NPR listeners, for Jeff Martin of the Museum Confidential podcast will alight upon the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver on Thursday, June 20, for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at one of the Queen City's most forward-looking art houses. Audience questions are enthusiastically encouraged during Martin's "exit interview" with departing director Adam Lerner, which will offer a de facto retrospective on his iconoclastic stewardship over the groundbreaking galleries of the MCA. That conversation will become an episode of the podcast; bear witness to the changing of an arty guard starting at 7 p.m. at the museum,1485 Delgany Street. Admission is $10 for students and MCA members and $15 for everyone else; visit eventbrite.com for more info.
Friday, June 21
Whether you're seeking to connect with your own heritage or immerse yourself in another culture, expect democratic servings of charm at the 54th annual Denver Greek Festival. Wash down mouthfuls of saganaki, keftedes, thiples and sundry treats with imported Greek beer, wine and ouzo when the lively three-day gathering returns for another party beneath the glittering gold dome of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral, at 4610 East Alameda Avenue. Live music from Etho Ellas and performances from some of the city's finest Greek dance troupes are just part of the entertainment you'll encounter at the festival, which kicks off at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 21, and continues through Sunday, June 23. Admission is free for children twelve and under, $4 for seniors and $5 for the general public. Visit thegreekfestival.com to find out more.
Take note, all ye DIY downsizers, for the Colorado Tiny House Festival is back for a third year with another three-day celebration of stylishly small dwellings. Wander through forty abodes, ranging from yurts and shipping containers to school bus conversions, when the Adams County Fairgrounds, 9755 Henderson Road in Brighton, is transformed into a miniature neighborhood of homes united by their space-saving efficiency. With expert speakers and guided workshops throughout the weekend, you'll learn everything you need to know about financing, designing and building a tiny house of your own. Festival hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, June 21, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23. Camping arrangements are available for guests who wish to stay overnight, and leashed, well-behaved pets are welcome on the premises. Buy tickets, $10 to $20, and find more information at coloradotinyhousefestival.com.
Tired of living in an uptight world beset by hate? Rosehouse, a Broadway boutique touting the healing and magical powers of plants, and the Secret Love Collective, a group of queer creatives inviting people, queer or otherwise, to loosen up and tear down the walls of discrimination, are teaming up for In Bed by Ten: Plantasia, an early-evening, alcohol-free, summer solstice dance party where you can safely be who you are among others doing the same. You’ll have to go just to see what role plants will play, but perhaps they’ll set a mood while the collective rolls out its trademark bag of tricks, including a hands-on costume closet and a selfie booth. Bring your good manners and party hearty on Friday, June 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Leon Gallery, 1112 East 17th Avenue. Learn more on the Secret Love Collective’s Facebook page.
Opera on Tap usually throws down its arias in bars, with a casual, drink-up vibe. But the company's production of Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischutz will be full-scale and fully staged, sung in German with English dialogue and supertitles, and accompanied by piano. If you’re into high romance, deals with the Devil, magical bullets and the iconic tussle between good and evil, this is an opera for you. Based on a folktale, it’s a classic horror story complete with ghostly voices and a horrific denouement in the mysterious Wolf’s Glen. See it at 7 p.m. Friday, June 21, at the People's Building, 9995 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, or at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at the Hive in the East Simpson Coffee Company, 414 East Simpson Street in Lafayette. Admission to both performances is free, but registration is required in advance at eventbrite.com. Learn more at operaontap.org/colorado.
Ascending from a childhood bout of congenital glaucoma that rendered him blind to a singing career highlighted by an honorary star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a prestigious Grande Ufficiale Italian Order of Merit designation, Andrea Bocelli stands — and serenades — proudly among the pantheon of operatic tenors. Named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" and endorsed by no less an authority than Celine Dion, who claimed to hear "the singing voice of God" in his vocals, Bocelli preserves the Old World glamour of opera more than any other living performer. The Tuscan troubadour will sound off at the Pepsi Center on Friday, June 21; doors open at 7 for the 8 p.m. concert. Get tickets, $82 to $368, and more information at altitudetickets.com.
Remember that delicious feeling of sinking your little hands into a mud puddle of finger paint and going for it on a white sheet of paper? ReDefine: COLOR, an evening of mini-workshops swirling around the subject of color, is a great way to recapture that intuitive joy as an adult. Choose from six hands-on activities in all, ranging from “Invent Your Own Color” with Laura Heck Hartman, to “Color Conversations” with Lucía Rodríguez of JuiceBox Denver. Join the arty party from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, June 21, at ReCreative Denver, 765 Santa Fe Drive; admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children (kids under five get in free). Buy tickets and learn more at recreativedenver.org.
Denver horror-movie aficionados, rejoice: Scream queen Theresa Mercado, known for her bloodcurdling costumery and Scream Screen film series at the Sie FilmCenter, is joining forces with friends Bryan Flanagan, Feni Hagman and Tristram Nelson to launch Cult Legacy, a new online store for cult-cinema-themed T-shirts and enamel pins. Get a first look and buy up your favorites at their Cult Legacy Launch Party, 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, June 21, at Fort Greene, 321 East 45th Avenue, where the Scream Screen concept got its start. Of course it’ll be a party, with music by Already Dead (featuring members of City Hunter, Weathered Statues and Cadaver Dog), French Kettle Station and DJ Sara Splatter, as well as “Kool-Aid and celestial wisdom.” Find details on the Cult Legacy Facebook page.
Saturday, June 22
If a day of hogs, tattoos, Hooters girls, pinstriping and metal music sounds like your jam, rev up your bike and head over to Mile High Harley-Davidson, 16565 East 33rd Drive in Aurora, on Saturday, June 22, for the Mile High Harley Ink & Iron Fest. Tattoo and body-piercing artists will be hard at work starting at 10 a.m., and Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs and Mystic Mountain Distillery will provide food and drink. Stay for the live auction (win a new Harley!) and tattoo contest, then rock out to Lowdown, Near Dusk, Rooster and KrashKarma until 10 p.m. The fest is free to attend; learn more at milehigh-harley.com.
Artificial intelligence, microbiology, driverless cars — innovations like these might sound like the wave of the future, but the technology is peeping right over our shoulders. The idea of a world without the human touch can be hard to grasp, but TEDxMileHigh: Humankind is here to remind you that all of these revolutionary ideas were dreamed up by human minds. Hear from a wide constellation of speakers about what wizardry they’re up to behind the curtain, and why, on Saturday, June 22, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; tickets start at $62 at tedxmilehigh.com.
Add a sweet finale to the cultural riches of the weekend with the Cherry Blossom Festival, a fun and fragrant two-day homage to Japanese heritage. Good times are in full bloom throughout the gathering's many offerings, which include performances from taiko drummers, lectures on Buddhist traditions, and galleries of dolls, Shodo calligraphy and manicured bonsai trees. Or peruse the large array of jewelry, fashions and collectibles at the festival marketplace while noshing on teriyaki skewers, manju and chilled somen noodles. Be sure to bring your wallet when the festival returns to Sakura Square, 1255 19th Street, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 23. Admission is free; visit cherryblossomdenver.org for further details.
The South Platte is Denver’s river — rife with history, wildlife and natural beauty — and the Greenway Foundation’s aim is to keep it that way. To that end, two Greenway fundraisers, the South Platte RiverFest and the Citizens for the River music festival, will merge this year under the latter's name for a family-friendly shindig on the river with live music all day, headlined in the evening by Nicki Bluhm and Anders Osborne. The afternoon blends water recreation and demos, kids' activities and a river rodeo parade. Support your local river and play on its banks from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Confluence Park, 2250 15th Street; admission is free. Find more info and a complete schedule at citizensfortheriver.com.
Ready for a rip-roaring good time? A doubleheader with the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls on Saturday, June 22, at the Rollerdome, 2375 South Delaware Street, ought to do the trick. This rollicking evening of flat-track roller derby provides fast-paced entertainment for the entire family. The first game of the evening starts at 6 p.m., pitting the Dooms Daisies against the United States Pummeling Service, and the second throwdown, between the Red Ridin’ Hoods and the Sugar Kill Gang, starts at 7:50 p.m. Food trucks will be on site, and brews from Declaration Brewing Company will also be available. Find more information, including tickets, $15 for adults and free for kids twelve and under, at rockymountainrollergirls.com.
Summer is all about running around, scraping your knees and getting dirty — but most important (according to the mom in The Sandlot, anyway), it's about making friends. One day after 2019's summer solstice, Tokeativity Social wants to spark up those new friendships during Summer Lovin, a cannabis-friendly shindig for women featuring crafts, hair and tattoo stations, as well as hemp vendors, music, a photo booth and more. The party goes down at a private Denver location shared upon registration on Saturday, June 22, from 6 to 10 p.m. Register to attend (21+) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and learn more at tokeativity.com/denver.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
This summer the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center reaches all the way around the globe to present World of WearableArt™, an exhibition comprising 32 outrageous award-winning garments from the WOW Museum collection housed in Nelson, New Zealand. This is singular raiment to the nth degree, created from both conventional and unconventional materials and a step beyond the Met Gala in scope. CSFAC, located at 30 West Dale Street in Colorado Springs, will ring in the show at its annual Sashay fundraiser at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22. Admission is $20 to $35 — and dress accordingly! World of WearableArt™ runs through September 22; regular museum admission is $5 to $10. Learn more and purchase tickets at fac.coloradocollege.edu/museum.
Sunday, June 23
In the few short years since it was revived by the Denver Zine Library, the Denver Zine Fest has grown up along with the medium to become a major event. This year’s fest boasts 125 exhibitors from seventeen states, enough to warrant space in the roomy McNichols Building, but not before kicking off with a free public Doodle Fight between local cartoonists at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, where spectators will be calling the cues. The fest itself runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, at McNichols, 144 West Colfax Avenue, with special guest Cristy Road, The People vs. Media, a program by Warm Cookies of the Revolution, and a special Zine Fest edition of the Narrators live storytelling event. Admission is free; see denverzinelibrary.org for details.
In order for an event to be considered for 21 Best, we need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to email@example.com.