Things to Do

Six Things to Do for Free in Denver (and Beyond) Today

The Dragon Boat Festival is back.
The Dragon Boat Festival is back. Nathan Federico
Another hot weekend, but the calendar is still full of cool activities. Explore the state's oldest city, catch dragon boats and celebrate the independents of Colfax.

Keep reading for six of the best free events in Denver (and beyond) today:

Fiesta de Santiago y Santa Ana
Sunday, 7 to 11 a.m.
San Luis

There are still families in San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado, that go back decades and continue to observe events like the Fiesta de Santiago y Santa Ana, a patron saint festival that found its way from Spain to Colorado over the centuries. Today, San Luis mixes modern bands, a mariachi mass and lowrider cars with references to ages-old rituals, including a colcha embroidery exhibition and a Stations of the Cross 10K Run. Throw in a couple of parades on Saturday and Sunday and you’ve got a heckuva fiesta. Learn more here.

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
Sunday, July 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; races 8 a.m. to dusk
Sloan’s Lake Park, 1700 Sheridan Boulevard
Extending its run of more than two decades as one of Denver’s best-run and most exciting summer festivals, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival returns to Sloan’s Lake after two years, bringing the Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing with it. But that’s not the only thing that makes this fest a winner. There's a pan-Asian food court to die for, as well as community-driven cultural performances on multiple stages and a vibrant marketplace of Asian gifts, clothing, jewelry and art. Admission is free, but bring some cash, because you’ll want to spend it. Learn more here.

Colfax Ave. Independents Day 2022
Sunday, July 24
East Colfax Avenue corridor, east of Broadway
East Colfax Avenue is celebrating its independence this weekend, with the goal of introducing people to its best secrets. Among the highlights of the three-day Independents Day fest: a stroll from business to business with special pop-ups along the way, including drag-queen storytime, on-the-spot bar coaster portraits with (Westword’s own) Karl Christian Krumpholz and a creepy Graveyard Market at oddities shop the Learned Lemur. There's also a scavenger hunt revealing new public art on power boxes and other gems. Find a map, details and updates here.

Mariefromthe303: ABookAboutNiggas, Volume 1, Deluxe Edition
Sunday, July 24, 6 to 7 p.m.
BookBar, 4280 Tennyson Street

Denver author Marie Thomas, aka Mariefromthe303, is making waves in BIPOC literary circles for her autobiographical collection ABookAboutNiggas, Volume 1, Deluxe Edition, which flew off bookstore shelves until every copy was gone. But you can get one from Thomas herself when she kicks off a small-bookstore tour at BookBar, where she’ll appear in conversation with Five Points community-builder and activist Brother Jeff Fard. The event is free; find info and RSVP at Eventbrite.

Joe Smith & the Spicy Pickles
Sunday, July 24, 6 to 8 p.m.
City Park Pavilion and Bandshell, 2021 Steele Street
City Park will be swinging when Joe Smith & the Spicy Pickles play at City Park Jazz. As always, admission is free; get the details here.

And an anytime bonus:

Participatory Budgeting Idea Collecting
Accepting suggestions online through July 31

We, the People of Denver, voted to pass participatory budgeting, allowing folks to determine how to use a portion of their taxes to benefit their own neighborhoods. The city budgeted $2 million in funding for special projects to be voted on in September in three focus neighborhoods, so officials are counting on citizens to determine community priorities. Find details, guidelines and instructions here, and send your ideas back by July 31. People in other areas of the city may also participate, but for a smaller piece of the overall pie this round.

Do you know of a great free event in Denver? We'll be updating this list through the week; send information to [email protected]
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