Much beloved Denver festivals and traditions are returning this week, including the Denver Arts Festival and Denver Day of Rock and Elitch Gardens' annual fireworks display to kick off summer. What more does the Mile High City have in store for this week? Keep reading for the best of the best events!
Tuesday, May 22
What if you met up with a group of fifty strangers, and you all went off to discover the secret nooks and crannies of Denver, guided by the computerized voice of an eerily sentient recorded audio tour? Book a ticket from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for Remote Denver, a two-hour, 2.5-mile jaunt through hidden urban places, and you’ll find out — but be prepared for a participation-heavy experience that will ask you to be more than a passive member of an audience. Based on the work of the Berlin-based Rimini Protokoll, a radical group creating new-media theater installations carried out on non-traditional stages, the performance/tour begins on Tuesday, May 22, and runs through July 1, with all events starting from Lincoln Park, 13th Avenue and Mariposa Street, and ending near a downtown Denver light-rail stop. Admission to Remote Denver's first event starts at $25; purchase tickets and learn more at denvercenter.org.
Wednesday, May 23
Benchmark Theatre would like to have a drink with you, and thanks to the Happy Hour Foundation, you can have a good time and support this good cause from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at Prost Brewing Company, 2540 19th Street. For every beer you buy, Prost will donate a dollar to one of three local nonprofits, including Benchmark, Purple Door Coffee and Central Presbyterian Church. “It takes a lot of guts to start a new theater company in this time of rising rents and diminishing resources,” Westword critic Juliet Wittman noted in naming Benchmark the “best new company” to emerge in 2017, and Benchmark’s founders have guts to spare. We’ll drink to that! Admission to the happy hour is free; find out more about Benchmark at benchmarktheatre.com.
Thursday, May 24
The Catamounts' Amanda Berg Wilson and Patrick Mueller of Control Group Productions put their heads together and came up with Rausch, a performative experience on wheels that follows Persephone out of the underworld and into the woods for some springtime magic that can’t quite be described on this page. Fortunately, you get to come along for the ride, which begins on a bus before spilling out into nature — and because Catamounts is known for throwing food and drink into the mix, you can opt for performances that include different levels of eating and imbibing. Rausch opens on Thursday, May 24, at 6:30 p.m. (with private previews on Tuesday, May 22, and Wednesday, May 23), and runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 17, with one industry-night performance on June 11 at 7 p.m. Catch the magic bus in the lot at Wild Woods Brewery, 5460 Conestoga Court in Boulder, and be prepared to walk a mile in the woods for ninety minutes. Tickets range from $30 to $55 at brownpapertickets.com; learn more at thecatamounts.org.
The fight is on! No, it's not a cockfight (though there will certainly be some of that, especially after all the whiskey is consumed), it's Chicken Fight!, Denver's celebration of fried yardbird. From 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, the pecking order will be established as Birdcall, Injoi Korean Kitchen, the Post, Au Feu and more go head-to-head. River North Festival Grounds, 3715 Chestnut Place, hosts the unlimited food-and-drink fest (so plan ahead, as the second-most hotly contested death match will be for parking); tickets will run you $69 to $125 at chickenfightfest.com.
Fire up your chakras and trip-hop your way through Scarlet Nights, a mind-expanding evening of art, live painting, yoga, electronic dance music and out-of-this-world immersive media at the McNichols Building. Bouncing off the ongoing exhibit Lumonics Mind Spa, a spacey collection of light sculptures by Dorothy and the late Mel Tanner (and an integral attraction at Scarlet Nights), the party gets started at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, at McNichols, 144 West Colfax Avenue, with music from Desert Dwellers, Random Rab, Templo Music, LowPro and Melody Lines, and special guests Alex Grey, Allyson Grey and Android Jones. Admission is $55 to $60 (with a VIP upgrade option available) at mcnicholsbuilding.com.
Reliving puberty doesn't sound like very much fun at all, but color the experience with dance, storytelling, live music, theater, food and drink, and the path from adolescence to adulthood becomes a magical experience — as if someone choreographed your most awkward moments into something beautiful. Nourishment is a production by Gwendolyn Brooks and her troupe Gwendolyn & Guests, which will present the multimedia experience at a historic Capitol Hill mansion for three nights over Memorial Day weekend starting Thursday, May 24. Tickets, available at brownpapertickets.com, are $90 each, which includes a six-course menu of small bites paired with alcoholic beverages. The non-linear show begins at 7 p.m. each night; the location will be made available when tickets are purchased. Brooks says Nourishment "is far easier to experience than to describe" — just like growing up.
Get a head start on MCA Denver’s summer lineup: Three of the museum’s four summer exhibits open two weeks in advance of the official opening party on June 8. Why wait? Get an eyeful of Lisa Oppenheim's Spine (repurposed photos appropriated from documentary photographer Lewis Hine), Kristen Hatgi Sink's Honey (a combination of video and live performances revolving around dripping honey over still lifes — and humans) and Patrice Renee Washington's Charts, Parts, and Holders (a series of ceramic bas-relief slabs with imagery infused by racial symbolism) on Thursday, May 24, at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street, and attend the official opening on June 8, when Derrick Adam's Transmission completes the mix. All four exhibits run through August 26; museum admission is $5 to $8, and free for members and visitors eighteen and under. Learn more about the shows on mcadenver.org's exhibitions page and the opening party on the events page.
Friday, May 25
How does a two-dimensional print periodical turn itself into a real-life, museum-sized experience? Find out when Denver monthly creative journal Birdy magazine takes over the Denver Art Museum’s longstanding Untitled Final Fridays artist-curated party. Birdy will present Untitled: The Cuckoo’s Nest, a Ken Kesey-inspired evening featuring A-list standup comedy hosted by Adrian Mesa, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest movie clips, live music, an alternative-art gallery and a View-Master Scavenger Hunt designed by Birdy’s Christy Thacker, among other things. Untitled gets under way on Friday, May 25, at 6 p.m. at the DAM, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. The event is included in regular museum admission, $8 to $13, or free for members and visitors ages eighteen and under. Learn more at denverartmuseum.org.
Are you smiling yet? British artist Stuart Semple’s Happy City: Art for the People Denver takeover is more than an armada of smiley faces floating up in the sky. Other satellites of the weeks-long exhibit will pop up around town, including the Flinching Eye Collective’s sound installation “How to Measure the Weather” on Friday, May 25, at 6:30 p.m. at the Emmanuel Gallery at the Tenth and Lawrence Street Mall on the Auraria campus. The collective, represented here by colleagues Tobias Fike, Ryan Wade Ruehlen, Scott Ferguson and Kari Treadwell, will design a composition in motion, which the audience may experience sitting or lying down randomly throughout the space. The show has more to do with how the passage of time weathers the soul than what's going on in the atmosphere, and your presence will be central to the denouement. The performance is free; learn more about “How to Measure the Weather” and other Happy City events at happycitydenver.com.
Denver artists who have been in the foster care system or have been impacted by it are joining forces to bring attention to the issues that children in such care face, during an evening in honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month. The showcase, dubbed Sky's the Limit, runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 25, at the McNichols Building, and will include performances by Denver rapper DNA Picasso and the hip-hop collective CAP 6, along with Brooklyn-based rapper Latasha Alcindor. Donte Janae will create a live painting that will be donated to the Lampkin Homes, a local group home for children. Smoke in the City and other restaurants will be serving up food and drinks, while Cones Collective, a fashion crew, will be selling merch. Tickets are $20 to $40 and can be purchased at axs.com. Proceeds from the event will be split among the artists, group homes and Denver CASA, which advocates in the courts on behalf of abused and neglected children.
Denver's suburbs are booming with cultural projects. The latest, TRACE Center for Integrative Arts and Activism, is a multidisciplinary arts education space with a focus on cross-disciplinary experimentation and activism. The project, founded by poet, artist and activist Lys Anzia, aims to incubate up-and-coming artists and offer classes — both in person and online — taught by instructors from around the world. As part of its official launch, the center will host a free screening of Andy Warhol: The Shocking Complete Story at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 25. TRACE is at 463 Main Street in Longmont; for more information, go to traceartscenter.org.
Saturday, May 26
Rock your Saturday away at Denver Day of Rock, a free one-day music festival on May 26 that will take over the 16th Street Mall. Twenty-five bands will perform on five stages at Skyline Park 1 (15th and Arapahoe streets), Skyline Park 2 (16th and Arapahoe streets) and on Curtis, Champa and Welton streets; festivities will include VIP areas ($250 a ticket), all for the benefit of Amp the Cause, a local nonprofit that raises funds for fifty child-focused health and education organizations. The music runs from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m., and headliners include Elle King, Delta Rae, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, A Thousand Horses and Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. Learn more at denverdayofrock.com.
Here’s the scoop: Swingin’ Denver will be back at the plaza by Little Man Ice Cream, 2620 16th Street, every Saturday from now through September 1, with free swing music and swing-dance lessons during the first band break.The Little Man Swingin’ Saturdays season kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 26, with music by Dinosaurchestra. For a complete schedule and more information, go to the Little Man Swingin' Saturdays Facebook page. And remember, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.
Get your arts on over Memorial Day weekend at the twentieth annual Denver Arts Festival, the unofficial start of summer that will include purchasable work from 150 artists from Colorado and across the nation, art workshops for kids, live music and the newly added Vacasa Square Wine & Beer Garden, serving original-recipe Tivoli Beers as well as Decadent Saint wines and sangria cocktails in a rainbow of flavors. Browse the booths and enjoy the vibe on Saturday, May 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the fest, located at Conservatory Green at Stapleton, East 49th Place and Valentia Street, is free, including the parking. Visit denverartsfestival.com for details.
Let's face it: Unless you're a fan already, history can be a snooze. Even the folks at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, know this, which is why they try their darnedest to make the past as engaging as possible — for all ages. Hence the new exhibit LEGOrado, a lesson in Colorado history taught exclusively through LEGO re-creations of events and tales both real and tall. Created by the folks at the Colorado and Wyoming LEGO Users Group, the exhibit even lets visitors build their own scenes and iconic structures using the mini building blocks. LEGOrado opens on Saturday, May 26, and runs through September 3; admission is included in the center's regular entrance fee. For more information, visit historycolorado.org.
Youth on Record is in the business of inspiring at-risk youth through music education, and the place has a whole lot of fun doing it. From noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, the nonprofit, at 1301 West Tenth Avenue, will host the Youth on Record Block Party, a mini-festival that will include live music by YOR students and local crooners, a health and wellness expo from the Denver Housing Authority (that begins at 10 a.m.), T-shirt printing, food and drink available for purchase from Cool Bunz, Repicci's Italian Ice & Gelato and others, a kids' craft area, and neighborhood tours of the Mariposa District. Learn more information about this free event at youthonrecord.org.
Video games are largely dismissed as a time-suck, but they have untapped artistic potential — a point that the experimental media project Collective Misnomer will make at Dizzy Spell, a one-night exhibit on Saturday, May 26, during which viewers will have the chance to explore pressing social and artistic issues by playing artist-made video games. The show takes place from 6 to 11 p.m. at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street. Admission is $10, but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. While the event is technically all-ages, Collective Misnomer notes that the game content is not kid-friendly. More information to come at Dizzy Spell's Facebook page.
What gives folks from south of the border gut-busting, tears-running-down-the-face, rolling-in-the-aisles belly laughs? Mexican comedy duo Adrian Uribe and Omar Chaparro, who will bring their Imparables show to the Paramount Theatre this week. The uproarious pair play off one another by channeling a quick-change cast of dissonant characters who disagree on just about everything. Imparables hits the stage for one performance only on Saturday, May 26, at 9 p.m. at the Paramount, 1621 Glenarm Place. For tickets, starting at $45, go to altitudetickets.com.
Colorado's cannabis industry continues to grow (go figure), and so does its need for competent employees. On Saturday, May 26, from noon to 4 p.m., the Hemp & Cannabis Career Fair will be at Cultivated Synergy, 2901 Walnut Street, where dozens of dispensary, cultivation, ancillary and extraction companies in the legal cannabis and hemp industries will all be looking for help. Network, learn more about the industry, and apply for positions in budtending, cultivation, sales, marketing, management, IT and more (including internships!). Tickets are $10 ($7 with a MED badge) on picatic.com.
Sunday, May 27
Nothing says summer in America quite like fireworks, and on Sunday, May 27, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park will kick off the season with a dazzling display that runs from 10 to 10:30 p.m. Watch the show from the park, 2000 Elitch Circle, or from a balcony nearby, and if you're out of town or otherwise indisposed, the show returns on July 4 and September 2, over Labor Day weekend. A day pass to Elitch's will put you back $39.99 at elitchgardens.com, or opt for the $29.99 night pass, good after 5 p.m.
Monday, May 28
Over the past four decades, the Bolder Boulder has become a Memorial Day institution. “Our little run turned into an event of epic proportions,” its website pronounces. “We like to think it’s part race, run, job, walk, parade, celebration and tribute. We made it for everyone.” And just about everyone will be out on Monday, May 28, to celebrate the fortieth-anniversary edition. Even if you decide not to run in the 10K (online registration closes May 25, but you can register from 5:45 to 9 a.m. on race day at 30th and Walnut streets in Boulder), you can join thousands of spectators along the course, cheering the runners and rocking out to more than a dozen live bands. Find out more at bolderboulder.com.
In order for an event to be considered for 21 Best, we need information at least three weeks in advance. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.