It's an especially affordable weekend here in the Mile High City. With everything from civic engagement to summer concerts to toys and cars and a 26.2-mile-long game of tag on the schedule, there's something new to try — and nine of these ten events are free. Keep reading for the ten best affordable events around town.
Awkward Family Photos
Friday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fort Collins Museum of Art
Germans have a word for everything: Witness the delightful (to say and to experience) schadenfreude — pleasure derived from another's misfortune. One of our favorite ways to experience this complicated emotion is at the Awkward Family Photos exhibit, which opens this Friday and runs through July 15. The show offers over 200 photos and behind-the-scenes stories from the website of the same name, and programming during the exhibit's run include a photo-bomb workshop and Awkward Art Summer Camp for children ages eight through twelve. Visit the Fort Collins Museum of Art's website for museum information.
Joy Park Free Night
Friday, May 18, 4 to 7:30 p.m.
Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
’Tis the season for outdoor adventure, and there's adventure in spades at the Children's Museum of Denver's Joy Park. With over 30,000 square feet of grounds to explore, the Joy Park is an ideal way to keep even the most rambunctious of youngsters happily occupied. Thanks to a partnership with Denver Parks and Recreation, the museum is keeping the exhibit open a couple hours late every third Friday of the summer months, and welcoming guests of all ages for free. Visit the Children's Museum's Facebook events page for more details.
The Phantom Menace 19th Anniversary
Friday, May 18, 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Pretend you're in your own episode of MST3K at this showing of the much-maligned 1999 movie in which sci-fi fans across the galaxy learned that George Lucas officially couldn't be trusted with computer-generated imagery. Hot on the heels of May the Fourth, this screening includes food and comedy inspired by the the hijinks of Jar Jar Binks, as well as games, prizes and scene re-enactments. Register at Eventbrite, and don't forget your lightsaber — you'll need it to break up Crow and Servo's fights.
Music on the Mountain
Saturday, May 19, 4 to 10 p.m.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Glenwood Springs
Free with canned food donation
If you're enjoying mud season in the high country this weekend, take a break from hiking (er, slogging) and head up the hill to Music on the Mountain's first concert of the season. This concert series has been providing entertainment to locals while collecting food for LIFT-UP food pantries for a decade now. Show up with a canned food donation starting at 4 p.m. and you'll score a free tram ride up the mountain to the music, which runs from 6 to 10 p.m. The opening show includes the Goodman Band and fire dancers; find the whole summer schedule at the Glenwood Caverns website.
Tenth Anniversary Patio Party
Saturday, May 19, 4:20 to 8 p.m.
Vine Street Pub
It's hard to believe that Vine Street Pub has been pouring pints in the City Park West ’hood (and frustrating cashless customers) for a decade, but it's true. Celebrate at the brewery's patio party on Saturday by taking in the funk-fusion sounds of Spyscraper and soaking up the sun. There's no cover, but burgers, brats and beer from Cerebral Brewing, Silverthorne's Angry James Brewery and Mountain Sun will be available for $5 each; proceeds will benefit Project Angel Heart.
Bombastic Plastic Opening Reception
Saturday, May 19, 6 to 11 p.m.
Spectra Art Space
If you feel like adulthood isn't all it's cracked up to be — what with the rent, job and Tinder hovering over you like a black cloud — revisit your childhood at the opening reception for this show of handmade toys. Sponsored by art collective Meow Wolf, the show promises multi-limbed, Cronenbergian figurines; sweet, sleepy, pastel unicorns; big-breasted fantasy heroines; and the most terrifying Easter Bunny since Frank. And while being a grownup can sometimes be overrated, one of the undeniable perks of adulthood will also be on tap: brews from Ratio Beerworks. Visit Spectra Art Space for all the details.
Colorado Governor/Attorney General Forum
Saturday, May 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
Manual High School
Colorado's gubanatorial and attorney general primaries are just over a month away, and if you've been paying attention, you know the field is exceptionally crowded this election cycle. If you're not up to date, now's the time to do your homework. Student-led activist group Never Again Colorado has invited all fourteen official candidates (including independent and third-party contenders) for the posts to participate in this forum. The focus of the event is wide-ranging, including gun violence in schools and communities of color, immigration and criminal justice reform; attendees can submit questions on any subject and RSVP from the event's Facebook page. Take a page from these students' book and get involved in this year's election.
Sunday, May 20, 6 a.m.
It costs more than $10 to register as a runner (even if you're not already past deadline), but you can still stake out a spot along the longest, wickedest street in America with an encouraging sign ("You run better than the government" or "Worst parade ever" are our picks) and cheer on random strangers during what is surely the most misbegotten decision of their lives. You can find a map of the race route at runcolfax.org, but a few prime places to check out the action are Sloan's Lake, where boats will be practicing for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival while racers speed by; City Park, the start and finish line, as well as home to the post-race festival; and Denver Fire Station #1, at 745 West Colfax Avenue, where runners cut through an active fire station as part of the race. Racers are estimated to start finishing as early as 7:30 a.m., so plan your morning accordingly.
Volkswagens on the Green
Sunday, May 20, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Clement Park, Littleton
Volkswagen Beetles may be the most immediately recognizable vehicles ever made, and as such, have been bringing wide grins to drivers' faces for decades, despite their spotty reliability. So even die-hard entomophobes and car-industry protectionists will enjoy this car show, which pays tribute to new and classic VWs of all sorts (hello, Eurovan) in addition to Porsches and Audis. Take in the shiny, round little cars, a swap meet, shopping and picnic area for free, or register your own beloved Bug in one of 36 categories for just $25 at the VW on the Green website.
Hair of the Dog: A Comedy Showcase
Sunday, May 20, 2:30 p.m.
The Lobby American Grille
If your Saturday night was a joke, ease into Sunday with some hair of the dog — of the comedic type. On the third Sunday of every month, the Lobby hosts a comedy showcase; take advantage of the mid-afternoon start time to sleep in (or, if you're feeling very ambitious, grab a hangover remedy of the boozy variety at the lounge's Sunday brunch). This month's edition will host Anthony Crawford, Cody Spyker, Jose Macall, Natalia Kvalem and Kyle Pogue. They'll make you forget — or at least feel better about — the drunken shenanigans that left you with a pounding head the morning after. Find out more about the lineup at the event Facebook page.
If you know of an event that belongs here, send information 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.