Arts and Culture

Free for All: The Five Best Free Events in Denver This Week

Get a holly jolly start to the holiday season at the Parade of Lights.
Get a holly jolly start to the holiday season at the Parade of Lights. Downtown Denver Partnership
Though the remaining days of November are dwindling faster than Thanksgiving leftovers, there are still fresh delights to finish off the month before the onslaught of December events begins....and you won't need to pay a dime. This week you can discuss a new book from one of contemporary culture's most insightful voices, enjoy selections from Mozart operas performed by artists in historically accurate costumes, or take in the spectacle of one of Denver's most colorful holiday celebrations. Here are the five best free events in Denver:

click to enlarge
Discuss Ta-Nehisi Coates's new book We Were Eight Years in Power at BookBar's Book Social gathering.
Gabriella Demczuk
Book Social: We Were Eight Years in Power
7 p.m. Monday, November 27

Reading is a fairly solitary activity, typically reserved for those moments of quiet repose that workaday Denverites enjoy all too rarely. BookBar's Book Social events are an attempt to barrel through the barriers to enjoying literature by uniting readers at monthly discussion groups where fortifying friendships is valued every bit as much as the book in question. The discourse is sure to be lively this month as the group focuses on Ta-Nehisi Coates's treatise on the Obama era and its aftermath, We Were Eight Years in Power. Coates is among the most insightful cultural commentators today; his definitive voice has reverberated through journalism, memoir, poetry and even comic books. His latest effort is a vital reflection on how recent history led to America's current political nadir. Visit BookBar's events calendar to learn more.

click to enlarge
Ratio Beerworks
Vinyl Records Night
7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, November 28
Ratio Beerworks

Record collectors are a rare and special breed, analog fetishists in a digital landscape who insist on quality and tactility in an era when such things are overlooked in favor of convenience. Ratio Beerworks welcomes vinyl hounds to the taproom on November 28 for an evening of comparing, bartering and taking turns spinning their favorite albums on the brewery's turntables. With no admission fees or big-name DJs, Vinyl Records Night at Ratio is an ideal opportunity to quaff tasty beers, shop for new records at the mobile store, and dance the night away to a truly democratic playlist. Visit the Facebook event page to learn more.

click to enlarge
CU Presents
Opera Scenes: An Evening With Amadeus
5 p.m. Wednesday, November 29
Imig Music Building

Recognized as a “Program of Excellence” by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, the University of Colorado's Eklund Opera Program hosts a number of grand productions throughout the year, as well as a smattering of more intimate performances. On November 29, Eklund's graduate and undergraduate students are hosting a tribute to the operas of Wolfang Amadeus Mozart at Opera Scenes: An Evening With Amadeus, a musical sampling of some of the composer's greatest works, including music from "La Finta Giardiniera," "Le Nozze di Figaro," "La Clemenza di Tito," "Cosi Fan Tutte" and "Idomeneo." Evoking a sense of the composer's life and times, the singers will be clad in period-appropriate finery and accompanied by piano and harpsichord. Visit the CU Presents events calendar for more information.

Cartoons & Comedy
10 p.m. Thursday, November 30
The Deer Pile

Cartoons & Comedy offers a way to bond over shared memories and to laugh at the absurdity we used to innocently accept at face value, all leavened by heaping helpings of sugary cereal. Keeping a comedy show going, particularly one that requires such elaborate pre-planning, is an impressive feat; over nearly five years, Cartoons & Comedy has changed time slots, venues and formats while retaining its childlike bonhomie and essential spirit and presenting the nimble riffs of Denver's funniest locals and drop-ins from comedy-nerd heroes. At the helm of this monthly endeavor is Chris Baker, who hustles his cherubic ass off — cutting together a video package of old cartoons, wrestling videos and ’80s toy commercials, and booking quick-witted comics every month. November's lineup includes Timmi Lasley, Sean Jordan (of the All Fantasy Everything podcast) and special guests. Showtime is 10 p.m., but arrive early, as seating is arranged on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission is free, but donations are suggested. Find more information on Cartoons & Comedy's Facebook events page.

click to enlarge
Downtown Denver Partnership
Parade of Lights
8 p.m. Friday, December 1; 6 p.m. Saturday, December 2
Civic Center Park
An annual holiday tradition as beloved as tree-trimming and Santa-visiting, the 9News Parade of Lights is a glittering gift to the city, sensibly planned before the cold of December gets too severe for outdoor entertainment. Featuring a return appearance by Mayor Waddles and a drop-in from a certain jolly old elf, the Parade of Lights is the perfect way for families to get into the spirit of the season. While grabbing a spot in the park or along the downtown parade route is free for everybody, high rollers can purchase grandstand seats for $16 to $25 from Altitude Tickets. Visit the Downtown Denver Partnership's events page for more information.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.
Contact: Byron Graham