The weekend is nearly here, and Denver's comedy nerds, music appreciators and animal lovers have given us plenty of reasons to celebrate. While Westword certainly loves the nightlife, this week's list offers a preponderance of family-friendly daytime activities. Readers can wander through a verdant greenhouse, support local musicians, or see a classic film, all without paying more than ten American dollars for admission. Keep reading for the best free and cheap events in the Denver area this weekend.
Doggy Story Time
Thursday, January 11, 4 p.m.
BookBar's various story time events are an ideal way to cultivate youngsters' love of reading, but only one of them offers guests the chance to pet a friendly dog. Kids can listen to stories inspired by canine companionship while nibbling on snacks and cookies, while their parents enjoy 50 percent off wine purchases. The star of the show will undoubtedly be Magnum, a trained service dog from Pet Partners. While BookBar doesn't typically permit dogs on the premises, the organizers have made an adorable exception for Magnum and Doggy Story Time. Visit BookBar's events calendar for more details.
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Hollywood Favorite: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Thursday, January 11, 7:30 p.m.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
While streaming video has made it possible for viewers to watch nearly every movie ever made at the push of a button, some classics still call for the big-screen treatment. One such masterpiece is Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film that kickstarted the Indiana Jones franchise, turned Harrison Ford into a household name, and made archaeologists seem badass. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is resurrecting the hatted hero's finest hour in a stunning IMAX presentation. If you can't make the January 11 screening, don't fret: You'll have more Raiding opportunities on January 12, 13,18, 19 and 20. Visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's box-office page to buy tickets, $7.95 to $9.95, and find out more.
Comedy Night at Chain Reaction
Friday, January 12, 8 p.m.
Chain Reaction Brewing Company
Denver comedy's original brewery show, Comedy Night at Chain Reaction, has outlasted many of its imitators by curating its lineups as tastefully as its tap list. A collaboration of local comic Steve Vanderploeg and co-owner Chad Christofferson (onetime childhood hockey teammates with a shared love of jokes and craft beer), the perennially touted showcase returns with a gaggle of goofballs including Mitch Jones, ShaNae Ross, Harry Baber and Brooklyn's Minori Hinds, with Los Angeles's John-Michael Bond in the headlining spot. Admission is free. Visit Chain Reaction's Facebook events page for more information.
Friday, January 12, 8:30 p.m.
A self-described "jazz-drunk hip-hop trio," Smirk creates contemporary jams rooted in old-school musicality. Comprising Ryan Bannigan on drums, Luke Maxson on the keys, and guest bassist Jose Gutierrez, Smirk claims influences such as Robert Glasper, D' Angelo and the late, great J. Dilla. Feel the rhythm when Smirk performs at venerated Denver jazz venue Dazzle on Friday, January 12, at 9 p.m. Visit Dazzle's box-office page to buy tickets, $5, and learn more.
Tropical Trails Tour
Saturday, January 13, 2 to 3 p.m.
Denver Botanic Gardens
$10 to $14
Whatever the weather outside, it's always perfectly temperate in the Denver Botanic Gardens' Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. Explore the grounds with the expert guidance of a Botanic Gardens docent at the Tropical Trails Tour series, which kicks off on Saturday, January 13. Though space for each tour is limited, interested readers have additional opportunities to take in the Tropical Trail on January 27, February 3 and 24, and March 10 and 24. Head over to the Denver Botanic Gardens box-office page to buy tickets, $10 to $14, and find out more.
DU Lamont Faculty Recital: Sarah Bierhaus
Saturday, January 13, 4:30 p.m.
Newman Center for the Performing Arts
For bored students and classical-music aficionados alike, Colorado's institutions of higher learning are godsends. That collegiate tradition of great concerts continues this weekend at the Newman Performing Arts Center on the University of Denver campus, with the ongoing Lamont School of Music's Faculty Recital series. The faculty member in the spotlight on January 13 is Sarah Bierhaus, principal oboist of the Boulder Philharmonic and Fort Collins symphony orchestras, and instructor at the University of Denver's Lamont School of music. Admission is free; visit the Newman Center box-office page for more details.
Battle of the Bonds: 20th Anniversary Tournament
Saturday, January 13, 5 p.m.
A wave of console-gaming nostalgia is crashing through venues all over the city, but few places are honoring the twentieth anniversary of the Nintendo 64's GoldenEye 007 like Battle of the Bonds at Oriental Theater. In addition to a bracket-style tournament pitting contestants against each other in split-screen death matches, guests can also brush up on their skills at an open-play station. In addition to this gauntlet of gaming, the evening will be capped off by performances from local bands Weather Big Storm, Last Rhino, the Born Readies, and Alexander and the Big Sleep. Buy tickets, $10 to $15, and find more information on the Oriental Theater box-office page.
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Winter Blues-Away Snuggle Day
Sunday, January 14, 1 to 3 p.m.
Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary
On many farms, animals serve a utilitarian purpose that overshadows sentimental concerns, no matter how adorable the creatures may be. At Broken Shovels Farm, however, families are welcome to visit and interact with the animals in a lovely pastoral setting, located just outside Henderson. A sanctuary for abused, neglected or unwanted farm animals, Broken Shovels has a uniquely heartwarming policy that mothers are never to be separated from their young. Come cuddle away the winter blues with sheep, piglets, ponies and possibly even newborn baby goats (if their expectant mother has given birth by Sunday, January 14). A minimum donation of $5 is suggested for each visitor. Visit the Broken Shovels Facebook events page for more information.
Squire Strokes Back Vol. 6
Monday, January 15, 11 p.m.
Roaring back to life like a passed-out drunkard at last call, comedy returns to the Squire Lounge in gloriously destructive fashion on Monday, January 15. While the weekly open mic may have gone the way of the black rhino, local comics and fans alike hold fond memories of the bygone Denver institution. Luckily for these scumbag nostalgists, Squire Strokes Back producer and comedy super-fan Chris Baker has enlisted Greg Baumhauer to host a new late-night standup showcase during which he'll roast the crowd and his fellow performers alike. January's showcase, in addition to including comics Brett Hiker, ShaNae Ross, Katie Bowman, Meghan DePonceau, John Tole, Minori Hinds and Mike Stanley, has a tasty surprise in store for guests: Local comic and gourmand Adrian Mesa will be serving Cuban cuisine in a pop-up restaurant. Find out more from the BakerFace Productions Facebook events page.
Teen Talk Show
Tuesday, January 16, 6 p.m.
The closing chapter of a ten-part series, MCA Denver's Teen Talk Show is wrapping up with a characteristically fascinating series of guests. Hear the stories of poet Assétou Xango and fashion designer/entrepreneur Jain, following a musical performance from singer-songwriter Sunny Stier-Wood. Admission for visitors eighteen and under is free, and just $5 for everyone else. Visit the MCA Denver's events calendar for more details.
Looking for more to do? Visit the Westword calendar online.