As the work week winds to a close, many Denverites find themselves eager for entertainment but short on funds. Fret not: Westword has assembled an inventory of delightful events that won't break the bank. From history lessons to free concerts and LGBTQ-friendly theater, the city abounds with ways to occupy your time. Better yet, each of the ten events listed below costs less than $10 to attend. Keep reading for the ten best free and cheap events in Denver and the surrounding area this weekend.
High & Dry: Stories From Prohibition-Era Colorado
Thursday, July 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
Renegade Brewing Company
Though Colorado gets plenty of nationwide press for our federal-law-flouting cannabis tolerance, the Centennial State used to be populated by the sort of Bible-thumping busybodies who'd enact Prohibition a full four years ahead of the rest of the country. A misguided legislative effort that made unlikely bedfellows of the Ku Klux Klan and booze baron profiteers, Colorado's Prohibition era is a thankful relic of the past. Modern-day drinkers can enjoy stories from the folly of yesteryear at High & Dry, a lighthearted reappraisal of turn-of-the-century liquor policies as related by History Colorado beer historian Sam Bock while quaffing a mug of of 1916 Lager, based on a pre-Prohibition local beer recipe. Visit Renegade Brewing Company's Eventbrite page for tickets, $8, and to learn more.
Frances Cone and Wildermiss
Thursday, July 19, 6 to 10 p.m.
Denver's summer music calendar is packed with shows readers can enjoy without a cover, and some of the season's finest freebies can be found at Levitt Pavilion's summer concert series. The tradition of excellence continues tonight with a double bill including Frances Cone and Wildermiss. Brooklyn-based but Southern-raised, Frances Cone reveals indie pop's hidden soulfulness, while local favorites Wildermiss do Colorado proud. Admission is free; $30 VIP tickets are also available via Levitt Pavilion's Eventbrite page.
B-Side Fridays: XRaye, the Masterminds, Molina Speaks and Ill Se7en
Friday, July 20, 5 to 10 p.m.
Denver's thriving concert calendar continues at B-Side Music Fridays, an ongoing presentation of up-and-coming local musicians that takes full advantage of its setting on the rooftop of the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art — which offers one of the area's finest views of the cityscape. This week's lineup includes hip-hop iconoclasts XRaye and the Masterminds: Molina Speaks and Ill Se7en (both recent Westword MasterMinds), in an evening of beats and brews that's sure to leave toes tapping and heads nodding. Plus, the first hundred 21+ attendees will receive a free draught courtesy of Ratio Beerworks. Get ready for rooftop extravagance; visit MCA Denver's Facebook events page to learn more.
Grind Control! Men's Roller Derby Drag Show
Friday, July 20, 6 to 9 p.m.
$8 to $10
Trading heels for wheels, the Men's Roller Derby Drag Show is a testament to serving and swerving at one of Denver's most enduring gay bars. Raise funds for the Men's Roller Derby's trip to the national playoffs in Boston with a lighthearted competition packed with rink-side thrills. Guests also have the opportunity to take a few laps around the rink themselves once the show ends – at no additional charge. Admission is $8 at the Denver Roller Derby's box-office page and $10 at the door. Visit Tracks Denver's Facebook events page for more details.
Mean Gays: a Mean Girls Parody
Friday July 20, 8 p.m.
Fill your burn book with fun at the Denver ELEMENT's presentation of Mean Gays, an LGBTQ-friendly reinterpretation of the cult-classic teen comedy. There's nothing more fetch than an even sassier update of Tina Fey's Broadway and blockbuster hit, and attendees can rest assured that their cover charge will benefit local theater. Can't make Friday's show? No worries: The Avenue Theater is hosting repeat performances on Saturday, July 21, Monday, July 23, Thursday, July 26, Friday, July 27, and before closing on Saturday, July 28. Admission is $10 at the Avenue Theater's Brown Paper Tickets page.
Saturday, July 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms
$5 to $7
Immerse yourself in lovely sights, sounds and smells at Chatfield Farms' Lavender Festival, a blossoming showcase of over 1,000 lavender plants accompanied by beverages, live music and crop-inspired arts. Shop for lavender-infused health and beauty products while sipping lavender beer and grooving out to performances from Follow the Fox, the Lonesome Days and That Damn Sasquatch. Admission is free for children under the age of thirteen, and $5 to $7 for everyone else via the Denver Botanic Gardens' box-office page.
Westminster Latino Festival
Saturday, July 21, noon to 8 p.m.
Ride low and fly high at the Westminster Latino Festival, a daylong celebration of the many ways that Colorado's South and Central American immigrants have enriched the culture of the entire state. Congregating at the commuter-friendly base of Westminster Station, the festival will regale guests with delectable food-truck cuisine, lowrider demonstrations, lucha libre thrills and utterly danceable music. Admission is free; visit the Westminster Latino Festival home page for more information.
Faces of Eve: Ron Hicks Pop-Up Solo Exhibition
Saturday, July 21, 7 to 10 p.m.
A timeless story splashed across canvas, Ron Hicks's Faces of Eve exhibition explores how biblical archetypes inform the modern-day female experience. Inspired by ancient banishment mythologies, Hicks finds poignant parallels between the story of Adam and Eve and the present-day experiences of refugees and women fighting for a definitive role in their own narratives. The uniquely thought-provoking installation is on view for one night only, so don't miss it. Admission is free, but an RSVP is required on B-Spot Gallery's Eventbrite page.
Skis, Suds and Soul Summer Party
Sunday, July 22, 3 to 7 p.m.
Meier Ski Factory
Get your groove on while supporting a worthy cause — and possibly shopping for some new slope-shredding gear — at Meier Ski Factory's Skis, Suds and Soul Summer Party. The ski-centric soirée is a benefit for Denver-based nonprofit Wish of a Lifetime; all proceeds go directly toward Lifetime’s ongoing campaign to mitigate senior isolation. Enjoy a lively performance from guitarist D.J. Williams and his band Shots Fired while noshing on nibbles from Fiesta Fusion and Pappa Beau’s food trucks and quaffing Milagro tequila or Tivoli beer and wine. Visit the Wish of a Lifetime events page for more details.
Sunday, July 22, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Shuffle off the Sunday doldrums with gothic glee at the Church Nightclub's Sin Sundays, one of Denver's longest-running dance parties for the pierced and mascara'd masses. Wallow in the sounds of old-school goth, industrial and dark alternative music in one of the state's most evocative venues at a Sabbath sortie for the gloomy and glamorous. Admission is free for those 21 and up. Visit the Church Nightclub's Facebook events page to learn more.
Have an event you'd like Westword to consider for our lists? Send the details to email@example.com.
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.