Arts and Culture

Ten Things to Do in Denver for $10 and Under (Six Free)

The 31st Annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Civic Center Park includes the perennially popular Chihuahua races, plus two days of festivities.
The 31st Annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Civic Center Park includes the perennially popular Chihuahua races, plus two days of festivities. NEWSED
After a couple of soggy and waterlogged days, another weekend approaches in the Mile High. With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, readers have a number of opportunities to experience the city's culture. Classical-music aficionados also have plenty to celebrate, with top-notch concerts happening all over the Front Range. It's not all fugues and fiestas this weekend, though; the list below also contains some decidedly nerd-friendly entertainments like a LARP-ing demonstration and Free Comic Book Day events. Best of all, admission to any of the following ten events is $10 or less (fine print notwithstanding). Keep reading for the best free and cheap events in Denver this weekend.

click to enlarge MUSEO DE LAS AMERICAS
Museo de Las Americas
The Heart and Soul: The Mariachi
Friday, May 4, 5 to 9 p.m.
Museo de las Americas
Free

Museo de Las America's First Fridays gatherings always boast an arty party Denver culture hounds shouldn't miss, but the entire Santa Fe Arts District will be bustling to its own unique rhythm on Cinco de Mayo eve. Dance your way into the holiday weekend courtesy of El Mariachi Juvenil de Bryant Webster, which will demonstrate the Heart and Soul of the Mariachi for the benefit of a boogie-ing crowd, followed by a set from DJ @PAZMAP. Guests enjoy free admission to the museum, and they can sip palomas and munch on tacos while exploring the Museo's Pachucos y Sirenas exhibition. Admission is free. Visit the Museo de las Americas Facebook events page for more information.

click to enlarge DENVER OPEN MEDIA
Denver Open Media
Open Music Sessions Featuring El Javi
Friday, May 4, 7 to 10 p.m.
Denver Open Media
Free

The First Friday festivities continue one block over from Santa Fe Drive at Denver Open Media's studios on Kalamath Street. A trifecta of local entertainment that celebrates Denver's arts, music, and comedy scenes, DOM's Open Music Sessions are similarly swept up in the Cinco de Mayo frenzy. This month, the show shines a community spotlight on Latin Life Denver. Spotlighting standup from local comedians Rick Bryan, Gabby Gutierrez-Reed and Adrian Mesa followed by a toe-tapping performance by El Javi, Open Music Sessions is a great way to laugh and dance your way into the holiday weekend. Guests can also enjoy free drinks and free slices courtesy of Sexy Pizza. Visit Denver Open Media's Facebook events page to learn more.

click to enlarge DARCY VARNEY KITCHING
Darcy Varney Kitching
Cantabile Singers: "Gloria" and "Missa Dolorosa"
Friday, May 4, 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 6, 2 p.m.
First Congregational Church, Boulder
$5 to $15

Pay gloriously tuneful tribute to the Venetian masters of Baroque music at a pair of concerts from the Boulder-based Cantabile Singers. Dedicated to breathing new life into historic and overlooked compositions, Cantabile's repertoire spans styles, cultures and generations. The concerts honor a pair of composing Antonios who spent their formative years training in Venice's St. Mark’s Basilica, starting with "Gloria" by the Red-Haired Priest himself, Vivaldi, followed by the considerably less-vaunted — though equally accomplished in his day — Caldara, whose "Missa Dolorosa" stands out as a half-forgotten masterwork. Visit the Cantabile Singers' box-office page to buy tickets, $5 to $15, and learn more.

click to enlarge Free Comic Book Day releases include the new Amazing Spider-Man #1. - MARVEL COMICS
Free Comic Book Day releases include the new Amazing Spider-Man #1.
Marvel Comics
Free Comic Book Day
Saturday, May 5, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mile High Comics Megastore
Free

Not unlike Christmas for avid comics readers, Free Comic Book Day is a chance to commune with fellow nerds, score a few great deals and keep abreast of major narrative shifts in favorite series. Though many of Denver's finest funny-book outlets are participating in a cross-promotional publishing event that's expanded worldwide since debuting in 2002, there's extra extravaganza at the Mile High Comics Megastore. With appearances from industry panelists like podcaster and Burning Metronome writer R. Alan Brooks, Flat Track Furies creator Moriah Hummer, Elfquest co-creators Wendy and Richard Pini, plus many, many more, Mile High's celebration is just as driven by the fan community as it is by free stuff. Find more details on the Mile High Comics Facebook events page, plus a full list of Free Comic Book Day releases – including two store-exclusive variants on Mile High's newsletter.

31st Annual Cinco de Mayo Festival
May 5 to 6, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Civic Center Park
Free

Over the years, Denver's Cinco de Mayo celebrations have evolved from humble community gatherings to a two-day fiesta that sprawls throughout Civic Center Park, right in the heart of the city. While many revelers wouldn't be able to explain the holiday's origins as a celebration of the outgunned Mexican army's underdogs' victory over the occupying French at the 1862 Battle of Puebla, it takes no historical context to enjoy Chihuahua races, taco-eating contests, or a lowrider car show along Colfax Avenue. The festivities don't stop there; catch the community parade at 11 a.m. and then mosey over to the park's Greek Amphitheater for a main-stage show featuring performers like La Era del Fenix, Fuerza de Tijuana, Grupo Mojado and more. Sponsored by NEWSED, the festival is an annual testament to cultural heritage and community-building. Visit the Cinco de Mayo Festival events page for more details.

click to enlarge BALLET FOLKLORICO
Ballet Folklorico
Cinco de Mayo Dance Performance
Saturday, May 5, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Stanley Marketplace
Free

Can't get enough Cinco de Mayo? The cultural festivities continue over at Aurora's Stanley Marketplace, with a celebration of life and Mexican heritage expressed through dance. A nonprofit children's dance group, Ballet Folklorico's Sol de Mi Tierra passes proudly held traditions on from one generation to the next while introducing unfamiliar audiences to the beauty of its culture. Visit the Stanley Marketplace Facebook events page to find out more.
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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