As Samhain draws nearer, heebie-jeebie-inspired diversions dominate the entertainment calendar. While Westword fully endorses seizing the spirit of the spooky season, the events on this list prioritize thrift and variety above other concerns. Make no mistake: Pumpkin carvers, horror-movie aficionados and theatrically witchy types are unusually spoiled for choice in the days ahead, but Denver's arts, music and comedy communities won't be caught unawares, either. Keep reading for the ten best free and cheap events in Denver and Boulder this weekend.
Masterpieces in Pumpkin by Barry Brown
Thursday, October 18, 6 to 9 p.m. Denver Milk Market
Ready to step up your Halloween decoration game? Learn how to jack the best lantern in your neighborhood with the guidance of master carver Barry Brown at "Masterpieces in Pumpkin," a seminar that teaches guests how to elevate a holiday tradition into a fine art form. Celebrated on Good Morning America, Monday Night Football and The Tonight Show – as well as the witchy perennial classic Hocus Pocus – Brown has a knack for eye-catching designs that even knife novices can replicate in their own kitchens. Join a crowd of fellow aspiring gourd-gougers at MOO Bar (located within Denver Milk Market) and discover how to turn your front porch into a welcoming beacon for trick-or-treaters. Visit Milk Market's Facebook events page for more details.
Shape Shift: New Digs Dance Party
Thursday, October 18, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Circus Collective
Readers are running out of time to assemble their ensembles, but the kindly carnies at Circus Collective are here to help. A godsend for Halloweeners dedicated to wearing a different costume to every party, Shape Shift is a swap meet and flea market where guests can buy, sell, or trade their old outfits and peruse a wide array of vintage goods to complete their look. After the "exchangeroo," guests can take their new digs for a spin on the dance floor, where they boogie with fellow costumed revelers from 10 p.m. until closing time. Admission is $10 at the door; find out more on the Circus Collective Facebook events page.
Mercury Cafe's Allied Witches Present: "Witches & Harlots"
Friday, October 19, 7:30 p.m. Mercury Cafe
Pop culture may conjure up images of wizened crones whispering evil incantations over a bubbling cauldron, but historically, witches were just women who got burned at the stake for speaking their minds. "Witches and Harlots," a new original play presented by Allied Witches Theater, examines witchery through the lens of contemporary feminism in an urgent mashup of righteous outrage, biting humor and profound insight. The performance also includes original compositions from Aural Elixir, who joins the cast on stage in mythologically inspired garb. Witching season lasts all month long; guests can catch performances of "Witches & Harlots" on Friday, October 26, and Wednesday, October 31 (aka Halloween). Admission is $10 at the door; visit the Mercury Cafe Facebook events page for more information.
Suit and Tie Comedy: ReTied
Friday, October 19, 8 p.m. Buntport Theater
A welcome aesthetic respite from the bearded, bedraggled and be-flanneled paradigm of Denver's comedy scene, the Suit and Tie Comedy Show harks back to an era when crowds and performers alike dressed to the nines for a night out. Hosted and curated by local comedian (and Kennedy Center Award-winning playwright) Cal Sheridan, Suit and Tie presents a monthly gussied-up goof gauntlet for local comedy nerds. Sheridan's brainchild returns with ReTied this month, debuting in its new home at the Buntport Theater with a lineup full of dapper and dashing comics, including Joel Vernon, Brandy Bryant, Andres Becerril, Caitie Hannan, Mike Langworthy and headliner Mitch Jones. Visit Suit and Tie Comedy's Eventbrite page to buy tickets, $8, and learn more.
Friday Night Weird: Gothic
Friday, October 19, 8:45 p.m. Boedecker Theater, Boulder
$6.50 to $12
A psychedelically lurid account of literature's most notorious origin story, Ken Russell's 1986 freak-fest Gothic dramatizes the inception of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which jolted to life during an infamous confluence of Romantic writers at Lord Byron's Swiss chalet in 1816. Despite the seeming literary pedigree, Gothic typifies Russell's gaudy, bawdy and bosomy oeuvre, instead emphasizing grotesque imagery, psychosexual undertones and mind-bending set pieces over stodgy concerns like historical accuracy. Ideal fodder for deviant cinephiles —as well as Friday Night Weird's "Underrated Horror" series — the screening opens with an introduction from Bryan Bonner. For tickets, $6.50 to $12, and details, visit the Dairy Arts Center box-office page.
Haunts of Littleton
October 19 to 20, 7 and 7:30 p.m. Downtown Littleton
$8 to $15
Downtown Littleton charms by day, but darkened skies and historical context reveal the spooky stories lurking beneath the district's inviting facade. Haunts of Littleton explores the creepiest corners of local history on a leisurely stroll interspersed with fascinating true stories, paranormal speculation and good-natured gallows humor provided by knowledgeable guides clad in period-appropriate attire. Walkers converge at the Downtown Littleton Light Rail Station and split off into smaller tour groups, which set off into the night roughly once every ten minutes. Admission is $8 for children — the tour is generally all-ages, except for the exceptionally nightmare-averse — and $15 for adults. No reservations are required, but organizers recommend bundling up and arriving early. Can't make it this weekend? Join reprisal tours on Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27. Find tickets and more information on the Haunts of Littleton home page.
Black Out 2.0
Saturday, October 20, 4 p.m. Marjorie Park, Greenwood Village
$5 to $10
Party down on solar power at Black Out 2.0, an evening of earth-friendly grooves provided by the Museum of Outdoor Arts. Boasting a wiggle-worthy lineup that includes Dirty Few, Zebroids, Ned Garthe Explosion, Space in Time, Hang Rounders, Palo Santo, Funk Hunk and Rare Byrd$, the concert also functions as a benefit for the Black in Blum Project, an arts and education nonprofit. Quaff brews from Ratio Beerworks and nosh on nibbles from Cool Bunz while boogieing down and paying it forward; admission is $10 at the door or $5 for cyclists and RTD passengers. Learn more on Black Out's Facebook events page.
Cabal Creepshow: The Gallery That Wouldn't Die
Saturday, October 20, 6 to 10 p.m. Cabal Gallery
Skulk and stalk your way to Cabal Creepshow, a spine-tingling testament to "The Gallery That Wouldn't Die." Co-sponsored by burgeoning local arts benefactors Meow Wolf, Cabal's Creepshow presents paintings, sculptures and jewelry from artists such as Colleen Weaver, Amy Herman, Adrienne DeLoe and Jon Reyes, to name but a few. The festivities also include live music from Yao Gaui, a haunted house, and a zombie-fied VR experience. Admission is free; visit Cabal Gallery's Facebook events page for more details.
Kn*w Your Sh*t
Saturday, October 20, 7 to 8:30 p.m. The Comedy RoomRoom
Brains and buffoonery unite at a Kn*w Your Sh*t presentation of gut-busting yet practically useless TED Talk-style presentations from the least-helpful source possible: standup comedians. Hosted and curated by Brian Flynn of Revisionists podcast, October's edition of Kn*w Your Sh*t springs from the seasonally appropriate theme of "monsters." This month's thoroughly unqualified experts include locals Andres Becerril, Kira MagCalen, Bridget Callahan, Nolawee Mengist and Seattle-based headliner Monica Nevi. Buy tickets, $5, and find out more on the Comedy RoomRoom Nightout page.
Old School Cool Vintage Fashion Market
Sunday, October 21, Noon to 4:30 p.m. Fort Greene
Eager to complete a costume, find a perfect gift or add a centerpiece to your wardrobe? Look no further than the Old School Cool Vintage Fashion Market, where the fashions of yesteryear abound precisely for thrifty and thoughtful shoppers. Find functional, wearable and comfortable totems of historic charm while supporting local vendors and sipping seasonal beverages. Admission is free; find more details, including a full list of participating vendors, on Fort Greene's Facebook events page.
Do you have an event you want included on this list? Send the details to [email protected]om.
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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.