The weekend is nigh, and many Denverites may find themselves scrambling for entertainment plans as well as cash. Fret not, destitute locals, for we've scoured the city for fun-filled events with cover charges that ring in for $10 or less...much less. Whether you want to boogie to house music at a DJ set from Game of Thrones actor Kristian Nairn (aka Hodor), thrill at the literary exploits of a feminist detective, shop for handmade goods or watch Monday Night Football with a pithy pack of comedians, there's no excuse for boredom for the next five days. Keep reading to find out more about the best cheap events in Denver this weekend, including seven freebies.
Sherry Thomas: Reading & Signing Event
Thursday, September 7, 7 p.m. Tattered Cover Aspen Grove
Free Literature's most famous detective gets a distaff twist in Sherry Thomas's Lady Sherlock Holmes series, which just reached its second installment with the publication of A Conspiracy in Belgravia. Hear the tale of Victorian sleuth Charlotte Holmes, who must navigate a gauntlet of personal crises just as an unidentified body presents her with a stone-cold whodunit, as Thomas reads selected passages from her new book, available from Berkley Books for $14. Fans can also mix and mingle with Thomas at a post-reading meet-and-greet where she'll be available to sign copies of her new book. Go to the Tattered Cover events calendar to find out more.
Write Club Denver: Required Reading
Thursday, September 7, 8 p.m. Syntax Physic Opera
Though writers typically seem like a harmlessly bookish bunch, a fierce sense of competition lurks beneath our tweedy and bespectacled facades. Write Club Denver, a self-described "literary thunderdome," puts that subtext into the spotlight with a series of head-to-head competitive readings from Denver-based authors, comedians and creatives. Drawing upon summer reading-list staples for prompts, the September dais pits local comic against local comic as Stephen Agyei debates "Crime" versus Jared Ewy's "Punishment," then continues with Joy Carletti arguing for the "Old Man" against Erin Rollman representing "The Sea" before concluding with Rachel Trignano and Evan Weissman squaring off as "Sound" versus "Fury." Aside from the thrill of literary bloodsport, the victorious writers will also donate their winnings to a charity of their choosing, so patrons can rest easy knowing that it's all for a good cause. There's a suggested $10 donation for all guests, but no one will be turned away. Visit the Write Club Facebook events page to learn more.
Four Mile Free Day
Friday, September 8, noon-4 p.m. Four Mile Historic Park
Although any day is a good day to amble through Colorado's formative years at Four Mile Historic Park, it's even better with free admission. From noon to 4 p.m. on every second Saturday until December 8, visitors can explore the twelve-acre grounds, mingle with farm animals and grab a seat for the Hay Bales and Tall Tales storytelling show, a particular hit with kids. Built in 1859 on the banks of Cherry Creek, the Four Mile House is Denver's oldest standing structure and current home to a museum that brings history to life. Cap it all off with a free sample from the summer kitchen. Visit fourmilepark.org to learn more.
Rave of Thrones: Kristian Nairn DJ Set
Friday, September 8, 9 p.m. The Church
Hodor your Hodor off on Friday night at Rave of Thrones, a DJ set from Game of Thrones actor Kristian Nairn at the Church, a fittingly Gothic setting for fantasy fans. In addition to warming and breaking viewers' hearts with his portrayal of the monosyllabic Hodor, the hulking Northern Irish actor is a celebrated progressive house DJ who's traveled all over the world with his wildly popular Rave of Thrones parties. (For the spoiler-averse Johnny-come-latelies, let's just say that Nairn has some free time after the last season.) The wheels of steel start spinning at 9 p.m., so don't miss this opportunity party like a wildling. Tickets, $10 to $20 (plus fees) are available from Nightout. Hodor!
Friday Night Weird: Superbad
Friday, September 8, 8:45 p.m. Boedecker Theater, Boulder
Boedecker Theater's Friday Night Weird film screenings return this month with a Very Cera September, a series dedicated to that wispy icon of millennial awkwardness, actor Michael Cera. Over the course of five films, cineastes can sample every era of Cera, from his star-making comedic turns to some of the most decidedly outré titles in his filmography. The series continues on Friday, September 8, with a a special tenth-anniversary screening of Superbad, the ambling coming-of-age comedy that launched the actor to stardom. Visit tickets.thedairy.org to learn more and buy tickets, $8 to $11. A Very Cera September continues next week with a screening of Lemon on September 15, followed by Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus on September 22 and Youth in Revolt on September 29.
Saturday September 9, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Rocky Ridge Park
The Annual Denver Chillfest Videogames Barbecue returns on Saturday, September 9, to cool its heels in Aurora's Rocky Ridge Park. Mingle with fellow gamers and indie game developers in a fancy-free potluck event, featuring frivolities such as volleyball, Frisbee, ladderball and live music. Game enthusiasts of all stripes and experience levels are welcome to share in the food and experience of Chillfest attendees, and their families are welcome too. Visit the Chillfest meetup page to learn more.
September HAHO Market
Saturday, September 9, noon-5 p.m. Battery 970
While admission to the September Handmade Homemade Craft and Food Market won't cost you a penny, many of the shopping temptations that await its guests might lay claim to your hard-earned dollars. With over three dozen vendors hawing their arty wares at Battery 970 — a vital incubator for Denver creatives — interested buyers would be advised to arrive right at noon, before the shopping gets popping. Support local artisans while stocking up on crafty treasures, all while sampling noshes from an on-site buffet. Visit denverhaho.org to find out more.
Doctors Without Borders Presents: Forced From Home
Closes on Sunday, September 10, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Courthouse
While most of us are academically aware of the global refugee crisis, it's all too easy for the struggles of displaced people to remain an abstract concept. Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home contextualizes the refugee experience for well-meaning guests eager to learn more. Guided by an experienced foreign-aid worker, visitors can explore a 10,000-square-foot installation at Courthouse Plaza on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, discovering the gauntlet of challenges people face when making the gut-wrenching decision to leave their homes. Hear the stories of families from conflict zones such as Iraq, Lebanon and South Sudan, and experience a simulation of their journeys in a 360-degree virtual-reality film while discovering for yourself how essential services like Doctors Without Borders can be for displaced individuals. The free exhibit, which opened on Monday, September 4, and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closes on Sunday, September 10, so don't miss your last chance to experience this eye-opening exhibit for yourself. Visit forcedfromhome.com for more details.
Monday Night Lights
Monday, September 11, 8 p.m. El Charrito
Football season has arrived, and local comics/Broncomaniacs Steve Vanderploeg and Christie Buchele have started a new showcase to herald its arrival. Fittingly held at El Charrito — the Cheers bar of Denver comedy — Monday Night Lights is like a Monday Night Football viewing party in the company of a particularly witty group of friends. Kick off the pigskin season with Buchele and Vanderploeg along with guest commentators Elise Kerns, Tom Wisdom and Eliot Woolsey as they kick back and crack wise while the Denver Broncos square off against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Ballpark neighborhood's "Five Star Dive Bar" doesn't typically open for business on Monday evenings, but they're making an exception for Monday Night Lights, so sporty comedy fans should definitely lend their support. Find out more on the Facebook events page.
Rebel Yell Comedy and Wing Night
Monday, September 11, 8 p.m. Rebel Restaurant
Rebel Yell, a free monthly standup-comedy showcase held at the trendy RiNo eatery and watering hole Rebel Restaurant has been shuffling along for a couple of months now, and it's returning in high style with a lineup packed full of seasoned mirth merchants. Local mainstays Evan Johnson and Cody Spyker join Detroit's Hayden Kristal to set the stage for Denver comedy legend John "Hippieman" Novosad, the evening's headliner. Hosted and curated by Alison Rose, the Rebel Yell showcase is also a fine opportunity to gorge on Rebel's celebrated wings at discounted prices, available only during the show. Visit Rebel Yell's Facebook events page for more details.
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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.