Here comes the sun! Although Denver has already seen plenty of hot days, there are hotter times ahead, with a celebration of the Summer Solstice at Bluff Lake, unicorns galloping into Littleton, the Denver Zine Fest opening a new chapter and the Westword Music Showcase sounding off in the Golden Triangle. Keep reading for the 21 best events this week.
Tuesday, June 19
Something hilarious is bound to happen when members of Buntport Theater’s creative crew don the classic TED Talks microphone headsets and then open their mouths to lecture on topics plucked from social media. But while official TED Talks specialize in truth-telling, Buntporters are sure to spin for more fantastic stories at BuntportTED Talks, the stuff that cults and conspiracy theories are made of. Laugh and learn lots of totally useless stuff at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street. For information and tickets in advance, $7, visit buntport.com, or take a gamble that seats remain and pay $6 to $8 at the door.
Wednesday, June 20
Crowned during season three of Ru Paul's Drag Race: All Stars, fan favorite Queen Trixie Mattel has blossomed into a full-fledged country-folk superstar equally celebrated for her crowd-pleasing compositions and flawless contouring. Touring in support of her chart-topping second album, One Stone, Mattel will sashay onto the stage at the Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, on the western leg of Trixie Mattel's Now With Moving Parts Tour. Inspired by the work of Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, Mattel's songbook is filled with toe-tappers, with lyrics informed by her delightfully shady comedic sensibilities. Tickets are $39 to $54 and going fast; get yours today at Ticketmaster, okurrr?
Balefire Goods, an Olde Town Arvada jewelry emporium that stocks handcrafted trinkets, moves into gallery mode this month with the Tactile Art Show, an exhibit of touchable works by sighted stone sculptor Anne Cunningham, legally blind painter and assemblage artist Jennifer Boyd and clay artist Luanne Burke, who is also legally blind. From 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, Balefire will host a Colorado Talking Book Library Community Night in partnership with the Blind Institute of Technology. See the exhibit, schmooze over drinks and learn more about the work of both organizations at Balefire, 7417 Avenue Grandview in Arvada. Admission is free (but an RSVP is requested at eventbrite.com), which means you'll have money to make a cash donation to the cause or a purchase — and 20 percent of all sales during the event will benefit Colorado Talking Book. The show itself runs through June 30.
Thursday, June 21
June 21 is the first day of summer and also the longest day of the year; the Summer Solstice will occur just a few moments before sunrise in Denver (or around 11:07 a.m. at Stonehenge). Join Denver's Druids at Bluff Lake Nature Center in Stapleton, where Dr. Phil Schmidt will lead a sunny celebration at 5:30 a.m. Thursday, June 21, complete with a replica of the Stonehenge solstice alignment stones. That's just the start of four days of festivities celebrating summer at the park; other events include music on Friday evening, June 22; family programs on Saturday, June 23; and a "Nature of Spirituality" guided meditation hike around the lake at 8 a.m. Sunday, June 24. For a complete schedule and to register, go to www.blufflake.org/events.
It's been a long eighteen months, but the Brighton Boulevard construction project (or at least Segment 1, from 29th to 40th streets) is done! The City of Denver and the RiNo Art District will hold a formal ribbon-cutting at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 21, at 35th and Brighton; that will be followed by a true street party, a free event filled with food, drinks, music and more from 4 to 8 p.m. And after that? Parties will pop up all along Brighton, where there will be no roadblocks to fun! Find out more at rinoartdistrict.org.
It may be cold in space, but geek culture is the hottest thing in Denver these days, a trend that will continue when William Shatner steps on stage to present Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Place. Widely considered one of the franchise's finest hours (and the first example of the "Only the even-numbered films are any good" Trekkie theory), The Wrath of Khan contains some of the series' most dramatically compelling storytelling. Relive the fan-favorite sequel in the company of Captain James T. Kirk himself, followed by an audience-led Q&A packed with charming anecdotes from a living icon of science fiction. Admission is $49.50 to $99 at Altitude Tickets. KHHHAAAAAN!
Denver’s Pandemic Collective theater troupe harks back to the granddaddy of all horror theaters — Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol of Victorian-age Paris, where some frightened audience members were known to faint in their seats — for Yet A(nother) Night of Grand Guignol, a terrifying revival of two short horror plays inspired by the legends of Slenderman and black-eyed children. Get a heady blast of melodrama and gore (as well as creepy music by violinist Sarah Jylkka) at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at Theater 29, 5138 West 29th Avenue. The show repeats at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through July 7. Find tickets, $18, at eventbrite.com; for more about the collective, visit pandemiccollective.org.
Friday, June 22
The second annual Colorado Tiny House Festival will be much better and, yes, bigger than the original, with more than 45 tiny living structures on display, a lineup that includes everything from container homes to schoolies, teardrops, yurts, van conversions and a semi-trailer conversion; 35 of the builders and DIYers are based in Colorado. The show opens at noon and runs through 6 p.m. Friday, June 22, at the Adams County Fairgrounds, 9755 Henderson Road in Brighton; it continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, with speakers, workshops, a product and service marketplace, tours of the tiny houses and more. Tickets range from $10 (for one day, purchased online) to $30 (three days, purchased at the box office), and children twelve and under get in free. Get tickets and find out more at coloradotinyhousefestival.com.
The TV-centric SeriesFest returns Friday, June 22, through Wednesday, June 27, for a fourth year of bringing the small screen to the big screen, along with panels, shmoozers and new-show scoopage that will have you on the edge of your seat, entertaining dreams of the next episodes. The action unspools at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, as well as at a few central Denver satellite locations. But at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 25, the spotlight will be on Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where Centerpiece: A Night of TV and Live Music, will include a performance by Lady Antebellum and a premiere screening of Paramount Network’s new original TV series, Yellowstone, with Kevin Costner. Tickets for assorted programs range from $12 to $250; reserve yours and learn more about SeriesFest at seriesfest.com.
Saturday, June 23
When the Westword Music Showcase began way back in 1995, it boasted forty local bands at venues across LoDo and no national headliners. But like Denver, this annual celebration of the music scene has just gotten bigger and better since then. On Saturday, June 23, the 24th annual Showcase will be glittering in the Golden Triangle, where the two main outdoor stages will feature national acts and local favorites, and dozens of other Denver bands will play at seven venues throughout the neighborhood. The music starts at noon; for a complete schedule and ticket options, go to westwordshowcase.com.
Denver doesn't have an ocean, but there will be plenty of beach when the sixth annual Sand in the City Festival lands at Ralston Park, 11200 Ralston Road in Arvada, this weekend. Eight teams of businesses will compete in a sand-sculpture contest (vote for your favorite) while kids enjoy an activity zone complete with a giant sandbox. And everyone has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a Guinness World Records attempt for the World’s Largest Hula Dance! There will be live entertainment, dozens of vendors, and food and drink offerings throughout the fest, which runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 23, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 24. Admission is $5 for adults; kids twelve and under get in free. Find out more at sandinthecityarvada.org.
Prove the stereotypes about cannabis and laziness wrong during the latest edition of the Colorado 4/20 Games on Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Moving from a Denver park to Glendale's Infinity Park at 4599 East Tennessee Avenue, the third annual edition of the event brings professional athletes, pot-industry executives, cannabis users and competitors together for a day of athletics and advocacy. There will be a rock-climbing wall, a rope course, a live DJ and more for all ages; for adults, there's the beer garden (sorry, no public-consumption area for cannabis). Tickets to the expo start at $10 on the 2018 420 Games page at Eventbrite; participation in the athletic competition is $40.
The Highlands Street Fair started almost forty years ago, long before this area of northwest Denver became one of the hottest residential areas in town, and even as the neighborhood changes, the tradition continues. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, the stretch of West 32nd Avenue between Irving and Perry streets will host a huge block party, filled with live music — including performances by the Still Tide, 6 Foot Joe & the Red Hot Rhinos and La Pompe Jazz — as well as food from nearby restaurants and food trucks, shopping at local businesses and vendors, a car show, a live chalk-art display and even yoga and fitness sessions. Admission is free; find out more at visitdenverhighlands.com.
In a time when independent book stores are fighting to survive, a decade in business is a big deal. Ten years ago, Kilgore Books & Comics banked on the dream of original owners Luke Janes and Dan Stafford, opening in the same crusty block that had already been home to Wax Trax Records for thirty years. Kilgore’s heady mix of used books and a well-stocked supply of local and independent comics, zines and chapbooks has been a winner from the start. Current owner John Kuebler thinks that feat deserves a celebration, and that’s what it will get: an anniversary party and open house for the ages, with all three owners, past and present, on hand to meet and greet from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, at Kilgore, 624 East 13th Avenue. Admission is free, but be ready to party; call 303-815-1979 for details.
What does it take to turn your mind away from the current state of the world? How about rainbows, lollipops and unicorns, the most adorable mythical creatures in the universe? That’s the calculated thinking behind the second annual Unicorn Festival, which returns to Clement Park, 7306 West Bowles Avenue in Littleton, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. The fest is an all-ages mashup, with ren-fest gaming and Disney-style attractions, food vendors, a petting zoo, photo ops and an Aladdin Marketplace complete with belly dancers. All activities, from unicorn, princess and mermaid meet-and-greets to a live Chinese dragon dance at lunchtime, are included in the admission price of $15 ($20 at the gate, free for children under three), or $48 for a family four-pack. Grab your kids and escape for the day; find tickets and all the details at unicornfestivalcolorado.com.
There’s no better introduction to the variety and scope of Denver’s dance scene than the Denver Dance Festival, which includes two ticketed performances of New & Now, with world-premiere works by a gamut of local companies and choreographers, as well as the free outdoor No Walls showcase, all on the University of Denver campus. Flop on the lawn of the Boettcher Center, 2050 East Iliff Avenue, at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 23, to watch No Walls; catch the New & Now premiere at 7 p.m. that night or 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue. New & Now tickets, $35, can be purchased online at presentingdenver.org.
Experience the rough-and-ready action of rugby on a global scale when the Rugby League Football International Challenge comes to Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High, pitting second-ranked team New Zealand against third-ranked team England in the first step on the long road to the 2025 Rugby League World Cup. Gates open at the stadium, 1701 Bryant Street, at 11:30 a.m on Saturday, June 23, with a double-header tipping off just after 2 p.m. — but not before New Zealand gets the crowd in the mood with an iconic, tongues-out Maori haka ceremony to start things off. Tickets range from $15 to $109 at ticketmaster.com; learn more at rugbyleaguechallenge.com.
Written by prize-winning contralto and comedian Imelda Franklin Bogue, The Secret Life of Opera Singers blends virtuosic vocals with sketch-comedy shenanigans. A humorous backstage tour through the lives and loves of operatic performers, Bogue's buffa is a lovingly irreverent look at high culture. Join a gaggle of local performers at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway, for a 6 p.m. performance of the one-hour work on Saturday, June 23. The ever-bustling venue is hosting a show by Shy Boys and Panther Martin at 9 p.m. the same evening, so guests can stick around and make a night of it. Admission is $15 at the door; visit Syntax's events calendar for more information.
Sunday, June 24
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Fans of fine landscape photography will have a field day at New Territory: Landscape Photography Today, a new exhibition curated by Eric Paddock. More than eighty images by nearly forty living artists show how the art of photographing the landscape has changed with the advent of new technologies and image manipulations, as modern shutterbugs continue to experiment but also revive historical processes. An eye-opener that exposes the genre to a whole new layer of interpretation, New Territory opens to the public on Sunday, June 24, and runs through September 16 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. The exhibit is included in the regular admission of $8 to $13 (free for those eighteen and under); learn more at denverartmuseum.org.
This town’s down with zines in a big way, thanks in part to the Denver Zine Library, which has been championing the global zine revolution since 2003, when Kelly Shortandqueer and Jamez Terry first opened shop in a sheet-metal shed in the Baker neighborhood. Fifteen years later, with the library now settled at the Temple in Curtis Park, Shortandqueer still leads the empire and, more significantly, continues to throw an ever-growing annual Denver Zine Fest. The 2018 edition runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, where you'll find the wares of over ninety exhibitors from across the nation, along with such amenities as coffee, alcohol and a coloring table manned by the ladies of Lowbrow. The fest also offers a 3:30 p.m. storytelling session with the Narrators on the subject of “Rejected.” Admission is free; get more info at denverzinelibrary.org.
Monday, June 25
Fort Collins's Off the Hook Arts is working to break down the divide between science and the arts with a four- week summer music series, SummerFest 2018: Mission Earth, that also includes lectures about weather, ecology, climate change and related topics. At the heart of the fest is “Ouroboros,” a walk-through installation that incorporates video projections, photography, sounds from Earth and space, and data visualization from both NASA and artists. It opens with an reception starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 25, at Colorado State University’s Curfman Gallery, in the Lory Student Center, at 1101 Center Avenue in Fort Collins. The evening includes talks by composer Bruce Adolphe, artist Katherine Doyle, atmospheric science professor David Randall and more, as well as a performance of Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor.” Admission runs $10 to $25; for more information, go to offthehookarts.org.