Things to Do

Ten Things to Do for Free In and Around Denver This Week

Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park. Visit Estes Park
Feeling a little more carefree now that the election is over? (Or close enough...) Take the day off on Veterans Day and celebrate this country by visiting a National Park Service site in Colorado; there are no admission fees on November 11. Just in time for you to take advantage of this deal, Rocky Mountain National Park has reopened; make a day (and maybe a night) of it with a visit to Estes Park, too.

There are many more educational and/or entertaining opportunities over the next several days, whether you want to head out on the town or just stay home. And you can even start your Christmas shopping! Here are the ten best free events in and around Denver this week:

2020 Sustainable Americas Summit
Now through Wednesday, November 11

The Biennial of the Americas is helping to host the 2020 Sustainable Americas Summit, with keynote addresses from international guests, artists and musicians leading environmental action across the Americas. Speakers range from Santiago Gowland, the executive vice president for Latin America and Global Innovation at the Nature Conservancy, to Colombian illustrator Natalia Cardona, eco-hip-hop artist DJ Cavem and Federica Donato, the founder of Art4Humanity, Federica Donato. Get the full schedule and sign up here.

click to enlarge Rocky Mountain National Park is open again...and free on Veterans Day. - NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
Rocky Mountain National Park is open again...and free on Veterans Day.
National Park Foundation
National Parks Free Entrance Day
Wednesday, November 11
On Veterans Day, all entrance fees are waived at National Park Service sites. Get all the details here.

Ross Gay, Be Holding
Wednesday, November 11, 5 p.m.

Poet Ross Gay's Be Holding is something of a love song to legendary basketball player Julius Erving — known as Dr. J — who dominated courts in the 1970s and ‘80s as a small forward for the Philadelphia ‘76ers. But this book-length poem is more than just an ode to an athlete. Through a kind of lyric meditation, Gay connects Dr. J’s famously impossible move from the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers to pick-up basketball and the flying Igbo and the Middle Passage, to photography and surveillance and state violence, to music and personal histories of flight and familial love. Watch a Tattered Cover live stream with Gay talking about his new book here.

Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience
Wednesday, November 11, 6 p.m.

In this virtual program, award-winning author Melanie Kirkpatrick journeys through four centuries of history, offering a vivid portrait of this nation’s best-loved holiday. Drawing on newspaper accounts, private correspondence, historical documents and cookbooks, “Thanksgiving” brings to life the full history of the holiday and what it has meant to generations of Americans. The Vail Symposium is hosting this free presentation; sign up here.

Women’s Rights: The Inimitable Theodosia Ammons
Wednesday, November 11, 7 p.m.

Long before Ruth Bader Ginsburg blazed a legal path for women’s rights, Theodosia Ammons broke through barriers as president of the Colorado Equal Suffrage Association and the first female dean at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University). In 1899, she designed and built Gwenthean Cottage, a model Chautauqua home that preserves her innovations for making women’s domestic work easier. As part of the program, the audience will be treated to the first-ever showing of a virtual tour of Gwenthean Cottage led by Ammons’s great-niece, Catherine Long Gates, Boulder native and owner of Long’s Gardens. Afterward, she and host/historian Sara Bell will answer questions. Find out more here.

The BreakBeat Poets: A Night of Poetry and Performance
Thursday, November 12, 7 p.m.

BookBar is hosting a free, virtual poetry reading and performance by the BreakBeat Poets: Idris Goodwin, Kevin Coval, Jessica Helen Lopez and Penelope Alegria. RSVP to [email protected] to join.

16th Street Mall Holiday Gift Festival
Friday, November 13, through Sunday, November 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
16th Street Mall, between Tremont and California streets
Get a jump start on your holiday shopping at this free, curated marketplace with a large selection of one of-a-kind seasonal items, handcrafted goods, home decor items, specialty foods and holiday gifts. Find out more here.

Junior League Virtual Mile High Holiday Mart
Friday, November 13, through December 31

There’s no way the Junior League of Denver is going to let COVID spoil its 41st annual holiday market, which was originally meant to go partly virtual with a limited in-person component. Instead, as fall pandemic numbers looked bleak, the JLD took a tight turn to expand and go completely virtual, with 24/7 shopping available through the end of the year. That means you can still grab all your favorite handmades and foodstuffs from the safety of your home base. Get all the details here.

Preston Porter Marker Dedication Ceremony
Saturday, November 14, 2 p.m.

On November 16, 1900, a fifteen-year-old Black youth was dragged into a field outside Limon by a jeering mob and burned to death. The lynching came days after Preston Porter Jr. was tortured in the Denver jail into making a coerced confession of murdering a white girl, and the event attracted spectators from across Colorado. A hundred and twenty years later, a memorial to Porter has been erected a few steps from Larimer Square; it will be dedicated in a virtual ceremony on Saturday, November 14, with speakers streaming live on Facebook @CLMProject and the web page coloradolynchingmemorial.org.

New American Diwali
Saturday, November 14, 3 to 4 p.m.

Diwali, India’s five-day festival of lights, makes an appearance more poignant than usual this year as a celebration focused on freedom from ignorance and negative forces. No wonder Denver-based organization Roshni chose the theme of “Let There Be Light” for its virtual sharing of spoken word, dance and music. Learn how to join in for the beautiful holiday and its tradition of lighting hundreds of candles (and sometimes setting them afloat) here.

Know of any other great free events around Denver? We'll be updating this list through the week; send information to [email protected]
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun