Yeehaw! Many of Denver's annual summer events are restarting this weekend, but the more traditional lineup will be joined by a number of innovative entertainments that were forged during the pandemic. You can hit an old-time rodeo, experience an iconic cycling festival...or go on a theatrical exploration.
Here are ten of the best events in Denver (and don't miss our lineup of free events this weekend):
Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Sunday, June 6, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Douglas County Fairgrounds, Castle Rock
Ride the Rock, Rock the Ride. cycling season kicks off with the 33rd annual pilgrimage to Castle Rock and the classic Elephant Rock ride. This year there are three road courses, one gravel/road route and a family ride — but there's also a Colorado Bike Expo, with exhibitors, demos, live music, food and more. Advance registration is closed, but you can register on site June 5 (1 to 7 p.m.) and June 6 (starting at 5 a.m.)...and even if you're not riding, the good times will roll on at the festival. Find out more here.
Sunday, June 6, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Casey Jones Park, Elizabeth
Yeehaw! This is how the West was fun. The Elizabeth Stampede kicks off the start of the season with one of the first PRCA rodeos of the year. On this final day, there's a community rodeo as well as the Red, White, and Blue Rodeo, as well as plenty of food and other festivities. Find the full schedule here.
Sunday, June 6, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Skyline Park, 16th Street Mall and Arapahoe Street
The Urban Market returns to the 16th Street Mall, where it's appeared every year since 2005. This open-air marketplace includes booths with arts and crafts sold directly by the artist; there will also be food and a concert at noon. Find out more here.
Rhino Stampede Bar Crawl
Sunday, June 6, noon to 5 p.m.
3636 Chestnut Place
The RiNo Art District, whose symbol is a rhino, is celebrating Rhino Week, collaborating with the Global Conservation Corps to raise awareness of wild animal conservation. While you learn more about wildlife, you an discover RiNo’s bars and breweries on a bar crawl. It's $30 to join; get tickets here.
Summer Lounge + Shop
Sunday, June 6, 1 to 6 p.m.
3051 Lawrence Street
Celebrate summer with fashion designers Mecla and Mimi Shim Studio, florist Bloom & Noosh and Talisman Fine Jewelry at this joint trunk show. There's no charge to browse, and the cocktail lounge (with snacks) is complimentary — but you won't want to leave empty-handed.
Athena Project’s Plays in Progress
Sunday, June 6, online
Long before plays hit the stage, playwrights teamed up with actors for table readings. The Athena Project’s annual Plays in Progress Series gives audiences a front-row look at that process. This year the event is entirely virtual, with readings and panels with playwrights, directors and actors nationwide who put an emphasis on elevating the voices of women artists while sharing the creative process with the public. Tickets are $15 to $25 (with a pay-what-you-can option); find more information here.
Lighthouse Writers Workshop LitFest
Through June 13, online
Aspiring writers, don’t wait for that MFA. Dip your quill into the finer points of authorship at the sixteenth edition of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop LitFest. The virtual festival includes workshops, seminars and more in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and hybrid genres, and online appearances from sixteen authors, including Hanif Abdurraqib, Emily Rapp Black, Jaquira Díaz, Layli Long Soldier, Helen DeWitt, Gregory Pardlo, and Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi. You can sign up for one-off events or get a pass to the whole fest. Just don’t forget your pen. For tickets and a full schedule, visit the Lighthouse website.
After the Flood
Through June 19
South Platte Park, Littleton
Put on your walking shoes and explore the urgency of climate change. Control Group Productions, the Playground Ensemble and artist Adrienne DeLoe have organized this one-and-a-half-mile immersive-art stroll through Littleton’s South Platte Park to examine the region’s ecology and the history of the devastating 1965 flood. Along the way, you’ll encounter dancers, performers and music from the creators to connect you to the land beneath your feet and the future of the planet. Tickets run $15 to $43 and times vary; for more information, visit Control Group Productions online.
The Catamounts’ Land of Milk and Honey
Through June 27
Shoenberg Farm, 5202 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster
Tickets are flying for the Catamounts' latest effort, the site-specific immersive production Land of Milk and Honey, written by Jeffrey Neuman. The production milks the history of the Shoenberg Farm, a dairy set up to feed tuberculosis patients in the early 1900s, and explores hot-button issues like philanthropy, immigration and health care through history. The Catamounts describes the performance as “part ghost story, part time travel, and wholly a celebration of how humans can turn personal tragedy into an act of community compassion!” These days, who couldn’t use that? For tickets, $25, visit the Catamounts online.
Circus Foundry’s Submerged
Allegory Studios, 2240 Curtis Street
If you haven’t noticed, immersive theater is back in full force, and in the case of the Circus Foundry’s sci-fi circus production Submerged, the premise is that humanity now lives fully underwater in the wake of an environmental catastrophe. The show poses the question: Would you be able to survive? In this family-oriented circus, you star as the main character going on an underwater journey. Play games, solve puzzles and meet various characters as you try to survive the two-hour experience. (Don’t worry, you aren’t really submerged; you'll stay dry.) It's $50 per person, with a two-person minimum and ten-person maximum; for more information and tickets, go to Eventbrite.
Know of a great event in town? We'll be updating this list through the weekend; send information to email@example.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.