The weather is cooling down, but the summer calendar is heating up. There's plenty to do around Denver, from celebrating Union Station's fifth birthday to getting in the swim at the Dragon Boat Festival to marveling at the antics of Saltarin at the Peruvian Festival. And the Invisible Circus is back in town, too. Keep reading for the 21 best things to do around town this week.
Monday, July 22
At 75 years old, Diana Ross is making Red Rocks Amphitheatre history as the performer with the widest gap between her first and second shows at the storied venue. The time span: fifty years. Ross, whose career dates back to the ’60s, when she dazzled the world as a founding member of the Supremes, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and the voice behind classic songs like “I’m Coming Out” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 22, at Red Rocks, 18300 West Alameda Parkway; tickets, $46 to $251, are available at axs.com.
Tuesday, July 23
This is not a drill! The Rainbow Militia will present a special Invisible Circus event benefitting Zabiti: An Immersive Circus Adventure at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 23. The evening will include beer by Ratio Beerworks, barbecue and gravity-defying acts, all inside the magical Zabiti Circus Wagon. And that's not all: You'll also get a sneak peek walk-through of the magical world inside Denver Rock Drill, 1717 East 39th Avenue, where you can explore the the witchy's house, an underwater world and more, all created by Tom Varani and Andrea Pliner of the Unbuilt Library. Tickets are $30; get them here.
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From releasing a string of hit records — including indisputable classics Come Home With Me and Purple Haze — to designing fashion-forward ebola masks, the perpetually purple-clad Cam’Ron brings an equal level of effortless finesse to all of his endeavors. The flamboyant MC, who began his career under the nom-de-mic Killa Cam, was originally discovered by the Notorious B.I.G., who helped the young artist secure a record deal. Though he hasn't released a proper studio album since 2009's Crime Pays (which shares a name with his directorial debut on film), Cam’Ron has remained active on camera and on the mic, appearing on two seasons of VH1's Love and Hip Hop: New York and recording a steady stream of mixtapes. The charismatic rapper will visit Englewood's Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 23. Go to gothictheatre.com for tickets, $25.95 to $30, and more information.
Wednesday, July 24
Plenty of things at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will scare the bejeezus out of you: asteroids, the giant Tyrannosaurus rex, and all manner of creepy animals. But few are as terrifying as Jordan Peele’s satirical indie horror movie Get Out, which will screen in Ricketson Auditorium, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, as part of the museum's Sci-Fi Film Series. The movie, which tells the story of a black man who visits his white girlfriend’s family, will send chills through the crowd, all while provoking important conversations about race. But it’s not just identity that’s cause for conversation: Ella Maria Ray of Metropolitan State University will be there to talk about the science behind the film. The screening starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24; for more information and tickets, $8 to $15, go to dmns.org.
Thursday, July 25
This is a tough time for creatives in Denver, with many galleries moving out of the core city (or closing altogether) because of rising costs, even as the artists themselves struggle with skyrocketing rent. But somehow, Spark Gallery has persevered; this month, Denver’s oldest active arts co-op is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. Among the festivities is a panel discussion, “Co-ops: Past, Present and Future,” from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at Spark, 900 Santa Fe Drive. Tackling the topic will be a handful of artists and critics, including Westword’s Michael Paglia. Admission is free, but come early to see the Spark Gallery 40th Anniversary Show, Part 1, which runs through July 28. (The second installment goes up August 1.) Find out more at sparkgallery.com.
When the Denver Museum of Nature & Science proclaims that a unique experience is coming to its Gates Planetarium, it isn't kidding. Viscerality is a "live immersive full-dome performance" designed by artist Synthestruct, aka Ginger Leigh, in which the audio and visuals are controlled by sensor-enabled gloves. "Each scene explores different methods of interaction and control, so that each show is unique and the audio and visuals are created in real time," organizers say. Curious? You should be. Head to the planetarium, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, on Thursday, July 25, at 7 p.m., and don't miss the cash bar! Tickets are $8 to $15; find more info at dmns.org.
Rustle up a whole herd's worth of good times when the Arapahoe County Fair returns for another weekend full of live music and livestock. The festivities begin on Thursday, July 25, with a "Boots Not Suits" kick-off dinner, and continue over the next three days, running from 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday, July 26, and Saturday, July 27, and from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 28, at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, 25690 East Quincy Avenue in Aurora. New attractions at this year's fair include the Butterfly Encounter exhibit, roving costumed characters like Shane the Copper Cowboy, and a tribute to the hacienda heritage and ongoing thrills of Mexican rodeo, while regulars can count on such favored traditions as the petting zoo, carnival rides and mutton bustin' challenges. Visit arapahoecountyfair.com to buy tickets, $10 to $50, and find out more.
Hard-rocking comedy duo Tenacious D joins the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheatre for a grand tribute to the "greatest band in the world"...which just so happens to be Tenacious D. Founded by metal-loving actors Kyle Gass and Jack Black,Tenacious D began as a goof on Metallica's "One" that blossomed into a short-lived HBO series and a platinum debut album. While their misbegotten foray into film comedy, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny, was a critical and box-office disappointment, Gass and Black continued touring with bands like the Foo Fighters and releasing popular albums. They'll soon embark on their Post-Apocalypto tour in support of an album and YouTube series of the same name, kicking the whole thing off with this special orchestral collaboration at Red Rocks, 18300 West Alameda Parkway in Morrison, at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 25. For tickets, $55 to $89.50, and more information, visit coloradosymphony.org.
Friday, July 26
Dire warnings about the effects of climate change abound, but sometimes seeing is believing — and really understanding. Doing its part to help this warming home of ours, the Museum of Art Fort Collins will launch Our Planet: Exploring Our Changing Environment on Friday, July 26. Created by Bob Doyle, the exhibit will showcase sixteen fellow accomplished Colorado artists and work that depicts the way climate change is affecting life locally and around the world. "The objective of this art exhibition is to engage people on the subject of climate change by creating art that draws them into the subject visually and emotionally, connecting them to real-life experiences and scientific understandings about what is going on today," organizers say. The show runs through September 29 at the museum, 201 South College Avenue in Fort Collins. Visit moafc.org to learn more.
Indigenous America has its own pop-culture connections — hence the formation of Indigenous Comic Con in Albuquerque in 2016, bringing a slate of Native American celebrities and creators together for a weekend of cosplay, panels, screenings and special events. A Native-oriented comic-book celebration will now coalesce in the Mile High City as Indigenous Pop X Denver, offering everything from traditional powwow dancing to a drag show, along with a more familiar comic-con format. Join the nation’s first people for a different view of comics subculture, beginning with a party at 5 p.m. Friday, July 26, and running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28, at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. Admission ranges from free to $225; buy tickets and learn more at indigenouspopx.com/denver.
Local artist Michael Sperandeo is the perfect match for a Denver Art Museum Untitled Final Fridays salute to the current exhibition The Light Show. An aficionado of digital multimedia and the growing field of virtual reality, Sperandeo will oversee the evening with a theme of “Cyber Future,” ringing all the bells and whistles with help from a few like-minded friends. Expect video gaming, experimental film, scent crystals and other surprises on Friday, July 26, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway; admission is included in the regular DAM gate fees, which range from free to $13. Get tickets and information at denverartmuseum.org.
While the Fort Collins Fringe Festival runs from July 25 through 28, with thirty shows in repertory at locations all over town, including Gray Hair, Don't Care!, an offering from the Old Lady Circus Club, a local aerial troupe for women “ages 35 to dead” associated with the Fort Collins Circus Center. Catch their acrobatics at 6 p.m. Friday, July 26, or 4:45 p.m. July 27 and 28, at the Bas Bleu Theatre Company, 401 Pine Street in Fort Collins. Tickets are $9, and you’ll need a $5 Fringe Fest button to participate, so peruse the schedule and pencil in some other shows to catch while you're in town. The first ten people ages seventy and older at each show will be reimbursed for their ticket fee, so skedaddle. Learn more about the Fringe and the Old Lady Circus Club at fringefestivalfortcollins.com.
After years of planning and construction, the renovated Union Station reopened to the public in July 2014, billing itself as “Denver’s Living Room.” Since that unveiling, people have definitely been living it up at Union Station, grabbing a beer on their way to a bus or train, sitting down for a meal in one of the restaurants, checking into the Crawford Hotel, even just hanging out in the vast lobby. On Friday, July 26, anyone can live it up when Union Station throws itself a fifth-anniversary party, complete with a free outdoor concert with Strange Americans from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Terminal Bar’s expanded patio. If you want to travel first class, inside the Great Hall will be a big, $175-ticket bash, complete with a champagne toast, an open bar, bites from some of the station’s restaurants and more, running from 6 to 9 p.m. To buy tickets or learn more, go to unionstationdenver.com.
Saturday, July 27
Marvel as gilded vessels take to the water at the annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, an increasingly popular tradition that returns for its nineteenth year on Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28. The festival honors a boating and ship-building heritage that goes back thousands of years, to China's Pearl River Delta and the Ancient Greek Olympic Games. But the centuries have done nothing to diminish the thrill of a vigorous dragon boat race, which remains a grand spectacle even on the comparatively placid waters of Sloan's Lake Park, 1700 Sheridan Boulevard. Dry-land activities include a live-music bandstand, a performing-arts stage, the Taste of Asia marketplace and Dragonland, a kid-friendly education and entertainment zone. Roughly 120,000 people attended last year's fest, so we heartily recommend taking the free shuttle from the Auraria campus over contributing to the parking nightmare. The festival gets off to the races at 8 a.m. both days, and admission is free; visit cdbf.org for more details.
Get ready to pop bottles and tap kegs at the R&B Festival (short for Rosé and Beer), a daylong celebration of music, food and bubbly booze from the folks at Pearl Wine and Platt Park Brewing. Sample over fifty different wines and twenty different brews while enjoying a curated-bites buffet and kicking back to the smooth sounds of live R&B. The party runs from 2 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, at Platt Park, 1800 South Pearl Street. Concert admission is included with tasting tickets, which leaves you with plenty of funds to wine up, get your beer on, or both. Don't let the copious flow of adult beverages fool you, however: Guests under 21 are welcome to bounce around the on-site Kid Zone for free while their parents enjoy the festival. For tickets, $10 to $45, and more information, visit the Rosé and Beer page at eventbrite.com.
Wounded veterans returning home are often saddled with pain — along with addictive opioids, or what many call "zombie dope," to treat their suffering. A documentary that highlights "the medical cannabis debate and the veterans who risk everything to ditch the drug cocktails prescribed by military doctors," Unprescribed was made by veteran Steve Ellmore, who will screen the film at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Denver Open Media, 700 Kalamath Street, and then stick around afterward for an audience Q&A. Tickets are $20 at eventbrite.com.
Are beards still a thing? Damn straight they are — at least in certain circles where fastidiously groomed facial hair remains a de rigueur lifestyle choice. Find out who belongs to that social club at the Longmont Mane Event Beard & Mustache Competition, where good grooming is essential for competing gentlemen (and a few brave ladies!). Along with the main competition at 6 p.m., the event, which runs from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at the Grossen Bart Brewery, 1025 Delaware Avenue in Longmont, includes a cornhole tournament, giant beer pong, henna art, food trucks and live music for the hairy and unhairy alike. Admission is a $5 cover at the door, which benefits the Longmont Humane Society and the Firehouse Art Center. Find details on the Grossen Bart Brewery Facebook page.
Regis University’s Mile-High MFA low-residency writing program might be one of Denver’s best-kept secrets, outside of the local literary community. But the Mile-High MFA Summer 2019 Residency Readings give the rest of us a chance to peek behind the curtain and see and hear what the program's faculty and students have been up to in the past year. The full week of readings gets started with one by Denver author Courtney E. Morgan, introduced by program director David Hicks, at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Regis, 3333 Regis Boulevard, and continues nightly through August 2. All readings are free; find the schedule on the Mile-High MFA Facebook page.
Neon artist Scott Young’s now-famous "Wish You Were Her/e" sculpture has become a familiar sight at more than one location in town (including, for a time, on the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver). One version, a permanent fixture at the Ramble Hotel in RiNo, is now the inspiration for an immersive jaunt — perfectly named Wish You Were Her/e — by the Wit Theatre Company. Styled as an interactive lesbian wedding, the show includes everything good nuptials require, including appetizers, drama and a champagne toast, while showcasing the hotel itself as a wedding-worthy venue. Join the party on Saturday, July 27, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Ramble, 1280 25th Street; get tickets, $60, and learn more at winwin.wedding.
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Sunday, July 28
Denver has its fair share of festivals, but few are as colorful as the Peruvian Festival, which returns to Columbus Park, 1501 West 38th Avenue, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 28. Celebrate the breathtakingly beautiful South American country — home to, among other incredible sites, Machu Picchu — with traditional folk dancers, Peruvian food and drink, music from reggaetón artists and a Marc Anthony tribute singer, and more. The fest is organized by the nonprofit Mi Casa Peru Colorado; admission is free, but bring cash for donations and all the offerings. Find more information at peruvianfestivaldenver.com.
What goes great with live theater? Food and drink don’t hurt, note the players of Boulder’s Catamounts, who’ve cooked up another edition of the FEED series, which combines all three elements in the most elegant and perfect way. FEED: Dreams explores the restructuring of the American Dream in difficult times through performance, bringing hope to the table, along with a four-course meal and live music on Sunday, July 28, from 6 to 9 p.m., under the stars in the beautiful setting of Lone Hawk Farm, 10790 North 49th Street in Longmont. A seat at the table will put you back $125, but the experience is priceless; sign up in advance at feeddreams.brownpapertickets.com.
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