There's plenty to do this weekend, whether you plan to stick close to home (buy plants for that home through a virtual version of the Denver Botanic Gardens' annual fall sale) or head for the hills. All national parks are free on September 26, which is National Public Lands Day. And up in the glowing aspen, Central City will be filled with art all weekend, with more than a dozen artists painting the town for a show that culminates on Sunday.
There's still more, including markets in Boulder and at Belleview Station by the Tech Center. See our list of ten free events this weekend here, and keep reading for ten more great events in and around Denver (and your couch):
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National Public Lands Day
Saturday, September 26
Today is National Public Lands Day (it's also National Hunting & Fishing Day), when entrance to every national park is free; there are volunteer projects and other activities at many of them. If you can't get to one of Colorado's national parks, the National Environmental Education Foundation, Toyota and Corazón Latino are hosting a 45-minute NPLD Virtual Signature Event on Saturday, September 26, starting at 8 a.m., with a virtual musical road trip through select public lands across the country. The acts and parks: We the Folk and Lele Rose, Joshua Tree National Park, California; Cuarenta y Cinco, Carson National Forest, New Mexico; Salsa Train Orquestra, Notchview, Massachusetts; Cherry Blossom String Quartet and Michael Bard, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C.; Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Arizona; Kawika Kahiapo, Waimea Canyon State Park, Hawaii; and John Hoover, Eagle Landing Park, Washington. Sign in here.
Denver Botanic Gardens Fall Plant & Bulb Sale Online Event
Through Sunday, September 27, at 5 p.m.
Since hard-core gardeners already know how to buy plants and bulbs online or from a catalogue, it won’t be much of a stretch for the Denver Botanic Gardens to roll out its fall sale virtually. As with the usual live version, entry is free, and there will be a virtual crowd fighting over that last bag of the rarest crocus bulbs. Fortunately, this year you have the option of studying a detailed list of items for sale in advance of the cyber-free-for-all, so you’ll enter the fray ready for battle. Order here through September 27, then pick up your bounty between October 1 and 3 at the DBG.
Third Annual Central City Plein Air Festival
Through Sunday, September 27, 6 p.m.
Catch artists at work while also enjoying the beauty of the changing aspen and historic Central City. The artists will be back for the Quick Draw Competition on Eureka Street at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, when they'll create a new painting in two hours; they'll be shown off and sold at 2 p.m. that day in the Central City Opera House Gardens. You can see all the work at a sale and awards reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday in the Teller House parking lot. Those events are all free; there are also extra tours, currently sold out. Find out more here.
The Peak of Southlands Grand Opening
Saturday, September 26
6155 South Main Street, Aurora
Southlands celebrates a major renovation this weekend. Activities Saturday include a mini chalk art festival, sidewalk sales and a craft market, a Cub Club tulip garden, fitness classes and demonstrations, and the debut of new street murals. Get the full schedule here.
Denver American Indian Festival
Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27
In its seventh year, the free, family-friendly Denver American Indian Festival has gone virtual. Experience American Indian culture through song, dance, arts and crafts; world-renowned performers Calvin Standing Bear, Rose Red Elk, Bear Limvere, Sevenfalls Dancers, Sid Whiting, Kristina Badhand and more will entertain. There will also be a kids' zone, cultural arts zone, food vendors and even a recipe corner, along with special lectures daily in the Blazing Your Own Path speaker series. Find out more at denveramericanindianfestival.org.
TheBigWonderful Autumn Bazaar
Saturday, September 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Belleview Station, 4910 South Newport Street
More than fifty vendors will be on hand for this special edition of TheBigWonderful, which also features new fall beers and live music, with a jam by members of Lotus and the Heavy Pets. Return on Sunday for a farmers' market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a free concert by the Matt Flaherty Band at 3 p.m. Tickets to the Autumn Bazaar are $5 in advance, $8 at the door (and include one free drink). Find out more here.
Avalon Drive-Thru Art Event
Saturday, September 26, noon to 4 p.m.
Avalon Ballroom parking lot, 6185 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder
Think of the Avalon Drive-Thru Art Event as an arts festival that you travel through and view from the safety of your car, from which you can also purchase fresh work by some sixty local artists, all while enjoying live music, dance performances and wacky art installations. Mask up, roll down your windows and chat with the artists as you roll around the tented, drive-thru gallery; the entire event is free, meaning you’ll have more dough in your wallet to give artists a reason to live again. Reserve timed tickets in advance at Eventbrite.
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Bazaar Art Mrkt
Saturday, September 26, 2 to 8 p.m.
Trident Booksellers & Cafe, 940 Pearl Street, Boulder
More than fifteen creatives will show their work at this artist-run market, selling everything from prints to jewelry to leather goods. The market is on the patio of the Trident, and admission is free (but masks are required); find out more here.
Civic Center LIVE: Black Love Mural Festival After-Party
Saturday, September 26, 5 to 10 p.m.
Civic Center Park
Remember the Black Love Mural Festival, way back in June, when the cry of "Black Lives Matter" turned urgent and was even painted on Broadway? The fest, which brought murals and activist art to life in Civic Center Park, eventually made room for other events in the shadow of the Capitol, and never had a proper ending. Hence this delayed after-party, a loud and proud evening of live music with DJs and hip-hop artists. For COVID reasons, attendance is limited; get your $20 ticket while you can at civiccenterpark.org.
BIFF Drive-In: Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time Parts 1 and 2
Saturday, September 26, gates at 5:45, movie at 7:15 p.m.
Boulder Municipal Airport, 3327 Airport Road in Boulder
The Boulder International Film Festival finishes out its drive-in season with the first in-person public screening of the two-part documentary Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time (which was supposed to premiere at SXSW 2020). The movie features Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, Eagles, Jackson Brown, Alice Cooper, The Byrds, The Monkees, Frank Zappa and many more. Before the film, Boulder-based singer/songwriter Finn O'Sullivan will perform. Admission is $35 per car, and tickets are going fast; grab a spot here.
Living Room Local with John Lithgow
Sunday, September 27, 5 to 6 p.m.
Because actor John Lithgow happens to be a very, very good friend of Boulder’s Local Theater Company, he’s inviting folks from everywhere into his living room for a live virtual reading from his book of topical verse, Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown, followed by a discussion with local critic Lisa Kennedy about the role of satire in art and politics. It’’s going to be sooo clever. Tickets are $20 in advance for the link at localtheaterco.org.
Doors Open Denver
Monday, September 28, through October 15
Building off the success of past events, the annual Doors Open Denver has gone virtual in 2020. While the timing, duration and scope have changed (there will even be a photo contest), what hasn’t changed is its focus on offering insider tours that provide exclusive access to — and unique information about — historic buildings, new buildings and everything in between. This year's tours highlight a dozen spaces ranging from cultural to commercial to civic structures; one tour a day will be offered four days a week, each with a question-and-answer period with experts. Tours are $7 for Denver Architecture Foundation members and $9 for non-members; find all the details at denverarchitecture.org.
Know of more great events around town? We'll be updating this list through the weekend; send information to email@example.com.