Best Free Entertainment 2023 | Number Thirty Eight | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy of Number Thirty Eight

Bored and broke? Number Thirty Eight is here for you, with free entertainment nightly. In the winter, the indoor stage hosts free live music almost every night; there's also a trivia night and, on weekend afternoons, drag brunch bingo. The venue's annual Bison Days event, which takes place during the National Western Stock Show, offers free local music and activities such as line-dancing classes. During the spring and summer, Number Thirty Eight's large glass doors open to seamlessly connect the indoor space to a large outdoor patio complete with bar, volleyball court and impressive stage. What are you waiting for?

Lauren Antonoff

Sunny Sunday afternoons bring swarms of people to Cheesman Park — picnickers, dog walkers, runners and Rollerbladers, sunbathers and slackliners. Whether you're in a group or solo, there's much to see, but perhaps the most entertaining to watch are the groups of flow artists who gather around the stately columns of the park's neoclassical pavilion to practice their circus crafts. Watch jugglers hone their mind-blowing maneuvers while other artists create illusions with hoops, poi, staves and fans. These free-spirited folks prove that it's just as much fun to play with toys as an adult as it was when you were a kid.

It's just a few blocks east of Civic Center Park and the golden dome of the State Capitol, and a short city walk to either Cheesman or City Park. The intersection of Colfax and Pennsylvania might not be quite as colorful as it once was, when the Roslyn Grill stood where Prohibition is now, but it still offers its share of the weird. The meat-candy boneless ribs at Great Wall keep regulars coming back, and the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception looms, Old World style, on one side of the street across from Nob Hill, which offers a whole other sort of salvation. It's dirty, it's delicious, it's damning, and it's divine. That's Colfax.

Commerce City Cultural Council Facebook Page

Anyone old enough to remember the dog races at the Mile High Kennel Club remembers Rusty, the mechanical coursing rabbit, and the announcer's eternal cry of "Here comes Rusty!" Mile High shut down the greyhound racing in 2008, and the track sat empty until Commerce City Urban Renewal bought the land in 2011; redevelopment plans broke ground in 2020. But what goes around comes around: In tribute to the land's roots, local artists Los Supersónicos (aka Carlos Frésquez and Francisco Zamora) recently installed their rabbit sculpture, "Here Comes Rusty," at the new Landing at Greyhound Park.

When it comes to James Turrell's Skyspace concept, a light-based phenomenon that has spread around the world at more than eighty sites, it's the location that counts. Colorado's, installed in the Red Butte Recreational Area East off Highway 24 last year by Green Box Arts, is not only the first in our state, but it's also the first in the world to be built on a mountaintop. Turrell says that the altitude on the butte in Colorado causes the sky to glow a deeper blue color that increases its intensity and effect, which is meaningful in Skyspace-speak. We are very lucky, indeed.

Joe Freedmon Photography via Art RiNo

The Art RiNo mural festival in September 2022 saw many impeccable creations, but one in particular stands out: the collaboration by street-art fixtures Jaime Molina, Jher and Jodie Herrera to honor the late artist and activist Alicia Cardenas, who was one of the first victims killed during the horrific series of shootings at tattoo shops and other locations around Denver on December 27, 2021. Herrera spearheaded the photorealist portrait of a beaming Cardenas, Molina created the abstract lettering spelling "matriarch," and Jher, a close friend of Cardenas's for decades, painted the marigolds and monarch butterflies, symbols of Cardenas's Chicano heritage and of the soul finding its way home. The painting stands next to a mural painted by Cardenas herself.

Intersection of Larimer and 27th streets
Markus Puskar

Twenty-eight-year-old muralist Markus Puskar was selected by the Denver Arts & Venues P.S. You Are Here grant program to paint a mural that engaged its surrounding community. The result, a collage of shapes and images that can be colored in by visitors with chalk found at the site was unveiled in August with an event that invited the neighborhood to begin filling in the black-and-white mural with color. A full-time social worker, Puskar wanted to build community with his artwork, too, and had seen success with a similar coloring-book event at another of his murals in Cherry Creek. More than half a year later, his mural at Sunken Gardens is often seen splashed with color.

Edica Pacha

After President Trump was elected, Motus Theater staged a series of monologues with UndocuAmerica about the immigrant experience. And in 2022, the theater company expanded on building that awareness with murals by artist Edica Pacha. Through a P.S. You Are Here grant, Pacha pasted portraits of immigrants around Denver, along with a QR code that directs viewers to corresponding monologues. The murals were unveiled in June to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the DACA program, although two of them, located at public libraries, had to be replaced after being vandalized. That hasn't deterred Pacha, who told us, "This is why I continue to do art about these educate the greater community and bring greater perspective around these challenging issues."

RiNo Art District

Take a walk around RiNo to see the street art that the Mile High City has become known for. You can always take the Denver Graffiti Tour (a two-hour paid, guided tour on weekends) to get to know the area, but a stroll down the alleys and streets works, too. From murals by national talents like Shepard Fairey to works by local legends such as Detour, Casey Kawaguchi, Anthony Garcia, Pat Milbery and more, the neighborhood is a rotating art museum in its own right. RiNo Art District has even mapped out the murals on its website so you can stay updated on what's happening in the neighborhood and plan your trip.

MCA Denver

We can't say enough good things about the Museum of Contemporary Art, which revived the Northside's historic Holiday Theater last year by signing a long-term lease to host productions there. And the museum has shown even more local love this year, celebrating RedLine Contemporary Art Center's fifteenth anniversary with a blockbuster exhibition showcasing works from its alumni resident artists. It isn't often you see an institution like this giving so much space and love to local artists, but the MCA is always quick to recognize Denver talent while also providing inspiration from international and national contemporary artists.

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