Colorado overflows with festivals in the summer. Looking for high adventure? Culture? Diversity? Art? From the high country to city streets, this state has it all: You can get to know your neighbors, get to know your world. Get wet, get wild.
Here are ten ways to get wet and wild this summer.
FIBArk (which is short for “First In Boating the Arkansas,” in case you wondered) started in 1949 with only six boats cascading through a 57-mile whitewater course at the height of the spring runoff season, from Salida to Cañon City via the Royal Gorge. Over the seventy years since then, the course has shortened but the event has grown, exponentially, into a town festival with events for everyone, on and off the raging whitewater. The fest’s signature downriver races in various divisions happen Sunday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but there’s so much more to do and see throughout the long weekend, from a raft rodeo and other fun water events to bike and running races, a skatepark showdown, a parade and more on land.
Civic Center Park
Denver PrideFest is not only the largest LGBTQ celebration in the region, it’s also one of the top ten pride events in the nation. This year’s fest offers three stages of live entertainment ranging from drag shows to special appearances by YouTube sensation Todrick Hall and RuPaul runner-up Peppermint, along with more than 250 exhibitors, as well as Denver artist Lonnie Hanzon’s Stonewall 50: Progress and Reflection history installation. Sunday’s PrideFest Parade brings tradition to the proceedings, stepping off from Cheesman Park at 9:30 a.m. and marching down East Colfax Avenue to Civic Center Park, with thousands of spectators lining the route and plenty of rainbow colors.
Fletcher Plaza, Aurora
Small can be better, as the Arts on the Block Aurora Arts Festival proves by celebrating the creative community living and working within Aurora’s boundaries. Live art and music, ethnic dance, kids’ rides, pop-up performances and an Aurora-centric vendor market all have a part in making visitors feel right at home in the town in Denver's side yard. This homey festival is just big enough to be great, yet small enough to be manageable and neighborly. Admission is free.
Cherry Creek North
A well-oiled machine with an upscale vibe, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival isn’t as much about challenging or confounding art as it is about well-made, whimsical and rawly beautiful art and craft, made by 265 juried local and national artists. Works were judged in fourteen categories, from ceramics to wood, and the lucky chosen artists are ready to wow you — and chat with you, too — as you peruse the booths. CCAF’s level of class is more than upheld by surrounding festivities that include art performances, live music, ARTivity Avenue activities for families and delicious food-truck fare.
Colorado Black Arts Festival
Denver City Park
A tradition on the western end of City Park now in its 33rd year, the Colorado Black Arts Festival sports an African village-themed layout and exudes laid-back charm. In the shade of the trees, vendors hawk art, jewelry, handmade items, ethnic trinkets and African artifacts in the “Watu-Sakoni” People’s Marketplace; food vendors beckon with soul food and eats from around the world; and live music sounds off on the Kumba Stage, with jazz saxophonist Eric Darius and gospel queen Le’Andria Johnson as headliners. Saturday kicks off with the annual Boogaloo Celebration Parade, commencing at 10 a.m. at 22nd Avenue and Downing Street and then heading to the park.