The week got off to a fast start with celebrations marking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But the spirit of MLK lives on in other events throughout the weekend.
And there's more, much more, to do in and around Denver — all for free. Keep reading for ten of the best options, some serious and others just plain silly:
X Games Aspen 2022
Through Sunday, January 23
Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen Snowmass
The 25th annual Winter X Games return to Buttermilk Mountain for the 21st year, bringing an international crew of nearly 100 top skiers and snowboarders to Colorado for breathtaking slopestyle, big air and superpipe competitions. Invited athletes include Olympic medalists Chloe Kim, Shaun White, Nick Goepper, Jamie Anderson and Alex Ferreira, as well as 2022 contender Eileen Gu. Spectating is free, and you can also watch online; find a complete schedule here.
Sunday, January 23, 2 to 6 p.m.
Number Thirty Eight, 3560 Chestnut Place
The fun concludes at Number Thirty Eight, "Colorado's Social Frontier," which has been offering free music and free beer (on entry) during the Stock Show. DJ Ginger Perry sounds off at 2 p.m., followed by Kayla Ruby at 4 p.m. on January 23. Find more information at nmbr38.com.
SCFD Free Day: Guitar Day
Sunday, January 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard
The DMNS hosts its second SCFD free day of the new year, with a special focus on the current exhibit Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World. In addition to seeing the show, a drool-worthy guitarists’ dream display, visitors can take part in guitar-related science activities or color a rock-and-roll poster. General free-day fare, including all permanent exhibitions and strolling paleo puppeteer “Mr. Bones,” will be available all day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find more info here.
Walk With Me
Daily through February 16, gallery opens at 2 p.m.
Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder
Walk With Me includes more than 100 iconic photographs by famed photojournalist Ernest Withers, which document civil rights activism, sports, music, politics and everyday life. The exhibit (suggested donation $5) is the centerpiece of the NAACP Boulder County's "Walk With Me" Black History Month celebration; find out more about the series here.
McNichols Building Exhibits
Daily, 8 to 5 p.m.
McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue
Four new exhibits debut at the McNichols building this week: On the first floor, Travis Sheridan's Imperfect Pixels and Imperfect Union ask us to remember those the Black community has recently lost and to examine the promises of the U.S. government that go unfulfilled. On the second floor, Zen Gardens From Kyoto to Denver celebrates the beauty of Japanese Zen gardens with large-format photos by the late William Corey and photos of the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Shofu-En Japanese Garden by Scott Dressel-Martin. On the third floor, Tomorrow Is a New Day features deeply personal work from Open Studio Cambodia block-print artist Morn Chear and Open Studio Cambodia founder Lauren Iida, a Japanese-American papercut artist. Admission is free; learn more here.
Without a Home in Aurora
Through May 29, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Aurora History Museum, 15051 East Alameda Parkway, Aurora
The Without a Home in Aurora exhibit is based on an oral history project that captured the personal challenges, trials and resilience of Aurorans experiencing homelessness. Much of the photography in the display was provided by local street photographer Amy Forestieri; more than twenty people shared their stories. Admission is free; find out more here.
Downtown Denver Rink
Monday through Thursday, noon to 5 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., through February 20
1601 Arapahoe Street
Looking for a romantic winter activity that won't break the bank or take you too far from home? You’re in luck: The Downtown Denver Rinkis back with free skating and cheap rentals. The season runs through February 20, and if you want to brush up on your skating skills before you bring a date along, free lessons are offered every Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. Contact the Downtown Denver Partnership at 303-534-6161 for details; find out more here.
Vida Building at CSU Spur
Daily, 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
National Western Complex, 4800 North Bettie Cram Drive
This amazing new Colorado State University animal-care facility opened in time for the National Western Stock Show, and admission is always free. (Stock Show parking is free, too, but you might have a bit of a walk.) Inside, you can see cat and dog surgery, watch a mock kids' vet clinic, and experience virtual reality. Find out more here.
Night Lights Denver
Tuesdays through Sundays through January, 5:15 to 11:59 p.m.
Clocktower, 1601 Arapahoe Street
The January program of the "people's projector" is up and running, with new works from artists Danielle Cunningham. Joseph Toney and Mario Carrillo illuminating the side of the Clocktower; Clayton Kenney's crowd-favorite "Snow" from 2019 has also returned. The light shows continue daily (except Monday) through January; find out more here.
Wednesdays through Sundays through January, noon to 8 p.m.
Understudy, 890 C 14th Street
The latest project at the Denver Theatre District’s cozy arts incubator space, Understudy, has all the fixings of a traditional arcade — except that they’ve been souped up by a long list of participating local artists. Even the prizes are artist-made: Grab a masterpiece from a claw machine, or redeem coupons for enamel pins, coloring books, miniature paintings, jewelry, tea towels, art prints, small sculptures and more. ARTcade will be open Wednesdays through Sundays through the end of January to accommodate Stock Show visitors; find out more here.
The Hardest Day
Available through Sunday, January 28, online
Acclaimed documentary The Hardest Day, about the power of the human-animal bond in its last moments, will be available to stream for free starting January 20, courtesy of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, the film’s presenting sponsor. A live virtual Q&A event with the filmmakers and veterinarians appearing in the documentary will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 27. Find out more here.
Do you know of a great free event in metro Denver? We'll be updating this list through the week; send information to [email protected]