Let's get this out of the way: Denver loves Red Rocks – and when it comes to Best Outdoor Venue, readers have consistently made it their choice, and did so again in 2019. But since Red Rocks has more Best of Denver awards than an Eagle Scout has merit badges, Westword editors decided to give the Best Outdoor Venue award to a different spot: Levitt Pavilion, a new, far-more-affordable and easier-to-navigate option right here in town.
Here was our explanation: "In Levitt Pavilion, we get two of Denver's greatest assets in one: a beautiful public park and a music venue. The nonprofit-operated outdoor stage is nestled in southwest Denver's Ruby Hill Park, a lovely, accessible green space offering access by car, bus, bike or foot. Fifty free concerts a year means that Levitt is economically approachable, too, giving audiences a chance to check out local, national and international musicians that fill the venue's summer calendar. Bring a blanket and your own picnic, or purchase food from the local food trucks that set up shop during concerts. Enjoy beverages from Levitt's own concession stand and you'll put money right back into the programming that makes this outdoor amphitheater a welcome, all-ages addition to an already bustling live-music scene."
While Levitt Pavilion's 2020 calendar has yet to be fully announced, the nonprofit has already made some big news this year. Longtime Indie 102.3 / OpenAir DJ Jessi Whitten has been appointed Levitt's next development director, and as a steadfast supporter of local music, her addition to the team will only bolster the venue's commitment to amplifying Denver music.
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We caught up with executive Chris Zacher to get his take on what it meant for Levitt to be honored in the 2019 edition of Best of Denver.
"Receiving the Best of Denver Award of Best Outdoor Venue is a tremendous honor," Zacher says. "This award is a testament to the hard work put in by the entire Levitt Pavilion Denver staff, board members, vendors, and our patrons."
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Zacher recognizes what it means to receive such an award in a live-music market as competitive as Denver's, with excellent outdoor venues from Hudson Gardens to City Park Pavilion all around town — Red Rocks just a short drive away.
"Denver has an amazing music community that boasts a collection of some of the best venues in the United States," he adds. "Since we opened in 2017, we have been recognized internationally, nationally and locally for the work we are doing. While the international and national recognition are much appreciated, it’s this award from our own community that means the most to us.... Thank you Denver and Westword for supporting us!"
Ready to weigh in on which venues should be honored in the 2020 Best of Denver? The Readers' Poll is now open at readerschoice.westword.com, where you can vote for your favorites in more than a hundred of the categories that will be in the final issue, heading your way on March 26.
The deadline to vote is March 18.