Longtime Coloradans like to say “Come for the winter, stay for the summer,” and Denver lives up to this promise of year-round entertainment with abundant sunshine, myriad attractions and a jam-packed calendar, according to Denver.org.
Whether you’re just visiting the Mile High City or a lifelong resident, here are five summertime events that offer fun for the whole family.
June 3 – Sept. 2
What: A natural open-air music venue celebrated for its acoustics, Red Rocks Amphitheatre also has developed a cult following for showing outdoor movies. This year’s films are “Caddyshack,” “Fight Club,” “Labyrinth,” “This Is Spinal Tap,” “The Fast and The Furious,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Pitch Perfect,” and “The Big Lebowski.”
Why: Shout your favorite lines with nearly 10,000 people who are as excited as you are.
Where: 18300 W. Alameda Parkway in Morrison, 10 miles west of Denver.
Tips: All tickets are general admission, and parking is free. To avoid the worst traffic: Exit C-470 at U.S. 285, and take Highway 8 into Morrison.
June 24-Sept. 6
What: Bring your blankets, camp chairs and coolers to the 23-acre gardens and enjoy live music in the evening air. This year’s performers: Natalie Cole; Joan Baez; Steep Canyon Rangers and Head for the Hills; Jimmy Cliff; Barenaked Ladies; Sara Bareilles; B.B. King; Sheryl Crow; Gipsy Kings; Martin Sexton and St. Vincent.
Why: Hear popular artists perform live. While you’re there, you can also check out the Rocky Mountain region’s first major outdoor exhibition by master glass artist Dale Chihuly.
Where: 1007 York Street, in Denver’s Cheesman Park neighborhood.
Tips: Book early, because these shows sell out. Parking is included in ticket prices; use the gardens’ parking garage or posted areas in Cheesman Park. Don’t park in the surrounding neighborhoods; you’ll get ticketed or towed.
What: This is Denver’s premier cultural event, attracting roughly 350,000 visitors each year, according to the festival website. It includes exhibits, culinary demonstrations, performing arts, live music and family-friendly activities.
Why: The 2014 festival will feature 260 exhibitors, including 12 award-winners from 2013 and eight emerging artists.
Where: Denver’s Cherry Creek North Shopping District, from 2nd to 3rd Avenues between Columbine and Steele Streets.
Tips: Admission is free. Take advantage of $6 parking (which benefits the nonprofit CCAF) in garages at 151 Detroit, 2nd/Columbine, and 2nd/University; it’s free at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Due to ongoing street/drainage improvements, avoid the west-side festival entrance.
What: Experience more than 50 teams, 1,300 competitors and 80,000 spectators at a cultural extravaganza with roots that go back more than 2,000 years in China, according to the festival’s website. You’ll witness the “Awaking the Dragon” ceremony and vibrant on-water competition while savoring Asian cuisine, arts and crafts, and performances.
Why: There’s nothing else quite like this in Colorado.
Where: 1700 S. Sheridan Boulevard at Sloan’s Lake Park.
Tips: Admission is free. Don’t even try to park in the congested Sloan’s Lake neighborhood; instead, head for Sports Authority Field at Mile High (just off I-25 at 1701 Bryant Street) and take the free shuttle.
Aug. 29-Sept. 1
What: More than half a million people converge on downtown Denver for this festival, which incorporates more than 50 area restaurants, 250 artists and vendors, seven stages, carnival rides, kids’ activities and educational programs. This is how Denverites celebrate summer’s end.
Why: Food, music and fun. What more can we say?
Where: Civic Center Park, at the intersection of Colfax and Broadway.
Tips: Admission is free, but you’ll need to purchase tickets for food, beverages and rides. Click here for advice on parking (cars and bicycles) and public transportation.