Summer is prime time for visits to The Mile High City. With its 300 annual days of sunshine, thriving cultural scene, well-established annual events and booming culinary and craft beverage industries, Denver continues to draw blockbuster exhibitions and internationally renowned events – and summer is the perfect time to experience it all.
“Denver is constantly positioning itself on a national and international stage for culture, food, music, sports and more,” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “In the past several years, the summer season has been an exceptional showcase of Denver’s appeal to visitors and residents alike – as an active, outdoor city chock full of festivals, events, urban adventures and exciting things to see and do; and 2019 will be no exception.”
Blockbuster Exhibitions and Events
Two major anniversaries in 2019 led to the creation of some of the summer’s biggest exhibitions. Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s (DMNS) Leonardo Da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius remembers the famed inventor, artist, scientist, sculptor, philosopher and true Renaissance man on the 500th anniversary of his death (through August 25). Additionally, Wings over the Rockies Air & Space Museum’ Apollopalooza, a regional celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, will feature interactive activities, exclusive exhibits, seminars from world-class speakers and more (July 13-20).
Denver Art Museum is hosting the first-ever major museum exhibition dedicated to Denver-born artist and renowned contemporary portraitist, Jordan Casteel in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze (through August 18). DMNS will also feature Our Senses: Creating Your Reality (through August 4), a series of interactive galleries that invite visitors to discover how there is much more to human senses than just the usual five. Denver Botanic Gardens, one of the top five botanic gardens in the country, will present Human/Nature: Figures from the Craig Ponzio Sculpture Collection (April 19 – September 15), an exhibition of sculptures that explore the human form against the backdrop of the Gardens’ diverse botanical environments. And History Colorado Center will take on the history of the state’s brewing scene with Beer Here! Brewing the New West (May 18, 2019 – August 1, 2020).
Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con) will return to the Colorado Convention Center for three days of family-friendly events (May 31 – June 2). SeriesFest Season 5, a five-day festival celebrating the art of independent TV series creation, will take place at locations around the city including Red Rocks Amphitheatre (June 21-26). And Slow Food Nations will return to Denver for its third year (July 19-21), gathering leaders, eaters, farmers, chefs, educators and families for a weekend of tastings, tours and talks in Larimer Square.
In addition to these 2019 blockbuster events and exhibitions, Denver will also host several crowd-pleasing annual events, including Larimer Square’s Denver Chalk Art Festival (June 1-2), First Friday Art Walks every first Friday of the month in the city’s creative districts, Sakura Square’s Cherry Blossom Festival (June 22-23) and the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (July 27-28) – the biggest of its kind in the U.S. – among many others.
Summer Holiday Weekends
Summer holiday weekends are an ideal time to visit Denver. Generally three-day weekends, the holidays are a great reason to come to the city and the timeframe allows plenty of time to experience both the celebration and everything else that is going on. Denver’s Cinco de Mayo Festival (May 4-5) is one of the largest cultural events in Colorado, and it is filled with live entertainment, food and drink, children’s activities a parade and more. Denver Day of Rock – a block party in downtown Denver featuring more than two-dozen free rock concerts – kicks off Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 25. Father’s Day weekend now holds its own as a holiday weekend in Denver, this year featuring the second annual Denver BBQ Festival at Broncos Stadium at Mile High (June 14-16) – with food from some of the country’s most award-winning barbecue legends; and Denver Pride Fest, one of the country’s largest (June 14-16).
Independence Eve (July 3) kicks off Denver’s Fourth of July celebration with free live music, a light show and fireworks; followed by the 28th annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival (July 5-7), in Cherry Creek North which features visual, culinary and performing arts form local and national artisans. And, as a true summer finale, Labor Day Weekend ends the summer with a bang – including A Taste of Colorado (August 31 – September 2), Denver Food + Wine Festival (September 3-8), a three-day Phish appearance (August 30 – September 1) and CRUSH Walls street art festival (September 2-8).
High profile sporting events take the spotlight this summer, when Denver will host a truly unique series of national and international games alongside the city’s regular professional, amateur and recreational sports. U.S. Soccer’s Women’s National Team will take on Australia at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for a soccer match before they head to France to participate in the FIFA Women’s World Cup (April 4). Monster Energy Supercross will make its Denver debut at Broncos Stadium at Mile High (April 13). The Mexican national team will be one of four soccer teams playing in this summer’s Denver double-header for the CONCACAF Gold Cup (June 19). And the Colorado Classic cycling race will return this year – this time as a premier women’s only race, raising the bar with a quadrupled prize purse, team stipends, live streaming and longer, more challenging routes (August 22-25).
Complementing these prestigious events will be Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, whose opening home game has become a citywide celebration (April 4) and who will be playing in their 26th season. And the Rodeo All-Star Weekend will highlight the best in pro-rodeo, including top-ranked cowboy and cowgirl athletes in bull riding, bareback riding and several other popular sports (April 13-14).
As a city filled with plenty of urban adventure for all interests, there are also abundant recreational adventure opportunities, including hikes, extreme sports parks, kayaking in the city, biking its 85 miles of urban bike trails and the country’s only downtown amusement park, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park.
Music in The Mile High
The Red Rocks Summer Concert Series, held at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – the world’s only naturally formed, acoustically perfect amphitheater – will be the largest one yet with the most number of headliners performing at the renowned concert venue in its 78-year history. During the day at Red Rocks Park, various organizations host yoga and fitness classes, and there are plenty of hiking trails. Several of the headliners that have been announced this season include Kacey Musgraves (June 26), The Head and the Heart (July 17-18) and Denver’s own Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (August 21-22).
There are also plenty of concerts happening in the heart of the city this summer. Top scheduled national and international acts include Hozier (April 5), Andrea Bocelli (June 21), Diana Ross (July 22), Billy Joel (August 8) and Dave Matthews Band (August 23) among many others. This year’s Underground Music Showcase will feature more than 400 local and national acts at more than 15 different venues (July 26-28). The Westword Music Showcase will feature Jauz, Bishop Briggs, Lovelytheband and more in Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District (June 29).
Summer 2019 promises to be one for the record books, with events that emphasize everything Denver has to offer year-round in one jam-packed season. To learn more about summer offerings in The Mile High City, including hotel deals, go to VISITDENVER.com.