This year’ fall colors in Denver include vibrant street murals, ‘frozen’ blues and more
In The Mile High City, “fall colors” take on a whole different meaning. With a slew of visual art displays, exciting exhibitions, festivals and lively performing arts filling Denver’s cultural calendar this fall, there is a lot more to see than just the aspen leaves turning gold. From the pre-Broadway world premiere of Disney’s Frozen to a weeklong celebration of Denver’s arts scene during Denver Arts Week, there are plenty of ways for people to experience culture this fall.
“Our arts and cultural scene is abundant year round – and it shows in our world-class museums, unique art districts and diverse neighborhoods – but the city really comes alive in the fall” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This year is going to be spectacular. Denver will be host to highly regarded international events and traveling exhibitions; the world premiere of one of Broadway’s most anticipated shows; displays of scientific discovery and more. Coupled with some of Denver’s favorite annual events, the city is ready to impress the cultural enthusiast again this fall.”
Whether visitors come to see the new murals created at CRUSH, the masterpieces created by women during the Age of Impressionism or for the abundance of arts and film festivals, craft beer events, celebrations of innovation and more, this fall is the perfect time to come to Denver.
Below are several events taking place throughout fall in The Mile High City; for a full list of events, exhibitions and more – including hotel deals – go to the VISIT DENVER website.
Blockbuster Events & Exhibitions
Frozen at the Buell Theatre, through October 1
The beloved Disney tale of two sisters torn apart and their journey to find themselves comes to life on the stage in August. The show features a renowned Broadway cast and creative team including Caissie Levy as Elsa and Patti Murin as Anna, along with Tony Award-winning choreographer Rob Ashford. Premiering at the Buell Theatre in Denver first – before it reaches Broadway in New York – the highly anticipated new musical will run through October 1, 2017.
Nature’s Amazing Machines, through January 1, 2018
Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s exhibition, Nature’s Amazing Machines, uses real objects, scientific models and hands-on elements to showcase the marvels of natural engineering. Discover how a giraffe’s heart pumps blood up its long neck, how a toucan stays cool in the jungle and how it might feel to fly. Visitors will also see modern designs inspired by natural adaptations, like Velcro, wind turbines and chainsaws.
Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism, October 22, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Denver Art Museum will host Her Paris: Women Artists in the Age of Impressionism, a traveling exhibition organized by the American Federation of Arts that surveys the artistic contributions of women in Paris during the second half of the 19th century, revealing the breadth and strength of their achievements. The exhibition will feature more than 80 paintings by 37 women artists from across Europe and America, who migrated to Paris to further their artistic careers. They range from well-known artists such as Berthe Morisot (French), Mary Cassatt (American) and Rosa Bonheur (French), to painters who are lesser-known in the United States, including Anna Ancher (Danish) and Paula Modersohn-Becker (German).
DINOS! Live, through October 31
Denver Zoo is taking visitors back in time with DINOS! Live, an exhibit through which animatronic dinosaurs come to life around the park. Guests can see Mesozoic marvels, from a tyrannosaurus rex to a stegosaurus, and are able to compare them to animals that live at the Zoo and in the wild today. Guests can also enjoy evening viewings – DINOS! After Dark – on Thursday (adults only), Friday and Saturday (family-friendly).
Backstory: Western American Art in Context, through February 11, 2018
Artists of the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries captured the landscapes and people of a rapidly changing West – as events set in motion dynamics that still shape the region today. Backstory: Western American Art in Context at History Colorado Center pairs nearly 50 masterpieces from the Denver Art Museum’s renowned collection with History Colorado’s wealth of artifacts to tell the stories beyond the art.
Ultimate Dinosaurs, October 6, 2017 – January 15, 2018
This Denver Museum of Nature & Science exhibition will go beyond familiar dinosaurs to showcase some of the most spectacular fossils unearthed in recent years. Evolving in isolation, the new discoveries from Africa, South America and Madagascar are among the strangest creatures ever on display. The exhibit will feature dozens of life-size fossils and casts alongside augmented reality displays of the creatures in lifelike settings.
Festivals & Special Events
Biennial of the Americas, September 12-16
The Biennial of the Americas festival connects the people of Denver with their community and with the Americas. Bringing together inspiring artists, innovators, leaders and experts from the Denver metro area and from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean together around the most pressing issues of our time, the festival features art exhibitions, installations and cultural programming.
CRUSH, September 12-17
CRUSH celebrates art, urban beautification, creativity, and culture by enriching a community through an arts festival like no other. Based in the RiNo (River North) Art District, a community "Where Art is Made," the annual event transforms streets and walls into open-air galleries by updating and creating new murals throughout the neighborhood. The murals remain a highlight of RiNo year-round, inviting locals and visitors to engage with the arts community.
Denver Beer Fest & Great American Beer Festival, September 29 – October 7
Denver Beer Fest is a nine-day celebration of all things beer leading up to the Great American Beer Festival – the largest juried beer festival in the world, which takes place October 5-7. 2017. This year’s ninth annual Denver Beer Fest will feature dozens of beer related events at area breweries, restaurants, tap houses and attractions around the city. From firkin tappings to midnight beer brunches to tap takeovers to a beer street party, there is an event for every type of beer lover.
Great American Beer Festival represents the largest collection of U.S. beer ever served – in both a public tasting event plus a private competition. The festival takes place at the Colorado Convention Center and brings together brewers and diverse beers from across the nation.
U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, October 5-15
The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 student design competition will challenge 14 collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive. The city of Denver competed with several other cities to win the opportunity to host the Solar Decathlon, which will feature a free public exhibition of the houses, a community festivals, a sustainability expo, professional development and consumer workshops and education days over the course of the 10-day event.
40th Annual Denver Film Festival, November 1-12
The Denver Film Festival is the largest premier film celebration in the Rocky Mountain Region. Hosted by Denver Film Society, which works to promote film as both an art form and a civic forum, The Denver Film Festival showcases blockbusters, documentaries, shorts and independent films at a variety of venues around the city.
Denver Arts Week, November 3-11
The 11th annual Denver Arts Week will be an eight-day celebration The Mile High City’s vibrant arts and cultural communities, featuring more than 300 events at a wide variety of art galleries, museums, theaters and concert halls in multiple neighborhoods. Signature Denver Arts Week events include Know Your Arts First Friday, an evening when galleries and studios are open for people to explore; and Free Night at the Museums, when Denver’s best museums stay open late and admission is free.
First Friday Art Walks (First Friday of every month) –  On the First Friday of every month galleries, studios and cultural attractions in Denver’s creative neighborhoods stay open late for a night of art, food, drink and fun. This year, RiNo (River North) Art District and the new Drink RiNo group sponsors a free shuttle every First Friday from 5pm-12am (and Saturdays 2-10pm) that has multiple stops at galleries, studios, breweries and eateries throughout RiNo. For more information, interactive maps and video tours of the arts districts and neighborhoods, check out VISIT DENVER’s Neighborhood Guides.
Performing Arts
Appropriate at Curious Theatre, September 2 – October 14
When the Lafayettes descend upon a crumbling Arkansan plantation to liquidate their dead patriarch’s estate, his three adult children collide over clutter, debt, and a contentious family history. As they sort through a lifetime of hoarded mementos and junk, the discovery of a gruesome Southern relic unleashes crackling accusations, repressed fears, and more questions than answers. Appropriate is a challenging play on race, family, and whether it is possible for history to ever stay in the past.
Colorado Ballet’s Dracula, October 6-15
Back by popular demand, Colorado Ballet will open the 2017/2018 season with the crowd-favorite Dracula at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Based on Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror, Dracula features choreography by Michael Pink and music by Philip Feeney, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.
Breakin’ Convention, November 4-5
Breakin’ Convention is the world's biggest festival of hip hop dance theatre showcasing the very best from around the world. Curated and hosted by UK hip hop pioneer, Jonzi D, Breakin’ Convention is an awe-inspiring weekend of exceptional performances – from world champion b-boy crews to cutting edge street dance companies. The event will also feature dance workshops, graffiti artists, DJs and freestyle sessions that create an unforgettable experience.