Summer holidays mean a little extra time off work to relax and take advantage of everything the season has to offer – and in Denver, there is no shortage of things to do. In fact, The Mile High City’s holidays have gotten so big, Fourth of July festivities last nearly a week, Labor Day has become a month-long “summer finale” and even Father’s Day has emerged from being a backyard barbeque holiday for family heroes to one that will feature one of the country’s biggest barbecue festivals, actual superheroes at Denver Comic Con and more.
Below are just some of the ways visitors can take advantage of their summer weekends – holidays included or not! For more information, including hotel deals, go to the VISIT DENVER website.
Colorado Rockies 25th Anniversary Season – Denver is home to seven professional sports teams, including Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. Festivities will include special events, alumni player appearances, fan gifts and more. There are home games against the Cincinnati Reds Friday through Sunday and against the San Francisco Giants on Monday.
Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour (May 25) – Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, will host several concerts this summer. On May 25, international superstar Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour will take the field with opening acts Camilla Cabello and Charli XCX.
Denver Day of Rock (May 26) – Denver Day of Rock is a free event that features five stages of live music along Denver’s 16th Street Mall on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Denver Day of Rock unites the community through music and family-friendly entertainment while also raising funds to support Amp the Cause, a Denver nonprofit focused on children and families. Headliners for 2018 include Elle King, Delta Rae, Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers, A Thousand Horses and Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, among many other bands.
Water World Opening Day (May 26) – Located just north of downtown, Water World features more than 45 water adventures on 64 acres of land – the largest variety of water attractions in the U.S. Families can enjoy everything from a lazy river to speed slides; children’s play adventures to Colorado’s only magnetic water coaster, the Mile High Flyer. The park features kid-friendly food vendors, but picnics are also welcome and parking is free.
Veterans Memorial Day Tribute (May 26) – This annual tribute honors all fallen Colorado heroes and their families. The 2018 Tribute will feature inspirational music, a Reading of Names, the US Navy Bell Toll, Remembrance Wreath laying for heroes that have died in past wars placed by veteran representatives and presentations of signature Tribute banners and Pins to Gold Star families.
Father’s Day Weekend
The Denver BBQ Festival (June 15-17) – Mile High Stadium will be home to the inaugural Denver BBQ Festival this Father’s Day weekend. The Denver BBQ Fest will bring together ten top pitmasters from Denver and around the country, including Denver’s own Jason Ganahl from Gque, to serve award-winning BBQ. The festival will also feature live music, cold drinks and BBQ tutorials and demonstrations. Admission is free; guests pay for food and drinks.
Denver Comic Con (June 15-17) – Denver Comic Con is a three-day, family-friendly fan convention at the Colorado Convention Center featuring the best in comics, along with sci-fi and fantasy TV shows, movies, Japanese animation, cosplay, toys, gaming and celebrity panel presentations. The 2018 event will feature Gaten Matarazzo and Noah Schnapps from the Netflix series "Stranger Things"; Ron Perlman of "Hellboy" and "Sons of Anarchy" fame; Ray Park, Daniel Logan and Joonas Suotamo, who each appeared in various "Star Wars" films; Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in all eight films in the "Harry Potter" series; and many more. Legendary Garfield comic strip creator, Jim Davis, will celebrate the character’s 40th anniversary with the release of Davis’ latest book, Age Happens: Garfield Hits the Big 4-0. And Frank Miller, co-director of SIN CITY adapted from his graphic novel, co-creator of Dark Knight III: The Master Race and one of the most influential and awarded professionals in the entertainment industry will appear on Sunday, June 17.
Denver Greek Festival (June 15-17) – The 53rd annual Denver Greek Festival – a family-friendly festival with traditional Greek food, music and entertainment – is one of the largest cultural festivals in Colorado, attracting more than 25,000 attendees annually. The event will take place at The Assumption of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
Juneteenth Music Festival (June 16) – Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. In Denver, tens of thousands of festival goers will come together in Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood – known as the “Harlem of the West” thanks to its rich jazz history and diverse culture – to celebrate freedom, community and culture. Set to a soundtrack of Blues, R&B, Soul, Jazz and Hip-Hop music, nearly 200 vendors line Welton Street - for an epic celebration.
Denver PrideFest (June 16-17) – Recognized as one of the top 10 pride events in the country, Denver PrideFest is a free, two-day festival that takes place in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The weekend features activities and entertainment for adults, kids and pets – from a Dogs in Drag Parade and the annual Gay Pride Parade to the Big Gay 5K and three stages of music and cultural entertainment. Headliners and the full entertainment lineup will be announced in April.
Kenny Chesney Trip Around the Sun Tour (June 30) – The weekend before the Fourth of July, Kenny Chesney’s Trip Around the Sun Tour will stop in Denver at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Independence Eve (July 3) – Held in Denver’s Civic Center Park, the annual Independence Eve celebration features a free patriotic concert, an innovative light show on the Denver City & County Building and a stunning fireworks finale over the city.
Harry Styles (July 3) – Touring his post-One Direction debut album, Harry Styles will headline at Pepsi Center with special guest, Kacey Musgraves.
Cherry Creek Arts Festival (July 6-8) – Every Fourth of July Weekend, the Cherry Creek North neighborhood hosts the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, a world-class and award-winning display of visual, culinary and performing arts. More than five full blocks of the neighborhood feature the works of local and nationally known artisans, vendors and activities, including Artivity Avenue with interactive activities for the whole family. Throughout the weekend, there are also concerts, artist demos, pop-up performances and more.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series – Recently named to the National Historic Register, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is a world-famous outdoor concert and recreation venue located approximately 30 minutes from Denver. Red Rocks is recognized for its star-studded concert roster, stunning scenery and captivating ambience. The week of Fourth of July will feature headliners The Avett Brothers, Blues Traveler and Umphrey’s McGee, among other bands.
Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids play the Seattle Sounders on the Fourth of July, and fans can stay late to watch the fireworks display over the field after the game. Major League Lacrosse’s Denver Outlaws will have fireworks after their July 4th game against the Boston Cannons, and the Rockies will have several nights of fireworks after competing against the San Francisco Giants. Schedules for all teams can be found online.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park puts on a fireworks display on July 4, lighting up the night sky beginning at dusk.
Summer Finale Highlights
Labor Day Weekend has become such an affair in Denver that it has been dubbed the city’s “Summer Finale.” This year’s summer finale is bigger than ever before, stretching from mid-August through mid-September with signature events, a new major music festival and plenty to see and do every weekend around the city.
Colorado Classic & Velorama Festival (August 16-19) – During this year’s Colorado Classic, world-class pro teams will compete in circuit races in Vail and Denver – ending in The Mile High City on the final stages. In addition to the race, there will be a three-day music, beer and food festival in the River North (RiNo) Art District for spectators and athletes with performances by Glass Animals, Cold War Kids, Vince Staples and more.
A Taste of Colorado (September 1-3) – Held in Denver’s Civic Center Park and on the surrounding streets, A Taste of Colorado has become a signature Labor Day Weekend event. This year, the festival will have a fresh, new feel with more than 50 food vendors, 175 artisan marketplace vendors, a KidZone experience with arts, crafts and a children’s entertainment stage. There will also be an elevated music experience with a larger main stage featuring more than 25 national and regional musical acts.
Denver Food + Wine Festival (September 4-9) – Denver Food + Wine Festival is a multi-day extravaganza of food, wine and spirits education and tastings. Events include Dinner Under the Stars, a Culinary Cinema Series, SHAKE DOWN (a cocktail event) and the signature event, The Grand Tasting.
Grandoozy (September 14-16) – This September, Denver will host the first ever Grandoozy – the latest large-scale festival from Superfly, the producers of the wildly popular Outside Lands and Bonnaroo. Headliners include 2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine and Stevie Wonder, and the festival will also host The Chainsmokers, Logic, Sturgill Simpson, Miguel, Phoenix, Young the Giant, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, Ty Dolla $ign, Kelela, Denver locals Tennis, and many more on multiple stages over weekend. Grandoozy will also showcase Denver’s arts and culinary scene and love of the outdoors with multiple experiences throughout the festival grounds.
NEW Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
In March 2018, Kirkland Museum opened its doors to a new building, featuring Vance Kirkland's 1910–1911 studio & art school building, moved to Bannock Street. The new facility features the addition of new and expanded visitor amenities and a world-class display space. In 2013, ten years after the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art opened to the public on Pearl Street, it became clear that in order to best promote international decorative art, Colorado and regional art and Vance Kirkland, a larger building would be necessary. In January 2014, Kirkland Museum announced plans to move the museum to a new building in Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District.
Degas: A Passion for Perfection (through May 20) – Denver Art Museum, the only U.S. venue to host Degas: A Passion for Perfection, which showcases prolific French artist Edgar Degas’ works from 1855 to 1906. More than 100 works consisting of paintings, drawings, pastels, etchings, monotypes, and sculptures in bronze are on view. The exhibition focuses on the most prominent and recurring themes throughout Degas’ 60-year career. These include his interest in learning from the art of the past and that of his contemporaries, a passion for horses, and his strong interest in opera and dance. The museum is also home to everything from world-class traveling exhibits to daily activities such as coloring, costume creation and building in the Just for Fun Center, to weekend activities; there is something for every guest, every day. Note: Degas: A Passion for Perfection is a special, ticketed exhibition, and there is a fee to view it for guests ages six and older. The rest of the museum is open via general admission, and children under 18 receive free general admission.
Creatures of Light (through June 10) – Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s new exhibition Creatures of Light explores the mysterious world of bioluminescence, visible light generated by living things through a chemical reaction. Lifelike models, spectacular immersive environments and simulations, unusual animals, videos, and engaging hands-on activities create an enlightening experience. The exhibition features a dark cave illuminated by glowworms, an interactive “lagoon” and more.
Dead Sea Scrolls (through September 3) – The regional premiere of the exhibition that has captivated millions around the world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see authentic Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient manuscripts that include the oldest known Biblical documents dating back over 2,000 years. The scrolls are dramatically presented featuring carefully regulated individual chambers, along with the full English translation. In addition, the largest collection of artifacts from the Holy Land ever assembled for display allows guests to explore the traditions, beliefs and iconic objects of ancient Israel that continue to impact world cultures today, including inscriptions and seals, weapons, stone carvings, terra cotta figurines, coins, shoes, textiles, mosaics, ceramics and jewelry.
Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting (April 28 – September 23) – Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting will explore the relationships between the natural world and the artificial world of digital media this summer at Denver Botanic Gardens. Whiting’s sculptures also represent the intersection of two distinct visual styles: 8-bit pixel graphics—which have enjoyed a recent resurgence in games like Minecraft—and minimalist sculpture. Technological limitations in early video games reduced the graphics to simplified shapes, while the minimalist art movement created artworks that purposely lacked detail. Pixelated investigates the opposite intents of these two artistic approaches that result in a strikingly similar visual outcome.
America’s Musical Journey (through December 31) – On the IMAX screen at Denver Museum of Nature & Science, experience the sounds of jazz, blues, zydeco and old-time country music, and see how they have shaped our nation’s distinctive musical heritage. In America’s Musical Journey, singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc takes viewers to vibrant places where American music was born, from New Orleans to New York City. Meet artists, music makers and innovators who are shaping culture today with the creative risk-taking spirit that has always characterized America.