The return of live, in-person concerts, festivals and events anchor a post-pandemic summer revival. In a normal year, Denver’s summer events calendar is jam-packed with cultural celebrations, exhibitions, festivals, live music and more; and, after 2020 thwarted most in-person events, the city is already seeing the return of some of that excitement this summer. The Mile High City’s 300 days of annual sunshine, its vibrant urban lifestyle and its position as the entertainment epicenter of the Rocky Mountain region make it an ideal place to get out and enjoy the season; and the revival of concerts at iconic venues, major in-person sporting events and celebratory cultural festivals are emblematic of The Mile High City’s continuing recovery.
“Denver’s festivals and events are essential parts of our identity as a destination,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER. “Witnessing the safe return of in-person events from sports to live music is just the beginning of Denver’s return to being the exciting, urban destination we were before the pandemic.”
Below are some of the highlights already slated for this summer’s events lineup; for a full, updated list of events, go to the VISIT DENVER website. All venues and events will be following state, county and city health and safety guidelines. General information is available on VISIT DENVER’s Clean & Safe Resource Guide; for more information visit the individual event websites.
Mile High Notes: Live Music
Red Rocks 80th Anniversary Summer Concert Series
The city’s crown jewel music venue is the world’s only naturally formed, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the country, revered by musicians and music lovers alike. A concert at Red Rocks – whether as a spectator or performer – is an incomparable experience. The 80th Anniversary lineup already features artists including Colorado hometown favorite Nathaniel Rateliff (August 23-24); The Music of John Williams with the Colorado Symphony (May 23 & 25); 3OH!3 (June 1); Grace Potter (June 16); Chicago (June 17); Blues Traveler (July 4); The Avett Brothers (July 9-11); Jimmy Buffett (September 7-9) and Lynyrd Skynyrd (September 27). More concerts are being added regularly, so continue to check the venue’s website for details.
Levitt Pavilion Summer Concert Series
Located in Ruby Hill Park, Levitt Pavilion features a free summer concert series in its open-air amphitheater. This year’s summer lineup includes some of Denver’s and Colorado’s most notable names, including DeVotchKa (May 21 & 22); Neoma (June 4); and Flobots (June 5). Other performances this summer will include Dustbowl Revival (May 28); Mike Love (May 30); and the Cool Vibes Reggae Fest featuring Through The Roots and Jemere Morgan, among others (September 18).
Underground Music Showcase, August 27-29
This summer will see the return of the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) – South Broadway’s premier music event. In recent years, UMS has taken place at more than 20 different venues and stages along South Broadway and featured more than 400 local and national acts. Having grown from just 300 attendees for four bands at one theater, UMS is one of the best ways to experience Denver’s incredible live music scene.
Denver Day of Rock, August 28
Denver Day of Rock is a one-day music festival benefiting the work of Amp the Cause. This free event features five stages of live music along Denver's 16th Street Mall. Denver Day of Rock unites the community through music and family friendly entertainment while also raising funds to help Amp the Cause continue to support non-profits in the community. The 2021 artist lineup will be announced soon; check the festival’s website for details.
Black Love Mural Festival, May 27 – August 2
The Black Love Mural Festival (BLMF) is the only black mural festival in the country, highlighting both local creatives and artists from around the country. Beginning at the end of May and running through the summer, artists will create more than 60 murals throughout downtown Denver. Every weekend leading up to Juneteenth (June 18-20), participating BLMF artists will also host live paintings, workshops and activations for the community.
Juneteenth Music Festival, June 18-20
Juneteenth is celebrated by cities across the country to mark the day African Americans in Texas learned of their freedom, two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation; in 2021, Juneteenth will be recognized as a commemorative holiday by Denver City Council. This historic street festival will return to its home in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood this summer, with the Juneteenth Parade, live musical performances, art, vendors and more. This year will also feature interactive and educational programming at acclaimed African American cultural institutions, including the beloved Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, and landmarks around the neighborhood.
Van Gogh Alive, July 9 – September 26
Presented by Denver Center for the Performing Arts at The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace, Van Gogh Alive is a large-scale, multi-sensory digital art experience that gives visitors the unique opportunity to immerse themselves into Van Gogh's artistry and truly venture into his world. In the experience, Van Gogh's masterpieces come to life, giving visitors the sensation of walking right into his paintings, a feeling that is simultaneously enchanting, entertaining and educational. From start to finish, visitors are surrounded by a vibrant symphony of light, color, sound and fragrance, creating an unforgettable experience.
Babe Walls 2021 Mural Festival, July 15-18
Babe Walls is a street art festival designed to celebrate women and non-binary individuals, allowing them to feel safe and express their art in a traditionally male-dominated space. All participating artists – both locally-based and from around the country – produce collaborative works with at least one other artist to exemplify the communities they represent, championing all genders in the drive to create. This year’s festival will take place in Arvada, just north of Denver, and the resulting murals can be viewed year-round.
Signature Sporting Events
Concacaf Nations League Finals, June 3 & 6
Empower Field at Mile High, home of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, will host the Concacaf Nations League semifinals, third place match and final this summer. Featuring the men’s national teams from the United States, Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica, the CNL Finals will crown the first-ever champion of all 41 Concacaf Member Associations.
MLB All-Star Week, July 9-13
MLB All-Star Week will return to Coors Field and Denver this July for the first time since 1998. Festivities surrounding the Midsummer Classic will include fun events for fans of all ages at the ballpark and around downtown Denver – including the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, MLB All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, free PLAY BALL PARK, the 2021 MLB Draft, the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and more.
University of Colorado Buffs vs. Texas A&M Aggies, September 11
The game between Texas A&M and University of Colorado – set to be played at Empower Field at Mile High – will be one of the top non-conference games in the college schedule this season. The two teams, both with winning records in the abbreviated 2020 schedule, will face off in an exciting early-September matchup to help kick off the 2021 college football season.
Denver PrideFest 2021, Jun 26-27
This year’s Denver PrideFest, themed “Unite with Pride” as a nod to the reconvening of in-person community gatherings, will be a hybrid event – blending in-person and virtual activities to provide a safe way to enjoy the annual event. This year, PrideFest will feature a virtual marketplace, an in-person and virtual 5K race, a virtual parade and a series of in-person “Pride Hubs” hosted at various venues throughout Denver. Pride Hubs will include typical PrideFest hotspots like Hamburger Mary’s and The Center on Colfax, as well as other community spaces like the SIE Film Center and Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
30th Annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival, September 4-6
The Cherry Creek Arts Festival is a world-class, award-winning display of visual, culinary and performing arts. The festival features the works of local and nationally known artisans, vendors and activities, including Artivity Avenue, an area of interactive activities for the whole family. Throughout the weekend, there are also concerts, pop-up performances and more. The 2021 Cherry Creek Arts Festival will take place over Labor Day weekend instead of its traditional Fourth of July timeframe; and, to allow for more distancing, the event will relocate to the creekside area of the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, directly across First Avenue from its regular home in Cherry Creek North. The artists featured at the event will be those who were juried into the 2020 Cherry Creek Arts Festival, who are looking forward to the 30th anniversary event in September.