This spring, Denver will host a number of internationally renowned exhibitions, creative cultural displays and exciting festivals. From the only United States appearance of Degas: A Passion for Perfection to the Grand Opening of the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art to an abundance of music, food and beer festivals that pair with our 300 days of sunshine, there are plenty of opportunities to make The Mile High City worth a visit.
“This is going to be a record year for Denver in terms of international tourist draws, our burgeoning culinary scene and our prolific arts and culture community,” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The Mile High City continues to attract more and more renowned exhibitions, events, performing arts and more, which, in turn, have helped Denver become known as one of the best places in the country to visit.”
Below is a list of highlights in Denver this spring. For a complete event calendar of events, including hotel information, please go to the VISIT DENVER website.
Degas: A Passion for Perfection, through May 20
Appearing for the only time in the United States at Denver Art Museum, Degas: A Passion for Perfection will showcase 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 will be on view. The exhibition will focus 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 from that of his contemporaries, a lifelong fascination with the nude, a passion for horses, and his strong interest in opera and dance.
Creatures of Light, through June 10
Denver Museum of Nature & Science will host a new exhibition, Creatures of Light, which 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 will feature a dark cave illuminated by glowworms, an interactive “lagoon” and more.
Dead Sea Scrolls, March 16 – September 3
Denver Museum of Nature & Science will host the exhibition that has captivated millions around the world – 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. In addition, the largest collection of artifacts from the Holy Land ever assembled for display will allow guests to explore the traditions, beliefs, and iconic objects of ancient Israel that continue to impact world cultures today.
Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting, April 28 – September 23
Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting, hosted by Denver Botanic Gardens, explores the relationships between the natural world and the artificial world of digital media. Whiting’s sculptures also represent the intersection of two distinct visual styles: 8-bit pixel graphics—which have enjoyed a recent resurgence in video games—and minimalist sculpture. Technological limitations in early video games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders 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.
Ai WeiWei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, through October 17
In his first major public sculpture project, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, internationally acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei has reinterpreted twelve bronze animal heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. The bronze pieces will surround the Sea Lions Fountain on the north end of Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, and a complementary educational exhibit, Ai Weiwei: Art & Social Change will be housed in the McNichols Civic Center Building, adjacent to the sculptures.
Winter Park Express Ski Train, through March 25
In January 2017, the Winter Park Express by Amtrak returned from a seven-year hiatus to sellout crowds of eager skiers. The train allows people to hit the slopes during the day and return to Denver for après ski, an abundance of culinary options and nearly 10,000 hotel rooms to choose from, including several that offer Ski Train packages. It’s also a great option for the weekend visitor who wants to get some turns in while they’re in Denver. Changes this year include lower fare prices – tickets start at just $29, instead of last year’s $39 – “First Friday” rides, with the train running on the first Friday of each month of the season. The train runs on weekends; one-way tickets start at $29 per person.
Denver Restaurant Week, February 23 – March 4
The 14th annual Denver Restaurant Week will feature multi-course menus with three price points at hundreds of Denver’s top restaurants. The three-tiered pricing structure that met with great success in 2017 will continue again in 2018: diners can find multi-course menus at $25, $35 and $45 price tags.
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art Grand Opening, March 10
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. This spring, Kirkland Museum will open 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.
Denver Fashion Week, March 18-25
After 10 years as Denver Fashion Weekend, Denver’s largest fashion showcase will become Denver Fashion Week, featuring emerging designers, local boutiques, national brands, hairstylists, makeup artists and models at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum and around the city. This year will feature a number of new events, including industry workshops, trunk shows, sales events and more events that help educate and support Denver’s fashion industry. Renowned New York City designer, Stevie Boi, will present a brand new, exclusive line; and many other local, national and international designers will capture the eyes of the fashion world throughout the week.
Denver March Powwow, March 23-25
One of the largest events of its kind in the country, the Denver March Powwow at the Historic Denver Coliseum is an American Indian Festival that features more than 1,600 dancers from nearly 100 tribes, representing 38 states and three Canadian provinces. Each session of the three-day event begins with the Grand Entry, a colorful spectacle featuring traditional song and dance. Throughout the weekend, there are traditional drum and dance groups, storytellers, and more than 170 tribal craft booths.
Collaboration Fest, March 31
Known as America’s most creative beer festival, Collaboration Fest features brews that are a result of collaborations between two or more breweries from around the state, country and world. These individual collaborations mean that every beer tapped will be its first time, and every beer has a unique story. This year, the festival will be at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center.
First Friday Art Walks
On the first Friday of every month, galleries, museums and cultural attractions in Denver’s diverse neighborhoods stay open late to encourage people to explore the vibrant creative community.
Colorado Rockies Home Opener at Coors Field, April 6
Watch the Colorado Rockies take on the Atlanta Braves during the 2018 home opener weekend. An unofficial holiday in Denver, home opener weekend draws crowds of baseball fans to the downtown Coors Field, a city landmark with sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains.
Cinco de Mayo Festival, May 5-6
One of the largest cultural events in Colorado, the Cinco de Mayo festival features live cultural entertainment on three stages, hundreds of exhibitors and vendors, traditional food and drink, a parade, a green chili cook off and more at Denver’s Civic Center Park. More than 400,000 visitors attend the festival each year to celebrate the tradition and beauty of Latino culture.
Five Points Jazz Fest, May 19
This free festival takes place the third Saturday of May and celebrates the history of Denver's Five Points neighborhood. Once known as the Harlem of the West, Five Points was home to several jazz clubs which played host to many of jazz music's legends such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and many more. The festival features a diverse lineup of music – from Latin to blues to funk and many other styles of jazz.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre Easter Sunrise Service and Summer Concert Series
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is a world-famous outdoor concert and recreation venue located approximately 30 minutes from Denver. The only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world, Red Rocks is recognized for its star-studded concert roster and ambience, as well as its awe-inspiring hiking and biking trails. On April 1, Easter Sunday, the venue will host its annual Easter Sunrise Service. Headliners for the 2018 Red Rocks Summer Concert Series are still being announced; the lineup already includes the X Ambassadors, Khalid, Elephant Revival and more.
Romeo and Juliet, February 16-25
Colorado Ballet will present the classic Shakespearean love story, Romeo and Juliet, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The romantic ballet features choreography by Derek Deane and music by Sergei Prokofiev, performed by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. Prokofiev’s music serves as a melodic substitute for Shakespeare's poetry and Deane's staging of the ballet focuses on the characters’ relationships.
Disney’s Aladdin, April 7-28
From the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production at the Buell Theatre filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It is an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes create infinite possibilities.
First Date, through April 22
When blind date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious high-stakes dinner when other restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. This exciting musical comedy from Denver Center for the Performing Arts takes place at the Garner Galleria Theatre.
Memorial Day Weekend
In addition to all the extended exhibitions and theatrical runs, Memorial Day Weekend in Denver is a great time to visit.
Taylor Swift at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, May 25
Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour will stop in The Mile High City on May 25 to play at the home field of the Denver Broncos.
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 that raises awareness about critical family issues and local charities.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, May 25-28
Located in the heart of downtown Denver, Elitch Gardens is America’s only downtown theme and water park. All weekend – and all summer – long, kids of all ages can experience more than 50 rides and attractions, including the brand new Star Flyer thrill ride (opening this year), 14 pint-sized adventures, exhilarating roller coasters, cool water slides, Dive-In Movies, free concerts and more. Elitch Gardens opens for the season on April 28, 2018.
Water World Opening Weekend, May 26-27
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.