This summer, more than ever before, Denver will affirm its growing reputation as a world-class destination. The outdoor city, known for its 300 annual days of sunshine, proximity to the Rocky Mountains and urban adventure, will be home to U.S. premieres of internationally renowned exhibitions, inaugural cultural events, innovative festivals and more. This season promises to be a definitive display of Denver’s identity as a city.
“Denver was born out of a pioneer mentality, and we have always maintained that spirit of innovation and boldness,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “In 2018, we will see incredible development in the creation and evolution of world-class attractions and services; and we continue to display renowned events that draw visitors from around the globe to The Mile High City.”
Anchoring this summer’s offerings in Denver are several blockbuster exhibitions and new major festivals. Denver Art Museum is the sole U.S. location for Degas: A Passion for Perfection (through May 20), which features more than 100 paintings, drawings, pastels, sculptures in bronze and more from the prolific French artist. Denver Museum of Nature & Science is hosting the regional premiere of Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient manuscripts that include the oldest known Biblical documents and hundreds of authentic artifacts, through September 3; and it is hosting Creatures of Light, an interactive exploration of bioluminescence, through June 10. Denver Botanic Gardens will feature Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting, which – appropriately – explores the relationships between the natural world and the artificial world of digital media, through September 23.
Festivals also drive the summer season, and Denver is a natural fit for them – with its very active residents, overall tourism appeal and the role that music plays in the city’s brand. 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 Bonaroo. Additionally, The Mile High City’s annual Denver Comic Con – one of the largest in the country – takes place in June, followed by the only-in-Denver Underground Music Showcase – a premier indie festival that serves as a platform for diverse local talent. Slow Food Nations – a festival of flavor, culture and exploration where food lovers can connect with farmers, artisans and chefs from around the world – will return to Denver for its second year in July. Festival season continues with the return of the Colorado Classic Professional Bike Race and Velorama Festival. This year’s race will include top men’s and women’s teams. The route will include iconic locations like Lookout Mountain, Denver’s Uptown and River North neighborhoods and City Park.
“More and more we are seeing significant events and exhibitions choose Denver as their premiere – or even only – locations,” says Scharf. “The rising number of these activities, and their acceptance by residents and visitors alike, coupled with The Mile High City’s existing natural assets and seasonal appeal, have turned Denver in to a prime summer and year-round destination.”
Summer holiday weekends are also a perfect time to visit Denver – longstanding traditions draw visitors to the city, and the three-day timeframe gives visitors more time to check out everything that is happening. This year, Denver Day of Rock – a block party featuring more than two-dozen free rock concerts – helps kick off Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 26th; and visitors will also be able to cool off at Water World’s opening weekend and catch a Colorado Rockies game during the team’s 25th anniversary season. Father’s Day Weekend will be chock-full of things to do – including The Denver Barbeque Festival, a brand new event featuring pitmasters from around the country; PrideFest, one of the country’s largest; Juneteenth Music Festival, a free celebration of freedom, community and culture; Denver Greek Festival, a family-friendly festival with traditional Greek food, music and entertainment; and Denver Comic Con. Independence Eve on July 3rd has become an annual Denver tradition, featuring a free concert, light show and fireworks display; and Cherry Creek Arts Festival will take place, as always, the weekend following July 4th.
Labor Day Weekend has become such an affair in Denver that it has been dubbed the city’s “Summer Finale.” From A Taste of Colorado to Denver Food + Wine Festival, a three-day Phish appearance, the return of the Colorado Classic and so much more, Labor Day and the days surrounding it make for an epic end-of-summer celebration.
Of course, the city is always bustling with regular activities that keep Denver vibrant all season long and are not to be missed. 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 77-year history. During the day at Red Rocks Park, various organizations host yoga and fitness classes, and there are plenty of hiking trails. Visitors can always find urban adventure in hikes, extreme sports parks, kayaking in the city, biking its 85 miles of urban bike trails and at the country’s only downtown amusement park, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park. 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 discovery.
Summer 2018 promises to be an exceptional showcase of Denver’s appeal to visitors and residents alike. To learn more about summer offerings in The Mile High City, including hotel deals, go to VISITDENVER.com.