Summer fun isn’t slowing down anytime soon here in The Mile High City. Denver is home to a number of fun festivals, professional sports games, big name concerts and plenty of late-summer activities leading in to Labor Day weekend and beyond. This year, the city will celebrate its biggest summer finale ever with completely revamped annual events, a brand-new three-day music festival, world-class arts and culture and much more.
“For the past several years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of things to do in the city, even as summer was supposed to be winding down,” says Richard Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER. “So, in keeping with our tenacious 300 days of annual sunshine and urban adventure lifestyle, we decided to give summer the finale it deserves; and this year’s summer finale is set to be the most exciting and eventful one yet.”
Below are several events taking place during Denver’s summer finale; for a full list, including exhibitions and hotel deals, go to the VISIT DENVER website.
Can’t Miss Festivals & Events
Red Rocks Park & 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 ambience. End-of-summer headliners include Jason Mraz, Brandi Carlile, Portugal. The Man, Pretty Lights and more. The full calendar for the Summer Concert Series and event schedules can be found online.
Colorado Classic & Velorama Festival (August 17-19)
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, Matt and Kim and more.
Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (August 31 – September 2)
For three days over Labor Day Weekend, legendary jam band, Phish, will play three concerts at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Featuring unparalleled jam sessions and an always-entertaining live show, Phish will celebrate Labor Day with its devoted following from Denver and around the country for the seventh year in a row.
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.
CRUSH (September 3-9)
For about a week each fall, CRUSH (Creative Rituals Under Social Harmony) organizes artists, in partnership with local businesses, to splash color and concepts across the RiNo (River North) Art District. The event has become a platform for artists to gather, create, share ideas and techniques, all to the delight of some 20,000 spectators and visitors. Started in 2010 by Robin Munro as a low-key gathering, CRUSH is quickly becoming one of the largest street art festivals in the world, accumulating popular acclaim and formal accolades.
Denver Food + Wine Festival (September 4-9)
Denver Food + Wine Festival is a multi-day extravaganza of food, wine and spirits education and tastings around the city – from Pepsi Center to the Stanley Marketplace to the McNichols Building at Civic Center Park. 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.
10th Annual Denver Beer Fest (September 14-22)
Denver Beer Fest is a nine-day celebration leading up to the Great American Beer Festival – the largest beer festival in the world. The 10th 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 (September 20-22)
Great American Beer Festival is the largest beer festival in the world; and each year, it 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, brings together brewers and offers diverse beers from across the nation.
Arts & Culture
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 displays international decorative art beginning c.1875 with fine art by Colorado/regional artists including Vance Kirkland, shown in salon style.
Dead Sea Scrolls, Denver Museum of Nature & Science (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, Denver Botanic Gardens (through September 23)
Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting 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 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.
Doors Open Denver (September 22-23)
Doors Open Denver is an annual two-day event put on by the Denver Architectural Foundation that provides opportunities to explore the city and create meaningful connections to the built environment. Moving from April to September in 2018, the event inspires the community to connect through self- or expert-guided tours of the city's unique spaces, including high-profile, historic and artistic feats of architecture and design.
Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, Civic Center Park (through October 17)
Internationally acclaimed Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei has reinterpreted the 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. Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads is the artist's first major public sculpture project.
Clyfford Still Museum Free Days and Lawn Concerts
Considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century, Clyfford Still was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists who developed a new and powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. The Clyfford Still Museum opened in 2011 in Denver’s burgeoning Golden Triangle Creative District. In appreciation of the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), and in the spirit of community engagement, the Clyfford Still Museum offers free admission on select days throughout the year. This summer, free days include July 27, August 31 and September 28. The museum is also offering free lawn concerts on July 27, August 17 and September 7.
Denver Art Museum Free First Saturdays (August 4 & September 1)
The Denver Art Museum's Frederic C. Hamilton Building is an architectural work of art. The wing is the first U.S. building by Daniel Libeskind, known for his design of the Freedom Tower in New York City. On the first Saturday of every month, visitors can explore the museum's galleries showcasing an impressive permanent collection, renowned traveling exhibits, children’s exhibits and more for free. General admission to the museum is free to all youth 18 and under every day.
First Friday Art Walks (August 3 & September 7)
Find the pulse of Denver's vibrant creative community year-round on the first Friday of each month in The Mile High City's neighborhood seven art districts. Galleries, studios and cultural attractions in Denver's creative neighborhoods stay open late for a mind-expanding night of art, food, drink and fun.
Denver is home to seven professional sports teams, including Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids and Major League Lacrosse’s Denver Outlaws – who all play throughout the summer.
The Colorado Rockies are celebrating their 25th anniversary as a team, and this season will feature several special events including alumni player experiences, giveaways, player recognitions, commemorative jerseys, photo days and more.
The NFL’s Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos kick off their regular season with a game against the Seattle Seahawks on September 9.