Things to do this summer in Denver now that the city is open

From a bus tour of the apocalypse to PrideFest and Juneteenth celebrations!
11 min. read
Planter boxes at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, July 26, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Happy summer, Denver! With the city fully open, it's shaping up to be the busiest summer we've had in a couple of years.  The next few months are jam-packed with live, in-person shows, festivals, holiday events, exhibition openings and much, much more. Film on the Rocks is back in the amphitheater! Broadway tours are back in Denver! PrideFest is fully in person!

To help you sort through the many, many things happening in the city this summer, we've put together a roundup of some of the biggest openings, closings and major events. And make sure to check back soon -- we'll be regularly updating this list as we learn about other events.

The Denver Performing Arts Complex, Sept. 20, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) colorado; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; Denver Performing Arts Complex; dcpa; theater;


It's a big summer for live theatre! The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has a full lineup of local premieres and touring shows. Quixote Nuevo, a musical comedy adaptation of Don Quixote, wraps June 12. Other summer DCPA shows include a tour of Broadway hit Dear Evan Hanson from May 31-June 5; Rockin' and Rollin' with Miss Rhythm: The Story of R&B Legend Ruth Brown, a concert performance in the style of the music legend running June 3, 4, 10 and 11; Moulin Rouge! The Musical, a contemporary adaption of Baz Luhrmann's jukebox musical film, running June 9-26; the comedy Dixie's Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull (and16 Other Things I Learned While I Was Drinking Last Thursday), running June 22-July 17; and Pretty Woman: The Musical, an adaptation of the beloved romantic comedy, which will run August 2-14.

To kick off Pride month, Denver Gay Men's Chorus will debut Unbreakable: A New Musical on June 4. Written by Broadway composer Andrew Lippa, the show offers a musical chronology of 120 years of the American gay experience in history.

Also opening June 4 is a new immersive theatre experience from the folks at Control Group Productions, The End - Bus Tour. The theatre group bought a school bus shortly before the pandemic, and has since repurposed it as the moving venue for their apocalypse themed production, which takes audiences on a 16 mile bus tour of Denver's climate future. Runs through July 31.

Athena Project will stage its annual Plays in Progress series from June 4-5  at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, where emerging women artists will present their theater projects in a series of interactive workshops.

From the folks who created BeerQuest comes another gamified, immersive theater experience. IllFooMinati #6 is the sixth annual birthday celebration for local arts scene member Ryan Foo. This year's 1920s themed, story driven and interactive game invites guests to show up in costume  for "A Night In Radio City" from June 10-11.

Denver's annual Fringe Festival returns June 23- June 26. Once again, guests will have the chance to discover a diverse array of live performances across multiple venues throughout Five Points and the RiNo Art District.

Stories on Stage's latest show at Su TeatroX, Y and Z, will wrap up June 19. The show offers a story-driven conversation between members of different generations.

Vintage Theatre Productions' show Blackademics, a two-woman comedy about female African-American scholars vying for a literal and figurative seat at the table, ends its run June 19.

And his summer, let's do the time warp with Phamaly Theatre Company, who'll be opening their production of countercultural cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show on August 12!


This summer, the MCA will open three new exactions as part of its June 3-August 28 programming. Tania Candiani: For the Animals uses sculpture, prints, and video to explore relationships between human, animal and non-biological sound. Clarissa Tossin: Falling From Earth is a solo exhibition exploring climate change through the lens of space exploration. And in Guadalupe Maravilla: Purring Monsters with Mirrors on Their Backs, transdisciplinary artist Maravilla uses art as a vehicle to healing, with a focus on immigration, displacement and illness.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Feb. 15, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Colorado Humanities & Arts Council (CHAC) Gallery will reopen June 3. The celebrated arts organization was forced to temporarily close after it was priced out of its longtime gallery space on Santa Fe, and has found a new home in Lakewood's 40 West Arts District. Its opening exhibition, "A Journey Through Generations," will pay tribute to the late Alicia Cardenas, a beloved leader in Denver's art scene. 

A new History Colorado Center exhibition tells the stories of Colorado's LGBTQ+ communities from the 1950s to the present. Opening June 4, Rainbows & Revolutions incorporates oral history, photos and artifacts to recount the history of the LGTQ+ movement in the state. 

Starting June 16, fans of Frank Lloyd Wright can learn more about his architecture and fine art at Kirkland Museum's new exhibit, Frank Lloyd Wright: Inside the Walls at Kirkland Museum.

If you're interested in learning more about the growing digital art movement, check out Aura at Union Hall. Through July 9, this Collaboration between Denver Film, Union Hall and Eriko Tsogo/Hilitehead LLC will explore the relationship between art and technology through an exhibition of works by interdisciplinary artists creating in both physical and digital worlds.

The Denver Art Museum will wrap up a couple of exhibitions this summer. Curious Visions: Toward Abstract Photography, an exploration of experimental abstract photography across 100 years of history, closes June 19. And July 17 is your last day to check out ReVisión: Art in the Americas, 180 pieces from the DAM's Ancient American and Latin American Art collections that explore ideas about land, people, place and social and political issues across history, from 100 B.C. to today.

Skyward: Breakthroughs in Flight at Wings over the Rockies highlights milestones in aerospace technology and history, including artifacts from Armstrong's flight to the moon and Amelia Earhart's solo journey across the Atlantic ocean. The last flight departs June 15.

The unauthorized Bansky exhibition, The Art of Banksy, a massive collection of the elusive artist's works, will run at the Sport Castle building through June 20.

K Contemporary Art Galley will close out a couple installations on June 25. Curated by Jonathan Saiz, Seed Vault is a mixed media exhibition inviting visitors into the "imaginary architectural space for the seeds of art and life to germinate or to die on the vine, a subconscious doomsday garden teeming with ladybugs, lush watermelons, and fleshy totems of human fertility." And Mychaelyn Michalec's solo exhibition "Three Square Meals of Disaffection" showcases her wall rugs, which engage with themes like feminism and motherhood.

The Colorado Photographic Arts Center's latest exhibition, which also closes June 25, is all about hair. The Culture of Hair includes works by five women artists, who through their art reflect on their relationship with hair and its associations with beauty, identity, age, gender and race.

The Friends Experience, an interactive pop up exhibition, lands in Denver June 6 and runs through September 5. It takes you inside immersive recreations of 12 sets from the sitcom. You'll also get to see props and costumes from the show.

Museo's Malinalli on the Rocks examines the often misunderstood historical figure La Malinche through the eyes of Hispanic and Latinx artists. The exhibit closes July 23.

This summer is also your last chance to check out Seeing the Invisible, Denver Botanic Gardens' augmented reality experience that transposes digital art over the gardens' landscapes in an exploration of the intersection of digital and physical worlds. The experience ends August 1.

Redline's 2021-2022 theme is "Afrofuturism + Beyond," and the gallery has two shows engaging with that theme set to open this summer from June 10-July 31. Floyd D. Tunson: ASCENT displays decades of work by the contemporary Colorado artist, who explores themes like identity, race and history through his work. Another exhibition, The Black Power Tarot, will display largescale Tarot cards created by King Khan & Michael Eaton. The exhibition also incorporates music from a corresponding playlist curated by King Khan, with one song corresponding with each every card, and will incorporate screenings of Pritchard Smith's documentary The Invaders.

When you step inside VERSE, a new immersive exhibition, all you'll see is an empty gallery. But put on one of VERSE's headsets and the exhibition comes to life as AR hologram artwork appears before your eyes, layered over the exhibition. Open now at Denver Pavilions.

This summer, the travelling exhibition Modern Women/Modern Vision: Works from the Bank of America Collection lands in Denver. The collection features 100 photos by women artists throughout the 20th century, highlighting women's contributions to the art form. It leaves Denver August 28.

Sir Bruan gallops with a sword during the Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur. July 4, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Festival and events

Hear ye, hear ye! The Colorado Renaissance Festival returns June 18-August 7, giving visitors a chance to enjoy Renaissance-era food, costumes, vendors and entertainment.

Civic Center EATS is back! Every Thursday, visitors can enjoy live music presented by Your Mom's House and purchase food from dozens of local food trucks in Civic Center Park. The series launched May 19, and will run throughout the summer.

Denver's annual Lit Fest, presented by Lighthouse Writers, also returns June 10-19, bringing with it literary workshops, readings parties and more!

Ulises Medrano dances with a flag in the Denver PrideFest parade, June 17, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Juneteenth is officially a city, state and federal holiday! Celebrate the day with the annual Juneteenth Street Festival taking place across 10 blocks of Five Points. Enjoy live music, vendors, food and more.

Denver PrideFest is back with a fully in-person celebration this year! From June 25-26 celebrate Pride with food, drinks, the annual parade and 5k and performances by Betty Who, Kylie Sonique Love, Cazwell, Yvie Oddly and Silky Nutmeg Ganache. And check The Center on Colfax's website for other Pride events taking place this June.

And the disability-affirmative theatre company Phamaly will host its annual fundraiser at Civic Center Park on June 2. Phamaly's BIG NIGHT! brings food trucks, a bar and entertainment to the park, as well as perforances by musical headliner Wheelchair Sports Camp, musician Jeffrey Marshall and comedian, Christie Buchele.


On June 4, Welton Street will be taken over by the Five Points Jazz Festival, a lively (and free!) event calling back to Five Points' legacy as the Harlem of the West. The festival will feature food, drinks and performances by jazz musicians across 11 stages.

The audience claps for Danette Hollowell and the Old Souls at the Rossonian Hotel during the Five Points Jazz Festival, May 18, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Levitt Pavilion's outdoor summer concert series is underway! Grab your picnic blanket and head to Ruby Hill Park to enjoy summer weather, tunes and food trucks at these free outdoor concert events.

The Underground Music Showcase returns July 29-31, when it'll once rock South Broadway with performances by local and national-touring indie acts. This year's headliners include Audrey Nuna, The Knocks, Faye Webster and more!

VORTEX Festival, Meow Wolf's immersive music festival experience, is coming to Denver this summer! From August 5-7, guests can enjoy a lineup of eclectic music acts while interacting with the entertainment company's signature experiential art.

Denver Botanic Gardens' annual concert series, Music at the Gardens, is back this year, with performances by acts like DeVotchKa, The Mavericks and more. Shows run on select days from June 12-July 27.

The Gardens will also continue its pandemic-era series, Evenings al Fresco on Monday and Wednesday evenings June 1-August 31. Experience live music by Swallow Hill Music as you wander around enjoying the plants!

City Park Jazz returns this year with free concerts on Sunday evenings at the City Park Pavilion. The series kicks off June 5 with a Ron Miles tribute, and runs through August 7.

On select Thursdays starting June 16, you can also enjoy food and dree concerts along the Platte at Riverfront Park Summer Sessions. 

And in Glendale, Glendale at the Park Music & Movies will bring summer concerts and outdoor movies to Infinity Park on select dates throughout the summer, starting June 24!

Pinegrove performs for a crowd of hundreds at the Underground Music Showcase main stage in Denver on Friday, August 27, 2021.
Eli Imadali for Denverite

Outdoor movies

Film on the Rocks returns to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre this year after two years of socially distanced drive-in screenings. Enjoy films like Thor: Ragnorak, The Sandlot and Dune while sitting under the stars in the stands of the historic venue. Shows are Mondays throughout the summer.

Movies at McGregor invites movie lovers to McGregor Square to watch films like Grease, Back to the Future and The Karate Kid on an outdoor 66-foot LED screen. Films take place on Thursdays all summer long and into the fall.

And Avanti is hosting its own outdoor movie series on Thursdays, when you you can attend outdoor screenings of favorites like Mean Girls, Caddyshack, Black Panther, The Big Lebowski, The Shining and more.

Planter boxes at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, July 26, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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