Celebrate Summer Holidays in Denver

This summer, long holiday weekends in Denver will be filled with unique festivals and special events, arts and culture experiences, live music, sporting events and more. These, together with The Mile High City’s rooftop patios, walkable downtown and outdoor, active atmosphere – plus plentiful hotel deals – encourage visitors to make the most out of their summer holidays by visiting Denver.

Independence Eve fireworks and light show at Denver’s Civic Center Park. (PRNewsfoto/VISIT DENVER, The Convention &)

“The city loves to celebrate all things summer, from the season’s unofficial kickoff during Memorial Day weekend through Fourth of July,” says Richard Scharf, President and CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our vibrant culture and outdoor lifestyle are on display through blockbuster exhibitions, special events and family-friendly attractions. The Mile High City boasts plenty to see, eat and experience over these long holiday weekends.”

Below are just a few of the events happening over Denver’s early- and mid-summer holidays, in addition to seasonal hotel deals. For more information on things to do and places to stay, go to the VISIT DENVER website.

Memorial Day Weekend

Denver Day of Rock, May 27
Denver Day of Rock is a free music festival in downtown Denver that 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 raising funds to support Amp the Cause, a Denver nonprofit that raises awareness about critical family issues and local charities. This year’s lineup features country superstar, Cam, along with well-known acts such as Austin Young Band, The Dustbowl Revival, The Railbenders and more. This year’s event also includes a Passbook that gives event attendees discounts at more than 65 participating downtown businesses.

Veterans Memorial Day Tribute, May 27
Denver’s observance of Memorial Day is held at the historic POF Hall just south of the state capitol. The ceremony honors Colorado’s fallen heroes in the presence of families, friends, military and political figures and the public. This year will feature inspiring live music performances from artists including the Bold Reflection Singers, Piper Alex McIntosh and the Colorado Joint Color Guard. Additionally, the service will showcase moving biographies and stories, a name reading with a US Navy bell toll, family flag banner and pin presentations and the veterans Remembrance Wreath laying, memorializing veterans from all wars and branches of service.

Final weekend of The Secret Garden, runs through May 28
The beloved classic, The Secret Garden, blossoms anew in this enchanting musical full of beautiful melodies. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts at the Stage Theatre, this performance brings to life the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
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.

Water World Opening Weekend
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.

Premiere of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, runs May 30June 18
The five-time Tony Award-winning new play by Simon Stephens, adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same title, will run for three weeks at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the story of an exceptionally intelligent teenager who falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.

Fourth of July Weekend

Independence Eve Fireworks, July 3
The annual Independence Eve Celebration in Civic Center Park will feature a free patriotic concert, an innovative light show on the Denver City & County Building and a stunning fireworks finale. Lawn seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and lawn chairs, blankets and picnics are welcome. Concessions will also be present on-site.

Cherry Creek Arts Festival, July 1-3
Cherry Creek Arts Festival is a world-class, award-winning celebration of the visual, culinary and performing arts, and enjoys an attendance of more than 350,000 visitors over three days. The Cherry Creek North event gives patrons the rare and special opportunity to meet and talk with international visual artists, sample fine cuisine, visit special exhibits and artist demonstrations and entertain their families with interactive art activities and exciting performing arts.

Fireworks at Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, July 4
Spend the day riding the roller coasters and the water slides at Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, Denver’s downtown amusement park, then watch a brilliant fireworks display light up the night sky, starting at dusk.

City Park Jazz, July 2
Denver’s City Park is home to some of the best views of the city skyline and Rocky Mountains; and on Sunday evenings, the park hosts a free jazz concert starting at 6 p.m. Visitors can come enjoy free jazz, multiple food trucks, sunset views of the city and more.

SeriesFest Season 3, June 27July 2
SeriesFest is an international celebration dedicated to showcasing the best new pilots from established and emerging content creators, and it takes place in Denver, the birthplace of cable television. The majority of the festival’s screenings will take place at the state-of-the-art Sie Film Center, Denver Performing Arts Complex and Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Opening night will take place at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and will feature performances by Ms. Lauryn Hill, Common and En Vogue, along with the world premiered of the new CNN series, The Nineties. New this year will be a “Late Night” category, featuring the strange, absurd, comedic or sketch series.

Denver Comic Con, June 30July 2
This three-day fan convention at the Colorado Convention Center features the best in comics, sci-fi and fantasy television shows, movies, Japanese animation, cosplay, toys, gaming and celebrities. Announced guest speakers include: Nathan Fillion, best known for his roles on “Castle” and “Firefly”; Wallace Shawn from “The Princess Bride” and “Toy Story”; Lou Ferrigno from “The Incredible Hulk”; Garret Wang, who played Harry Kim on “Star Trek: Voyager”; and Bonnie Bright, who played Ginny Weasley in all eight “Harry Potter” series films.

Blockbuster Events & Exhibitions

Vikings: Beyond the Legend, through August 13
In what is the largest collection of Viking artifacts to visit North America, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Vikings: Beyond the Legend lays waste to the one-dimensional stereotype of bearded barbarians with horned helmets and showcases a culture of surprising refinement, complexity, and achievement. Fresh insights revealed through new archaeological discoveries and more than 500 treasures, many never before seen outside of Scandinavia, show why the Vikings will always capture peoples’ imaginations.

Calder: Monumental, through September 24
American artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is considered one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century and is known for his bold, energetic sculptures. Calder: Monumental at Denver Botanic Gardens features these iconic works of bolted steel plate – which rise in sweeping curves or puncture space with geometric lines – revealing the artist’s exploration of forms, volumes and voids. Using shapes that resonate with the natural world, Calder’s large lively abstractions will interact with Denver Botanic Gardens’ vibrant landscape.

Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, through October 22
Denver Art Museum’s Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place features site-specific installations by 13 Latino artists that express experiences of contemporary life in the American West. Energizing and vibrant artwork is presented by Denver artists and Dmitri Obergfell and Jaime Carrejo, as well as artists from around the country.

Professional Sports – Colorado Rockies, Colorado Rapids and Denver Outlaws
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. Fans can catch the Rockies at home during a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, May 26-28; and again versus the Seattle Mariners for two games, May 29-30.

On Saturday, May 27, fans can watch the Rapids play Sporting Kansas City at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; and the Outlaws play the Rochester Rattlers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Rapids also play on the Fourth of July, and fans can stay late to watch the fireworks display over the field after the game. The Outlaws will have fireworks after their July 4th game against the Atlanta Blaze as well.

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre 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.

Headliners for Memorial Day weekend include Odesza, playing two nights on May 27-28, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, playing two nights at Red Rocks as part of their 40th Anniversary Tour on May 29-30.

Umphrey’s McGee will play three nights in a row, from June 30 to July 2, featuring special guests Stick Figure, Snarky Puppy & Bokante and Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers.