We’re CU in the City, and summer in the city means festivals! Perhaps unsurprisingly, Denver has some great ones. From food fests to art displays to music shows, there’s an event to scratch just about every urban itch this summer.
Here are seven of Denver’s best summer fests.
Denver Barbecue Festival
June 15 – 17, Sports Authority Field
You might not think “Denver” when you hear “BBQ,” but on this weekend in June, it may just be the best barbecue city in the nation. Award-winning barbecue legends from across the country come together at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for a free festival celebrating the culinary delight.
June 16 – 17, Civic Center Park
Every June, the GLBT Community Center of Colorado hosts a full weekend of events and entertainment for Denver PrideFest. Attendees can watch a parade, run a 5K race and listen to live music. This year, a new event will make its debut: the Trash Fashion Show! Models of all genders and body types will model innovative fashions constructed from reclaimed materials. Admission to the festival is free, but some events require tickets.
16th Street Fair
June 22 – 23, Aug. 10 – 11, Sept. 28 – 29, 16th Street Mall
Another free festival just a short walk from CU Denver campus, the 16th Street Fair is Denver’s premier arts and crafts festival. Three weekends this summer, Denver’s best emerging artists and designers will showcase their creations, with live music playing at the nearby Skyline Beer Garden.
Cherry Blossom Festival
June 23 – 24, Sakura Square
Who doesn’t love teriyaki? A celebration of all things Japanese, the Cherry Blossom Festival features performances in traditional music, dancing and martial arts, as well as a Japanese-themed marketplace and, of course, food! Admission is free.
Black Arts Festival
July 13 – 15, City Park
For 32 years, the Colorado Black Arts Festival has worked to showcase Colorado’s African-American artistic talent. The festival brings gospel music, a film pavilion, an art show and a scavenger hunt, which encourages visitors to learn more about African and African-American culture. Admission is free.
Underground Music Showcase
July 26 – 29, South Broadway
Also known as The UMS, this festival brings music lovers together with Denver’s preeminent independent artists. For nearly two decades it’s been known for its local focus, as well as intense, crazy, high-energy performances. A weekend pass is $35.
Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
July 28 – 29, Sloan’s Lake Park
Inspired by a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival showcases Denver’s Asian and Asian-American communities in a cultural celebration. Events range from the traditional to the silly, with Japanese dance, an anime tent, a scavenger hunt and a spicy ramen eating contest. Admission is free.
Denver International Festival
Aug. 4 – 18, Civic Center Park
A celebration of global food, music and art, the Denver International Festival also helps give back to the city’s own local communities by raising money at its annual benefit concert. Sample New Zealand ice cream, jerk chicken, crepes, pierogi, arepas and more while listening to music from every continent! There’s also a marketplace featuring local artists. Admission is free.
Colorado Classic Professional Bike Race & Velorama
Aug. 17 – 19, RiNo Art District
In the Colorado Classic, professional cyclists race through some of Colorado’s iconic scenery from Aug. 16 – 19. On Aug. 18, the race winds through Denver’s RiNo Art District. That weekend, the whole area will be transformed into a celebration of bikes, with exhibitions, local art, live music and games. Ticket prices vary.
A Taste of Colorado
Sept. 1 – 3, Civic Center Park
On Labor Day Weekend, Civic Center Park fills with food, music, crafts and games. A Taste of Colorado has featured acts like George Thorogood, Rick Springfield and The Wallflowers. The main attraction, though, is the food, with a huge variety of local and international cuisine options. And with free admission, you can put your cash toward sampling it all.
Grandoozy Music Festival
Sept. 14 – 16, Overland Park
Grandoozy is a newer addition to Denver’s festival scene, but it’s not just playing around. Organized by the creators of Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, its 2018 musical acts will include Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine and Stevie Wonder. Festival experiences will include an outdoor showcase, an ‘80s ski lodge-themed tent and an all-day dance area. Tickets range from $225 to $300.