Friday-Sunday. Celebrate the beginning of fall at the Arvada Harvest Festival. The centerpiece of the fest is the Harvest Festival Parade on Saturday. This year’s parade theme is “Patriotism,” so plan on seeing a lot of red, white and blue among the marching bands, floats and clowns. McIlvoy Park will be one of the centers of the festival: See the Air Force Brass Band at 6 p.m. Friday; on Saturday and Sunday, kids turn the park into the Kids Zone, complete with a kids’ parade at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. 5-10:30 p.m. tonight, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, various times Sunday. Downtown Arvada, Upham Street between Ralston Road and Grandview Avenue. Admission is free. For event schedules and more information, visit arvadaharvestfestivalparade.com.
Saturday-Sunday. Lakewood’s Belmar neighborhood transforms into an Italian paradise at the 7th annual Festival Italiano. Local vendors will set up shop throughout the shopping center, peddling arts and crafts, antiquities and lots and lots of food. Chow down on pizza, sausages, pasta, gelato and more. Vino will be flowing, of course: Grownups can sample Italian wines, and kids can help make it by stomping grapes for Balistreri Vineyards. Foodies will want to buy tickets to one of the daily Grand Tasting Events, featuring local star chefs Frank Bonnano and Gabriel Aragon. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Belmar, South Wadsworth Boulevard and West Alaska Drive. Admission is free; tickets for the Grand Tasting event are $25 in advance, $35 at the door. Buy advance tickets at belmarcolorado.com. For more information, visit belmarcolorado.com or call 303-742-1520
Saturday. Even though the nearby Mile High Music Festival just went down a few weeks ago. Stapleton is ready for more. The Stapleton Rocks Concert for a Cause starts thumping on Saturday morning. Listening to the bands is free, but tickets for the quad bungee, slide and climbing wall, plus concession stand sales, go to charity. The band lineup includes Honor the Fallen, Bernard and Joel, Control Tower and Youth in Conflict.10:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Founder’s Green, 29th Avenue and Roslyn Street. Admission is free.
Saturday. Rocky Mountain PBS invites youngsters for a day in the sun at their Kids Fun Fest. Cool characters like Curious George, The Cat in the Hat and Clifford the Big Red Dog will be on hand — or on paw, rather — to greet guests and take photos. Expend some energy with outdoor activities like a bounce house, climbing wall and Urban Farm, or settle in with the storytellers and a performance by PBS KIds host Miss Rosa. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Rocky Mountain PBS, 1089 Bannock St.; 800-274-6666. Admission is free.
Weekends in September. All aboard: Thomas the Tank Engine makes an extended stop at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Thomas will be giving rides on his train throughout the day as part of “Day Out With Thomas: The Celebration Tour.” Rides are scheduled throughout the day — early arrivals are encouraged, though, to ensure everyone makes their train. There’s plenty to do before and after your ride, of course: Have a photo taken with Sir Topham Hatt, play with model trains, visit a petting zoo and just explore the museum. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 26. Colorado Railroad Museum, 17155 w. 44th Ave., Golden; 303-279-4591. Tickets are $18, with discounts for groups, active military and museum members. Buy tickets at ticketweb.com. Learn more at crrm.org.
-Kathleen St. John