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Final farewell to summer with these festivals, blockbuster exhibitions & cultural events

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The Mile High City can never get enough summer, so as the season comes to a close, Denver maxes out the fun with not just one long weekend, but more than a month of celebrations as its unofficial summer finale. Visitors can soak up every last ray of summer sun at culinary and cultural festivals, professional sports games and events, headliner concerts, live performing arts, blockbuster museum exhibitions and many more activities through Labor Day and beyond.

 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

Blockbuster Exhibitions

Leonardo da Vinci500 Years of Genius, through August 25

Although Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519, his influence has endured. His extraordinary legacy as an inventor, artist, scientist, anatomist, engineer, architect, sculptor and philosopher comes to life at Denver Museum of Nature & Science in Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius, the most comprehensive exhibition about da Vinci ever presented. Dozens of replicas of da Vinci’s machine inventions, built using his detailed codices, reveal how his fundamental scientific and artistic principles continue to impact the world today. In addition, the exhibition will feature the fascinating Secrets of the Mona Lisa exhibit, with super-magnified visual examinations and the only 360-degree replica ever made of the iconic painting.   

Human Nature: Figures from the Craig Ponzio Sculpture Collection, through September 15

Human Nature: Figures from the Craig Ponzio Sculpture Collection presents sculptures that explore the human form in both classical and abstract styles, from the early 20th century to today at Denver Botanic Gardens. Featured artists hail from around the world and include Eric Fischl, Jacques Lipchitz, Sassona Norton, Beverly Pepper, Auguste Rodin and Manolo Valdés.From sculpture to selfies to dance, the power of the human figure conveys and conjures a range of emotions. Human | Nature shares the expressive capacity of the human form against the backdrop of the Gardens’ diverse botanical environments. 


Cultural Events

Chicago, August 1-25

Phamaly Theatre Company, which solely casts actors with disabilities, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a run of Broadway favorite, Chicago, at Studio Loft in the Ellie Caulkins Opera HouseAgainst the backdrop of Chicago’s roaring 20s, celebrity hopeful Roxie Hart stands accused of murder. Imprisoned in Cook County Jail alongside her longtime idol Velma Kelly, there’s little hope for acquittal, until she discovers the artful manipulation of justice by the best criminal lawyer in town – Billy Flynn.

 Denver Art Museum Free First Saturdays, August 3 & September 7

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, & September 6

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 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.

 Anastasia, August 7-18

Inspired by the beloved film, Anastasia transports audiences from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love and family. Presented by Denver Center for the Performing Arts and performed at the Buell Theatre, Anastasia features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally, a lush new score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens with direction by Tony Award-winner Darko Tresnjak.

 CRUSH WALLS, September 2-8

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 through the use of mural art. The event has become a platform for artists from around the world to gather, create and share ideas and techniques, all to the delight of some 20,000 spectators and visitors. Started in 2010 as a low-key gathering, CRUSH WALLS is quickly becoming one of the largest street artfestivals in the world, accumulating popular acclaim and formal accolades. 

 Culinary Festivals


11th Annual Cherry Creek North Food & Wine, August 17

Cherry Creek North Food & Wine celebrates the diverse and sophisticated tastes of Cherry Creek North dining, bringing together the area’s best restaurants for one night on Fillmore Plaza (Fillmore between 1st and 2nd). Attendees will have the chance to sample bites while enjoying locally-produced wine, beer and spirits plus live music and more.

A Taste of Colorado, August 31 – September 2

This festival, held in Denver’s Civic Center Park and on the surrounding streets, highlights some of Colorado’s favorite food establishments – from ethnic specialties to traditional favorites, diners can enjoy full-sized or sample portions of their favorites throughout the festival. The festival also features live music from more than 25 national and regional artists, family-friendly activities and more.

Denver Food + Wine Festival, September 3-8

Denver Food + Wine Festival is a multi-day extravaganza of food, wine and spirits education and tastings around the city. Events include Dinner Under the Stars, Rise + Dine (an annual brunch festival), SHAKE DOWN (a cocktail event) and the signature event, The Grand Tasting.

Live Music


Mission Ballroom Grand Opening, August 8

Denver’s newest concert venue, Mission Ballroom will open this summer with a concert from Colorado’s own Lumineers (August 7). In its inaugural season, the venue, located in the city’s hip RiNo (River North) Arts District, will also feature Ben Harper (August 12), Steve Miller Band (August 13), Phantogram (August 18) and Of Monsters and Men (September 16), among many others.

 Billy Joel Live at Coors Field, August 8

Legendary singer-songwriter, Billy Joel, will play at the home of the Colorado Rockies this summer as part of a tour of several baseball stadiums nationwide.

 Zac Brown Band: The Owl Tour Live at Coors Field, August 9

Zac Brown Band will be joined by rising stars Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real Caroline Jones for a performance at Denver’s Coors Field.

Dave Matthews Band at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, August 23 – 24

Dave Mathews Band will once again take the stage at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre to perform music from their nearly 30-year career.

 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 eighth year in a row.

 Red Rocks Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series

The Red Rocks Summer Concert Series, held at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – the world’s only naturally formed, acoustically perfect amphitheater – is the largest one yet with the most number of headliners performing at the renowned concert venue in its 78-year history. During the day at Red Rocks Park, various organizations host yoga and fitness classes, and there are plenty of hiking trails. August’s Summer Finale will see headliners including O.A.R. (August 8), Lionel Richie (August 14), Shakey Graves (August 15), Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (August 21-22), OneRepublic with the Colorado Symphony (August 26-27) and more; and Labor Day weekend will wrap with Amos Lee on September 2.

 Clyfford Still Museum Lawn Concerts

Considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century, Clyfford Still was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists; and the Clyfford Still Museum opened in his honor in 2011 as part of 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 features free lawn concerts on July 19, August 16 and September 6.

 Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series

Denver Botanic Gardens hosts a spectacular lineup of artists each summer in its UMB Bank Amphitheater. Some of the artists performing this summer include Indigo Girls (August 8), John Hiatt (August 13) and Calexico and Iron & Wine (August 19), among others.

 Professional Sports

Colorado Classic, August 22-25

Professional bicycle racing returned to Colorado in 2017 with the Colorado Classic, a series of men’s and women’s races in three Colorado cities. New this year, race organizers announced that the 2019 Colorado Classic will be a women’s only race – the only UCI standalone women’s stage race in the Western hemisphere; raising the bar with quadrupled prize purse, team stipends, live streaming and longer, more challenging routes. This year’s race will go through Steamboat, Avon and Golden, culminating in an exciting, urban Denver finish on August 25.

 Denver’s Home Teams

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 NFL’s Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos kick off their regular season with a game against the Oakland Raiders on September 9.

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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