As temperatures cool down and fall starts to settle in, Denver will just be heating up. Between the city’s internationally-renowned festivals and events to its exclusive exhibitions, major concerts, performing arts and more, The Mile High City will be bursting with cultural activity.
For the past several years, the list of events taking place in and around Denver in the fall has continued to grow. From longstanding fall traditions like Great American Beer Festival and Denver Film Festival to brand new offerings, including the U.S. exclusive to the largest Monet exhibition in more than 20 years or touring theatrical performances and concerts, autumn in Denver has become one of the most exciting times to visit the city.
Plus, with 300 days of annual sunshine and a location near the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a perfect place to plan a day trip to see the beautiful golden aspen trees and other fall foliage in the mountains, returning to the city for all there is to see and do – from abundant dining options to nightlife to arts and culture and more.
Below are some of the events taking place around Denver this fall; for a complete list of happenings, exhibition descriptions and hotel deals, please check out the VISIT DENVER website.
Blockbuster Exhibitions Extreme Sports: Beyond Human Limits, September 13, 2019 – January 5, 2020 Visitors will be put to the test as they jump, fly, dive, climb and explore some of the riskiest activities in the world at this Denver Museum of Nature & Science exhibition. Physical, multimedia and creative challenges place guests inside the minds and bodies of extreme athletes and their passions such as wingsuit flying, ice and rock climbing, parkour, and free diving. Amid exhilarating speeds, breathtaking heights, and profound depths, the stories of these passionate athletes will leave visitors inspired to push their own personal limits.
The Science Behind Pixar, October 11, 2019 – April 5, 2020 Enjoy a unique look into the Pixar process, and explore the science and technology behind some of the most beloved animated films and their characters with The Science Behind Pixar at Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This interactive exhibition showcases the science, technology, engineering, art, and math concepts used by the artists and computer scientists who help bring Pixar’s award-winning films to the big screen. With more than 50 interactive elements, the exhibition’s eight sections each focus on a step in the filmmaking process to give you an unparalleled view of the production pipeline and concepts used at Pixar every day. Participate in fun, engaging hands-on activities, listen to firsthand accounts from members of the studio’s production teams, and even come face-to-face with re-creations of your favorite Pixar film characters, including Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sulley, Edna Mode, and WALL•E.
Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature, October 21, 2019 – February 2, 2020 The Denver Art Museum will be the sole U.S. venue for the most comprehensive exhibition of Monet paintings in more than two decades. The exhibition will feature more than 100 paintings spanning Monet’s entire career and will focus on the celebrated French impressionist artist’s enduring relationship with nature and his response to the varied and distinct places in which he worked. In connection with Denver Art Museum, several hotels have created VIP packages that include untimed, skip-the-line tickets, which allow access to the exhibition even if the date is sold out to the general public; these packages can be found at https://monetindenver.com.
Beer Here! Brewing the West, through August 9, 2020 Explore Colorado’s brewing industry from the saloons of the Gold Rush through Prohibition to today’s booming craft beer scene at History Colorado Center’s Beer Here! Brewing the West. Learn about the Centennial State’s brewing past, present and future through historical artifacts, interactive elements and more.
Festivals & Special Events CRUSH WALLS, September 2-8For about a week each fall, CRUSH (Creative Rituals Under Social Harmony) organizes artists, in partnership with local businesses, to splash color and creativity 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 art festivals in the world, accumulating popular acclaim and formal accolades. New for 2019, the first-ever CRUSH Concert will be performed at Denver’s newest live music venue, Mission Ballroom; there are also more than 80 local Colorado artists (and more women than ever) as well as new guided tours of the art.
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), Bartender’s Bash (a cocktail event) and the signature event, The Grand Tasting.
Stanley Arts Festival, September 7-8 The Stanley Arts Festival, presented by CherryArts, is a celebration of national art and local flavor with creative experiences for everyone at Stanley Marketplace, one of the most popular venues for people to eat, drink, shop, and play in the Denver metro area. The free event includes 90 juried artist exhibitors selling original art, family activities, interactive art installations, live entertainment and more.
Denver Jazz Festival, September 13-15 Denver Jazz Festival is three days of world-class music in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Focused primarily on vintage jazz and blues of the 1930s and 1940s, the throwback festival features spacious dance floors, swing dance classes and local and national bands.
Colorado Fall Home Show, September 20-22 The Colorado Fall Home Show at Colorado Convention Center is a one-stop marketplace with more than 250 exhibitors with expertise in home renovation, remodeling and sustainable living. The show also features free seminars, demonstrations and more.
Jurassic Quest, September 20-22 Jurassic Quest, hosted at Colorado Convention Center, is America’s largest and most realistic dinosaur event. Featuring more than 80 true-to-life size dinosaurs, the event shows visitors what it was like to walk among the living, breathing dinosaurs in the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic periods.
Biennial of the Americas, September 25-28 The Biennial of the Americas is a four-day long festival of ideas, arts and culture that occurs every two years in Denver. The 2019 festival will take place at McNichols Building and Civic Center Park and centers on the timely theme of “Empathy in Action.” The event features clinics with international speakers on themes ranging from artificial intelligence to sustainable fashion and more, as well as a concert on the final night at Cósmico Americas in Civic Center Park. Cósmico Americas will feature Jaguara, a spectacular light and sound show and the artistic centerpiece of the festival. Other events include a keynote speech from business magnate and space entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson (September 26), pop-up art installations, exhibitions, live performances, interactive spaces and more.
High Plains Comedy Festival, September 26-28 High Plains Comedy Festival is an annual festival held throughout the city of Denver. Founded in 2013 by Denver comedian/writer Adam Cayton-Holland, the festival features a mix of local and national comics in various venues – with a special emphasis on the historic Baker neighborhood surrounding South Broadway. This year’s headliner is Maria Bamford; the full lineup can be found online.
11th Annual Denver Beer Week, September 27 – October 5 Denver Beer Week is a nine-day celebration leading up to (and including) the Great American Beer Festival – the largest beer festival in the world. The 11th annual Denver Beer Week will feature dozens of beer-related events at area breweries, restaurants, tap houses and attractions around the city. From firkin tappings to midnight beer brunches to tap takeovers to a beer street party, there is an event for every type of beer lover.
Great American Beer Festival, October 3-5Great American Beer Festival is the largest craft beer festival in the world; and each year, it represents the largest collection of U.S. beer ever served – in both a public tasting event plus a private competition. The festival takes place at the Colorado Convention Center and brings together brewers and diverse beers from across the nation.
Enchanted Hollows, October 3-25 & Taps and Tails, October 10-24 Autumn is an event-filled season at Denver Zoo. On Thursdays and Fridays from October 3-25, the Zoo hosts Enchanted Hollows, a fall night walk experience through the park. Families can experience the new Bigfoot Festival, have nocturnal animal encounters, talk with the zookeepers, carve pumpkins and eat and drink seasonal treats. And, every Thursday evening from October 10-24, the Zoo invites adult guests to Taps & Tails, where they can enjoy a pop-up beer bar, sustainably farmed culinary creations and a dynamic weekly entertainment lineup.
The Bloody Mary Festival, October 19 The Bloody Mary Festival brings together the most innovative and crafty Bloody Mary mixes in Denver, curated by its team of Bloody Mary aficionados and made by local bars and restaurants. Guests will have the opportunity to taste them all before voting for their favorite via the “People’s Choice Award.” A panel of industry judges will also select the “Best Bloody Mary in Denver.” Tickets to the festival include all participating Bloody Marys, tastes of local food and beverage products, photo ops and more.
Glow at the Gardens, October 21-25 Denver Botanic Gardens creates a spooky lighting display every year to celebrate Halloween. After hours, guests can wander luminaria-lined pathways and admire hundreds of real, glowing pumpkins carved in ornate detail and turned into larger-than-life sculptures. There are plenty of activities in addition to the décor, along with seasonal food and beverages.
41st Annual Denver Film Festival, October 30 – November 10 The Denver Film Festival is the largest premier film celebration in the Rocky Mountain Region. Hosted by Denver Film Society, which works to promote film as both an art form and a civic forum, The Denver Film Festival showcases blockbusters, documentaries, shorts and independent films at a variety of venues around the city.
Denver Arts Week, November 1-9 The 13th annual Denver Arts Week will be a nine-day celebration of The Mile High City’s vibrant arts and cultural communities, featuring more than 300 discounted events at a wide variety of art galleries, museums, theaters and concert halls in multiple neighborhoods. Signature Denver Arts Week events include First Friday Art Walks, an evening when galleries and studios are open for people to explore; and Free Night at the Museums, when Denver’s best museums stay open late and admission is free.
Art District on Santa Fe’s Dia de los Muertos Celebration, November 1 The Art District on Santa Fe will host its first Día de los Muertos celebration coinciding with the First Friday Art Walk as part of Denver Arts Week. In addition to traditional First Friday Art Walk activities – with late-night access to hundreds of artists and exhibits among the galleries on Santa Fe Drive – there will also be Calavera face painting stations, community altars, a photo memorial, a costume contest and special performances at a variety of the large cultural institutions along the corridor. There will also be a community procession, open to the public.
Denver Fashion Week, November 9-17 Denver Fashion Week is Denver’s largest fashion showcase featuring emerging designers, local boutiques, national brands, hair stylists, makeup artists and models. This fall, events will take place at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, McNichols Civic Center Building, Forney Museum of Transportation and various other locations. Among many local designers, national designers attending Denver Fashion Week include Stevie Boi, Ammunition Couture and FreeMen By Mickey and more.
Performing Arts A Doll’s House & A Doll’s House Part 2, September 6 – November 24 At Denver Performing Art Complex’s Ricketson theater, for the first time ever performed in repertory, audiences can follow two acclaimed playwrights’ distinctive takes on one woman’s journey to self-discovery. Henrik Ibsen’s renowned classic, A Doll’s House, shattered the traditions of his time as his protagonist, Nora, walked out on her stark marital obligations. Decades later, Lucas Hnath brought her home (and to Broadway) to revisit her actions through a contemporary lens in A Doll’s House Part 2. One part searing drama, another part biting comedy, this is an experience best seen in full.
Miss Saigon, September 10-22 Miss Saigon, from the creators of Les Misérables, follows the story of a young Vietnamese woman, Kim, who is orphaned by war and forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American G.I., but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For three years, Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to the man, who has no idea he’s fathered a son. The acclaimed new production will be performed at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
Colorado Symphony’s Fall Season Throughout the fall, the Colorado Symphony will feature innovative programming, renowned guest artists and revered symphonic works at the Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver. The season kicks off with Emmy®- and Tony-Award® winner Kristin Chenoweth, who will join the orchestra for an evening of Broadway hits (September 14). Music Director, Brett Mitchell, will commemorate Yumi Hwang-Williams’ 20th season as concertmaster with an Opening Weekend performance of Mendelssohn’s revered Violin Concerto (September 20-22). Superstar soprano Renée Fleming will return to the Colorado Symphony with Rod Gilfry for the Colorado premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Brightness of Light (November 15 and 17). The Colorado Symphony Chorus will commemorate their 35th anniversary with a performance of Verdi’s Requiem, which they also performed during their debut season. In addition, the Colorado Symphony will perform the scores during screenings of several popular films including Fantasia, The Goonies, Love Actually and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and will pay tribute to such pop icons as Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald.
Goodnight Moon, October 4, 2019 – February 16, 2020 Denver Center for the Performing Arts presents a musical twist on the beloved bedtime story, Goodnight Moon. For the past 72 years, families around the world have made Goodnight Moon a part of their bedtime ritual; now, the beloved children’s book comes to life for a musical adventure at The Randy Weeks Conservatory Theatre. As the clock strikes seven o’clock, it’s time for Bunny to go to sleep. Say goodnight with magical moments filled with songs, kittens and mittens, bears and chairs, a red balloon, a quiet old lady, and – of course – the moon in this delightful tale.
We Will Rock You, October 16 Queen-inspired musical, We Will Rock You, is touring North America for the first time since 2002, stopping at the Buell Theatre in Denver for one night only. Following the success of Bohemian Rhapsody, the show’s revival features 24 of Queen’s biggest set to a storyline in a future without musical instruments. A handful of rock rebels, the Bohemians, fight against the all-powerful Globalsoft company and its boss, the Killer Queen; they fight for freedom, individuality and the rebirth of the age of rock.
Schitt’s Creek Live, October 18 At Denver’s Buell Theatre, cast members from award-winning sitcom, Schitt’s Creek, including Eugene Levy & Daniel Levy, will host a live, interactive evening that promises to be fun and insightful while giving fans an insider’s look into the making of the series. Using clips, behind‐the‐scenes footage, stories from cast members, and some special surprises, fans will have a chance to engage with the actors and creators of the series Variety calls one of “the best TV shows of the year.”
Blue Man Group, October 22-27 Blue Man Group returns to Denver this fall, performing at the Buell Theatre. Blue Man Group performances are euphoric celebrations of human connection through art, music, comedy and non-verbal communication; and they appeal to a broad range of age groups and cultural backgrounds. Since debuting in 1991, the live show has expanded around the world, reaching 35 million people.
Colorado Opera’s The Barber of Seville, November 2, 5, 8, 10 Opera Colorado kicks off its 2019-20 season at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House with this laugh-out-loud comedy, featuring some of the most memorable tunes in opera—including Figaro’s famous “Largo al factotum,” Rosina’s “Una voce poco fa” and more. Packed with punchlines, this rapid-fire prequel to The Marriage of Figaro features the mischievous barber Figaro at his most cunning, in a whimsical Art Deco production.
The Phantom of the Opera, November 6-17 Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera makes its return to Denver’s Buell Theatre as part of its North American Tour. Critics are raving that this breathtaking production is bigger and better than ever before and features a brilliant new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony Award®-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony Award®-winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and new staging by director Laurence Connor. The production boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The beloved story and thrilling score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions now on tour.
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, November 15 – December 22 In this classic Shakespearean comedy, the clumsiness of romance is on display in every way. Separated from her twin brother after a shipwreck in Illyria, Viola disguises herself as a man to work in the local household of Duke Orsino. The closer they become, the more Viola gets acquainted with Orsino’s crush, the beautiful noblewoman Olivia. Much to their dismay (and to audiences’ delight), the trio is inevitably thrust into a love triangle of mistaken identity and wanton foolishness. Overflowing with quick wit and titillating trysts, this standout play by The Bard is sure to please with its captivating characters and one of his most dynamic heroines.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre Concert Series The Red Rocks Concert Series, held at Red Rocks Amphitheatre – the world’s only naturally formed, acoustically perfect amphitheater – has been the largest one yet with the most number of headliners performing at the renowned concert venue in its 78-year history, stretching far in to the fall season. Artists still set to perform through October include Bon Iver (September 3), Mac DeMarco (October 6) and Tyler the Creator (October 7); HARD HALLOWEEN, featuring Gramatik, Kayzo, Ghastly, Tom Morello, Armnhmr, Duck and Mom N Dad (October 26); Wu-Tang Clan (October 31); and deadmau5 (November 1-2).
Pepsi Center Fall Lineup Denver’s Pepsi Center will host several big-name concerts this fall, including The Black Keys (September 23), Chance the Rapper (September 24), The Who (September 29), Maná (October 9), Phil Collins (October 13), Twenty One Pilots (October 27), Post Malone (November 10) and Cher and Nile Rodgers & CHIC (November 25).
More Venues There is live music happening just about every night in The Mile High City, and the smaller, more intimate venues around the city also have exciting fall lineups. The Raconteurs will play the brand-new Mission Ballroom in Denver’s hip RiNo (River North) neighborhood on October 9; and Wu-Tang Clan will play the venue on October 29. Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre will host The Original Misfits on September 7. Pop superstar Charli XCX will make a stop at the Ogden Theatre on Colfax (October 9). Rising star, Lizzo, will return to Denver for the second time this year to play the Fillmore Auditorium (October 15). And Ray LaMontagne will play two nights at the historic Paramount theatre in downtown (November 9-10). Full schedules for all of these venues can be found online.
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