The first weekend of August is packed with entertainment options, ranging from high-flying aerialists to Meow Wolf’s Vortex to the return of laser shows at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
See our list of free things to do here, and our guide to August’s First Friday here. Now keep reading for ten more things to do worth the price of admission:
[margins.] conference and festival
Friday, August 5, 3 to 11 pm; Saturday, August 6, 8 am to midnight; Sunday, August 7, 8 am to 4 pm
McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue
Denver author, activist, leader and educator Suzi Q. Smith is the director of the literary conference [margins.], but the committed group it takes to produce an event this size comes together from all across the nation. Its diverse members are writers, editors, publishers, teachers, booksellers and anyone else with ties to the art of words. The three-day fest is a place to mix, to learn, to instruct, to share work and celebrate work by others, with a tight schedule of readings, workshops, panels, films, open mics and discussions, and reasonable registration fees. Learn more and register for in-person or virtual attendance here.
Meow Wolf Vortex Outdoor Festival Experience
Friday, August 5, 4 to 11 pm; Saturday, August 6, and Sunday, August 7, 1 to 11 pm
The Junk Yard, 2323 West Mulberry Place
The Vortex is ready to swallow you and hundreds of other music fans at a new outdoor venue called the Junk Yard, which more or less describes what the lot was before Meow Wolf grabbed it up for its three-day summer festival. Considering the source, the king of immersive and interactive everything, you know Vortex will be more than just great music: Expect hands-on art installations, unexpected performances, costume-o-rama and whatever else you can dream up. Find pricing levels and tickets here, and more information here.
A Day in Japan: Art ExhibitionFriday, August 5, through August 14
A Day in Japan: Cultural Festival and Sake Tasting, Saturday, August 6
Peoples’ Building, 9995 East Colfax Avenue
Art Gallery Reception: Friday, August 5, 4 to 6 pm; free, RSVP at Eventbrite
Sake Tasting Event: Friday, August 5, 6 to 8 pm; $20 to $50 at Eventbrite
Cultural Festival: Saturday, August 6, 10 am to 7 pm; $10 (free for children) at Eventbrite
The People’s Building in downtown Aurora is hosting two days of art, exhibits, performances and workshops for Japanophiles this weekend. A Day in Japan begins Friday evening with an artist reception and exhibitions of vintage Sakura dolls, Ise katagami stencils used for textile-dyeing and contemporary Japanese-inspired art; a ticketed 21+ Friday sake-tasting caps the evening. Saturday unveils a full day of performances and exhibits, with taiko drummers, a vendor market, street food and more cultural presentations, but also acknowledging Japanese pop culture with human cosplay fun and a Japanese dog show (bring your own, in costume!). Learn more about events and tickets here.
Friday, August 5, 5:30, 6:45 and 8 pm
Gates Planetarium, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard
At long last, laser shows are returning to Gates Planetarium, matching light displays showcasing music by favorite pop stars or referencing TV cult shows like Stranger Things. Music from Netflix’s hit will kick off Laser Fantasy’s new summer-through-winter run on Friday night, along with Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Dark Side of the Moon shows scheduled for separate time slots. Turn on, tune in and drop out, but first get tickets. Timed-entry museum admission is required, with an additional charge for Laser Fantasy tickets, ranging from $8 to $14. Register and get tickets here.
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Summer Suite
Friday, August 5, 7:30 pm
Mainstage Theatre, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
At a dance show dedicated to summery vibes, the potential audience is correct to expect some heat, but there’s no question that the ever-energetic Cleo Parker Robinson Dance will generate it. Summer Suite, a collection of dances, is anchored by “Sweet Re,” a salute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, choreographed by CPRD alumnus Gary Abbott to a rafter-rattling soundtrack. Get info and tickets, $28 to $40, here.
Puerto Rican Nocturne
Friday, August 5, 7:30 pm; run continues through August 21
Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street
Denver playwright Jon Marcantoni’s historical social justice drama Puerto Rican Nocturne — based on the 1978 Cerro Maravilla murders of two activists by police in Ponce, Puerto Rico — was about to hit the stage in a production by the Colorado Springs company THEATREdART in March 2020, when the possibility of a world premiere was shut down by COVID . But life has lobbed Marcontoni a second chance, with a cooperative hand from IDEA Stages, Sasquatch Productions, Control Group Productions and the Bug Theatre. That’s where it opens for a two-week run, with a BIPOC cast. Tickets are $10 to $50 here.
Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Festival Showcase
Friday, August 5, and Saturday, August 6, 8 pm; Sunday, August 7, 2 p.m
Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder
The Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Festival gets down to the nitty-gritty this weekend with showcase performances by an international cast of aerial geniuses specializing in bungee, aerial fabric, trapeze, hoop, invented apparatus, rope, cyr wheel and other high-flying dance disciplines . And yes, it’s extremely rare to see this many top performers on one stage at one time. Tickets are $24 to $28 at the Dairy Arts Center online box office.
The Copper Triangle Road Ride
Saturday, August 6
Copper Mountain Resort
The sixteen-year-old Copper Triangle ride combines breathtaking scenery and three climbs over 10,000 feet during the 79-mile loop that begins at Copper Mountain Resort and incorporates three mountain passes — Fremont Pass (11,318′), Tennessee Pass (10,424′) and Vail Pass (10,662′) — for a total elevation gain of 6,500 feet. New to the ride this year is a QOM & KOM over Vail Pass, where you can race your friends, the pros and the clock. Ride day registration is $180; find out more here.
58th Annual Colorado Scottish Festival
Saturday, August 6, 9 am to 9 pm; Sunday, August 7, 9 am to 5 pm
Citizen’s Park, 5401 West 22nd Avenue, Edgewater
The St. Andrew Society of Colorado is hosting the 58th annual Scottish fest, with pipe bands, Highlands games and competitions, dancing, historic re-enactments, whiskey tasting, vendors and more. Weekend pass is $25 adult, $15 kids; day pass is $15 adult, $10 kids. Included with admission is a concert at 7 pm August 6 with Angus Mohr, whose band revitalizes traditional Celtic music’s brogue with an American blues accent. Find out more here.
Grace DeVine & the Moonbeams
Saturday, August 6, 8 p.m
Lost Lake Lounge, 3602 East Colfax Avenue
Join art-pop darling Grace DeVine at Lost Lake as she celebrates the release of her new single, “Mangoes,” out August 5. Loosely inspired by Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” (but with a juicy tropical boost), DeVine describes “Mangoes” as “a bittersweet summertime anthem.” She’ll be backed by her newly assembled band, The Moonbeams, with support from fellow local acts Little Trips and Lavender Jones. Wear your dancing shoes and disco best, and get ready to groove. This is a 16+ event, but children under 16 can attend if accompanied by a ticketed guardian; get tickets, $15, here.
Do you know of a great event in town? We’ll be updating this list through the weekend; send information to [email protected]