There’s plenty to do this weekend, whether you want to stay close to your home (purchase plants for that home through a virtual version of the Denver Botanic Gardens annual fall sale) or head out to the mountains. All national parks are free on September 26th, National Public Lands Day. And in the glowing aspen, Central City will be filled with art all weekend. More than a dozen artists paint the city for a show that culminates on Sunday.
There are more, including markets in Boulder and Belleview Station by the Tech Center. Check out our list of ten free events this weekend and read ten more great events in and around Denver (and on your couch):
National Public Areas Day
Saturday, September 26th
Today is National Public Lands Day (it’s also National Hunting & Fishing Day), which is free entry to any national park. Many of them have volunteer projects and other activities. If you can’t get into one of Colorado’s national parks, the National Environmental Education Foundation, Toyota, and Corazón Latino are hosting a 45-minute NPLD Virtual Signature Event with a virtual musical road trip through select public ones on Saturday, September 26th, starting at 8 a.m. Areas across the country. The Acts and Parks: We the Folk and Lele Rose, Joshua Tree National Park, California; Cuarenta y Cinco, Carson National Forest, New Mexico; Salsa Train Orquestra, Notchview, Massachusetts; Cherry Blossom String Quartet and Michael Bard, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC; Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, Saguaro National Park, Arizona; Kawika Kahiapo, Waimea Canyon State Park, Hawaii; and John Hoover, Eagle Landing Park, Washington. Sign up here.
Denver Botanic Gardens Fall Plants & Bulbs Sale Online Event
Until Sunday, September 27th, at 5 p.m.
With hardcore gardeners already knowing how to buy plants and bulbs online or from a catalog, it won’t be a huge challenge for the Denver Botanic Gardens to virtually launch their fall sales. As with the usual live version, entry is free and there will be a virtual crowd battling it out for the last bag of the rarest crocus bulbs. Fortunately, this year you have the opportunity to study a detailed list of items for sale before the Cyber-Free-for-All so you can get into the fray ready to fight. Order here by September 27th and collect your bounty from the DBG between October 1st and 3rd.
Third annual Plein Air Festival in the city center
Until Sunday, September 27th, 6 p.m.
See artists at work while enjoying the beauty of the changing aspen and historic downtown area. The artists will return to the Quick Draw competition on Eureka Street on Saturday at 11:30 am to create a new painting in two hours. They will be shown and sold in the Central City Opera House Gardens at 2pm that day. You can see all the work at a sales and price reception on Sunday from 4pm to 6pm in the Teller House parking lot. These events are all free; There are also additional tours that are currently sold out. Find out more here.
The climax of the Southlands opening
Saturday, September 26th
6155 South Main Street, Aurora
Southlands is celebrating a major renovation this weekend. Saturday activities include a mini chalk arts festival, street sales and craft market, a tulip garden at the Cub Club, fitness classes and demonstrations, and the debut of new street murals. You can find the full schedule here.
Denver American Indian Festival
Saturday September 26th and Sunday September 27th
In its seventh year, the free, family-friendly Denver American Indian Festival has gone virtual. Experience Indian culture through song, dance, arts and crafts. World famous artists like Calvin Standing Bear, Rose Red Elk, Bear Limvere, Sevenfalls Dancers, Sid Whiting, Kristina Badhand and others are entertained. There will also be a children’s zone, a cultural zone, grocery vendors and even a recipe corner, as well as special daily lectures in the Blazing Your Own Path series of speakers. More information is available at denveramericanindianfestival.org.
TheBigWonderful Autumn Bazaar
Saturday, September 26th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Belleview Station, 4910 South Newport Street
More than fifty vendors will be available for this special edition of TheBigWonderful, which also features new fall beers and live music with a jam from members of Lotus and the Heavy Pets. Return on Sunday for a farmers market from 9am to 1pm and a free concert by the Matt Flaherty Band at 3pm. Fall Bazaar tickets are $ 5 upfront, $ 8 at the door (and include a free drink). Find out more here.
Avalon Drive-Thru Art Event
Saturday, September 26th, 12pm to 4pm
Avalon Ballroom Parking Lot, 6185 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder
Think of the Avalon Drive-Thru Art Event as an arts festival that you travel through and view from the safety of your car. This is also where you can buy fresh work from around 60 local artists while enjoying live music, dance performances, and craziness art installations. Mask your windows, roll down the windows, and chat with the artists as you roll through the tent drive-through gallery. The entire event is free, which means you’ll have more batter in your wallet to give artists a reason to live again. Reserve timed tickets in advance with Eventbrite.
Works by Markham “Shitty Kitten” Maes @ shittykitten1 and Peytoe Rose Provisions @peyote_rose_.
Bazaar Art Mrkt
Bazaar Art Mrkt
Saturday, September 26th, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Trident Booksellers & Cafe, 940 Pearl Street, Boulder
More than fifteen creatives will show their work in this artist-run market, selling everything from prints to jewelry to leather goods. The market is on the Trident Terrace and entry is free (masks are required, however). Find out more here.
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Civic Center LIVE: After-Party for the Black Love Mural Festival
Saturday, September 26th, 5pm to 10pm
Civic Center Park
Do you remember the Black Love Mural Festival in June when the scream of “Black Lives Matter” became urgent and was even painted on Broadway? The festival that brought murals and activist art to life in Civic Center Park eventually gave way to other events in the shadow of the Capitol and never had an appropriate ending. Hence this late after-party, a loud and proud evening of live music with DJs and hip-hop artists. For COVID reasons, participation is limited. Get your $ 20 ticket while you can at civiccenterpark.org.
Joni Mitchell in Laurel Canyon.
BIFF Drive-In: Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time Part 1 and 2
Saturday, September 26th, gates at 5:45 p.m., film at 7:15 p.m.
Boulder Municipal Airport, 3327 Airport Road in Boulder
The Boulder International Film Festival ends its drive-in season with the first public screening of the two-part documentary Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time (which was due to premiere at SXSW 2020). The film features Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, Adler, Jackson Brown, Alice Cooper, The Byrds, The Monkees, Frank Zappa and many more. Boulder-based singer / songwriter Finn O’Sullivan will perform before the film. Entry is $ 35 per car, and tickets go fast; grab a seat here.
Living room on site with John Lithgow
Sunday, September 27th, 5pm to 6pm
Since actor John Lithgow happens to be a very, very good friend of Boulders Local Theater Company, he invites people from all over to his living room to virtually read from his current-verse book Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown, followed by a discussion with local critic Lisa Kennedy on the role of satire in art and politics. It will be sooo smart. Tickets are $ 20 in advance for the link on localtheaterco.org.
Doors open Denver
Monday, September 28th to October 15th
Building on the success of past events, the annual Doors Open Denver went virtual in 2020. While the timing, duration, and scope have changed (there will even be a photo contest), nothing has changed about offering insider tours that provide exclusive access to and unique information about historic buildings, new buildings, and everything in between. This year’s tours feature a dozen spaces ranging from cultural to commercial to civic structures. One tour per day is offered four days a week, each with a question-and-answer phase with experts. Tours are $ 7 for members of the Denver Architecture Foundation and $ 9 for non-members. All details can be found at denverarchitecture.org.
Do you know of any other great events in the city? We’ll update this list over the weekend. Send information to [email protected]
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; She has been an editor since then. She regularly participates in the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a true journalist in John Sayles’ Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton in flip-flops, and received numerous national awards for her columns and feature writing.