Denver, Colorado is a hub of cultural activity. Locals here celebrate art and history each year with a variety of festivals and fairs that embody the eclectic spirit of the mountain city. Colorado’s capital city celebrates everything from Chinese watercrafts to sidewalk chalk, giving visitors just a taste of everything Denver has to offer. Here are five of the best Denver festivals you must see next time you visit the Mile-High City.
Just Dance: Denver March Powwow
Photo by Bob Chuck
Combine thousands of moving bodies, colorful dancing clothes, and a rich culture hundreds of years old and you get a festival you won’t forget at the Denver March Powwow. 1,600 dancers from nearly 100 different Native American tribes across the country gather to celebrate and share their cultures. The festival, a Denver tradition since 1984, is one of the best in the United States. The Denver Powwow also features traditional food, art, storytelling, dancing and singing. Last year there were over 170 vendors at the event selling handmade crafts and jewelry. Everyone participating in the festival does so to honor their ancestors and share sacred traditions. Dancing is essential to the powwow, and everyone is invited. Festival-goers of any age can take part in take part in the Intertribal Dance that is held multiple times throughout the festival. The legendary Grand Entry, the Victory Dance and even some women-only dances are some of the other highlights of the dancing showcases.
Photo by the author
Look Down! The Denver Chalk Art Festival
Photo by Messy Cupcakes
The Denver Chalk Art Festival is just like the Downtown Arts Festival if you picked it up and threw it on the ground. For one weekend in June, Larimer Square is transformed into a canvas: over 150 professional and amateur artists work to turn the pavement into a masterpieces during this festival with Italian roots. Music, Italian food, wine-tasting, and miscellaneous art will also make appearances at the festival. The festival is a modern way to carry on an ancient tradition dating back to the 16th Italy where street artists called “madonnari” created art using chalk on the pavement. Of course attendees will have the opportunity to make some chalk art of their own and learn from the masters. After all, the purpose of the festival is to carry on and share this ancient tradition.
Love Who YOU Are! Denver PrideFest
Photo by Tristan Smith
Show your pride at the Denver PrideFest each June in Civic Center Park. PrideFest is one of the nation’s top ten gay pride rallies and is often regarded as the most family-friendly event of its kind. Marked by two days of entertainment, activities, and a parade, the PrideFest is sure to be a blast for anyone. The festival has three stages with different entertainment all weekend. In addition to live entertainment, there is the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday that goes from Chesman Park down Colfax Ave. and ending at Civic Center Park. Make sure to check out the Dogs in Drag Parade on Saturday to see some of Denver’s most fabulous pooches.
Float Your Boat: Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
Photo by Erik Purkalitis
Each July Sloan’s Lake Park hosts the Dragon Boat Festival, the competition is regarded as one of Colorado’s greatest festivals. It draws over one thousand competitors and 80,000 spectators annually to watch elaborate boats race across Sloan Lake. The boats are decorated with bright colors and dragon heads. Food and craftsmen are both a big part of the festival as well. The unique experience of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is unlike any other in Colorado or even the U.S. and it is definitely a festival you don’t want to miss.
Photo by Pravesvuth Uparanukraw
Raise a Glass! The Great American Beer Festival
Photo by Four Brewers
If there is one festival that Denver is most proud of it is the Great American Beer Festival. The festival prides itself in being the premier beer festival in the nation. The Colorado Convention Center is the only venue grand enough to hold this libation celebration. The largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled will convene in Denver next year. More than 3,000 beers from 600 different breweries throughout the U.S. will be available for taste-testing. Denver is home to the world’s largest single brewery, the Coors Brewery and also home to the highest number of home brewers in the country. Denverites all have their own favorite local brew, and this festival indulges those hometown favs plus hundreds of others from all over the country. Beer enthusiasts and fun-lovers alike will love the Great American Beer Festival.