Your ultimate 2018 guide to free summer happenings in Denver

DENVER – Summer is alive and well in the Mile High City, but you don’t have to spend a buck to enjoy all that Denver has to offer between now and the time the leaves start to change.

If you’re struggling to find something to do across town (how is that even possible?!) or if you’ve just arrived in town within the past month (welcome, fellow transplant!), then mark your calendar because your summer is going to be packed.

Free summer festivals and events

Slow Food Nations
When is it happening: This weekend, actually!
Where is it happening: Larimer Square

Slow Food Nations, a festival which celebrates good, clean and fair food for all, is in Denver this weekend. This three-day event combines the fervor of street food, the passion of learning and the experience of a cultural exchange.

Colorado Black Arts Festival
When is it happening: Also this weekend (July 13 – 15)
Where is it happening: City Park

Come out to City Park to enjoy a weekend full of art and culture showcasing the best from talented black artists from around the state and the nation. The three-day festival features dance, jazz, blues, soul, reggae, gospel, as well as traditional African drum and dance performances.

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
When is it happening: July 28 and 29
Where it is happening: Sloan’s Lake Park

Founded more than 15 years ago by the Colorado Asian Pacific American (APA) culture, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival has become one of the most known family-friendly festival celebrating Asian culture in the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy performances, arts and crafts, and dragon boat racing!

Denver International Festival
When is it happening: Aug. 4
Where is it happening: Civic Center Park

The Denver International Festival celebrates humanity’s global heritage with traditional food, music and art from hundreds of countries and cultures right in the heart of downtown Denver.

Buskerfest
When is it happening: Aug. 10 - 12
Where is it happening: Denver Union Station

Celebrate street art and performance in the Mile High City during Buskerfest at Denver’s Union Station. Enjoy street musicians, fire breathers, face painters, hula-hoopers, jugglers and more.

A Taste of Colorado
When is it happening: Aug. 31 – Sept. 3
Where is it happening: Civic Center Park

If you’re new to Colorado – or if you’ve been here for a long time, and haven’t tasted everything the state has to offer – you might want to head out to the 35th annual Taste of Colorado festival at Civic Center Park. There will be lots of food, lots of music, lots of vendors and lots of fun.

Farmers’ Markets
When is it happening: All summer long
Where it is happening: Throughout Colorado, actually

You don’t have to go scavenger hunting for locally-grown, farm-fresh produce this summer in Denver and across the state of Colorado. If you’re looking for the best of best and want to support your local farmers in the process, head on over to one of the 103 farmers’ markets now open across the Centennial State.

Outdoor Movies across Denver parks
When is it happening: Throughout the summer
Where is it happening: Various locations

There is no reason a summer blockbuster should bust your budget and Denver has a lot of options for you – and your whole family – to enjoy a night out of movies this summer. Learn more about all the options available for you here.

Free live music to enjoy this summer in Denver

City Park Jazz
When is it happening: Sunday evening in June and July, as well as the first Sunday of Aug.
Where is it happening: City Park

The City Park Bandstand and Pavilion will turn into a swinging, open-air jazz club for City Park Jazz, which takes place Sunday evenings in June and July and on the first day of August.

Elway’s Taste & Tunes Summer Music Series
When is it happening: Wednesday evenings from June 13 – Aug. 15
Where is it happening: Elway’s Cherry Creek

Elway’s at Cherry Creek transforms into a rockin’ session on Wednesday evenings – and the music is free.

Coohills Beats on the Creek Summer Concert Series
When is it happening: Tuesday evenings from June 19 – Aug. 7
Where is it happening: Coohills, 1400 Wewatta St.

During six Tuesdays this summer, Coohills invites you to joing them for their free Beats on the Creek Summer Concert Series, which benefit the Conservation Colorado Education Fund. The fun goes from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Free Museum Days across Denver
When is it happening: All year long
Where is it happening: Several locations across town

If you like going to museums, then you won’t want to miss a single free day offered throughout the year (not just during the summer!). Check out this link for more information on which museums are offering free days next.

More free tours/other attractions

Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac heads”
When is it happening: Until Oct. 17
Where is it happening: Civic Center Park

If you’ve been anywhere near the Sea Lions Fountain on the north end of Civic Center Park, you’ll realize there are several bronze animal heads placed along the fountain. That’s the work of contemporary artist Ai Weiwei and is on display through Oct. 17.

First Friday Art Walks
When is it happening: Every first Friday of the month (yearlong)
Where is it happening: Various locations

If you’re new or haven’t had a chance to discover Denver’s creative community, come on down to a First Friday celebration across Denver’s seven art districts to enjoy a lively, street party-like evening.

Editor's note: We'd like to give a special "thank you" to the people over at VISITDENVER for helping us compile this list. 

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