Things to do on a Budget this Summer in Denver


Positioned close to dramatic mountain ranges, Denver boasts a scenic setting that serves as a backdrop for plenty of great things to see and do this summer.

(Photo: Tiz_herself via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

The Colorado capital is dotted with top-quality attractions, including historical landmarks and a wealth of acclaimed museums and other cultural venues. Lovers of the great outdoors, meanwhile, have mountainous landscapes, rock formations and hiking trails to enjoy. It all amounts to a magical destination for visitors – and for those coming to Denver in summer, here are 10 affordable ways to spend your time.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre Summer Concert Series

Located around 15 miles west of downtown Denver, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is not only set amid an area of majestic natural beauty but it also plays host to one of Colorado’s most acclaimed summer concert series. An officially designated National Historic Landmark, the atmospheric open-air venue draws a stellar line-up of musical names who come to perform in this acoustically flawless marvel of ochre sandstone. Tickets aren’t always cheap, but you can normally find more affordable options for lesser known acts.

18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison

Flatiron Sounds Music Festival 

(Photo: Flatiron Sounds Music Festival)

Budget travelers seeking a great day out and free entertainment in Colorado’s most scenic setting, should head to Chautauqua Park in Boulder on Sunday June 16 from 1pm – 7pm for Flatiron Sounds Music Festival. Celebrate community, nature and Father’s Day beneath the spectacular Flatirons Mountains, with music from Clay Street Unit, Two Runner, Jake Leg, King Cardinal and Alexa Wildish. Find low-cost food, beer, a local artisan market, public art and free family games. Great Flatirons themed playground for the kiddos and forty miles of hiking trails too. Make it a special, affordable weekend by staying in a pet-friendly cottage in Boulder’s only National Historic Landmark with dining and shopping onsite at Chautauqua Dining Hall and General Store. Discover Flatiron Sounds Music Festival, book lodging and more at

16 June / Chautauqua Park, Boulder 

Cherry Blossom Festival

(Photo: Cherry Blossom Festival)

The annual Cherry Blossom Festival returns to downtown Denver’s Sakura Square this June, promising another colourful celebration of Japanese heritage and culture. Held over two days, the festival marks its 50th anniversary this year and is set to once again feature a whole host of Japanese-themed activities for all the family. Among them will be taiko drumming, anime-inspired artwork, pottery, music, dance, martial arts demonstrations, and plenty of authentic Japanese food and drink including teriyaki chicken, Manju desserts and sake. Admission to the festival is free.

22-23 June / Sakura Square, Downtown Denver

Cherry Creek Arts Festival

Taking place to coincide with the July 4th Independence Day weekend, this renowned festival has been a staple on Denver’s cultural calendar for over three decades. Each year it sees the streets of Cherry Creek North awash with hundreds of juried artists who come to showcase their creative talents in front of large crowds of festival-goers. As well as the diverse assortment of art on display, there’s also live music, kids’ activities, and lashings of food and drink to keep revellers well-fuelled throughout. The festival is free to enter.

Cherry Creek North / 5-7 July 2024

‘Dialogue and Defiance: Clyfford Still and the Abstract Expressionists’ exhibition

(Photo: Clyfford Still Museum)

American painter Clyfford Still had a complex relationship with the mainstream art world. In 1951, he withdrew his paintings from a New York gallery in protest against a market that, he believed, prioritised the fame of an artist and the price of their works.  running through the start of next year, this exhibition at the eponymous Denver museum considers the nuanced ways in which Still was part of an artists’ community in the late 1940s and early 1950s, despite his protestations to the contrary, and how his paintings, through their scale and composition, promote ideas of community. Admission is $15 for adults.

Clyfford Still Museum / 10 May 2024 – 12 January 2025

Colorado Black Arts Festival

Around the time when the first Colorado Black Arts Festival took place in 1987, some artists still felt the lack of opportunities for Black artists in the area was detrimental. The festival was created to raise the level of appreciation for the role that Black arts and culture play in the well-being of the community, and today it attracts guests and artists from around the world. Held amid the green expanse of City Park West, the event is free to enter and for 2024 will once again feature a wide variety of music and performing artists across multiple stages, as well as amazing food and drink – all with a keen focus on black arts and culture.

City Park / 12-14 July 2024

Sandra Vásquez de la Horra: The Awake Volcanoes

Sandra Vásquez de la Horra: El sueño del árbol rojo (The Dream of A Red Tree), 2016. Graphite pencil, watercolor, and wax on paper; 16 x 16 x 23¼ in. © and courtesy of the artist. Photo © Eric Tschernow.

Chilian-born artist Vásquez de la Horra’s works frequently show female bodies melding with surrealistic landscapes, and her practice is known for its poetic and artistic experimentation that weaves the absurd with the affirmation of affection and pleasure. This exhibition at the free-to-enter Denver Art Museum highlights paintings, drawings, and prints by De la Horra, delving into notions of fantasy, desire, fear, and pleasure to explore the relationship between the human body and the world around it.

Denver Art Museum / Through 21 July 2024

City Park

Picnic spots, children’s playgrounds and scenic lakeside walking trails help make the vast green expanse of City Park one of Denver’s most popular summer hang-outs. Set amid the upscale neighbourhood of the same name, the city’s largest and oldest park draws large numbers of visitors who come to enjoy the picturesque surroundings and escape Denver’s hustle and bustle. The park also hosts 10 free jazz concerts each summer, taking place on Sunday evenings, with this year’s line-up featuring some of Denver’s most beloved performers, including Hazel Miller, Stafford Hunter, and Nelson Rangell.

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

(Photo: Colorado Dragon Boat Festival)

Each year, dragon boat festivals with roots dating back thousands of years in China take place in cities across America. Denver’s contribution to this national tradition centres around a hotly-contested dragon boat competition which sees more than 50 teams of boaters clambering aboard intricate and colourful dragon boats and racing their way across the scenic waters of Sloan Lake. Live performing arts, an Asian marketplace featuring gifts, artwork, crafts and novelties, demonstrations of Asian art techniques, and two food courts add to the occasion.

Sloan’s Lake Park, Denver / 27-28 July 2024

‘Revolt 1680/2180: Runners + Gliders’ exhibition

This exhibition at the History Colorado Center draws inspiration from what is considered the most successful Indigenous uprising against a colonising power in North American History: the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. As part of the exhibition, award-winning artist Virgil Ortiz explores themes of justice and resistance to oppression while reimagining Puebloan time through Indigenous Futurism, science fiction, and fantasy. On display are projection mapping and augmented reality alongside centuries-old Cochiti sculptures and Ancestral Puebloan pottery. Museum admission is $15 for adults.

History Colorado Center / Through 14 July 2024

By Paul Joseph