On a brilliant summer afternoon in Denver, there's only one place to be: inside. Anywhere else it's too darn hot. A shame for our great outdoors. This year, though, the Denver Art Museum offers the perfect exhibit to enjoy the A/C without taking you far from blue skies and green trees. Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism features the plein air paintings of Monet, Courbet, Daubigny, Renoir, and Sargent. Spend an afternoon in the cool museum halls checking out the colors of the impressionists' skies and the ocean brushstrokes, and if you happen back outside before the heat has quelled, head to Civic Center Park, where popsicle vendors abound. Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism: Through September 7, Denver Art Museum.
Legend has it that more than 2,400 years ago a patriotic Chinese poet threw himself into Mei Lo River in protest of the government. His act was brave, and to honor it the Chinese began the Dragon Boat Festival, a ritual where boats paddle over rivers metaphorically looking for the poet's body. Thousands of years later this festival still exists, and its popularity has spread throughout the world. In the Denver version the poet is long-forgotten but the boats remain, and for two days they race competitively and recreationally around Sloan Lake. Stop by for the boat races, and also check out the Marketplace, a series of shopping booths where you can purchase everything from steamed meat dumplings to Japanese pottery. Colorado Dragon Boat Festival: July 26-27, Sloan Lake Park.
This summer, when the nothing-to-do bug hits your kids, tell them to sit tight and hang on for KidSpree. Over the course of two days, the city of Aurora promises to provide them with more entertainment than their antsy little minds can imagine. Bopping between professional yo-yoer and juggler Mark Hayward, the FunKinetic Project dance group, and a life-size Kandy Lane game, your kids will forget whining and remember only summer fun. This year's festival, the 13th annual, will host more than 40 kid-oriented activities and about 10 performers. KidSpree: July 19-20, Bicentennial Park, Aurora.
New York has SummerStage. Chicago has Lollapalooza. Even Austin has its City Limits. But until now Denver has lacked a music shindig with the star power to put its name on the festival map. Enter the Mile High Music Festival—with more than 40 popular bands in its line-up, this first annual, two-day music festival will be the state's largest, drawing a predicted 50,000 concertgoers daily. The Dave Matthews Band (pictured) and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are the festival's highlights, but we are excited to see folksy hip-hop artist Citizen Cope, who rarely makes it to the Rockies region, and L.A.-based Flogging Molly, whose music blends Irish melody with punk rock. Mile High Music Festival: July 19-20, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City.