Seasonal events in Denver

Woop It Up at Western-Themed Events in Denver
Mindy Sink
May 30, 2023

For many years, Denver seemed to be a place to fly into on the way to the ski slopes in the mountains. The Denver of the modern day now attracts people who want to experience the city’s traditions and beauty - all year round. Denver is filled with energy as people flock here to take part in outdoor recreation, soak up culture, and to participate in rollicking annual festivals and events. If you want to not just learn about but experience Native American and Western traditions, plan to come to Denver in January or March; if you want to literally get a taste of Colorado, visit in early September; other events throughout the year celebrate Black history, LGBTQ pride, and Latino heritage.

National Western Stock Show (January)

Yee-haw! Get ready to transport yourself to the Old West at the National Western Stock Show. Every January, downtown Denver undergoes a transformation, resembling an authentic cattle drive with longhorn steers and cowboys and cowgirls parading through the streets. This event, known as the National Western Stock Show Parade, has been a beloved tradition since 1906, marking the start of the 16-day extravaganza. Located just north of downtown, the National Western Stock Show Parade offers a multitude of activities.

The National Western Stock Show Parade is an unforgettable event! It starts with an actual cattle drive down 17th Street in downtown, then features local celebrities and the city’s mayor in old-fashioned stagecoaches, and next a variety of equestrians before winding up with farmers riding vintage tractors.

Immerse yourself in the spirit of the Old West by witnessing shows or experiencing the excitement of a Mexican Rodeo. The little ones can enjoy pony rides, while music enthusiasts can marvel at the talents displayed in the fiddle contest. Take a leisurely stroll through the annual Western Art Show, showcasing works of art, and don’t miss the opportunity to meet a fascinating array of barnyard critters.

Do not miss on the numerous vendors offering a wide range of merchandise, including hats, jewelry, clothing, and Western-style blankets. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a culture connoisseur, or simply looking for a unique and enjoyable experience, the National Western Stock Show has something for everyone. So, grab your cowboy hat, embrace the excitement, and relish in the authentic charm of the Old West right in the heart of Denver.

March Pow Wow (March)

Hear the sounds of Native American music and taste their traditional foods at the annual March Pow Wow.

A big favorite of mine is the Hoop Dance – a cathartic blur of color and circles that leaves me energized for weeks.

Cinco de Mayo (May)

Experience the vibrant celebration of Mexican culture at Denver’s annual Cinco de Mayo festival. Held over two days near May 5th in Civic Center Park, this event honors Hispanic heritage with live music, spicy food, and a lively parade. While it is not Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a distinct Mexican-American commemoration, originating from Mexico’s victory over France in 1862 and gaining popularity in the 1980s as a recognition of Mexican culture in the U.S.

The real fun during Denver’s Cinco de Mayo is in the contests that happen during the event: Chihuahua races, a taco eating contest, and a lowrider car show. The weather in Colorado in early May can be snow, rain, or hot and sunny, which can impact turnout for this event.

Juneteenth (June)

Get to know more about Denver’s Black history through local music, classic food, and true stories in June.

Denver’s Juneteenth celebrations tend to be centered in and around the historic neighborhood of Five Points. Tune into live music – or dig into savory delights such as chicken, waffles and BBQ offerings at this two-day event which runs from Manual High School down to Welton Street.

The festival spills out onto the streets across many blocks all day and into the night, with song, dance and revelry to commemorate the end of one of the most embarrassing chapters of American History – slavery.

Pridefest (June)

The wild colors and festive mood pull you into the celebration of Denver’s LGBTQ community during Pridefest.

Once a very colorful parade that lasted a few hours, Pridefest has grown into a multi-day event that honors the LGBTQ community. There is still a parade and it’s bigger than ever—an estimated 500,000 people attend from around Colorado and nearby states make their way across the 14 blocks from Cheesman Park to Civic Center Park on foot or on elaborately-decorated floats.

Lace up your running shoes for the festival’s 5K or rehearse your audition for go-go dancers to be on stage in front of thousands of people! The best thing about Pridefest is that it welcomes everyone to take part and is free to attend.

Cherry Creek Arts Festival (July)

Holiday shopping in July? Yes! The Cherry Creek Arts Festival makes viewing—and buying—art of all kinds accessible and fun with this outdoor event.

The Cherry Creek Arts Festival usually takes place over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in the Cherry Creek North neighborhood, which is known for its upscale shops, distinctive galleries, and fine-dining restaurants.

Food trucks, live music and even live art pieces are the main draw here. Take your pick from jewelry, photography, prints, sculpture, paintings, and more -made by the artisans who have come from all over the country.

Taste of Colorado (Labor Day Weekend, September)

Indulge your taste buds at the delectable Taste of Colorado, where a weekend of culinary delights awaits. This event is a gastronomic paradise, offering a diverse array of mouthwatering dishes for you to savor.

Picture a sprawling farmers’ market that spans multiple days, showcasing the best of Colorado’s seasonal produce, including tempting treats like Olathe corn, Palisade peaches, and Rocky Ford melons.

Feel the joy of sampling delectable creations crafted all while enjoying the company of loved ones. To add to the festivities, live music, bouncy castles, and carnival games ensure that there’s never a dull moment at this culinary extravaganza.

Great American Beer Festival (September)

Ale, lager, beer, it’s all available for sampling during the Great American Beer Festival. This is a beer lovers’ paradise!

Choose Some Local Breweries

There are two levels of tickets for the Great American Beer Festival: member of the Brewers Association and public. In order to get the public tickets, you must be online the moment they go on sale (July 12, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. MDT) as they sell out in seconds. Don’t cry in your beer if you miss out because Visit Denver hosts Denver Beer Week to overlap with this festival and offer more opportunities to get to know local brewers, attend a rare beer tapping, or try food and beer pairings.

The Great American Beer Festival is so popular that it sells out in seconds as soon as the tickets go on sale each year. The actual festival takes place at the Colorado Convention Center where there are contests and tastings. It’s a big deal to earn a ribbon here and you might notice if you’re at a local brewery they will brag about being an award-winning beer.

For those who miss out on tickets to the main event, there is still a lot happening in Denver’s beer world at the same as the festival. Local breweries capitalize on having this event and offer special tastings and micro-events to attract new customers.

Doors Open Denver (September)

If you like learning and walking—and a few secrets—you’ll love the Doors Open Denver event!

Over the years there has been a lot of money spent on the very best architects to create designs for stunning homes, new airports, and museum wings in Denver. Since not all these buildings are open to the public, the Denver Architecture Foundation has created Doors Open Denver to offer guided tours of select spaces around the city. In some instances, this is a chance to go inside buildings that are not usually open to the public, such as the D & F Clock Tower on the 16th Street Mall; in other cases, like taking a walking tour of all the Allen Tupper True murals hidden in plain sight around town, you can learn inside stories.

Plan ahead by booking a reservation for your preferred tours during this event. Audio tours are free and accessible all year round.

About the author

Mindy SinkGuidebook author and travel writer Mindy has lived in Denver most of her life and is the author of a few guidebooks about the city and other places in Colorado. She loves to travel with her husband and their daughter in places where they can explore on foot, including hiking. Mindy writes frequently for The Denver Post about finding adventures in your own backyard.