Get your Rocky Mountain groove on at venues and festivals in and around Denver.
Colorado beckons to travelers with its enviable outdoor recreation, cool neighborhoods, farm-to-table dining and plethora of craft breweries. All manner of creativity flourishes here, but especially in The Mile High City and capital, Denver, where you’ll find a buzzing music scene that welcomes headliners and nurtures garage bands alike. Check out these unique venues and festivals that celebrate Denver’s eclectic tunes and Colorado’s epic Rocky Mountain scenery.
Venues that Know How to Put on a Show
No musical tour of Denver is complete without visiting Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, a bucket-list venue for concert goers worldwide. Nestled within a natural amphitheater of ancient sandstone formations, this iconic stage has attracted some of the most influential names in music: Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles and U2. During the day, you can hike nature trails, enjoy a picnic, tour the Performers’ Hall of Fame and join locals for a workout on the amphitheater stairs.
Back in the center of town, get a taste of Denver’s funkier side at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, a former brothel now decked out in “boudoir-inspired” décor. The kitchen serves up gastropub fare and the bar pours hand-mixed cocktails. Live shows, which usually run Wednesday through Saturday nights, vary from reggae to jazz. Your funkiest moves are encouraged on the groovy dancefloor, or you can watch from the upper level.
Along Denver’s historic Colfax Avenue, the Bluebird Theater is a mainstay venue for local artists, such as The Lumineers and The Fray, as well as nationally touring talent. The standing-room-only music hall is within walking distance of popular bars and restaurants. Before or after the show, grab a slice of New York-style pizza and a cocktail at Fat Sully’s/Atomic Cowboy.
Concert-goers lining up outside the Bluebird Theater on historic Colfax Avenue
Standout Colorado Music Fests
Colorado’s music festivals represent a spectrum of boogie-worthy genres. On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in late May, Denver Day of Rock floods downtown’s 16th Street Mall with live performances on five stages plus beer gardens, food trucks and family-friendly activities – all for free.
Indie music lovers can attend the Underground Music Showcase, one of the largest festivals of its kind in the region. This late-July event boasts more than 250 bands at over 15 venues on Denver’s South Broadway, a district known for its eclectic bars, restaurants and funky shops.
Fans of jazz music should plan a visit to coincide with the Five Points Jazz Festival. Held the third Saturday of May, the free festival celebrates Denver's Five Points neighborhood, which was once known as the "Harlem of the West" for its legendary jazz clubs that attracted performers such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Today, the festival welcomes a diverse lineup of musicians playing Latin music, blues, funk and all kinds of jazz.
Get in touch with Colorado’s country vibes at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. It’s a trek from Denver – about a six-hour drive southwest – but the beautiful setting in the San Juan Mountains, along with a top-notch lineup of talent, makes it worth the trip. Past performers have included David Byrne, Mumford & Sons and Béla Fleck. Running for nearly 50 years, the festival is a rite of passage for rock and bluegrass lovers.
The buzz of the crowd waiting for one of the performers to come on stage at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase
Denver International Airport (DEN) is one of the busiest airports in the USA, with nonstop and connecting flights from around the world. Rental cars are readily available. The A Line commuter train also offers convenient public transport between the airport and downtown Denver.