Front Rangers are blessed with world-class art at our fingertips. Start at the Denver Art Museum and don’t miss the permanent collection of pre-Columbian and Spanish colonial art and this summer’s exhibit of psychedelic rock posters. Next, visit the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, which features Colorado’s most notable artists. Wrap up your day with a show at any of the theaters in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts—anything from classical music to comedy to a Broadway show. denverartmuseum.org, vancekirkland.org
See one of the most iconic Colorado views…and make sure you make it to Red Rocks for a show at least once a summer. redrocksonline.com.
Colorado Shakespeare Festival:
The 2009 season includes Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and To Kill a Mockingbird. coloradoshakes.org.
You don’t need an excuse to get away to the mountains in the summer, but if you’re looking for a convenient one, mountain film festivals are it. MountainFilm takes place in Telluride May 22–25, with a motto of “celebrating indomitable spirit.” The festival offers films, a symposium, talks, a gallery walk and a picnic. In June, the Breckenridge Festival of Film offers a variety of independent films, premieres, receptions, programs and retrospectives. More film festivals take place throughout the fall. See the web site in the resources section for more information. mountainfilm.org, coloradofilm.org/coloradofilmfestivals.htm
Jazz Aspen Snowmass:
This not-so-jazzy music fest is a Labor Day favorite. This year, check out the Allman Brothers, Black Eyed Peas and Citizen Cope. jazzaspen.org.
Cherry Creek Arts Festival:
July 4-5. This world-class artsy event attracts hundreds of thousands of moseying art-lovers. cherryarts.org.
State Art Gallery Tour:
For a real taste of Colorado’s art scene, plan a week of shopping and browsing the state’s numerous art galleries. Colorado boasts nine of art critic John Villani’s “100 Best Art Towns in the United States.” Start your tour at Denver’s Art District along Santa Fe Avenue. The first Friday art walks are one of the oldest art walks around, but the area’s 40 galleries are open year-round. Don’t miss Tennyson Street’s Cultural District and its hip, vibrant array of galleries, restaurants and boutiques. Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs should be your next stop, offering more than 120 galleries, specialty shops and restaurants in the historic area that was the first capital of the Colorado Territory. After a stroll and leisurely lunch, press on to Pueblo and the Sangre de Cristo Art Center. Try to catch one of the center’s Festival Fridays with concerts and a first Friday art walk.
Head west on Highway 50 to Salida, an artists’ haven that offers theater, concerts, classes and receptions in addition to regular gallery shows and events. Nearby, the Buena Vista historic Courthouse Gallery and Museum hosts always-changing exhibits and shows by local artists. Continue west on Highway 50 to Montrose and then head south on 550 for one of the most beautiful drives in the state to the mountain hideaway of Telluride. The town hosts monthly art walks on the first Thursday of every month, but the streets of this resort town are always welcoming to visitors. From Telluride, head north and west to Grand Junction, a town that prides itself on one of the largest sidewalk sculpture galleries in the nation in the quaint downtown district. See more than 100 public works of art as you make your way along the streets of galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
Heading back east on I-70, be sure to take your time and stop in the vacation destinations of Aspen, Vail and Beaver Creek. Each boasts a collection of high-end art, furniture and jewelry galleries in beautiful mountain settings. And when you return to the Front Range, don’t forget to explore the art galleries right here in your own back yard. artdistrictonsantafe.com, telluridearts.com/artwalk.html, visitgrandjunction.com
Northern New Mexico:
Soak in the Southwestern arts and culture meccas of Taos and Santa Fe. Don’t miss the Georgia O’Keefe Museum or Fuego at La Posada.
Strings Music Festival:
Between June and August, the hills are alive with—yes, you know it—the sound of music. Steamboat’s Strings Music Festival brings in genre-bending talent from across the globe for 85 different performances. stringsinthemountains.com.