Who doesn’t want to soak up the warmer weather with outdoor live music? Luckily, Denver has several music festivals to choose from that are taking place this summer. Whether you’re a fan of smooth jazz, rock and roll, or local indie artists — there’s a summer music festival for you. With headlining acts such as Zedd, Frank Ray, Joshua Bell, and Sarah Mount & the Rushmores, you may find new favorite artists or enjoy a set from an old favorite.
Many of Denver’s summer festivals have food trucks and local vendors, along with onstage live music. Several of the festivals include free attendance, while others charge an affordable ticket price to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy good music with their community.
1. Global Dance Festival
When? July 21 & 22 / 2023
Where? Empower Field at Mile High
The Global Dance Festival is the largest summer music festival that’s held in Denver each year. Visitors will not only experience immersive art installations, but they’ll also find delicious food trucks and music from renowned artists such as Zedd. The 2023 lineup includes Walker & Royce, Marauda, James Egbert, and Capozzi. The festival also showcases local talent at the silent disco, where concertgoers can switch between three channels playing different sets. Dancers, stilters, and circus performers wander around the field — providing a unique ambiance to the festival.
The 2023 festival will be the 20th anniversary and Denverites can either choose one of the two days to dance until the sun sets or opt to go for both days. The festival has represented a cornerstone of dance music in Colorado since its inception in the early 2000s. Up until the 2017 season, the Global Dance Festival was held at Red Rocks Amphitheater. The move to Empower Field at Mile High allows for a larger crowd and more dispersed festival. The event is suitable for all ages, with the Global VIP Experience being for those 18 and up.
PRO Tip: When parking at Empower Field, festival goers will be subject to parking fees. The festival takes place rain or shine and no camping is allowed on the property.
2. Juneteenth Music Festival
When? June 17 & 18 / 2023
Where? Historic Five Points Neighborhood
The annual Juneteenth Music Festival is a celebration for the local community to honor Juneteenth — the day when the last of the nation’s enslaved people in Texas learned of their freedom two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The event attracts over 70,000 people and in 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized by the city council as a commemorative holiday. To kick off the two-day music festival, nearly 5,000 people will march in Denver’s longest-running parade that dates back to the 1950s.
On June 13th, 2023, Denverites are encouraged to join the Juneteenth Music Festival Corporation at any Colorado-based Cheba Hut and a portion of all sales will go to help fund the festival. Local vendors help to create an immersive experience and the headline concert always draws a crowd. Each year, the event expands and attracts global visitors as well. Hundreds of local businesses line the streets of the Five Points neighborhood, allowing tourists and members of the community alike to support small businesses.
PRO Tip: The 2023 lineup has yet to be announced, though interested concertgoers can RSVP today and receive notifications about the upcoming summer festival.
3. Colorado Music Festival
When? June 29, 2023 – August 6, 2023
Where? Chautauqua Auditorium
The Colorado Music Festival is a celebration of extraordinary classical music, performed by local musicians as well as professional acts from around the world. All ages are welcome to attend the event and there is even a designated “Family Concert” that is shortened and doesn’t include an intermission. Typical performances are around the two-hour mark, including an intermission. The mission of the festival is to both educate and entertain audiences and potentially develop a newfound enjoyment of the classics. Hosted by the Center for Musical Arts, the event is designed to encourage community engagement in both music and music education.
Musicians for the 2023 season include Joshua Bell + Mussorgsky’s Pictures, who’s kicking off the calendar, and John Corigliano and the Brentano String Quartet. Located in Chautauqua Park, the festival is based in Boulder and draws many people from the Rocky Mountain region. The six-week-long festival ensures that everybody gets an opportunity to visit the park and soak in the tunes. Concerts range from symphonic masterpieces, open rehearsals, modern classical music, and even celebrations of Beethoven’s renowned works.
PRO Tip: Those interested in attending the Colorado Music Festival can check out the calendar of events.
4. Denver Underground Music Showcase
When? July 28 – 30 / 2023
Where? 21 South Broadway
The Denver Underground Music Showcase is one of the city’s largest multi-day music festivals. The festival was first held back in 2001, as a mission-driven community experience that contributed to the local music scene. Making its return in 2023, the showcase is held along South Broadway and attracts over 10,000 music lovers annually. With over 700 artists from Colorado, including national headliner acts, the underground showcase is truly an opportunity for up-and-coming musicians to garner attention.
Ticket prices are thoughtfully priced to be affordable to all music fans wanting to attend the event. The showcase remains one of the best deals in town, with a focus on centering the musicians and the fans. Not only does this challenge the conventional norms of most music festivals that prioritize profits, but it also helps to advance the economic, creative, and workforce opportunities for historically marginalized groups. Festival goers can enjoy local brews and visit local businesses, all while listening to a wide range of genres. Who knows — you may even discover your new favorite band!
PRO Tip: The 2023 lineup hasn’t been announced yet. Indie lovers may want to check the site regularly to receive updates on the different sets.
5. Five Points Jazz Festival
When? June 9 & 10 / 2023
Where? Historic Five Points Neighborhood
The 2023 Five Points Jazz Festival is the 20th year that this popular music celebration has occurred in Denver. The free annual event celebrates the storied history of the Five Points neighborhood that was once referred to as the “Harlem of the West.” Originally home to multiple jazz clubs that hosted famous acts such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and other major plays in jazz history, the Five Points Festival continues to spearhead the tradition. Brought to the city by Denver Arts & Venues, the festival has grown from its humble beginning of just a three-band festival. Now, over 100,000 visitors gather to listen to live music and experience cultural shopping, food, and entertainment.
Festival goers will groove to the sounds of smooth jazz music, as well as bop around to upbeat swing and funk tunes. Local staples such as Hazel Miller, Buckner Funken Jazz, Purnell Steen, and Jakarta have been showcased over the years — providing a gateway to the local culture for any local Denver resident that is unfamiliar with this genre and the rich history behind it. Everybody is welcome to attend and visitors are encouraged to support the event in any way they can.
PRO Tip: Each year, the Five Points Jazz Festival needs a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. Jobs include stage and artist assistants, office assistants, and sustainability ambassadors. Shifts range from 3-5 hours.
6. Denver Day of Rock
When? June 3, 2023 / 1:15 PM-9:30 PM
Where? Lower Downtown District
The Denver Day of Rock is a unique one-day music festival. 15 bands are performing across three stages, with headliners Frank Ray, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, and Dwayne Dopsie and the Hellraisers. Ray is a Texas bilingual recording artist in the genre of modern Latino country. Clyne and the Peacemakers are an American rock band that blends punk rock and country-western with mariachi influences. Dopsie and the Hellraisers combine a soulful mix of rhythm, blues, funk, rock, and pop. Other acts include Jenny Teator, Strange Americans, Austin Young, The Railbenders, and Jamestown Revival.
The festival was founded back in 2004 and has been going strong ever since. Featuring food trucks, a beer garden, a silent disco, and family-friendly stations such as balloon artists and face painting — the festival has a little something for every attendee. Over 130 local volunteers come together to ensure the event goes off without a hitch, while also ensuring that tens of thousands of people have an enjoyable time in the LoDo district of Denver.
PRO Tip: VIP Lounge passes start at $250 and include catering and open bar access at four separate lounges throughout the event.
7. City Park Jazz
When? June 4 – August 6 / 2023
Where? City Park
City Park Jazz is Denver’s longest-running free concert city, dating back 37 seasons. Each summer, City Park hosts 10 weeks of free jazz performances across three main genres — jazz, blues, and salsa. These free live music sessions are held at the City Park Pavilion and are scheduled each Sunday evening beginning June 4th and running through August 6th. Most concerts begin at 6 PM and finish at 8 PM.
The event is run by all volunteers, meaning that the community wouldn’t benefit from these free musical acts without dedicated members of the local community who volunteer their time and energy to support the festival. All ages are welcome and no RSVP is required. Simply show up with a cooler of snacks and a picnic blanket to sit on and enjoy the tunes. Acts for the 2023 season include Otis Taylor, Chris Daniels and the Kings, La Pompe Jazz, and the 4th Annual Brass Band Extravaganza featuring Guerrilla Fanfare and Bourbon Brass Band. On June 4th, Sarah Mount and the Rushmores are kicking off the 10-week celebration of live music.
PRO Tip: Each show brings in between 8,000-12,000 people, totaling 100,000 attendees by the end of the summer. Arrive before the show begins to ensure you grab a good spot.
8. Somebody’s Friend Movement and Music Festival
When? May 18 – 21 / 2023
Where? Denver Central Market
Somebody’s Friend Movement and Music Festival is hosting its first annual event in May 2023. Labeled as a celebration of the Denver/Front Range dance community, the festival will bring together over 40 dance companies, artists, and DJs to celebrate in the RiNo Arts District on Larimer Street. There will be multiple stages and street performances by dancers and live concerts hosted throughout the four days. Festival goers will also have access to some of the best food Denver has to offer, including a series of culinary events and a plated dinner with circus performers entertaining hungry diners throughout the meal.
On Thursday, there will be a 5-stop bar crawl including local favorites such as Ratio Beerworks, The Block Distilling, and Infinite Monkey Theorem. Each stop will have signature cocktails and a unique duet. Friday at 5 PM, there will be a parade that weaves down the streets toward the stage set up at Denver Central Market. On Saturday, there will be a free street performance and a youth hip hop class, as well as a MAGIC and MAYhem ball that requires a ticket. Sunday hosts another free kids dance class, as well as an adult dance class and a free street performance at the tap room at Ratio Beerworks
PRO Tip: The website features a list of which artists and performers will be participating on which day, allowing community members to support local groups and dancers.