Things to Do for Free in Denver This Week

The Mile High City’s dueling reputations as a cultural mecca and a cowtown continue to collide this week. There are plenty of free events around town, focused on both animals and art, and ranging from movie screenings to clothing swaps. And as the weekend approaches, look for many events related to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Keep reading for fifteen things to do in Denver and beyond, and watch for updates:

Denver Book Swap Society January Meet Up
Wednesday, January 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Improper City, 3201 Walnut Street
Bookworms who are packrats rarely include a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in their vast home libraries, but even they must make room for new books once in a while. Fortunately, the Denver Book Swap Society has a solution — free monthly swap meets at Improper City — that also give people a chance to pull their noses out of a book long enough to socialize. Bring books to display, then move on to chatting and choosing. At the end of the evening, everyone either takes back their books or opts to leave them; the leftovers end up in Little Libraries around town. Details here.

Thursday, January 12, through Sunday, January 15
Various venues in Aspen

Aspen’s annual “toast to winter” dates to a quiet January in 1951, when locals decided to celebrate Aspen with an eclectic weekend of festivities. The four-day celebration still includes on-mountain activities, snow sculptures, a torchlight descent down Aspen Mountain, fireworks and more. Starting at noon on January 12, local artist Thomas Barlow will create snow sculptures on the Mill Street Mall; at 3 p.m. that day, you can meet with Wintersköl royalty. And there’s much more; get the full schedule here.

Chambers Plaza Library Grand Opening
Thursday, January 12, 11 a.m.; Friday, January 13, and Saturday, January 14, noon to 4 p.m.
1551 North Chambers Road, Aurora

The Aurora Public Library is on a roll. Not only did it go fine-free at the start of the year, but it expanded hours at the main library and at Tallyn’s Reach. And on January 12, it will dedicate a seventh branch: Chambers Plaza, at 1551 North Chambers Road. The grand opening ceremony on Thursday will be followed by special programs hosted by staff on Friday, as well as performances on Saturday; there will be food and activities for all ages both days. Learn more about the APL here.

The Mavens of Music
Thursday, January 12, 5 to 7 p.m.
Maven Hotel
The Mavens of Music series returns to the Dairy Block on Thursday evenings. Colorado musician Dzirae Gold, who combines modern Memphis Soul style with classic jazz, and David Lawrence, who offers finger-picking Delta blues and roots-Americana blended with soulful vocals, will alternate free performances in the lobby of the Maven Hotel. Get the details here.

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Colorado Chautauqua was founded in 1898.

Museum of Boulder

Chautauqua: 125 Years at the Heart of Boulder
Thursday, January 12, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Museum of Boulder at Tebo Center, 2205 Broadway, Boulder

Boulder’s Colorado Chautauqua, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the country’s few chautauquas in continuous use since its founding in 1898. To commemorate 125 years as a hub of community, activity and lifelong learning, the new multimedia exhibit, Chautauqua: 125 Years at the Heart of Boulder, hosted by the Museum of Boulder, will open with a free reception. The show runs through April 2; find out more here.

United by the Dream: Martin Luther King Jr.
Friday, January 13, through Monday, January 16
Various venues in Aurora

Aurora’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, along with community partners, is hosting the city’s 37th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. The action on January 13 kicks off with a Community of Faith Breakfast at 8:30 a.m.; there’s a youth dinner and discussion at 6 p.m. followed by a youth summit on Saturday. Get full details of events through January 16 here.

The Reset, Winter 2023
Friday, January 13, 6 to 8 p.m.
Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street

Last fall, the Art Students League of Denver launched The Reset, with the goal of building relationships and inspiring collaboration by providing shared creative space for visual artists of color. This winter’s edition of The Reset will kick off with a free event with faculty artists SA Bennett and Emeka Cook in a conversation about art, industry, education and culture, along with a drawing activity led by Bennett and soundscape by DJ Beloved. Get the details here.

El Franco Lee II, “DJ Screw in Heaven 2,” 2016, acrylic on black canvas with cassette tape.

Courtesy of ©El Franco Lee II

Penny Admission Community Day with The Drop 104.7
Saturday, January 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street

The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, a powerful exhibition addressing the evolution and spread of Black cultural and musical themes rooted in the American South, will leave MCA Denver in less than a month. Take advantage of a well-placed penny Saturday over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend to catch it, and also enjoy a live broadcast by The Drop 104.7, a sponsor of the exhibition. Although it’s free, it’s wise to RSVP for a timed entry here.

Denver Public Library Friends Foundation Pop-Up Used Book Fair
Saturday, January 14, noon to 6 p.m.
Fiction Beer Company, 7101 East Colfax Avenue

It’s been an eon since the Denver Public Library threw one of those huge fundraising book sales, a boon for schoolteachers, cheapskate bibliophiles and people who just can’t help looking for a bargain. Now the DPL Friends Foundation is downsizing to smaller pop-ups at branch libraries and other locations such as Fiction Beer Company, which will be selling donated books for practically nothing on Friday. Next stop: The Denver Home and Garden show, February 4-12 at the Colorado Convention Center; learn more and keep up with upcoming DPL sales here.

Kevin J. Anderson: Lecture and Book-Signing
Saturday, January 14, 1 to 3 p.m.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake
Longtime Monument resident Kevin J. Anderson is an internationally bestselling author with over 175 books published and 24 million copies in print in 32 languages. At this discussion, he’ll talk about his writing career, his role as special consultant for the new Dune film starring Timothee Chalamet and Jason Momoa, his work for Lucasfilm and Star Wars, and his steampunk fantasy adventures with legendary rock drummer
Neil Peart from Rush. While there, you can also see the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Art Exhibition with work by
Gary Weston, Cierra Ruiz, Janei Folz, Tim Jones, Allen Davis, Joe Beavers, and Debi Story Maddox. Find out more here.

Flip! A Sustainable Style Swap
Sunday, January 15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Grant-Humphreys Mansion, 770 Pennsylvania Street

Stuck with a pile of old clothes, accessories and shoes after a January closet cleaning? If they are gently used and ready for a second life, gather them up, grab some friends and head to the Grant-Humphreys Mansion to participate in Flip! A Sustainable Style Swap. Drop off items between 9 and 11 a.m. Saturday for an early-bird ticket to start swapping at noon, or bring nothing and wait until the free general admission period starts at 1 p.m. Find more info, a list of rules and free tickets at Eventbrite.


45+, Robischon Gallery’s 45th Anniversary Celebration Exhibition, Part One
Extended through January 28
Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street

It would be a shame to miss the visual riches of Robischon Gallery’s 45+, one of Denver’s primary shows of fall 2022, a breathtaking 25-artist overview of the deep talent that the gallery has represented over the past four and a half decades. Happily, the show’s been extended for another month, and Part Two, now opening on Thursday, February 23, is still on the horizon. Learn more here.

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Light the Lights
Daily through January 22, 5 to 10:45 p.m.
Denver City and County Building
City Hall is now lit every night through the Stock Show. There are special eight-minute shows at 5:45 and 6:45 p.m., with static shows in between. Find out more here.

Snow Much Fun Virtual (AR) Experiences
Daily through January 31
Pearl Street Mall, Boulder

Boulder has a new holiday attraction: Snow Much Fun Virtual (AR) Experiences, a self-guided tour along the Pearl Street Mall that has you encountering Boulder’s own mascot, Freezie the Snowman, as well as other characters along the way. It’s free; find out more here.

Downtown Denver Rink
Daily through February 14
Skyline Park, 1601 Arapahoe Street
The Downtown Denver Rink is one of the best winter attractions in the city, a space right off the mall to engage in fun and games and celebrate the city. Admission to the rink is always free; bring your own skates to add to the savings, or rent skates on-site ($11 for adults and $9 for children twelve and under). The rink is open daily; get hours and other details here.

Do you know of a great free event in Denver? We’ll be updating this list through the week; send information to [email protected]

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