10 ways to celebrate Memorial Day weekend 2018 in Colorado

Tracy Thomas holds Aliya Union, 3, while watching a band play at the bandshell during the Boulder Creek Festival in 2017. (Jeremy Papasso, Boulder Daily Camera)

Memorial Day may be summer’s unofficial kickoff, but there’s nothing casual about the planning that goes into this weekend.

From half-athletic, half-cultural events such as the Bolder Boulder to free, large-scale music festivals such as the Denver Day of Rock, celebrations abound along the Front Range. Of course, if all you want to do is watch a motorcycle parade or hear some patriotic music, you can do that, too.

Here is a sampling of some of the biggest and best events along the Front Range for this three-day invitation to summer.

Army Sgt Camrron Roth, carries the American flag during the Veterans Memorial Day Tribute in downtown Denver in 2012. (Craig F. Walker, Denver Post file)

Veterans Memorial Day Tribute
When: May 26
Where: 1340 Sherman St. in Denver

This formal tribute at POF Hall, a half-block due south of the State Capitol, was founded 18 years ago to honor Colorado’s fallen heroes “in the presence of families, friends, military/political figures and the public,” according to the city. The 2018 event, which runs 10 a.m.-noon, will feature inspirational music, a Reading of Names, the U.S. Navy Bell Toll, a Remembrance Wreath laying for heroes who have died in past wars (placed by veteran representatives), and presentations of signature tribute banners and pins to Gold Star families. denver.org

Youth on Record Block Party
When: May 26
Where: 1301 W. 10th Ave. in Denver

This Denver music nonprofit’s 10th anniversary party and third annual block party is actually several events in one: a musical showcase of Youth on Record (YOR) students and Denver musicians (from noon-5 p.m.); a Health and Wellness Expo from the Denver Housing Authority (10 a.m.-4 p.m.); the grand opening of the Food Bridge International Marketplace at 10th and Navajo Streets (a program of Emily Griffith Technical College; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.); an unveiling of YOR’s new iMac Computer Lab (sponsored by Colorado duo Big Gigantic); and a traditional block party with local food and drinks, a Meow Wolf-sponsored Kids Craft area, tours of the nearby La Mariposa project, album listening stations, and a “silent disco” (headphone-based event; 2-5 p.m.). There are also all-ages activities like sidewalk art and hula hooping and, minus the vendors — including Cool Bunz and Repicci’s Italian Ice & Gelato — it’s all free. youthonrecord.org

Taylor Scott Band performs during Denver Day of Rock Saturday, May 27, 2017 in Skyline Park on Arapahoe and 16th streets. The free music festival features 25 bands performing on five music stages and benefits AMP The Cause, a nonprofit that supports 50 child-focused health and education organizations. (Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver Post)

Denver Day of Rock
When: May 26
Where: 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver

Centered around its main stages at Skyline Park, Denver Day of Rock returns to commandeer the urban pedestrian thoroughfare of the 16th Street Mall for this annual fundraiser festival and party on behalf of Amp the Cause — which itself benefits more than two dozen children’s charities. The 2018 lineup features 25 pop, rock, folk and indie acts and singer-songwriters on five stages, including headliners Elle King, Delta Rae, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, A Thousand Horses, and Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. The music is free, but Amp the Cause uses the day to raise funds and awareness, so check out the VIP and festival packages (including drink tickets, merchandise and a downtown-centric discount book) ranging from $50 to $250 at denverdayofrock.com.

Denver Arts Festival
When: May 26-27
Where: Stapleton Northfield, 8304 E. 49th Place in Denver

Returning to Conservatory Green at northeast Denver’s Northfield Stapleton development, this sprawling, vendor-driven event is expecting roughly 50,000 attendees over two days to peruse hundreds of artists, from 2-D and 3-D mixed media artworks and photographs to sculptures, jewelry, clay and ceramics to fiber, furniture, leather, glass, metal and wood. A wine and beer garden located in the center of the festival will offer Boulder’s Decadent Saint wine and sangria, while Denver’s Tivoli Brewing Co. will provide beer. The event also offers live music from the Navy Brass Band (May 26), Dotsero (May 26) and Spinphony (May 27) alongside a Kid’s Art Zone and food options. Check out the booth layout, parking information (just like general admission, it’s free) and other details at denverartsfestival.com.

Memorial Day Observance Concert
When: May 27
Where: Bandshell at Boulder Central Park, 1236 Canyon Blvd. in Boulder

This free, 10 a.m. performance from the Boulder Concert Band honors the fallen (and still-fighting) soldiers whose sacrifice provides the occasion for Memorial Day in the first place, along with “special guests” from Seattle, the Navy Band Northwest, and soprano Christiana McMullen. Patriotic tunes will be played under the direction of conductor, composer and U.S. Army Music Officer Silas Nathaniel Huff, as the Boulder Creek Festival gears up around them for its second day. boulderband.org

People take a turn on one of the more challenging rides at the festival on Saturday. The Boulder Creek Festival continues Sunday and Monday in Downtown Boulder. For more photos, go to www.dailycamera.com. Cliff Grassmick, Boulder Daily Camera)

Boulder Creek Festival
When: May 26-28
Where: Boulder Central Park, along Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder

Speaking of the Boulder Creek Festival, the three-day party returns May 26-28 with a little something for everyone. This 31st annual installment features a rotating entertainment lineup on multiple stages (including live music, dance and diverse cultural displays), an artist’s marketplace, hundreds of local vendors, a farmer’s market, kid’s activities and games, food, a beer garden and more. Free admission. bceproductions.com

BOULDER, CO – MAY 29: Runners cools off from a hose being sprayed on runners along Walnut Street during the 39th annual Bolder Boulder on May 29, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. The popular race takes place on Memorial day every year with over 50,000 runners taking part in the event. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

Bolder Boulder 10k
When: May 27
Where: Folsom Field, 2400 Colorado Ave. in Boulder

It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when people think of Memorial Day in Colorado, and there’s a reason: This long-running 10k and party is celebrating 40 years of motivating Coloradans to hoof it, often in outlandish costumes. Organizers are once again expecting about 50,000 racers and 70,000 spectators at this year’s event, which ends at the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field with 100 (count ’em, 100) waves of racers. From the first group at 6:50 a.m. to the Memorial Day celebration at noon, featuring an F-16 flyover and sky divers, “spectacle” is the word. Belly dancers, DJs, painters, aerialists and bagpipers will entertain runners and spectators along the course, and plenty of food, drink and family-friendly activities will be available for all. bolderboulder.com

Heritage Amusement Park
When: Opening daily May 25
Where: 18310 W. Colfax Avenue in Golden

Golden’s Heritage Square is no more, but its historic amusement park — originally built in the 1950s as a small-scale, Colorado answer to Disneyland — is preparing for its 18th season under its current incarnation. Like Denver’s Lakeside, it’s both a window into the past and a fine way to spend a day with the kids, particularly if bigger-ticket options such as Elitch Gardens don’t appeal to you (or your pocket book). From May 26-28, the park is offering a Salute to Service deal for military, teachers and union members (including first-responders) that includes a $59 four-pack. However, the $18-$23 cost for unlimited wristbands for rides and attractions isn’t exactly bank-breaking by today’s standards. Classic carnival options, bumper boats, paddle boats, go-karts, miniature golf, an arcade, zip line, and more await. heritageamusementpark.com

Realities Ride and Rally
When: May 26-27
Where: Civic Center Park, 201 Laporte Ave. in Fort Collins

This northern Colorado event, which benefits abused and at-risk children, brings a patriotic rally to Civic Center park in Fort Collins, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. May 26, with a hot rod and classic-car show, trike races, stunt shows, children’s bicycle parade, live music, fireworks, a tattoo contest, kid’s entertainment, food, drink and more. The 3,000-strong motorcycle ride, which honors (and includes plenty of) U.S. military veterans, begins at Thunder Mountain Harley-Davidson at 8 a.m. on May 27 in Loveland before making its way to Civic Center for the after-party, which runs until 5 p.m. realitiesforchildren.com

MeadowGrass Music Festival
When: May 25-27
Where: La Foret Conference & Retreat Center, 6145 Shoup Road in Colorado Springs

MeadowGrass is relatively young by Colorado music-festival standards — only a decade, as of this year — and occasionally reminds us of how small it is (as of press time, it won’t even have an ATM on site this year, which could be a blessing or a curse). But amid the countless summer festivals that will follow with their sprawling lineups and long lines, MeadowGrass is also smartly curated to focus on up-and-coming folk, roots and Americana artists, including The Steel Wheels, The New Orleans Suspects, Ron Pope, Musketeer Gripweed, Wild Rivers, Nicki Bluhm, Banditos and many more. Plus the beer tastings, kid’s activities, workshops, yoga and late-night shows for campers. meadowgrass.org

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