Dancing in the Sun: 7 Outdoor Venues to Boogie Down and Groove Out in May

summer concerts Denver

There’s an air that pervades Denver in the early days of summer. It’s a kind of hum — a low, ever-present feeling of anticipation that has been building quietly throughout the long winter months. It’s a yearning to get outside and move, to see a bit of music as the sun warms your skin and a cold beer cools your hand. While May is a bit slower in terms of the sheer amount of concerts offered compared to the coming June and July, there still are a ton of incredible places in and around Denver to catch some music and smile in the sunshine this month. 

Red Rocks

summer concerts Denver

Let’s start with the obvious. Red Rocks is one of the greatest venues in the world and the season is just getting started.

May can be a fickle month for Red Rocks. One night can be perfect, with clear skies and a slow breeze, but the next can be unexpectedly cold and rainy. Take the recent, and very snowy, Sofi Tukker show, or Goth Babe‘s performance in the pouring rain. If you’ve been in Colorado long enough to experience all four seasons, you know that this is just how it goes. The weather does whatever the hell it wants here, regardless of forecast or time of year.

READ: ‘Tis the Season — 9 Red Rocks Do’s and Don’t’s

Nevertheless, sometimes those cold nights on the Rocks are the most memorable. You go through something with the people around you and bonds form, reminders that none of us are alone in the cold and the sun always comes back around.

Red Rocks 2023 season has already seen some incredible acts, and shows no signs of slowing down this month.  First up, Hippo Campus kicks things into high gear on May 2nd, followed by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on the 3rd and 4th. Ganja White Night is doing an absolutely stacked two-night run on the 6th and 7th. Billy Strings is coming to burn the place down on the 11th and 12th, with Gary Clark Jr. and Allen Stone playing the 13th. The legendary LCD Soundsystem ends the month with 2 shows on the 29th and 30th. Other incredible acts in between include Opiuo, Dermot Kennedy, John Summit, All Time Low, and so much more. 

Number 38summer concerts Denver

Number 38 is a gem shining brightly in the heart of RiNo. The place is huge, much more than just a bar, with a massive patio and an even larger drink menu. They pride themselves on being distinctly Colorado, placing emphasis on drinking good beer in the sun while a band plays. The patio features a small volleyball court, and cornhole, and is very dog-friendly. Plus, there’s a wide variety of live music on a weekly basis.

They certainly love their bluegrass — Elle Michelle’s Grateful Holler performs on the 4th and That Damn Sasquatch plays on the 13th. It also happens to be the location of 303 Magazine‘s upcoming release party for the 303 Music Vinyl Vol. 5 on May 6th. The party will feature sets from Fruta Brutal, Shadow Work, and Los Mocochetes.

READ: Fruta Brutal Takes Denver by Storm — A Look at Martín Better Longo’s Unique Sound and Immigration Journey

Levitt Pavillion summer concerts Denver

Levitt Pavillion believes in community. As a non-profit organization, their philosophy is one of togetherness; they operate as a place where the entirety of Denver may come and dance. This is best exemplified by their free summer concert series featuring a wide variety of genres ranging from R&B, Latin, jazz, and more. The series kicks off this week with ska legends Fishbone coming on the 6th. It’s a beautiful place with a wide open lawn to get down with friends and family, the warm grass feeling like home beneath your feet and the spirit of the city alive in your heart.

Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatersummer concerts Denver

Fiddler’s Green tends to get overshadowed by Red Rocks, but it is a fantastic venue in its own right. It’s the largest amphitheater in the Denver area, with an 18,000-person capacity. There’s a peacefulness to Fiddler’s despite its size. It has something to do with the wide-open space, the fresh air, the soft grass covering everything, but maybe slightly less peacefulness when Godsmack comes to tear the place down on May 4th. Not to worry, the pieces will be put back together by the 13th when Fiddler’s hosts a massive Cinco de Mayo party featuring funk pioneers Zapp and a whole lot more.

Sculpture Parksummer concerts Denver

Sculpture Park is an oasis in the heart of the Mile High City. It is the center of Denver’s Performing Arts Complex, home to 10 prestigious theaters and concert halls. This is the place to go if you want to add some culture to your life. It’s the place the Colorado Symphony calls home. It’s also where you’ll find opera lovingly performed, musicals and plays such as “The Color Purple,” and “Les Miserables” come to life.

Meadowlark

summer concerts Denver

The Meadowlark is one of the coolest bars in Denver, with an old-school speakeasy vibe and a ton of music. As you descend the concrete stairs into the bar, it’s as if you’re descending into another time, the sounds of jazz and laughter emanating through the small red door. It’s usually pretty packed there, especially on the weekends, when they host various DJs. They’re also known for their fabled “jazz Mondays,” during which rotating lineups of some of Denver’s most talented musicians play jazz standards, improv and more. These nights have a pretty loose, “open-jam” kind of feel to them and usually, well-known artists can be found hanging out there or waiting for their chance to play. This all happens inside in the winter, but they move all the music out to their incredible patio area in the summer. That’s the real star of the show here.

Improper Citysummer concerts Denver

RiNO is so saturated with “hip” and “cool” bars and restaurants that it can be hard to stand out. But, Improper City does so easily. It’s a bit of an oxymoronic place, simultaneously high-end and laid-back, where you’d feel just as comfortable drinking a fancy cocktail as you would a PBR.

The place really shines in summer. The back area becomes a bit of an adult playground replete with food trucks of every variety, with games, drinks and live music to accompany your warm summer nights. They’re even hosting a Lucha Libre event featuring specialty margaritas. On May 5th, they celebrate First Friday in true Denver fashion with DJs, vendors and some local music. They have events happening almost every night this month so you really can’t go wrong.

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