Home to a vibrant and varied live-music scene, it’s no wonder Denver offers a diversity of venues running the gamut from quirky to classic. From intimate jazz bars to stadium seating to a self-proclaimed “gastro-brothel,” there’s something for every taste in the Mile High City.
Make Denver’s musical entertainment a priority in 2020 with these nine year-round venues, and you’re barely scratching the surface. Click here for Denver’s full venue list >>
Denver’s storied Bluebird Theater, built in 1913 as a movie house, pivoted to live music in 1994. Not only does it satisfy history buffs’ desires for Denver locales on the National Register of Historic Places list, its fabulously vintage neon marquee makes this landmark unforgettable. The 500-seat theater hosts numerous emerging and touring acts — from local groups to internationally known bands. And, good news for ticket holders, the Bluebird’s tiered layout means everyone has a good view.
A perfect mix of supper club and authentic jazz bar, Dazzle offers daily music and a full-service restaurant. Open since the late 90s, this fan-favorite jazz club now occupies downtown Denver’s nearly 150-year-old Baur Confectionery Building, a Denver institution for culinary delights spanning generations. Dazzle’s intimate performances breathe new life into its historic Baur location, showcasing improvisational jazz musicians from around the world. Make it a musical meal for lunch or dinner, then come back for the uber-popular weekend brunch.
Get your country music fix with a trip to Grizzly Rose. Known for its hardwood dance floor and wild mechanical bull rides, this honky-tonk bar and dancehall has welcomed toe-tapping cowboy boots since 1989. The country music venue hosts almost nightly music, including past big-name acts like Taylor Swift, Willie Nelson, Faith Hill and Waylon Jennings. Southwestern flavors are offered nightly at the on-site Smokehouse Grill. Learn to line dance with a lesson on Grizzly Rose’s massive dance floor.
The Mission Ballroom
A true new kid on the block, The Mission Ballroom opened its doors to Denver music scenesters in summer 2019. Located in Denver’s thriving RiNo Arts District, it features plenty of space to dance in the ballroom, along with top-tier sound and lighting for a full-sensory experience. Head here for a mix of touring acts — from indie to EDM to bluegrass.
Delve into craft cocktails, small plates and lots of jazz with a visit to Nocturne, a two-level repurposed warehouse bar in the heart of RiNo. Artists in residency perform for six to eight weeks at a time, playing original work as well as songs by jazz heroes. The jazz-themed supper club partners with a seasonal culinary program to deliver delicious, five-course meals inspired by the music.
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox
Housed in an 1894 Victorian Airedale building once used as a brothel, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is an artsy bar, restaurant and intimate music venue lavished in boudoir-style décor. Head here for shared plates, pub fare and lots of moody elegance. Its dim lighting and tasteful artworks hint at the building’s roots. Satisfy any drink craving with 24 beers and four cocktails on draft. Dinner is served nightly, along with a long-weekend boozy brunch. Ophelia’s sunken stage comes to life almost nightly with live music, themed parties and DJs.
Located on Glenarm Place on Denver’s 16th Street Mall, this authentic art-deco venue offers a sumptuous setting for downtown entertainment. Opened with much fanfare in 1930, the Paramount Theatre maintains its original glamour with ornate, fanciful detailing, Jazz-era architecture and plush, red seats. Look for the original organ installed to accompany silent movies from a bygone era. The theater now plays host to an eclectic mix of live music, theater performances and author visits.
As home turf for Denver Nuggets (NBA) and Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Denver’s largest, state-of-the-art arena also hosts big-name touring acts throughout the year (especially spring through fall). The Pepsi Center, in fact, puts on more than 225 events annually. Just a few minutes from downtown, this multi-use arena is near plenty of dining and hotel options. It also boasts three on-site restaurants, plus lots of delicious concession food.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
Morrison, near Denver
Renowned globally by fans, this truly spectacular (not to mention naturally formed) outdoor amphitheater delivers exemplary acoustics and scenic views (especially at night when Denver’s cityscape sparkles in the background). Head to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, only 15 miles west of Denver, for its namesake red-rock formations and famed performers. The stage previously hosted rock legends like the Beatles and the Grateful Dead among others. Make this landmark a destination for hiking and biking as well. Its panoramic trails in the surrounding park are well worth the journey.