Colorado has a cultural vibe all its own. From an outstanding collection of nationally acclaimed art museums and performance halls, to touted food, film and music festivals and one-of-a-kind historic celebrations and venues, Colorado’s art scene and cultural attractions offer a multitude of experiences.
Colorado Art Museums
In Colorado’s museums, art is housed within art. The Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton wing, designed by celebrated architect Daniel Liebskind, houses an outstanding collection of contemporary fine art, American Western art and African art. There are tons of ways for kids of all ages to interact with the exhibits as well — play art spy, decorate your own letter and more.
Head south to Colorado Springs and experience the Fine Arts Center, which features works by famed artists such as Georgia O’Keefe. The Galleries of Contemporary Art downtown is the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' satellite gallery, which includes traveling exhibitions and fun programs like ART&WINE.
The Aspen Art Museum is a globally preeminent non-collecting institution that presents the newest, most important evolutions in international contemporary art. And the Smithsonian Institution has created an extensive Paleo-Indian exhibit at the Wray Museum in northeast Colorado that is one of the only permanent Smithsonian exhibits outside of Washington D.C.
Colorado Art Communities
Colorado is full of artist communities, including some very exciting, lesser-known towns. Loveland, which is located about one hour north of Denver, is home to the state’s first Art in Public Places program. In Delta County, Paonia has emerged as a great place for the performing arts and music. And, in recent years, Salida has developed a healthy gallery scene. Discover all of Colorado's new official creative districts >> These 26 communities have been designated by the state as communities brimming with galleries, artists in residence and art-specific events.
Colorado Performing Arts
Theater and dance thrive in Colorado. Denver boasts the region’s largest resident professional theatre company, the Denver Center Theatre Company, which performs throughout the year at the celebrated Denver Center for Performing Arts.
Proclaimed as one of the “10 best places to see the lights off Broadway” by USA Today, the Creede Repertory Theater in Creede presents a variety of performances throughout the summer and fall. The Colorado Ballet brings outstanding classical ballet performances to the state.
And, amid the splendor of the Colorado Rockies, the Vail International Dance Festival is heralded as one of the world’s most treasured summer dance events. Down in Denver, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival showcases Polynesian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Bollywood, Indian and Cambodian dance styles.
Stellar Music Venues in Colorado
Colorado is home to a number of celebrated music venues. Rock ‘n’ roll, reggaeton, R&B, country, electronic and classical music fans will enjoy a special experience at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Major music acts such as U2, BB King, Bonnie Raitt, The Beatles, Dave Matthews Band and Sting have all graced the stage with unforgettable performances.
Colorado’s spectacular summer season brings the state’s majestic mountains to life with a variety of music festivals. For a two-month celebration of primarily classical music, the Aspen Music Festival & School attracts some of the most prestigious musicians in the world. Promising students also play, practice and learn from musical masters at the festival.
The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is considered one of the top in the country, and the Crested Butte Music Festival provides listeners with an eclectic musical menu in a laid-back mountain atmosphere. Each summer incredible musicians descend upon Denver's historic Five Points neighborhood for the free Five Points Jazz Festival.
Photo: Vail International Dance Festival.