Travel

How to Celebrate Pride Month in Denver

These are the best festivals, parties, bar events, and more for celebrating this Pride Month.

Denver Pride
Denver Pride
Denver Pride

Denver’s had a long and admittedly tumultuous history regarding LGBTQIA+ rights. From the opening of its first gay bar in 1939 to its first Pride parade in 1976 to electing the first openly gay man to serve as US governor, Denver (and Colorado in general) has witnessed all of the wins and losses dotting its LGBTQIA+ timeline.

Thankfully now-though the fight for many LGBTQIA+ rights is still very much underway-Denver has resources, outlets, and citywide celebrations for anyone in the community looking for support or simply a place to be their most authentic self. Definitely celebrate wherever your hometown is-like Boulder Pride, Aurora Pride, and Pueblo Pride, to name a few. And be sure to check out the Official Events of Denver Pride list for the full scope of everything you can do to celebrate Pride in Denver this year. But whether you’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community or are demonstrating your allyship for friends, family, coworkers, and neighbours, here are some fantastic ways to kick off Pride Month in Denver.

Denver Pride
Denver Pride
Denver Pride

Denver Pride Fest

Civic Center Park
June 25 – 26
Colorado’s largest Pride celebration (probably the largest in the entire Mountain Time Zone) is back in all its in-person glory for 2022 after a Covid hiatus. The two-day festival starts off with a Pride 5K on Saturday followed by an all-out party featuring over 250 exhibitors, 30 food and beverage vendors, and one live performance after another. Catch Sunday’s Coors Light PrideFest Parade bright and early and keep the celebrations going until it’s time for work Monday morning.

Rockies Pride Night

Ballpark
June 3
As our beloved Rockies take on the Atlanta Braves, you can rock a limited edition, Rockies-themed Coors Light Pride T-shirt and know a portion of your ticket will benefit The Center on Colfax and One Colorado. Enjoy pregame Pride celebrations at McGregor Square, which will feature a DJ, photo booth, drink specials, a Rainbow Carpet, and the chance to hang out in the Coors Light igloo in order to win some Pride-tastic prizes.

Black Pride Colorado
Black Pride Colorado
Black Pride Colorado

Strange Fruit of Black Excellence: Harlem Renaissance

Denver Botanic Gardens’ Freyer-Newman Center
June 17
For the second year in a row, Black Pride Colorado is hosting its Strange Fruit of Black Excellence gala, this time in celebration of the Harlem Renaissance. Come donned in your best era-inspired outfit and prepare for a night of fun, fashion, and flair-and to honour the black excellence that helped pave the way for Pride.

Queer Cookout: A Family Celebration

Tracks Denver
June 19
Black Pride Colorado hosts a lot of events not only celebrating Pride Month but also for the LGBTQIA+ community to benefit from all year long. This cookout held at Tracks (Denver’s best nightclub, if you ask us) is also a Juneteenth celebration complete with food and drink, games and prizes, live performances, and a little something for everyone.

Denver Dyke March & Rally
Denver Dyke March & Rally
Denver Dyke March & Rally

Denver Dyke March and Rally

East Colfax
June 25
Yet another two-year Covid hiatus has event hosts and attendees alike totally ecstatic to celebrate-and more accurately, march-live and in-person this year. Begin at The Center on Colfax and make your way to the Capitol, rally your heart out, then march onward towards all the PrideFest celebrations. This year’s theme is Progression Over Oppression: Voices of Our Queer BIPOC and Youth.

Second Annual LGBTQIA+ Community Resource Refresher Hosted by Jessica L’Whor

Hamburger Mary’s
June 2
The Center on Colfax, Hamburger Mary’s, and a ton of other LGBTQIA+ community groups and resources are joining forces once again for this Community Resource Refresher. Entry is free and guests will have access to free HIV testing, Pride-based trivia, and Q&A panels with LGBTQIA+-focused nonprofits. Test yourself and your Pride knowledge, resupply on pertinent information and resources, and hey, maybe even win a $100 prize at trivia. PS: Hamburger Mary’s is hosting a ton of other Pride events, too.

Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf

Indie 102.3 Pride Party

Meow Wolf
June 1
Your favourite immersive art installation is kicking off Pride Month with its “Serve It” Pride party, featuring music and other live performances from all LGBTQIA+ artists, like Destino, Wheelchair Sports Camp, and DJ Kori Hazel. Basically, it’s going to be a music-driven par-tay so get your tickets, fast.

MasQUEERade: A Queer Prom

Fort Greene
June 10
Fort Greene is already one of the coolest bars in Denver you didn’t know existed, but it’ll now be a venue for queer folx to have the prom they’ve always dreamed of. Enter: MasQUEERade, the 21+ dance-til-you-drop gala with tarot readings, DIY corsages and boutonnieres, mask-making, and temporary tattoos. Get that gown or suit or whatever makes your heart sing with prom joy and dance like no one’s watching or awkward two-step with your crush. The world is your oyster and this is your chance to do prom how you always wanted. The remaining proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Fortaleza Familiar and the first 50 people to buy tickets get a special gift at the door.

Number Thirty Eight
Number Thirty Eight
Number Thirty Eight

Number Thirty Eight’s Pride Party 2022

Number Thirty Eight
June 25
Stop by Denver’s hottest new bar/restaurant/adult playground for its second annual Pride Party. The day will consist of live music, a sand volleyball tournament, special craft cocktails, and of course, the biggest and best selection of local brews around. Need to fuel your fire pre- or post-Pride? Get some of that good, good Split Lip, an Eat Place fare.

MJ Mansion Denver
MJ Mansion Denver
MJ Mansion Denver

OFM Presents: Pride Island at the Marijuana Mansion

Marijuana Mansion Denver
June 23
Welcome to Pride Island, where the vibe is sexy yet extremely chill. Come for the risqué outfits and stay for the vendors, live DJ, drag performances, and complimentary cocktails and snacks. The dress code is “paradise-inspired,” and the rest is left to your imagination. Expect gift bags upon arrival and edible bars waiting for you beyond the door.

Tracks Pride 2022: Camp Tracks

Tracks Denver
June 22 – 25
Pack your toothbrush, sleeping bag, and best outfits and prepare for another huge Denver Pride celebration spanning four days. Wednesday’s festivities include an LGBTQ burlesque troupe and an open mic night while Thursday really gets things moving with Tracks’ 18+ Annual Pride Rainbow Roll. Kick it up a notch Friday with the Drag Nation: Talent Show featuring none other than RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Willow Pill as well as Denver’s largest women’s pride party: Campy Girls (presented by Babes Around Denver) and go out with a bang on Saturday with The Rainbow Forest Pride Party. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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