Top Outdoor Theaters In Denver

June 3, 2013 6:00 AM


Mary Rippon Theatre(credit:

Performing theater outdoors in Colorado can be a bit of a challenge. In addition to all the traditional theatrical challenges, there is that pesky Colorado weather – often bringing both sunshine and storms all in the same day. Yet, that hard-to-predict weather doesn’t stop many theater producers from bringing the art of live theater to a few outdoor venues throughout the state. Remember, if you do decide to check out some of these great outdoor spots, don’t forget to dress for the Colorado summer. Wear your sunscreen, bring a water bottle and a hat and don’t forget to dress in layers. Most of these productions are also all rain or shine, so you may even want to prepare for a little rain. Here are a few fun spots to enjoy outdoor theater in Colorado.

Theatre-Hikes Colorado
(720) 663-9491

Colorado is certainly known for its beautiful mountains and fantastic hiking, but what Theatre-Hikes Colorado does is combine the famous Colorado outdoors with theater. Since 200,9 Theatre-Hikes has been bringing this unique brand of theatre-meets-hiking to Colorado, and it’s still going strong. It works like this. The productions happen at various hiking trails throughout the state. You are greeted at the performance by the Hike Leader, who will guide you along a hike to the first scene of the show. The hiking is rated “moderate” so it’s enough to work up little bit of a sweat, but not so much that you’ll be too tired to enjoy the show. Once you get to the first scene, you’ll sit for a while, relax and enjoy the entertainment. After a bit, you’ll pick up and move to the next scene. It’s like a traveling show where you do all the traveling. The 2013 season for Colorado Theatre-Hikes includes “Snow White” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Related: Top Directors in the Local Theater Scene in Denver

Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheater
6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Arvada, CO 80003
(720) 898-7200

The Arvada Center is known throughout the state for its beautiful theaters and fantastic productions. But did you know that there is also a stunning outdoor amphitheater at the Arvada Center? This outdoor theater really comes alive every summer with tons of great local and national acts. In addition to a large list of great national concerts that will be visiting this space, some of the local acts include a Sing-a-Long Grease movie night, The Colorado Children’s Chorale, The Arvada Chorale and the Hot Tomatoes and DanceFest — which features dance performances from some of the top companies in Colorado. You’ll also be able to catch Ballet Nouveau Colorado in July and Ballet Ariel in August. As you can see, there is no shortage of fantastic programming happening at the Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheater.

Related: Top Summertime Theater Activities for Kids in Denver

Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Boulder, CO 80309
(303) 492-8008

Perhaps the biggest and most well-known of all the outdoor theatrical performances is the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Every summer, the Boulder area fills to the brim with lots of professional productions happening at performance venues throughout the city. The outdoor location for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival is the Mary Rippon Theatre, which was originally constructed in 1939 and has been the center for the Festival for years. The 2013 Shakespeare Festival outdoor shows include both “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Macbeth,” while there are several other tremendous productions happening in association with the festival at indoor spots throughout Boulder as well. However, for a truly fun outdoor performance experience, there is nothing like the Mary Rippon Theatre, and it is very much worth a visit. Also be sure to pack your own picnic and find a spot on the green, or pick up something to munch on from one of the many nearby vendors. A trip to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival is really the perfect addition to your summer activities.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at