Spring and summer in Colorado mean it is time to head outdoors to enjoy living in this beautiful state. Every year, Denver is home to many different fantastic arts festivals, and each celebrates something unique and special about Denver’s diverse communities. These festivals are all free to attend and provide a wonderful way to get out and enjoy the great weather, listen to tons of local bands, eat amazing food and peruse arts and crafts from hundreds of local artists. Here are the best can’t-miss festivals for 2012.

Downtown Denver Art Festival
May 25 through 28, 2012
Denver Pavillions
500 16th St.
Denver, CO 80202

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Price: Free to attend
Hours: Fri – 4 p.m to 8 p.m., Sat -11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun -11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon -11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Memorial Day weekend, the Denver Pavillions fill to the brim with art and artists from all over the country as part of the Downtown Denver Arts Festival. This 14th annual event celebrates Colorado visual artists and more than 100 local artists will be featured during the four-day-long event. New this year, the festival is accepting a limited number of national artists as well, so the event is sure to be bigger than ever.

Related: Top Budget Arts and Culture Events in Denver

CHUN Capitol Hill People’s Fair
June 2 and 3, 2012
Civic Center Park
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, CO 80209

(credit: peoplesfair.com)

Price: Free to attend
Hours: Sat -10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The 41st annual Capitol Hill People’s Fair will be a do-not-miss event. Presented by CHUN (Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods), it is the premier arts and crafts festival in Denver celebrating all of Denver’s diverse urban communities. Arts and crafts exhibitors from all over the United States and Canada bring amazing works of art. Find everything from jewelry and metal crafts to paintings, paper crafts, candles, soaps, sculptures, clothing, woodcrafts and more. Don’t miss the Kids Corral, which will include a carnival as well as free craft and art projects for kids. And of course, no fair would be complete without plenty of great music and entertainment courtesy of many popular local bands.

Denver Chalk Art Festival
June 2 and 3, 2012
Larimer Square
1430 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80202

(credit: denverchalkart.org)

Price: Free to attend
Hours: Sa -10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun -10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Denver Chalk Art Festival brings more than 200 artists together to turn the streets of Larimer square into one giant chalk-covered canvas. In addition to students and amateur artist, the festival features several street-art professional artists including Stephen DeOrio, Julie Kirk and Mark Hollenbeck, all of which are multiple award-winning artists. Bring the kids and stop by the Bellco Kids’ Corner. For a small donation, your kids will get a bag of chalk to create their own little works of street-art. Don’t miss this exciting and creative festival, and be sure to attend the awards ceremony that closes the festival on Sunday at 6 p.m.

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Cherry Creek Arts Festival
July 6, 7, 8, 2012
Cherry Creek North Shopping District
From 2nd to 3rd Avenue between Clayton and Steele Streets

(credit: cherryarts.org)

Price: Free to attend
Hours: Fri -7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sat to Sun -10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Cherry Creek Arts Festival has quickly become one of Colorado’s premier cultural events. This celebration of visual, culinary and performing arts is always a great event. The 2012 festival will feature 236 different exhibitors with 12 returning award winners from the 2011 festival. Be sure to check out Artivity Avenue, a full city block of interactive artistic activities for the whole family. Culinary Avenue features tons of great food options courtesy of Denver’s most popular restaurants, plus chef demonstrations and informative entertainment. After you have enjoyed plenty of great food, head over to The Art of Fitness, where the Colorado Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness will be presenting interactive workshops and demonstrations all about the Art of Fitness.

Related:2011 Cherry Creek Arts Festival Draws Thousands 

Dragon Boat Festival
July 28 and 29, 2012
Sloan’s Lake Park
Sheridan Blvd and 17th> Avenue
Denver, CO 80219

(credit: cdbf.org)

Price: Free to attend

This year is the 12th annual Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, a celebration of Denver’s diverse Asian communities. The festival is centered around dragon boat races, a 2,000 year old competitive sport that originated in China. In addition, the Asian Marketplace is always a wonderful treat to visit, offering gifts, artwork, fashion and novelties that reflect culture from all across Asia and the Pacific. Enjoy the Taste of Asia Food Court which offers amazing dishes from all of Denver’s best Asian restaurants. Don’t miss the Gateway to Asia, with demonstrations for many Asian traditions. Learn about Japanese flower arranging, Chinese calligraphy, Thai fruit carving and Hawaiian lei-making. Truly, this festival is like visiting all of the rich Asian cultures without ever leaving Denver.

Related: Top Art Studios in the Denver Area 

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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