Best of Boulder 2024: Entertainment + Culture

The top things to do (and where to do them)

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Local celebrity

Deion Sanders

No shade to past winner Jared Polis, but Boulder finally has a bona fide celebrity to claim this spot. Coach Prime might not have (yet) scored a winning season for the Buffs (to say nothing of a national championship), but he did bring Boulder some national attention and deliver empowerment and joy to Black residents. We’d say that’s well worth a BoB win. 

Silver: Ashley Patchen
Bronze: Ryan Van Duzer

Local musician/group

FACE Vocal Band

Who needs instruments to put on a good show? Not Boulder’s FACE Vocal Band. Since 2002, this local all-vocal rock a cappella ensemble has dazzled audiences around the world — including NBC’s The Sing-Off and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, plus opening slots for artists like Jon Bon Jovi, Jay Leno and the Barenaked Ladies.

Silver: Hazel Miller
Bronze: Gregory Alan Isakov

Music festival

Planet Bluegrass, 500 W. Main St., Lyons

This Lyons bluegrass festival is an undisputed winner. (Planet Bluegrass also hosts third-place finisher Folks Fest and owns silver medal winner Telluride Bluegrass Festival.) Nestled between towering cliffs and a flowing creek, and featuring some fine pickers, RockyGrass is quintessential Colorado. Now in its 52nd iteration, the 2024 event is already sold out. Start planning now for 2025. Nab a coveted camping spot for an elevated experience.

Silver: Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Bronze: Rocky Mountain Folks Festival

Credit: Jaqueline Collins Photography

Music venue and movie theater

Boulder Theater
2032 14th St.

Is it the iconic neon marquee? The Art Deco architecture? The impressive lineup of music, standup, films and community events? The location in the heart of downtown Boulder? Whatever the reason, Boulder Theater is a perennial reader favorite across categories. 

Music venue

Silver: Chautauqua Auditorium
Bronze: Nissi’s Entertainment Venue & Event Center

Movie theater

Silver: AMC Flatiron Crossing
Bronze: Century Boulder

Live jazz venue

St Julien Hotel & Spa
900 Walnut St., Boulder

Some weeks, St Julien has live jazz four nights out of seven. It’s the perfect setting: lush, cozy chairs for lounging, dark bars and upscale cocktails and food. Shows get even better in warm weather when the music moves outside to the expansive patio.

Silver: Hotel Boulderado
Bronze: Nissi’s

The Merc Jamestown
“The Merc,” as it’s known far and wide. Credit: Ray Keener

Open mic

Jamestown Mercantile
108 Main St., Jamestown

The Merc, as it’s known by locals, hosts open mic night every first and third Wednesday of the month (the other Wednesdays are movie nights!). With a cozy, casual atmosphere and seriously delicious food (no shade to other BoB winners, but this is our favorite breakfast spot), it’s well worth the windy drive up Left Hand Canyon.

Silver: The Attic Bar & Bistro
Bronze: Roots Music Project

Place to dance

Avalon Ballroom
6185 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder

Scandinavian dance, Egyptian belly dancing, Scottish country dancing, bachata, waltz — you can learn all this and more at Avalon, a repeat BoB winner. The East Boulder spot offers classes for every interest and skill level, and even serves Boulder County’s rink-starved roller skaters.

Silver: Alchemy of Movement
Bronze: Nissi’s 

Amanda Tipton ‘Mindfield,’  presented by Boulder Ballet in March 2024 at Dairy Arts Center. Credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Live dance group

Boulder Ballet
Located at Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St.

Authentic relationships. Balancing discipline and play. Emotional and physical wellbeing. Those are just a few of Boulder Ballet’s stated values. Is it any wonder Boulder County readers love them? Watch them at the Dairy or one of a handful of other Colorado venues, including a yearly performance at Glen Huntington Bandshell in downtown Boulder.

Silver: Alchemy of Movement
Bronze: Streetside Dance

Live theater group

Colorado Shakespeare Festival
CU Boulder 

For 65 years, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival took advantage of Colorado’s usually clear skies to perform the Bard under the stars. This year (and possibly next), they’re moving inside to the newly renovated Roe Green Theater.

Silver: Boulder Ensemble Theater Company
Bronze: Longmont Theater Company

Greg @ Rachel Lowe Photography Courtesy: Dairy Arts Center

Art gallery

Dairy Arts Center
2590 Walnut St., Boulder

The Dairy — once a real, working factory — is best known as the hub of live performance in Boulder, but it also operates four galleries that, collectively throughout the year, display the works of more than 100 artists. The best part? They’re all free and open to the public, six days a week.

Silver: BMoCA
Bronze: Phil Lewis Art


BMoCA (Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art)
1750 13th St., Boulder

The reigning champ captures readers’ hearts and minds with an ever-evolving lineup of exhibits and a prime location in an historic building (at least for now). We’re sure BMoCA will offer even stiffer competition with its planned relocation and expansion. 

Silver: WOW! Children’s Museum
Bronze: Museum of Boulder

Credit: Jacqueline Collins Photography


Boulder County Farmers Markets
9595 Nelson Road, Longmont
13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon, Boulder

How very Boulder of Boulder to prefer fresh fruits and veggies to the yearly parties that are our other fun events like the BOLDERBoulder or Taco Fest. But that’s just how good the farmers market is: A place to socialize, shop and sip in the sunshine, mingle with your neighbors (and probably more than a few tourists) and listen to live music. 

Silver: Boulder Creek Festival
Bronze: BOLDERBoulder

david harwi Credit: David Harwi Photography

Place to work remotely

Trident Booksellers and Cafe
940 Pearl St., Boulder

Cozy, locally owned and with plenty of nooks to nestle in, there are many reasons our readers love Trident. For us, it’s the people watching — as reliably good as the WiFi and the quality beverages.

Silver: OZO Coffee Company
Bronze: The Laughing Goat


Humane Society of Boulder Valley
2323 55th St., Boulder

The oldest continuously serving humane society in Colorado helps more than 16,000 animals each year. In addition to placing pets with loving homes, HSBV offers free food and supplies to those in need, temporary shelter for pets with displaced or hospitalized guardians and even discounted behavioral consultations and classes to help people keep their animals. 

Silver: Planned Parenthood
Bronze: Longmont Humane Society

Credit: Jaqueline Collins Photography

Private school

Friends School
3800 Kalmia Ave., Boulder (North Campus) 5465 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder (South Campus)

In an education system increasingly focused on math, science and tech skills, Friends puts the emphasis on the social and emotional for kids in preschool through 8th grade. Not that they’re skimping on STEM — Friends students regularly take home awards from regional and state science fairs. 

Silver: Dawson School
Bronze: September School

Day care

408 W. Baseline Road, Lafayette

When it comes to looking after your little ones, our readers put their trust in Lafayette’s Take-a-Break. Founded in 1982, the caregivers at this child care center are trained in infant/child CPR and first aid, medication administration, early childhood or elementary education and more. 

Silver: Boulder Day Nursery
Bronze: La Petite Academy

Photo by Meghan Barrett Colorado Mountain Ranch, winner of best summer camp

Summer Camp

Colorado Mountain Ranch
10063 Gold Hill Road, Boulder

Archery, mountain biking, horseback riding, yoga — what more could a kid want from a summer camp? Maybe that’s why our readers keep praising this Gold Hill spot, where kids can be away from home (but not too far). 

Silver: YMCA Summer Camps
Bronze: CU Science Discovery

Advanced Education

CU Continuing Education
1505 University Ave., Boulder

When it comes to lifelong learning, Boulder Weekly readers gave top honors to CU Continuing Education not only for its diverse suite of classes, but also for offering unmatched scheduling flexibility that allows you to pursue your higher-learning goals while managing the rigors of day-to-day life. 

Silver: Naropa University
Bronze: Front Range Community College  


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