Perfectly built into the natural amphitheater of Red Rocks Park, the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater is one of the most beautiful venues in the United States. It’s the only naturally-occurring amphitheater in the world with perfect acoustics. Some believe the Ute tribe once used the setting in earlier times for rituals and traditional ceremonies. Created by two 300-foot monolith rock formations, the sandstone provides incredible acoustics, as well as a peek into the past stretching back some 250 million years.
Though the first stage was built for concerts in 1906, the venue has become a mecca for artists of all kinds from opera singers to Sting. In fact, the only show that was not sold out during The Beatles 1964 tour was at Red Rocks-and it was the first rock concert the venue had seen. Later Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull and The Blues Brothers would play Red Rocks. Tull, however, left a five-year ban on rock concerts which resulted in a stint of performances by artists like Carole King, John Denver and Sonny & Cher.
While the venue continues to draw incredible, world-renowned artists, the Local Set series is a wonderful time to really experience the venue. There tend to be fewer people filling the 9,525 seats, but the music is still wonderful. Local Sets often provide an intimate night at Red Rocks and a wonderful first experience for music history buffs to bask in.
Consider booking a trip or tickets to the last Local Set of the year, the venue’s New Year’s Eve Bash. There will be endless live music all night, champagne, a light show and a full sky of stars to dance under. The bar will be open, and the night will be one to remember in this almost Holy Site of music.
Doors open at 7:00 p.m., but purchase a VIP ticket for early entry and pre-show action. Red Rocks will have a buffet dinner with a prime rib carvery as well as drinks available. The real reason to splurge on VIP access, however, is the exclusive backstage tour that will be given. See everything behind the curtain before the bands begin to play. It’s the perfect kick-off to the New Year for any music history buff.
Head to Four Friends Kitchen for brunch the next day. The southern-style fare and full bar are a beautiful sight after a long night out. After a cold brew cocktail or two, head back to the park, which is just 10 miles outside of Denver. Red Rocks Park consists of 738 acres of plains flora and fauna colliding with the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There, 6,450 feet above sea level, are geological formations, dinosaurs and wildlife-as well as great cycling and hiking-to take in. Consider going for a walk along the Trading Post Trail. It’s an easy walk that’s less than a mile and a half, so it is a great choice for a bit of light exercise. You might even see birds and animals from both the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountain regions. If the outdoors aren’t calling, visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame instead.
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist. You can often find her on the highway somewhere between Florida and North Carolina or taking life slow in Europe.