An outdoor art museum recreates itself every year.

Whimsical creatures, abstract designs, colorful portraits, and fantastical worlds transform the streets of Larimer Square, Denver’s oldest and most historic block, at the Denver Chalk Festival, June 1-2. 

The festival, now in its 17th year, features 220 artists from all backgrounds and artistic disciplines. Participants range from professional artists to those who have never worked with the chalk medium and ages from teens to 78 years old. This event is free to the public.

Michael Reiger, Art Director of the Denver Chalk Festival and one of three people who’s been with the festival since the beginning, says the festival draws the community together and unifies artists. He describes one year when a heavy rainstorm took out many chalk works and how the artists came together to help each other to complete the works by the end of the festival. Reiger states, “creating art with 200 other artists is a really dynamic experience."

Denver Chalk Festival

Courtesy of the Denver Chalk Festival 

The images that emerge from the pavement are incredible in their skill and imagination; awe-inspiring 3D designs, unexpected humor, and some so startling realistic it seems they will spring to life before our eyes.   

Denver Chalk Festival

Courtesy of the Denver Chalk Festival

For the public, it is a chance to see the creative process at work, speak with artists, and experience art in a space beyond white walls for a more direct, informal interaction with the artist. The public can also enjoy food, live music, and a 'kids corner' where the young and young at heart can try out their own chalk creations.

Courtesy of the Denver Chalk Festival

The weekend ends with an awards ceremony recognizing the best of the festival. Awards for the top creations are voted on by the public via a text app for their favorites in the youth and adult categories. A panel of judges further selects additional winners in a variety of categories. The panel considers how the artist builds out the work, technique, and image choice, in addition to the finished piece. The panel is made up of a professional artist, a curator, and a member of the community. This year the artist judge is awarding-winning Denver artist, Darrell Anderson, who has participated and judged the Chalk Festival in the past. 

“The art is always new,” says Michael Reiger and the festival is a “great way to come and experience art in an outdoor setting – something you can really make a day of.”

Don’t let your summer officially start without a visit to the Denver Chalk Festival!

When: Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. | Sunday, June 2, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Where: Larimer Square

Do you have a chalk drawing memory or a favorite Chalk Festival design? Share them with us in the comments!