As the story goes, in 1971, five California high-schoolers coined the term “4/20” to signify the time they would gather by the Louis Pasteur statue after school to smoke marijuana.
Now, nearly half a century later, April 20 has become the de facto cannabis holiday. Colorado and eight other states, along with Washington, D.C., allow for the recreational use of marijuana, and 4/20 will be celebrated across the Centennial State.
If you’re planning to partake, add these 420 events to your calendar:
Colorado Springs 420 Fest & Tattoo Art Expo
Friday, April 20 , noon to 9 p.m.; Saturday, April 21, noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday, April 22, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Colorado Springs Event Center, 3960 Palmer Park Blvd. $25/day, $60/three-day pass, cos420fest.com.
This three-day event is aiming to attract a larger audience by combining the 4/20 festival with an indoor tattoo and art expo as well as a music fest.
“With the tattoo aspect in it, a good variety of both [crowds] is what we’re hoping,” Tiphani Ruark, assistant sales director for RJ Promotions, and show manager for 420 Fest, says. “Maybe there’s people who may not be into the whole cannabis thing, but they want to go to a tattoo fest.”
The event won’t allow participants to consume on-site, but Ruark does hope it and its offerings can be educational for those who may have little knowledge of cannabis. She says there will be seminars, led by vendors, that include subjects like how to heal with cannabis and hemp oils.
“We’re wanting to broaden people’s horizons,” Ruark says. “It’s just not about partying. We want people to see that there’s more to it. There’s more to sitting there and getting stoned. It’s a way for people to live and possibly get off prescription drugs.”
The event will feature more than 50 tattoo artists; patrons can also get a tattoo on-site.
In addition to the vendors and tattoo artists, look for entertainment such as Midgets With Attitude wrestling and a suspension artist. The music component’s being called the Spring Music Festival @ 420 Fest, featuring four acts on Friday, and five on both Saturday and Sunday.
Colorado 420 Fest
Friday, April 20, 1 to 6 p.m., and Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (special events to take place during extended hours; VIP passes sold out) Speakeasy Cannabis Lounge, 2508 E. Bijou St. $10/advance, $15/door; ticket good for both days, colorado420fest.com.
Labeling itself as a smaller event, the former Denver 420 festival is now in the Springs for two days, starting April 20. It’s going to include on-site consumption and is for ages 21 and older.
Featured at this year’s Colorado 420 Fest are an outside area for vendors and a full 4/20-friendly cannabis club to smoke in; all-day entertainment inside the club and pavilion; sightseeing tours of Colorado Springs by Colorado Highlife tours; giveaways, raffles and contests for merchandise; and guest speakers from the cannabis industry. VIP shows include artists LoveRance (on the 20th) and Lethal Injektion (on the 21st), though again, VIP passes are already sold out.
4/20 Toked Up Tour
Saturday, April 21, noon to 8 p.m. Elev8 Glass Gallery, 517 S. Tejon St. Free, bit.ly/2EjZBAD
The third annual event held by Elev8 Glass Gallery and Higher Elevations Masterpiece Productions will have more to offer than previous iterations.
The “Elev8 Glass Games” will feature sherlock, pendant and battle-top competitions. There will also be live music, games, and product and glass blowing demonstrations.
“Really, it’s just a thing to kind of show thanks to our customers we have, and show people what the industry is about if they’re not sure what it’s about,” Elev8 inventor/creator Steve Kelnhofer, says. He adds, “It’s only three [years old], but it’s hard to make it past one sometimes. We’re really excited about this.”
Mile High 420 Festival
Friday, April 20, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Civic Center Park, Denver Free, milehigh420festival.com.
The state’s headliner event has two headliner musicians: Lil Jon and Lil Wayne.
Lil Wayne was scheduled to perform during the 2016 event — then the 420 Rally — but had to cancel due to a snowstorm the day of.
“We thought it would be exciting to bring back Lil Wayne because of what happened with the weather,” Bobby Reginelli, marketing director of Denver-based dispensary chain Euflora, which is putting on the event, says. “He doesn’t play very often, he certainly doesn’t tour very often and people are excited.”
Lil Jon is set to perform from 4 to 5:30 p.m., and Lil Wayne goes on afterward until 6:15 p.m. The Original Wailers and Inner Circle will also play.
The event was long organized by Miguel Lopez, but the permit went to Euflora this year. Reginelli and the marketing and event team say they hope to improve the reputation of the event, which had complaints last year about mounds of trash, long lines and lack of security — plus five arrests and 20 citations.
Lopez, who had been running the event since 2014, was hit by the City of Denver with more than $12,000 in penalties and damages for the chaotic festival, a ban on applying for any event permit for three years and a revocation of his “priority status” for a permit.
(The permit was awarded on a first come, first serve basis, and through a little trickery, Michael Ortiz, an associate of Lopez’s was able to score the permit, despite Euflora employees camping outside for days to be first in line. Eurflora cried foul, and the city later agreed, granting it the permit.)
“It’s the first year of a new event,” Reginelli says. “The city considers it a new event. After last year’s negative press, we’re really up against a lot of stigma.”
Still, he can’t resist a little smack-talking: “Last year, honestly, was kind of boring,” he says. “Other than checking out a band and going to three or four vendors, there was not much else to do.” He says he wants this year to be more of a festival atmosphere. Entertainment aside from live music will be: yoga, art, comedy, marketplace vendors and auto-show elements.
“There’s going to be a lot for a lot of different people,” Reginelli says. “This year’s going to be different.”
Another difference: There will be twice as many entrance gates and four times as much security as last year. Public consumption is prohibited by state law.