A Boulder experience is not complete without enjoying a performance at the Chautauqua Auditorium. For over a century, the Auditorium has held a special place in the hearts of artists, speakers, and all who visit, and has brought the latest in arts, culture and education to the Boulder community.

Heated and cooled by Mother Nature, the Chautauqua Auditorium is open from May through September and is a preferred performance venue by artists because of its incredible acoustics and unique architecture. Distinguished speakers such as William Jennings Bryant, Al Gore and the Reverend Jesse Jackson and a diverse array of performers ranging from the Reverend Billy Sunday and music legends such as Wynton Marsalis, Lyle Lovett, Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, BB King, Chris Isaak, The Indigo Girls, John Hiatt, Los Lobos, Ziggy Marley, and many more, have graced its stage over the last 116 years.

Sometimes fondly referred to as “the barn,” the Chautauqua Auditorium was erected in 45 days for $6,700 and opened on July 4, 1898, as the tabernacle for the new Colorado Chautauqua. Before the 1899 season, panels that slide upward on ropes and pulleys were installed on the middle sections of the building and hinged double doors were fitted on the east and west ends of the wings to control the dust and wind.

The interior of the structure has witnessed only minimal modifications and remains lofty and open, with only unfinished timber supports interrupting the space and single piece beams of Oregon fir spanning the 80 feet expanse above. Originally, the Auditorium was built to accommodate 6,000 patrons with banks of risers built on the stage. In 1905, the bleachers were removed and replaced with dressing rooms at stage left and right and seats have replaced the original bleachers (with the exception of some benches in the general admission section). Today, the Auditorium hosts just over 1,300 guests per show.

The Chautauqua Auditorium was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Quirks and Tips

We love our Auditorium and all its wonderful quirks and are certain you will too. Here are a few insider tips to help you enjoy your Chautauqua Auditorium experience.

Is the Auditorium an indoor or outdoor venue?

The Chautauqua Auditorium is an indoor venue but with its century-old, barn-like construction, it shares the same ambient temperature, and sometimes the breeze, as the outdoors. See Heating and Cooling below for more information.

Is the Auditorium heated or air conditioned?

The Chautauqua Auditorium is open from May through September and is heated and cooled by Mother Nature. This means that there is no air conditioning or heating in the venue. We have recently installed two large evaporative coolers, as well as two Big Ass Fans (really the name!) in the ceiling to help lower the temperature of the building and keep air moving on hot nights. The Auditorium’s temperature is also regulated slightly by raising or lowering the sliders on the sides of the building. For maximum comfort, we suggest keeping an eye on the weather forecast and dressing appropriately. It has snowed every month in Colorado so if the temperature is looking frosty, we suggest bringing a blanket, warm hat, jacket and gloves. On warmer nights, bringing a water bottle to stay hydrated is recommended.

Where is General Admission Seating?

In addition to reserved seating, the Chautauqua Auditorium features three types of general admission (GA) seating- padded chairs, theater seats, and wooden benches (please see seating chart for more information). All GA seating is available on a first come, first served basis. The wooden benches are the original benches from 1898! To make yourself more comfortable on these benches, you may want to consider bringing a padded seat insert like those used at football or outdoor venues.

Chautauqua Auditorium is a Smoke Free Venue

Chautauqua Auditorium is a non-smoking facility. Smoking of any substance is strictly prohibited inside the venue and within 15 feet of the exterior of the building. Use of any smoking or vaping devices, including electronic cigarettes is prohibited.


There is no plumbing in the Auditorium. Restrooms are located approximately 100 yards north of the Auditorium at the Dining Hall.

Is the Auditorium ADA accessible?

ADA venue access to the Auditorium is available at the East exits and South entrance of the Auditorium, via the 12th Street/Columbine Avenue entrance.

Designated accessible parking for persons with disabilities is available throughout the park. Please refer to a Colorado Chautauqua map for designated parking spots. All parking is “first come, first served.”

Service animals are permitted and admitted into the Auditorium. Each service animal must remain with its owner and be restrained. If any service animal interferes with other guests, corrective action may include rearranging seating or removal of the service animal from the Auditorium.

For accessibility questions or accommodations during a performance, please contact Public Events Manager, Julie Pomerantz at 303.952.1632 or by email at julie.pomerantz@chautauqua.com.

No Food or Beverage Permitted Inside the Auditorium

Since the Auditorium is situated at a major intersection with wildlife and its walls are porous to the outdoors, we take all steps necessary to keep wildlife, our patrons and our venue healthy

Spilled food and beverages are attractants to animals and are therefore not permitted in the Auditorium. The 116 year old Auditorium is not equipped with plumbing or drains, making it extremely difficult to clean up and eliminate food odors and animal trace. Water in plastic bottles is permitted. Thank you for your cooperation!

Cameras and Recording Devices

Use of audio or video recording devices, professional cameras or cameras with removable lenses are not permitted in the Chautauqua Auditorium.