The first edition of the festival (then known as StarCon Denver) was held on May 7 and 8, 1977 at the Denver Regency Hotel. It was organized by Kathe Walker, her sister Karolyn and a group of friends. Kathe had attended several fan conventions in New York and liked them so much that she decided to organize a similar event in Denver. The first convention featured several guests including screenwriter and novelist David Gerrold (Star Trek, Babylon 5, The Twilight Zone), actor Mark Lenard (Star Trek: The Original Series), and actress Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek: The Original Series).
About five years since its inception, Starcon Denver became so popular that its organizers decided to create a second convention, StarFest Denver. For more than two decades StarFest Denver was held in April every year and StarCon Denver took place in September. In 2002, two parallel events merged into one big convention, StarFest Denver, that takes place every April.
Ever since the first years of its existence, the convention has been a major platform for important events in the world of science fiction. In 1977 its attendees were the first in the United States to see a preview of a new science fiction film titled Star Wars. In 1989, Star Trek actor William Shatner presented his directorial debut, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, at the convention.
In 1988, actor Patrick Stewart made his first convention appearance at StarFest Denver to promote the new television series Star Trek: The Next Generation where he played the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. When the show was canceled in 1994 after seven seasons, Stewart came back to Denver to “end it where it all began”.
The program of StarFest Denver is packed with panels featuring celebrity guests and other events and activities for science fiction fans. They include a meet & greet party (a casual get together for both the actors and convention attendees), contests and competitions, workshops and seminars, shows, film screenings, etc. There are a lot of special events and even mini-conventions within the convention dedicated to specific genres (steampunk, horror), fandoms (Doctor Who, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar: Galactica, etc.), video games, board games, and other pop culture aspects.