Put a few summer adventures on your calendar
By Sara Bruskin
There’s a pervasive stereotype about visiting attractions in one’s home state—people go years and years without exploring the sites closest to them because there’s no sense of urgency. We all think, “I’ll go sometime. There’s always next year!”
Well, here’s your wake-up call: “Sometime” can easily turn into “never,” so it’s a great idea to decide on a few summer adventures and put them on the calendar now. Heading to higher elevation is also a good way to escape the heat, and mountain towns host some of the best festivals in Colorado. Here are some events at altitude you won’t want to miss.
WAVE: Light + Water + Sound Festival
May 31-June 3
Breckenridge lights up like a firefly with this free, whimsical festival of glowing art installations, music, performance art and films. Talks and workshops invite guests inside the minds of artistic geniuses, and visitors should bring their bikes for the LightCycles community ride. www.breckcreate.org/wave
Gold Panning Championships
In honor of Colorado’s rich prospecting history, Breckenridge is holding a free event where visitors can pan for gold (equipment provided), learn about local history and watch the 2018 Gold Panning Championships on Main Street. www.gobreck.com
Mountain Art Festivals
July 6-8, Aug. 2-4, Sept. 1-3
All ranked in the top 100 fine-art festivals in the country, these three weekends feature sculptures, paintings, jewelry, photography and much more. Stroll along Main Street and chat with the artists themselves; maybe even bring home a masterpiece.
Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival
This year’s beer festival features more than 50 breweries, and a staggering variety of beverages. Sample a few, or buy an unlimited tasting ticket. Food vendors and live music add even more flavor to the festivities. www.summer.breckenridgebeerfestival.com
Breckenridge Food & Wine
Every year, Main Street Station Plaza and The Village at Breckenridge turn into an oasis of gustatory delights with nearly 300 wines and small-dish pairings. Friday features a special pairing dinner before the main tasting event, and a Sunday brunch follows.
Crested Butte Music Festival
July 5-Aug. 11
From opera to jazz, chamber music to film scores, this festival has been filling the mountains with music for more than 20 years. Performances are spaced out over more than a month, punctuated by the annual gala on July 15 with violinist Charles Yang and pianist Peter Dugan. www.crestedbuttemusicfestival.org
The first PRCA rodeo in Colorado, Cattlemen’s Days is more than a century old and boasts a wide variety of animal shows, sporting events, a carnival, a pioneer banquet, concerts and dancing. Don’t miss the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Rodeo in support of breast cancer awareness and prevention. www.cattlemensdays.com
Crested Butte boasts some of the most dramatic, colorful fields of wildflowers in Colorado. Walk among flowers, draw them, eat them, make tinctures out of them and learn how to keep them growing at this year’s Wildflower Festival. This event features garden tours, lectures, workshops, art classes, hikes and more. www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com
Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival
Some gourmet festivals just rely on great food and drink to draw visitors, but the Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival takes delicious offerings and pairs them with adventure, like foraging lessons that turn into cooking classes with your gathered ingredients. Sign up for wine and painting classes or horseback rides to rustic camps where wine tasting awaits you. www.cbwineandfood.com
Gunnison Car Show
Automobile lovers, rejoice! This car show has been voted the best festival in Gunnison, and for good reason—a concert by Creed Fisher opens the event on Friday night, rare and beautiful cars grace the show ‘n’ shine on Saturday and a picturesque 28-mile car cruise is paired with a gourmet breakfast on Sunday. www.gunnisoncarclub.com/show
Palisade Bluegrass & Roots Festival
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Palisade’s Bluegrass & Roots is one of the top bluegrass festivals in Colorado. This year’s performers include Rapidgrass, Trout Steak Revival, River Arkansas, Ghost of Paul Revere, Head for the Hills, Della Mae, Junior Brown, Masontown, Wood & Wire, Kitchen Dwellers, Fruition and more. www.palisademusic.com
Colorado Lavender Festival
June 29-July 1
Have a hankering to try lavender gelato? Looking to buy an eye pillow filled with famously calming flowers? Wondering how to make lavender soap? The garden tours, workshops and vendors at the Colorado Lavender Festival have everything lavender that you could possibly want, and a few things you never knew existed. www.coloradolavender.org
Palisade Peach Festival
The festival kicks off on Thursday evening with an ice cream social, street dance and the crowning of the Peach Queen and court. Friday and Saturday are packed with peach-tastic activities like a peach parade, eating contests, orchard tours, concerts, cooking demonstrations and a farm dinner. Visit more peach vendors at the Sunday Farmers Market. www.palisadepeachfest.com
Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup
Over 400 Mustangs will be on display at the 30th Annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup. Motorists take their prized cars on a scenic mountain tour and participate
in autocross competitions. Kids get in on the action, too, with an R/C autocross, followed by the main show ’n’ shine on Saturday and an awards banquet to finish.
Strings Music Festival
June 22-Aug. 24
With two months of performances, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to catch an amazing night of string music no matter when you visit Steamboat Springs this summer. Musicians from the top orchestras in the country will be performing. Find a full calendar of concerts online. www.stringsmusicfestival.com
Hot Air Balloon Rodeo & Balloon Glow
Get your camera ready to capture the magical sight of mass hot air balloon launches on both days of this event. Get a close-up view at the Balloon Glow on Saturday evening, when the hot air balloons are grounded and illuminated for visitors to enjoy. Food vendors and craft stations make this a great event for the whole family.
Steamboat All Arts Festival
You know that one friend who’s just amazing at every artistic endeavor they pursue? That’s the Steamboat All Arts Festival. With a ridiculous array of talented vendors and performers, this festival features fine artists, chefs, mixologists, martial artists, musicians and even an opera performance called “The Enchanted Pig.”
Yampa Valley Crane Festival
Aug. 30-Sept. 2
The cranes themselves are reason enough to visit this festival, with their long-legged grace and eccentric mating dances, but the organizers have outdone themselves this year with additional attractions—presentations by wildlife experts, photography and yoga
workshops and even a crane-inspired performance by aerial dancers. www.coloradocranes.org/2018-festival
Telluride Balloon Festival
Check out the static balloon display on Friday before watching all of the balloons lift off at sunrise during the weekend. Don’t miss the free photo workshop on Saturday to learn how best to capture these magnificent mornings. Trust us—your Instagram followers are in for a treat with this festival.
Telluride Yoga Festival
One of the top yoga events in the country, the Telluride Yoga Festival is also one of the prettiest, with gorgeous mountain views and gondola rides. Over 100 activities are offered, including adventurous practices like stand-up paddleboard yoga, acroyoga and aerial yoga, plus kirtans, dancing, dinners and much more. www.tellurideyogafestival.com
Telluride Jazz Festival
With headliners like Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Irma Thomas and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, this festival is a must for jazz enthusiasts. Daytime performances grace Telluride Town Park’s outdoor stage, while Jazz After Dark concerts move to intimate indoor venues in town. www.telluridejazz.org
Telluride Mushroom Festival
Are you a fan of fungus? A maven of mushrooms? Join your fellow aficionados in Telluride this August for cultivation workshops, gourmet dinners, films, foraging forays and classes taught by leading mushroom experts. Let loose with music and dancing in the evenings, plus scavenger hunts in town. www.telluridemushroomfest.org
Telluride Film Festival
Roger Ebert said the Telluride Film Festival is “like Cannes died and went to heaven.” For four days, film lovers attend surprise film screenings (the lineup is kept secret) where they’re often the first audience to see the movies. Many of these debuting films go on to win awards, like Blue Velvet, Juno and Slumdog Millionaire. www.telluridefilmfestival.org
Winter Park is making the most of its new performance space in Hideaway Park with a great series of music festivals this summer. Headliners include Ziggy Marley, SOJA, Fantasia, Sheila E. and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Find details and lineups online.
Switchback Music Festival, June 16-17
Blues from the Top, June 23-24
Winter Park Jazz Festival, July 21-22
Solshine Festival, Aug. 11
Country at the Park, Aug. 25
Tequila & Taco Fiesta
This is Winter Park’s third year of celebrating two beloved Mexican staples—tequila and tacos! Spend the afternoon tasting your way through Hideaway Park, and enjoy this year’s new chili cook off. Performances by The Rick Lewis Project and Felix Y Los Gatos.
Buy a painting or sculpture for a cause this summer at the Alpine ArtAffair. This is a not-for-profit event, with proceeds benefiting local art students, school art programs and community arts. In addition to fine arts and crafts fairs, there will be food, music and appearances by various birds of prey, courtesy HawkQuest. www.alpineartaffair.com
Winter Park Beer Festival
Nearly 50 micro-brewers will be showing off their classic brews and newest creations at this haven for beer lovers. Food vendors will provide great pairing dishes, and retail vendors and musicians will perform throughout the day. www.winterparkbeerfestival.com
Uncorked Wine Festival
What could be better than an afternoon of wine and food samples with live music? Throw in a champagne cork-off for some silly fun, and you’ve got a perfect day in the mountains.