Brilliant foliage, unforgettable festivals
By Sara Bruskin
As the air takes on a brisk chill, grab your flannel and a thermos of hot apple cider for a trip to the mountains. Beyond the brilliant foliage, you’ll also find some unforgettable festivals. Food, music, films and Halloween celebrations abound, so every member of your family can have an autumn adventure. Find your favorites and then chart a course—just don’t spike your cider with cinnamon whiskey until you’re done driving.
The folks in Breck clearly take their love of libations seriously. Check out one (or all four) of these beloved boozy festivals.
Sept. 7-9; www.visitbreck.com/breckenridge-oktoberfest
Breckenridge Wine Classic
Sept. 13-16; www.breckenridgewineclassic.com
Breckenridge Strings, Ciders & Sours
Sept. 28-30; www.rockymtnevents.com/breckenridge-strings-ciders-sours
Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival
Oct. 19-21; www.breckenridgecraftspiritsfestival.com
Breckenridge Film Festival
More than 70 movies screen at Breckenridge’s annual film festival. Premieres, parties, educational programs and visiting industry experts enrich this celebration of independent film. www.breckfilmfest.org
Día de Los Muertos
Breckenridge Creative Arts hosts a three-day event in Mexican tradition to honor departed loved ones. The commemorative event includes hands-on workshops, Aztec dancers, face painting, art installations and altars created by the community. www.breckcreate.org/ddlm
Colorado Jazz Musicians Festival
The first ever Colorado Jazz Musicians Festival is taking place this fall, and you won’t find any out-of-state performers there. Enjoy a talented lineup of exclusively Colorado-based musicians, and watch history in the making while supporting the local music scene.
A beautiful time of year for fall foliage, this weekend also features beautiful fine art. Jewelers, potters, painters, photographers and more come out to display their wares at the ARTumn Festival every year. Enjoy live music and food while you look for a piece to take home. www.coloradoevents.org/artumnfestival
Crested Butte Film Festival
Beyond the love of film, the Crested Butte Film Festival also celebrates activism. Several of the selected movies include themes of environmental and social issues
that require public attention, and the ActNow team helps audience members take action immediately after the films. www.cbfilmfest.org
Colorado Mountain Winefest
Named the best wine festival in the country by USA TODAY, the Colorado Mountain Winefest is so much more than a tasting event (though there is a lot of wine tasting involved). It also includes a Grand Mesa wine country bus tour, painting, pairing seminars, biking in the annual Tour de Vineyards and a wine-blending workshop. www.coloradowinefest.com
Trick or Treat Street & Harvest Fest
Bring the kids and their costumes for a safe and fun trick-or-treat experience in downtown Palisade. Collect candy and coupons from local businesses, then head to the Harvest Fest at Riverbend Park and enjoy the bonfire, jack-o’-lantern contest, dancing, pet parade and Mario Kart Half Mile. www.townofpalisade.org/event-calendar/trick-or-treat-street-and-harvest-fest
Salida Fiber Festival
Knitters, quilters, crocheters, spinners and sewers gather in Riverside Park for a celebration of their crafts. Check out vendors selling top-of-the-line materials and tools, artists displaying their work, a silent auction, skill lessons, a beer garden and kids’ activity station. www.salidafiberfestival.com
Salida Bike Fest
More than a collection of races, the Salida Bike Fest also includes bike decorating, bike films, parties, live music, a parade, the Pastry Ride and the wacky Chainless Race with no pedaling and lots of coasting in costumes. www.salidabikefest.com
Salida residents celebrate the last farmers market of the season with a big festival including a Crockpot Cook-Off, live music, face painting and performances by the Salida Circus. www.foodshedalliance.com/shedfest
This celebration starts with a Friday night beer stroll through town, where more than 20 restaurants will have sample beers ready for visitors to enjoy. Saturday is the main event, featuring a beer garden with unlimited tastings, the famous Beef Cook-off and live music.
Lost Art Revival
Steamboat Springs has a rich artistic past, and celebrates old-fashioned crafting methods with a week of classes, demonstrations and studio tours. Try your hand at spinning wool, dying fibers with plants and weaving on looms.
Steamboat Plein Air Festival
Handy with a brush or pencil? Head up to Steamboat Springs for this outdoor art festival to capture autumn’s colors with other artists, from casual dabblers to nationally renowned masters. The week includes an opening reception, social gatherings, a quick draw and silent auction. www.steamboatchamber.com/arts/sam/sam-plein-air-exhibit
Strings on the Slopes
Not many music events start with a gondola ride. Follow that up with breakfast on a mountaintop and a guided hike, featuring a live string performance on the mountainside.
Steamboat Springs Mustache Ride
Join this crazy costumed cruiser bike ride to benefit the Routt County Humane Society. Part costume party, part pub crawl, the Mustache Ride stops at bars all over town and requires all participants to wear mustaches (naturally grown or adhered).
Telluride Blues & Brews Festival
There are few things more quintessentially Colorado than blues music and craft beer. Enjoy both at the Blues & Brews Festival with headliners Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters, Gov’t Mule, and Booker T’s Stax Revue. www.tellurideblues.com
Telluride Festival of Cars & Colors
Combine the beauty of autumn with the beauty of automotive design in this four-day festival. The San Juans are known for their fall foliage, and car enthusiasts can enjoy the changing colors during competitions, road rallies, cruises and parties. Check out vintage motorcycles, snowmobiles and airplanes, too. www.carsandcolors.com
Original Thinkers Festival
A brand new Telluride event, the Original Thinkers Festival was created to bring insightful and inspiring people together with films, discussions, art and more. Get curious, get motivated and get some ideas with other brilliant brainstormers.
Telluride Horror Show
If you adore gore and scary scenes, this event is for you. The Telluride Horror Show includes 20 feature films and more than 50 shorts. Attendees can bond with fellow horror lovers at the ice cream social, pig roast, creepy campfire tales and horror-themed trivia night. www.telluridehorrorshow.wixsite.com/telluridehorror
Alpine & Ales Mountain Oktoberfest
The first Mountain Oktoberfest premieres this year with a massive beer celebration. Guests can enjoy unlimited beer tastings for $30, plus live music, food, a chainsaw carving competition and more.
Do you love skiing down Mary Jane at Winter Park Resort? Imagine running up its steep slopes. That’s exactly what competitors do at the Summit Assault, a 6-mile race that includes a 2,500-foot elevation gain. Enjoy refreshments at the summit and gorgeous views on the chairlift ride back down. www.summitassault.com
Winter Park Grand Kids FallFest
Grand Kids Child Care Center coordinates this annual autumn fundraiser with fire truck rides, train rides, face painters, inflatables, crafts, games, a human maze, bake sale, silent auction, adult beverage tasting and live music provided by the Grand County Blues Society. www.playwinterpark.com