Explore some summer events at altitude
By Sara Bruskin
Now that the roads are clear and slope-bound skiers aren’t rushing up to the mountains every weekend, it’s a great time to explore some summer events going on at altitude. Lodging is less expensive for weekend trips this time of year, and good weather makes day trips far less daunting. Check this list for events like food, music and art festivals; a helpful resource for restaurants and everyday activities can be found at www.fieldguide.colorado.com. Most every mountain town hosts a Fourth of July celebration, a cycling event (or an entire week of cycling events), and a marathon or shorter foot race, so to avoid redundancy, those are not included.
Have fun up there, and don’t forget that higher elevation = extra UV rays. Bring the sunblock along for your adventures at …
WAVE: Light + Water + Sound Festival
Featuring enormous, glowing art installations, the WAVE Festival mixes nature with stunningly ethereal art. Interactive exhibits around the Blue River offer fun for both adults and children, while live music and dance performances accompany this surreal experience.
Breckenridge Food & Wine
The weekend begins with a food and wine pairing dinner on Friday night with experts in attendance to describe the pairing process. Saturday is the main tasting event with unlimited wine samples and food available for purchase, followed by a Sunday brunch featuring prominent women in the winemaking industry.
Breckenridge International Festival of the Arts
BIFA celebrates art in many different forms—fine art, performance art, the healing arts, the art of film. Classes and exhibits range from acoustic yoga and hike-in concerts to roaming performances by giant “ants” who recruit kids for help gathering breadcrumbs. Beautiful, thought-provoking and yes, kind of strange. www.breckcreate.org/bifa
Hogfest Bacon & Bourbon Festival
This event doesn’t need rave reviews to draw a crowd. There’s bacon. There’s bourbon. Sold. Live music and a good cause are icing on the bacon-flavored cake. Gourmet chefs prepare pork-centric dishes while 25 distilleries offer more than 75 bourbons to taste. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Breckenridge Mountain Rotary.
Copper has taken to the food-festival craze like a burger to cider—both of which, coincidentally, have their own festivals at this resort. Here’s a lineup of the summer sampling series:
Attack of the Big Beers, June 24-25
Grilled Cheese Festival, June 24-25
Family Adventure Quest, July 1-2
Mac & Cheese Fest, July 29-30
Colorado Burger Summit, Aug. 19-20
Cider Circus, Aug. 25 – 26
If your kids love running, climbing and leaping over things like amateur stunt doubles, they will be thrilled by the Family Adventure Quest. Teams of one child and one adult make their way through an intense obstacle course during timed races and casual untimed rounds. The adventure continues on July 3 with skill clinics led by professionals to help kids hone their outdoor sporting abilities. www.kidsadventuregames.com
Copper Mountain Music Festival
Featuring bluegrass and Americana artists, the Copper Mountain Music Festival offers three days of outdoor concerts by Del McCoury, Town Mountain, Suzy Bogguss, Corb Lund, the Aaron Burdett Band, Travis Lawson and others TBA. Music workshops and jam sessions turn this event into much more than a spectator weekend.
Another highly interactive event, Guitar Town offers workshops on both acoustic and electric guitar playing, nightly parties with live music, and free guitar repairs.
Copper Country Fest
Celebrate Labor Day weekend with a free country music festival, fine arts exhibit, and a Jim Beam pub crawl. Kids can enjoy face painting, chalk art, crafts and mural painting. Headliners include Vintage Trouble, WAR, The Spinners and Sundance Head.
June 23-Aug. 5
Home to one of Colorado’s most famous music festivals, Crested Butte hosts world-renowned musicians in a concert series spanning seven weeks. Music styles include symphony, opera, bluegrass, chamber music, gypsy jazz, mariachi and more. Several special events are planned for this year, such as an instrument “petting zoo,” a fundraising gala and an evening of BEERoque, which combines baroque concertos and a selection of cold beers. www.crestedbuttemusicfestival.org
Residents and visitors of Crested Butte have been celebrating Cattlemen’s Days since 1900. The oldest PRCA rodeo in Colorado, it hosts all of the traditional animal shows and sporting events, plus a carnival, pioneer banquet, concert, dance, and cowboy poetry readings. www.cattlemensdays.com
The Wildflower Festival teaches visitors to look at their surrounding flora as organisms, landscapes, art, medicine, ingredients and everything in between with botany & conservation classes, garden tours, art workshops, natural medicinals classes, cooking classes and hikes through some of the most colorful wildflower fields of Colorado.
Crested Butte’s Arts Festival
Heading into its 45th year, Crested Butte’s Arts Festival features some incredible works of creativity. One hundred seventy-five artists are selected from over 700 applicants to exhibit their wares, and some hold live demonstrations to give patrons an exclusive look into their process. Live music, gourmet food and magic shows display other varieties of art, and a charity art auction benefits the festival’s art-education program.
Gunnison Car Show
While cars may be the main focus at Gunnison’s car show, they are by no means the only attraction. The Friday evening cruise-in features a performance by Elvis impersonator Aaron Black, and Saturday’s main car show also includes food, live music, a poker run and an art show. Car enthusiasts spend Sunday morning on a 28-mile ride through the mountains that culminates in a community breakfast. www.gunnisoncarclub.com/show.html
Palisade Bluegrass & Roots Festival
This festival is widely anticipated every year, partly because of the beautiful location and partly because of the incredible lineup. SHEL, Front Country, Parsonsfield, The Lil Smokies, and Keller & the Keels are all playing, plus more local bands. Campgrounds are available for the weekend, and a local shuttle will transport festivalgoers through town for free during the event. www.palisademusic.com
Colorado Lavender Festival
Lavender fields are some of the most idyllic landscapes out there, and the Lavender Festival in Palisade can either bring you to the fields, or bring the lavender to you. Activities include bus tours to lavender fields, culinary and artisan craft tours, and a huge collection of lavender product vendors offering wares, workshops, seminars and cooking demonstrations. www.palisadecoc.com/colorado-lavendar-festival
Palisade Peach Festival
The peach capital of Colorado, Palisade celebrates its claim to fame in a four-day festival jam-packed with activities: orchard tours, concerts, 1k, 5k and 10k runs, an ice cream social, a parade, dancing and of course, lots of food featuring peaches. Go enjoy this favorite summer fruit, and maybe even meet the Peach Queen after she’s crowned! www.palisadepeachfest.com
FIBArk Whitewater Festival
The FIBArk Whitewater Festival boasts the longest whitewater race in the country, and has been celebrating its daredevil history since 1949. While the river races still command the most excitement, other fun events have been added over the years, such as boating-technique competitions, a rafting rodeo, 5k and 10k land races, mountain bike races, a parade, and a crazy river dog contest. www.fibark.com
Annual Colorado Brewers Rendezvous
Get ready for 300+ different beer samples from more than 75 different breweries at this year’s Brewers Rendezvous. With delicious food vendors and live music as well, you’ll come for the beer, but you’ll stay for—well, more beer.
One ticket to this delicious event gets you unlimited wine samples, a tote bag specifically for wine bottles, and a commemorative wineglass. Drinking wine in a beautiful park is enough motivation to attend, but some extra swag thrown in never hurts.
Yampa River Festival
Much like Salida’s FIBArk Festival, this event revolves around river sports but extends to land races as well. Organized by Friends of the Yampa, it aims to raise awareness for and protect the Yampa River. www.steamboatchamber.com/annual-events/yampa-river-festival
Strings Music Festival
June 22-Aug. 20
Spread throughout the entire summer, Steamboat’s Strings Music Festival includes more than 60 performances spanning several different musical genres. Check out the complete schedule online, and enjoy a concert or two any weekend this season.
Balloon Rodeo/Art in the Park/Balloon Glow/Movies on the Mountain
This is less of a festival and more just one REALLY good day to be in Steamboat Springs. The hot-air balloon rodeo happens in the air at the same time that Art in the Park hosts 150 art vendors. That evening, the balloons are illuminated for spectators to admire, while Movies on the Mountain kicks off the first night of its outdoor film series.
Steamboat All Arts Festival
When they say “All Arts,” they really mean it. Performers, authors, mixologists, aerialists, chefs, thespians, and so many more will show off their skills in this weekend-long celebration of artistic pursuits. www.steamboatchamber.com/signature-events/all-arts-festival
Yampa Valley Crane Festival
Aug. 31-Sept. 3
One of the most unique events in Colorado, the Crane Festival offers guided crane viewings, bird walks, films, crane art workshops, live raptors, expert speakers and kids’ activities, all followed by a community barbecue.
Telluride Balloon Festival
Catch the amazing sight of hot-air balloons lifting off into the sky, and maybe even take a ride in one at the Telluride Balloon Festival. A free class on hot-air balloon photography helps you take the breathtaking memories home with you.
Telluride Yoga Festival
More than 100 events are available in this intimate and intense yoga festival, ranging from yoga and meditation classes to hiking, music and social events. Enjoy a beautiful practice in a beautiful location, and ride the gondola into town for some extra exploration. www.tellurideyogafestival.com
Telluride Jazz Festival
Once again presenting an amazing lineup, this year’s Jazz Festival includes performances by Mavis Staples, Macy Gray, Bootsy Collins & World-wide Funk Drive, Lee Fields & The Expressions, and The Suffers. www.telluridejazz.org
Telluride Mushroom Festival
Telluride’s famous mushroom festival explores the modern applications of fungi with talks on medicinal mushrooms, panels on new scientific discoveries regarding their chemical composition and potential, cooking classes and competitions, forays into the forest with mushroom experts, and more. www.telluridemushroomfest.org
Telluride Film Festival
Aug. 30-Sept. 4
With special advance screenings of groundbreaking films and intense discussions with directors, actors, animators and other cinematic geniuses, the Telluride Film Festival is an event that many movie lovers dream of attending. www.telluridefilmfestival.org
Pet Pals’ Doggie Dash
Enjoy a scenic 3-mile run/walk in the mountains with your dog to benefit Grand County Pet Pals. The gorgeous views and doggy camaraderie make this a don’t-miss event for dog lovers. www.playwinterpark.com/doggie-dash
Hideaway Park Stage Ribbon-Cutting Celebration
This ceremony to officially open Winter Park’s new performance space features local and regional acts TBA.
Blues from the Top
This two-day festival hosts fantastic headliners, such as Little Hurricane, Anders Osborne, Carolyn Wonderland, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson. www.bluesfromthetop.org
Tequila & Tacos Fiesta
Tacos have been enjoying a huge surge in popularity with new flavor profiles popping up all over, and a taco festival is a perfect place to explore them. Enjoy tequila samples as well, while a mariachi band sends music out over the mountains.