The best Colorado summer festivals of 2023: Live music, beer, food

When the temperatures start to climb and the snow (mostly) melts from Colorado’s majestic mountains, our great state comes alive with color: vibrant blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds, verdant green meadows, wildflowers in nearly every hue imaginable, rocky red cliffs, sapphire-blue alpine lakes and dark green pines.

Many of the Centennial State’s best summer festivals take advantage of this vivid natural palette, using it as the backdrop for live music, wine, yoga, craft beer, food, dance, theater, visual art, outdoor recreation and other joyous activities that bring people together. Below we share a list of the can’t-miss summer festivals that promise fun times around the state.

Music, art and live performances are meant to boost everyone’s creativity at Planet V, a Memorial Day weekend fest at Camp V near Naturita. (Photo provided by Camp V)


May 26-29
Planet V. Stargazing, fire art, glamping, live performances, silent discos, musical meditation sessions and other creativity-boosting moments await at this year’s Planet V (formerly called Burning Van). The annual Memorial Day weekend festival is held at CampV, a unique lodging and arts destination — complete with Airstream trailers, restored cabins, RV and tent sites, and several types of glamping setups — in a remote area of southwestern Colorado. CampV, Ee 26 Road, Vancorum near Naturita.

May 26-28
MeadowGrass Music Festival. Now in its 14th year, MeadowGrass helps kick off the summer by bringing more than a dozen folk, roots, funk, bluegrass and Americana musicians and bands to the Pikes Peak region. This family-friendly fest (kids 12 and younger free with an adult admission), organized by the Rocky Mountain Highway Music Collaborative, includes kids’ activities, yoga, arts and assorted workshops, guided hikes and more. This year’s headliners are Jig Jam, Donna the Buffalo and Cha Wa. La Foret Conference & Retreat Center, 6145 Shoup Road, Colorado Springs.

An artist creates a piece at the Boulder Creek Festival, which features artists, live music, kids activities, a craft beer fest and more, May 26-29, 2023. (Ryan James Cox, provided by Boulder Creek Festival)
An artist creates a piece at the Boulder Creek Festival, which features artists, live music, kids activities, a craft beer fest and more, May 26-29, 2023. (Photo by Ryan James Cox/provided by Boulder Creek Festival)

May 26-29
Boulder Creek Festival. A beloved Memorial Day weekend tradition since the late 1980s, the Boulder Creek Festival celebrates the start of summer with performances by more than 30 bands and entertainers on three stages. Though live music is a major focus, there’s also a painting battle, a craft beer festival, dozens of tasty food vendors, kids’ activities and booths supporting more than 200 artists, nonprofits and businesses. The Bolder Boulder 10K run also takes place on May 29 and adds to the festive atmosphere. Boulder Creek Path, 1212 Canyon Blvd., Boulder.

May 27-28
Denver Arts Festival. Support fine arts and crafts by attending the Denver Arts Festival, which highlights the many talented creatives who call Colorado home (as well as a select few national artists, too). At the festival, which is in its 24th year, you can listen to live music while perusing the works of artists specializing in everything from clay and ceramics to furniture and glass by visiting their booths. And if you’re planning to bring little ones, be sure to drop by the kids’ art zone. Central Park Conservatory Green, 8304 E. 49th Place, Denver.

May 27-29
Territory Days. Whether or not you consider yourself a history buff, you’re sure to have fun at Territory Days, which celebrates Colorado’s Wild West roots. Listen to live performances from more than 35 bands, sip brews at the two beer gardens and munch on delicious food, then shop the wares of hundreds of craft vendors. Kiddos will love the pony rides, costumed characters, petting zoo, train rides, mechanical bull and gold panning activities. Old Colorado City, Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets, Colorado Springs.


June 3
Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival. Wine, sunshine, mountain backdrop — what more do you need? This one-day affair celebrates all the delicious reds, whites and rosés made right here in Colorado. And if wine isn’t your thing, there’s also mead and glögg, plus food trucks and live music. Memorial Park, 502 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs.

June 8-11
Parker Days. This long-running festival, organized by the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, has all the hallmarks of a good time: carnival rides and games, live music, kids crafts, silent disco, street performers, food trucks, more than 200 artists and vendors, culinary demonstrations and more. Downtown Parker.

Chalk artist Diedra Olin works on ...
Chalk artist Diedra Olin works on her piece entitled Round Rabbit along Bannock Street IN Denver during the 20th annual Chalk Art Festival on Sept. 4, 2022. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

June 10-11
Denver Chalk Art Festival. You’re guaranteed to walk away feeling inspired by this colorful festival, which features more than 150 artists covering the streets with impressive works of art. Golden Triangle neighborhood, Denver.

June 11-Aug. 13
Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Get in touch with your literary side while enjoying Boulder’s warm summer nights during performances throughout June, July and August. This year, you can snag tickets to “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Winter’s Tale,” “King Lear” and “The Comedy of Errors,” written by that 400-year-old playwright Bill Shakespeare. You can also catch a show by another English playwright, Richard Bean, called “One Man, Two Guvnors.” Most performances take place under the stars at the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre, though a few are held indoors. University of Colorado Boulder campus.

June 14-18
Rocky Mountain Star Stare. Ponder the mysteries of the cosmos with fellow stargazers at this five-day affair, which includes scientist talks, kids’ games and activities, a homemade telescope exhibition and, of course, unobstructed dark-sky observing sessions. Gardner.

June 15-18
FIBArk Whitewater Festival. Watch athletes skillfully navigate Class III-IV rapids on the Arkansas River as they compete in various challenging races during this long-running festival. Standup paddleboard boxing, surfing, raft sprints, slalom races and the annual 26-mile downriver race are all on tap this year. There are more lighthearted events too, like the raft rodeo, which awards paddlers for their silly moves. And live music, food, a kids area, running races, skateboarding and more. Salida.

June 15-18
Sonic Bloom Festival. Enjoy four nights of electronic music, plus camping, yoga classes, art installations, workshops, speakers and more at this boundary-pushing gathering in southern Colorado’s Spanish Peaks Country. Hummingbird Ranch, Rye.

June 15-18
Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Demand was so hot for the 50th anniversary of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival that tickets sold out back in December. Unfortunately, there’s no waitlist, but you can check with the organizers for any refunded ticket resale options. Telluride.

Turkey Crossing BBQ's Jay Spurling, of Hugo, Colo., prepares the smoker with a torch ahead of Colorado BBQ Challenge Thursday June 15, 2017, in Frisco. (Hugh Carey, Summit Daily)
Turkey Crossing BBQ’s Jay Spurling, of Hugo, Colo., prepares the smoker with a torch ahead of Colorado BBQ Challenge Thursday June 15, 2017, in Frisco. (Photo by Hugh Carey/Summit Daily)

June 15-17
Colorado BBQ Challenge. Big changes are coming to the annual Colorado BBQ Challenge: After 27 years on Frisco’s Main Street, this beloved fest is moving to Copper Mountain. You can still expect great music, fun competitions and, of course, mouth-watering smoked meats. Plus, summer resort activities like mountain biking, go-karts, bumper boats, a climbing wall and a “Ribs and Jibs” rail jam, to name a few activities. Copper Mountain.

June 16-18
Food & Wine Classic. As is usually the case, this popular Aspen festival is sold out, but if you’re committed to trying to make it this year, be sure to join the waitlist. Aspen.

June 16-17
Colorado New Play Festival. For 25 years, this Steamboat Springs festival has been helping plays go from “page to stage” with a week of rehearsals, workshops and other collaborative moments. Members of the public can also support new play development by attending readings, which help the playwrights get a sense of audience reactions. See the various event venues and purchase tickets online. Steamboat Springs.

June 16-17
Vail Craft Beer Classic. Need an excuse for a road trip? Look no further than this peppy beer festival, which spotlights brews from more than 50 Colorado craft breweries. Vail.

June 16-18
Strawberry Days. Now in its 126th year, this fruit-focused celebration includes a parade, an arts and crafts show, live music, kids’ activities and tasty eats. Glenwood Springs.

June 17
Lake Dillon Beer Festival. Sip IPAs, pilsners and sours from 30 Colorado breweries while ogling the breathtaking views of Lake Dillon and the surrounding mountains. Your ticket benefits the Colorado Brewers Guild and the Blue River Watershed Group. Dillon.

June 22-Aug. 3
Bravo! Vail Music Festival. Get your classical music fix with six weeks of concerts throughout scenic Eagle County. Vail.

GREELEY, CO - June 29: Stetson Jorgensen is competing steer wrestling during Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park. June 29, 2019. The event is Colorado's premier western summer celebration and visitors enjoy rodeo, concerts, and foods. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file

Stetson Jorgensen is competing in steer wrestling during the Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park on June 29, 2019. Stampede visitors enjoy rodeos, concerts, and foods. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

June 22-July 4
Greeley Stampede. What started as a community celebration for local potato farmers more than a century ago has blossomed into a massive festival, complete with concerts, rodeo events, carnival, Western art show, golf tournament, demolition derby and more. Jam out during performances by Flo Ride, Sam Hunt, Lee Brice, Dustin Lynch, Tyler Hubbard and other big-name performing artists. Greeley.

June 22-25
Telluride Yoga Festival. Re-center yourself and create meaningful connections during yoga, meditation and wellness classes led by a variety of presenters like Jewel, Koya Webb, Sianna Sherman and Desiree Rumbaugh. Telluride.

June 22-25
Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience. Treat yourself to a long weekend jam-packed with music in the Roaring Fork Valley. More than 40 performances at 12 venues are on tap this year, with artists like Galactic, Greyboy Allstars and Veronica Swift bringing their unique sounds to downtown Aspen.

June 23-25
Blues From the Top Music Festival. Blues, roots, rock, jam, soul, gospel and other musical genres take centerstage at this event, organized by the Grand County Blues Society. This year’s headliners include Grace Potter, Samantha Fish featuring Jesse Dayton, Devon Allman Project with Jimmy Hall & Larry McCray, Blood Brothers with Mike Zito & Albert Castigila and Shemekia Copeland. Rendezvous Event Center, Winter Park.

June 23-25
Colorado Lavender Festival. With farm tours, seminars, crafts, live music and arts and crafts booths, this festival pays homage to the calming, light purple herb that grows so well on the Western Slope. Palisade.

June 24
Red, Whites & Brews. Grab your friends and venture up to Steamboat Springs for this one-day celebration of wine, beer and live music. Steamboat Springs.

June 24-25
Bacon and Bourbon Festival. Imagine biting into a perfectly crispy strip of bacon, then washing it down with a sip of smooth bourbon. That fantasy can become your reality when you attend this food-and-drink-focused event in Keystone, which also includes concerts and kids’ activities. Keystone.

June 24-25
Snowmass Art Festival. Admire the work of Colorado and national artists at this juried show, which includes ceramics, sculpture, painting, photography, wood, glass and other mediums. Snowmass.

June 24-30
Aspen Ideas Festival. Join some of the brightest minds in medicine, business, sustainability, journalism, art, science and other fields as they discuss some of the world’s most pressing issues – as well as potential solutions to global problems. Organized by the Aspen Institute, this festival brings more than 100 speakers to the Roaring Fork Valley to help you “think big and get inspired.” Aspen.

June 29-Aug. 6
Colorado Music Festival. Musicians from 23 states, four provinces and three countries converge upon Colorado to produce this magical six-week concert series at Boulder’s historic Chautauqua Auditorium. From classical masterpieces to more contemporary pieces, this annual festival offers concerts for everyone — even little ones. Boulder.

June 29-Aug. 20
Aspen Music Festival and School. This is one of Aspen’s longest-running and proudest annual traditions, dating back to 1949. In addition to training the next generation of talented musicians, organizers put on more than 400 concerts and events, ranging from full-scale operas to insightful lectures — and nearly everything in between. Aspen.

A woman looks at works by Daryl Thetford at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver in 2016. This year's festival is July 1-3. (Liz Levy, provided by Cherry Creek Arts Festival)
A woman looks at works by Daryl Thetford at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver in 2016. This year’s festival is July 1-3. (Photo by Liz Levy/Provided by Cherry Creek Arts Festival)


July 1-3
Cherry Creek Arts Festival. For its 32nd festival, CherryArts is bringing 260 artists from three countries to town so they can show their work to the public and try to impress a jury of five art professionals. Last year, the three-day affair — which also includes food trucks, live music, interactive art and kids’ activities — generated more than $4.1 million in total art sales. Cherry Creek North Shopping District, Denver.

July 5-10
Rooftop Rodeo. Break out your cowboy boots for this high-altitude rodeo, which includes a parade, the crowning of rodeo royalty, mutton bustin’, bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and more. Estes Park.

July 6-9
High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival. Soak up the views of the stunning Sangre de Cristo Mountains while listening to the upbeat sounds of bluegrass artists like Dry Branch Fire Squad, Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys and The Baker Family. Bluff and Summit Park in Westcliffe.

July 7-16
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. Immerse yourself in the colorful blooms by attending any of the more than 200 wildflower-focused workshops, hikes, tours and other events at this annual fest. Crested Butte.

July 7-9
Drishti Beats Yoga & Music Festival. Back for its second year, this three-day gathering draws on the restorative power of yoga, live music, nature and community. Snowmass.

July 7-8
Colorado Brewers Rendezvous. Help raise money for the Colorado Brewers Guild and Salida Chamber of Commerce by sipping beers from 70 Colorado craft beers in beautiful Riverside Park. Salida.

July 8-9
Art in the Park. Help Steamboat Creates celebrate the 50th anniversary of its beloved summer festival, which features more than 150 vendors and their handmade art, gifts and crafts. Steamboat Springs.

July 15-16
Keystone Wine and Jazz Festival. Sip and groove your way through River Run Village during this can’t-miss weekend in the mountains. Keystone.

July 21-22
Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival. Head south for two days filled with the three Bs: boats, bands and beer. Now in its 13th year, this festival is guaranteed to make you smile with quirky events like a standup paddleboard parade, a “weenie” dog race and a floatie rodeo. Centennial Park, Cañon City.

Teams take to the water inside ...

Kathryn Scott, The Denver Post

The annual Dragon Boat Festival includes food, dances, music and specialty vendors as well as dragon boat races at Sloan’s Lake. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

July 22-23
Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander culture and heritage with two days of dragon boat races, delicious food, shopping, entertainment and camaraderie. Sloan’s Lake, Denver.

July 28-30
Buffalo Bill Days. Golden’s Wild West roots are in the spotlight at this three-day event, which includes a parade, pancake breakfast, car show, musical entertainment, kids’ activities, arts and crafts festival, mutton bustin’ and more. Golden.

July 28-30
Mountain Fair. This funky tradition, now in its 52nd year, offers a little bit of everything: There’s a wood-splitting contest, a 14-mile race up Mount Sopris, a pie and cake baking competition, a pottery throwing relay, art vendors, food and tons of live music. This year’s performers include Moon Hooch, the Bright Light Social Hour and Shinyribs. Carbondale.

Alexander Iziliaev, provided by Vail Dance Festival

BalletX performs “Sunset, o639 Hours,” choreographed by Mathew Neenan at the Vail Dance Festival. (Photo provided by Vail Dance Festival)

July 28-Aug. 7
Vail Dance Festival. Marvel at the incredible talent and artistry of the dancers who join this annual gathering, which includes 12 boundary-pushing performances. This year’s lineup includes Martha Graham Dance Company, L.A. Dance Project, Music From the Sole, BalletX, DanceAspen and artists from other top dance companies. Vail.


Aug. 3
Denver Burger Battle. Since 2010, Colorado restaurants have been duking it out to determine who’s got the best burger of them all. You’ll be able to sample each one — and bask in all the savory, meaty goodness — while sipping beer, wine and cocktails. And you can feel good knowing your burger habit will support Firefly Autism, a nonprofit helping children and families living with autism spectrum disorder. Auraria Campus, Denver.

Aug. 4-6
Leadville Boom Days. Venture up to the highest incorporated city in North America for a long weekend packed with family-friendly activities that celebrate Leadville’s mining and Old West heritage. Wander through the street fair, cheer on your favorite donkey during the burro races, watch the parade and ogle impressive vehicles at the car show. Leadville.

Aug. 5
Olathe Sweet Corn Festival. Corn is having a moment this year, thanks to a viral video of a cute 7-year-old named Tariq professing his love for the juicy yellow vegetable and gleefully exclaiming, “It’s corn!” (And if you don’t know what we’re talking about, do yourself a favor and look it up.) What better way to celebrate the majesty of this starchy staple than by heading to Olathe for its 33rd annual festival? Olathe.

Aug. 5-12
Sand & Sage Round-Up. Head east for a fun week of live music, carnival rides, a parade, rodeo events and other family-friendly activities at the Sand & Sage Round-Up, aka the Prowers County Fair. Lamar.

Aug. 5-6
Bluegrass & Beer Festival. Since 1996, this two-day fest has been the place to be if you love string bands, craft beer and stunning mountain scenery. Keystone.

Aug. 5-6
Snowmass Plein Air Art Festival. More than 20 Colorado artists will set up shop in Snowmass and spend four days getting inspired by the awe-inspiring natural surroundings. Then, over the weekend, they’ll put their masterpieces on display so that festivalgoers can ooh and aah and, ideally, take a painting or two home. Snowmass.

Aug. 10-12
Vail Wine Classic. Whether you love whites, reds, rosés, bubbles or all of the above, you’re sure to find your new favorite wine at this three-day event, which includes paired dinners, seminars and grand tastings with wineries from all over the world. Vail.

Mandolin Orange performs at Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in 2019 at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. (Provided by TEV)
Mandolin Orange performs at Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in 2019 at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. (Photo provided by TEV)

Aug. 11-13
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. Pop your tent and plop down your lawn chair along the banks of the mighty St. Vrain for three days of folk music and community. This year’s lineup includes Charley Crockett, Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band and Larkin Poe. Lyons.

Aug. 11-13
Telluride Jazz Festival. Gregory Porter, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Tower of Power, The Soul Rebels and Jamison Ross are just some of the talented musicians slated to play this year’s festival, which has been running since 1977. Telluride.

Aug. 12-13
Estes Park Wine Festival. This popular wine festival typically sells out, so grab a ticket while you can and enjoy unlimited wine tastings, live music, food and shopping in scenic Bond Park. Estes Park.

Aug. 18-19
Palisade Peach Festival. Take a minute to thank the hard-working farmers who toil away to bring us these sweet, juicy fruits every summer. Now in its 55th year, this festival of deliciousness on the Western Slope includes orchard tours, a pancake breakfast, a 5K fun run, peach-eating contests, barbecue, cooking demos and more. Palisade.

Aug. 19
Snowmass Cidermass. There are so many reasons to love cider. It tastes great, for one. It’s friendly to those folks who can’t do gluten. And it has a way of bringing people together, like it does at this festival, which features sips from more than 30 cideries and distilleries. Snowmass.

Aug. 24-26
Breckenridge Wine Classic. Toast the beauty of the mountains in summertime at this wine-centric festival, which includes paired wine lunches and dinners, seminars, wine hikes, blind tastings and all-inclusive grand tastings. The fun spotlights more than 100 wineries, breweries, distilleries and other culinary creatives. Breckenridge.

Aug. 24-26
Durango Blues Train. This is one of the most unique festivals in Colorado: Board a historic steam-powered locomotive for six live blues performances organized by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. As the train rolls along the tracks, you get to boogie your way from car to car. Be sure to pause now and then to admire the gorgeous scenery. Durango.

Carnival rides light up the night ...

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

Carnival rides light up the night sky during the Colorado State Fair on August 23, 2019 in Pueblo, Colorado. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

Aug. 25-Sept. 4
Colorado State Fair. Show your Centennial State pride at this long-running, family-friendly tradition. The schedule includes live musical performances, 4-H events, competitions, rodeos, carnival rides and more. Pueblo.

Aug. 26
Boulder Taco Fest. Go ahead, eat as many tacos as you want — we won’t judge. And while you digest, check out lucha libre wrestling matches, live music, pinatas and other activities. Wash it all down with a margarita (or two). Boulder Civic Area and Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder.


Sept. 1-3
Four Corners Folk Festival. Set up your camp chair or pop your tent in the shade of the evergreen trees for three days of live folk performances at Reservoir Hill. Marvel at the views of the San Juan Mountains while listening to this year’s performers, including Peter Rowan, Gangstagrass, Chatham County Line and Jim Lauderdale. Pagosa Springs.

Sept. 1-3
Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Experience. Don’t let the name fool you: There’s way more than jazz at this beloved end-of-summer music festival. Headliners this year include Foo Fighters, the Lumineers, Old Dominion and Billy Idol. Snowmass Town Park, Snowmass Village.

Sept. 2-4
Labor Day Lift Off. Colorful hot air balloons are the stars of this buoyant festival, which includes morning liftoffs, evening balloon glows, live music, skydivers and remote-controlled balloon displays. Memorial Park, Colorado Springs.

Sept. 7-14
Solo Flights. Love the performing arts? Then venture up to the Roaring Fork Valley for this weeklong new works festival, put on by Theatre Aspen to help directors and actors fine-tune their one-person shows. Watch the creative process work its magic as you attend performances, discussions, talkbacks, panels and receptions. Aspen.

Bernie Welch, 77, releases a hammer while practicing with the Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletes at Robby Ferrufino Park in Arvada on Sunday, July 29, 2012 in preparation for the 49th Annual Colorado Scottish Festival and Rocky Mountain Highland Games in Highlands Ranch. (Lindsay Pierce, YourHub, file)
Bernie Welch, 77, releases a hammer while practicing with the Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletes at Robby Ferrufino Park in Arvada on Sunday, July 29, 2012 in preparation for the 49th Annual Colorado Scottish Festival and Rocky Mountain Highland Games in Highlands Ranch. (Lindsay Pierce/The Denver Post)

Sept. 8-10
Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival. You don’t have to be Scottish or Irish to appreciate Celtic culture—or, more importantly, to enjoy yourself at this lively annual shindig, which includes military music displays, whiskey tastings, strongman competitions, dog exhibitions, bagpiping contests, highland dance and a parade. Estes Park.

Sept. 8-10
Union Peak Festival. Think Copper is just for skiing? Think again. This mountain resort knows how to throw a good party, complete with live music, sports clinics and art. Copper Mountain.

Sept. 16
Snowmass Wine Festival. For a quick weekend getaway filled with wine and beautiful scenery, head to this half-day fest in the Roaring Fork Valley. As you sip and sample your way through the more than 30 tables of international wines, be sure to bid on some of the silent auction items. Your dollars help fund scholarships and grants offered by the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village. Town Park, 2909 Brush Creek Road, Snowmass.

Sept. 15-17
Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. Need an excuse for one last summer road trip? Point your wheels southwest for three days of craft beer and live musical performances in an array of genres, including gospel, soul, indie, funk, blues and jam band. Bring the kids, too, because it’s a family-friendly affair. Telluride.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.


Source link

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *