Summer in Colorado equals time to get outdoors and enjoy all that the Centennial State has to offer. It seems every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day there’s a festival in the works somewhere close-by, and there are festivities to suit anyone’s tastes.
From celebrations of wine and craft brews, to classic Shakespeare and Renaissance fests, Colorado has plenty to offer all summer long. Here’s a run-down of some quirky and entertaining summer fairs and festivals:
Colorado Shakespeare Festival – June-August, various dates
Summer nights in Boulder create the perfect ambiance for outdoor theater, and there isn’t a better venue than the historic Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre on the University of Colorado campus. Each year, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and its company of renowned theater artists stage a variety of classic Shakespearean plays, from the Bard’s laugh-out-loud comedies to his more dramatic productions.
This year, the season includes The Comedy of Error, Equivocation, Troilus and Cressida, Cymbeline. Cost: Tickets are $10 to $64 for adults
Greeley Stampede – June 23–July 4, 2017
Since the late 1800s, summer has been rodeo season in Greeley, and each year, it’s one of the best places to be on the Fourth of July. This cow town, centrally located an hour north of Denver, turns into a cowboy mecca in late June and early July every year, and it’s one heck of a party.
There’s a bit of everything over the week-and-a-half long Greeley Stampede. From big-name country concerts, featuring the likes of The Band Perry and Kenny Rogers, to traditional rodeo favorites like PRCA Xtreme Bulls riding and a demolition derby, there’s entertainment for everyone. Cost: Free to attend; some events are ticketed
Cherry Creek Arts Festival – July 1-3, 2017Now in its 27th year, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival has grown into a world-class destination for a showcase of the region and country’s culinary, performing and visual artists. Last year, attendance to the three-day festival exploded, as the festival drew roughly 350,000 people to Denver.
This year, you won’t want to miss it. The festival features work from local, regional and international artists, patrons can sample tasty culinary treats, and there’s a great line-up of live music on three stages. Cost: Free to attend; Opening Gala and VIP passes are available
Hot Air Balloon Rodeo – July 8 & 9, 2017Photographers love the annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo. Each year, balloon pilots from around the country take flight over Bald Eagle Lake in Steamboat Springs, providing impressive and vibrant photo opportunities of the colorful aircraft in flight.
But this isn’t your average balloon festival: There’s also a little bit of rodeo in the mix, with pilots competing in races and performing tricks, like dipping into the lake. Plus, don’t miss the Art in the Park event, which runs throughout the weekend – where you can browse the wares of expert craftsmen. Cost: Free to attend
Summer BrewFest at Mile High Station – July 28 & 29, 2017
There’s nothing like sipping a cold beer on hot summer day and you can do plenty of that at the Summer BrewFest in Denver. Held downtown each year, the event draws brewers from Colorado and beyond, and attendees can sample the suds, grab a bite to eat and while away the evening with friends.
Organizers bill this as an “intimate” affair, and as such, tickets do tend to sell out. Plus, the event features live music and a line-up of food trucks, making this a fun festival to spend a couple nights. Cost: Single-day passes from $35; two-day passes from $55
Telluride Jazz Festival – August 4-6, 2017
With its laid-back vibe and some of the best jazz, funk and soul artists from the around the world, the Telluride Jazz Festival is a must-attend for music lovers. Throughout the weekend, shows pop-up in venues all over town, and educational events and film screenings are added into the mix.
If you can only make it to one day – don’t miss the final New Orleans-themed finale. You’ll be treated to a Mardi Gras-inspired parade down Telluride’s Main Street and a great line-up of talented musicians. Cost: Single day tickets from $57; three-day passes from $140. Plus, free shows throughout
Steamboat Wine Festival – August 9-13, 2017
If you’re a wine connoisseur, you don’t want to miss the 14th Steamboat Wine Festival. Start tasting at Thursday’s Wine on the Mountain party, and then spend Friday learning about local history (while sipping wine, of course) during the Stroll of Steamboat tour of downtown and the Yampa River.
Everyone, though, looks forward to Saturday’s Grand Tasting, when more than 500 wines are available to whet your palate. Plus, there are wine-themed guided hikes, free concerts and craft cocktail events throughout the weekend. Costs: Event prices vary
A Taste of Colorado – September 1-4, 2017
Denver’s Civic Center Park is the place to be every Labor Day Weekend, as A Taste of Colorado, the city’s most-looked-forward-to foodie festival takes over. More than a half million people attend each year, and they’re treated to tons of tasty bites from more than 50 local and regional restaurants.
In addition, local artisans and vendors set up shop, and there are seven stages featuring electric music and entertaining educational shows. Simply put, A Taste of Colorado is one of the best ways to close out summer. Cost: Free to attend
These are just a few favorite Colorado summertime festivals. Is there something on the list that we missed? What are you looking forward to attending?
Read part two for another eight festivals.