Fall is a remarkable season in Colorado, one that offers recreation and events similar to those found in both summer and winter. Keep your spirits high going into winter by attending some favorite fall festivals. The best fall festivals in Colorado include everything from beer tastings and music concerts to watching wildlife and coffin races.
Best Fall Festivals in Colorado
Fall takes place from late September through late December. With so many events happening each week, it’s hard to narrow it down. We share a mix of annual fall festivals that are sure to keep you smiling. Make the most of your fall in Colorado with these top events.
1. Oktoberfests | September – October
Oktoberfest, which originated in Munich, Germany, is one of the world’s largest and most prominent festivals. It is generally held on different dates between mid-September and the first weekend of October. In Colorado, where German culture had a strong influence dating back to the mid-1800s, Oktoberfest is celebrated in many of its towns.
In Denver alone, this event is annually celebrated by nearly 400,000 people. Such as crowd-puller isn’t it? The activities most associated with this festival are eating, dancing, and of course drinking beer. Other activities can go as quirky as mustache competitions, dog racing (dachshund race), and keg bowling. Oktoberfest events in Colorado are a treat for all the senses.
After all, it is not only about good beer, but also about good times.
2. Aspen Filmfest | TBD 2023 (maybe not happening)
Considered one of the most preeminent film gatherings in the West, this six-day Aspen event offers a feast of award-winning narrative and documentary features for film lovers and the general public alike. Running for almost four decades, Aspen Filmfest continues to thrive by showcasing many masterpieces from both seasoned and aspiring filmmakers.
A total of 17 films from all over the globe have been selected for screening this year. This is not only an opportunity for the cinephiles to see the greatest films but also a chance to get in touch with some of the filmmakers during a series of panel discussions.
3. Elk Fest | September 30-October 1, 2023
Annually, thousands of people go to Estes Park to experience two days of all things elk. This event has plenty to offer to everyone, especially wildlife enthusiasts. There is elk cuisine, elk exhibits, elk booths, and other elk-inspired activities. The highly-anticipated bugling contest, which is considered the highlight of the event, is also on the schedule.
In elk’s language, the louder the bugling, the more intimidating and stronger the bull is. Simply put, this is the male elk’s way of attracting the opposite sex. But any Elk Fest experience wouldn’t be complete without the actual viewing of elks, especially during their rutting season. The best viewing time is during dusk and dawn.
Elk can be seen almost everywhere, just don’t forget to respect these beasts and maintain your safe distance.
4. Great American Beer Fest | October 10-12, 2024
Want a single event where you can get a taste of the best beers ever served in the U.S.? Look no further. The Great American Beer Fest is a three-day annual convention held in Denver since 1982. This is a pioneering event that invites about 500 breweries every year and features over 2,000 beers.
Competing in almost 100 different categories, the breweries submit their entries to be judged by a panel of experts. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are at stake, though not every category necessarily gets a medal. Beer lovers are given two days to bust some suds before the awarding ceremony.
You may not even be able to try everything being offered at an event this big, but bringing a list of the beers you want to taste would be really helpful.
5. Golden Beer Tasting & Chili Cook-Off | October 14, 2023
Calling all beer and chili lovers! This one is for you, coupled with something savory on the side. This is another event within the U.S. where visitors can get a taste of as many beers as they want. This is a relatively new festival within Colorado, held annually in Golden.
Golden’s Beer Tasting & Chili Cook-Off spotlights the best chili and beer masterpieces of the West. This festival not only aims to satisfy everyone’s taste buds but also to benefit people in need by donating a portion of its earnings to the scholarship fund of Golden High School and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
This is not only about fulfilling your adventurous cravings, but also about being charitable in the most satisfying way possible.
6. Emma Crawford Coffin Race | October 28, 2023
Every country has its own way of commemorating the dead, whether out of respect or fear of ghostly vengeance. But how would you celebrate a disturbing town story of a notable person and at the same time, boost local tourism? Manitou Springs, in Colorado, has perfectly found a way of doing just that!
The Emma Crawford Coffin Races & Parade is an annual event held just days before Halloween. The rules are very simple: form a team of one “Emma” and four “Runners” dressed in the most creative costumes and have them race towards the finish line, and Voilà! You now have an uncanny and crazy spectacle for everybody’s amusement. Now, who says funerals cannot be fun?
7. Georgetown Christmas Market | December 2-3 & 9-10, 2023
Just like a postcard that suddenly springs to life, the historic Georgetown turns time a hundred years back during the first two weekends of December every year. Considered to be one of the oldest in the United States, the Georgetown Christmas Market is one cherished event that draws thousands of people wishing to experience a Victorian-themed Christmas.
Visitors can expect two weekends of lively carolers and dancers, glittery lights, snow-covered pathways, an endless aroma of roasted chestnuts, and a lot of Victorian markets and vendors. They will also get to enjoy appearances by Saint Nicholas in his age-old red and white costume, Santa Lucia’s daily procession, and some horse-drawn wagon rides.
This is truly an established Christmas tradition for families wanting to spend some memorable time together.
8. Ullr Fest in Breckenridge | December 7-9, 2023
Do you know who Ullr is? That’s the Norse God of Snow and every winter Breckenridge hosts the Ullr Fest, in hopes that a celebration of Ullr will bring blankets of fresh snow all winter. Today, the festival is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
Usually held in mid-December, Ullr Fest brings more than 10,000 people to Breckenridge – many of whom get decked out in their finest Norse Viking gear to honor Ullr. The event features a gaggle of events including live entertainment, bonfires, a talent competition, and every snow sport imaginable. Plus, it wouldn’t be a festival without a downtown parade.
8. Vail Snow Days | Cancelled 2022 — TBD 2023
If it’s cold outside, you may just want to stay at home and light up your fireplace – but that is just one popular opinion. In the Rockies, winter is all about skiing and apres ski! Kick off the season right in Vail.
Typically taking place in mid-December, Vail Snow Days, formerly Snow Daze, takes you into the mountains to enjoy many activities, day and night, ranging from skiing down the slopes to attending live concerts. There are also street fairs and tree-lighting ceremonies. The events, especially the shows, are all free – this is probably the best part.
These are just a handful of the wonderful things happening all around the Centennial State during the fall season. Get out there and enjoy some of these unique festivals!