On every day of every weekend this summer, you have the opportunity to head out on the open road and end up at an oasis of live music, flowing beverages, and gourmet or just plain decadent food, where you’re surrounded by breathtaking scenery and new friends you haven’t met yet. Many epic summer staycations, some lifelong memories and most Monday morning water cooler banter begins with the idea of exploring one of Colorado’s many robust summer festivals. Don’t let the leaves change without making it to at least one. This lineup is for you, weekend warriors.
A taste of the Piazza dell’Arte is coming to Denver. The closest you’ll get to Italy without leaving the Denver metro will hit Larimer Street June 2-3. Local artists transform the asphalt to art at the Chalk Festival. Stroll the street to view the artists at work as you sample Italian food and wine. Come out to support the modern-day madonnari: denver.org/things-to-do/spring-summer/chalk-art-festival.
Denver Beer Co’s Sun Drenched Music Fest
Princess Yum Yum cordially invites you to jam in Sunnyside at Denver Beer Co’s Sun Drenched Music Festival at Canworks on Saturday, June 9 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Play summer beach games, enjoy food and beer pairings and a lineup of live music. Every ticket includes a free beer. An onsite bouncy house is rumored. denverbeerco.com/event/sun-drenched-music-fest-2018
Food & Wine Aspen
The Aspen Food & Wine Classic caters to true gourmets and those looking to learn. Grand tastings and grand cru will be paired with demonstrations and panels where the master chefs, sommeliers and experts tell all. Consumer passes, trade passes for industry experts and Grow for Good passes, which benefit local farming and agriculture, are available.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Celebrate the summer solstice at the 45th annual Bluegrass festival in Telluride. One of the many reasons to live in Colorado is to be able to go from the heart of the Denver metro to the box canyon 8,750 feet high in the San Juan Mountains in only about six hours. Each June Telluride Bluegrass performances are featured from the genre’s top artists and the year the lineup includes Peter Roan, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Chris Thile, Tim O’Brien and the “King of Telluride,” Sam Bush. “I only celebrate three holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Telluride.”—Chris Thile
Tiny House Festival
Seekers sick of the housing market, the 2nd annual Colorado Tiny House Festival is coming to Adams County Fair Grounds at Fox Street Compound. All “builders of all tiny homes, yurts, skoolies, van conversions, teardrops, gypsy wagons or other small structures” are invited to show off their builds across 19 acres. DIY builders and aspiring tiny home owners are invited to come, camp and get a taste of the tiny life. coloradotinyhousefestival.com
Spend six days with content creators from across the globe without leaving the state. SeriesFest showcases “the best and boldest in episodic storytelling.” Whether you participate as a content creator or audience member, the sneak peaks and screenings will be the highlight of the summer for TV buffs, industry professionals and writers. Submissions span the categories of Indie Pilot Competition, Digital Short Series, Late Night and the Storytellers Initiative, which is the category for comedy with an innovative plot and strong characters. SeriesFest kicks off at Red Rocks Amphitheater June 22. seriesfest.com
Festivals aren’t all turkey legs and beer. If you are looking for family fun, there is a festival designed with kiddos in mind. Dreams come true at the Unicorn festival at Clement Park, where you can pet a unicorn, meet a Mermaid, swoon over Prince Charming, play Quidditch, wear costumes, get your face painted, make crafts, see a castle, sing with a princess and more.
Top Taco Denver
Tacos have climbed the ranks from cheap eats on a Tuesday to one of the most lauded culinary cravings. A top taco will be named in the categories top creative taco, top traditional taco and top vegetarian taco along with top signature tequila cocktail at the Top Taco 2018 tasting featuring more than 50 local restaurants at Stanley Marketplace. Taqueando!
Vail Jazz Festival
Select Dates July 1-September 3
Vail is jiving all summer long. Vail Jazz, a nonprofit organization supporting young jazz musicians and audiences, is hosting live events on select dates. Starting July 1 and culminating with the Jazz Party Labor Day weekend, performances will be hosted at Vail Square, the club series at Ludwig’s Terrace in the Sonnenalp Hotel, Solaris Terrace, The Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons Resort and Riverwalk Backyard Amphitheater. For full schedule and lineup visit: vailjazz.org.
Fourth of July Festival Cripple Creek
Sparks fly at the base of Pike’s Peak in the historic landmark and former gold mining town of Cripple Creek. History buffs will appreciate celebrating not only America’s birthday, but also the birthday of Cripple Creek’s inaugural 4th of July Festival in 1900, which is also the date Louis Armstrong claimed was his birthday. The live entertainment and free family fun lasts all day and carries onto special events at local casinos. visitcos.com/events-calendar/holidays/4th-of-july/cripple-creeks-fourth-of-july-festival
Calling all lavender lovers. Denver Botanic Gardens celebrates one of the most fragrant and vibrant native flowering plants at the family-friendly Lavender festival at the 800-plus plant Lavender Garden at Chatfield Farms. Visitors will enjoy demonstrations, classes and educational programs in addition to live bluegrass and country music, food, desserts and beverages.
Telluride Jazz Festival
Nationally touring acts come to Telluride’s outdoor stages and historic venues for the annual jazz festival. This year’s lineup includes Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Irma Thomas “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and many more. telluridejazz.org Start enjoying the lineup playlist on Spotify: telluridejazz.org/news/2018-spotify-artist-playlist.
Wine on the Rocks
The Colorado climate, with more than 300 days of sunshine, creates is ideal for growing wine grapes. According to Coloradowine.com, Colorado’s soils are more similar to the soils of Europe than those from California, which leaves merlots tasting more like Bordeaux and the Syrahs are more like Rhone Valley reds than an Australian Shiraz because of the soil’s alkalinity. Though the wine culture dates back to 1890, we don’t often celebrate our own viticulture. At Wine on the Rocks at T.E.V. Edelweiss in Morrison, choose from 180 wines from more than 30 Colorado wineries to sample. Tickets include music, food, shopping and fun.
JAS Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience
August 31-September 2
Though Labor Day is not officially the last day of summer, the last hurrah of three-day weekends feels like the swan song. Make the most of it by visiting Snowmass Town Park for performances from artists including Lionel Richie, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Jack Johnson, Fitz & the Tantrums, Bahamas, Zac Brown Band, Gary Clark Jr. and The Record Company. While you revel in the sounds of the season, you will be supporting Jazz Aspen Snowmass, the nonprofit organization committed to jazz and related music preservation. jazzaspensnowmass.org/labor-day-experience.html
Denverites feeling deprived of Bonnaroo, you are in luck. The founders of the notorious Tennessee live music extravaganza bring us the Grandoozy. In its inaugural year, the Grandoozy is coming to Overland Park Golf Course. The lineup includes Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine, Stevie Wonder, The Chainsmokers, Phoenix, Young The Giant and more. “Doozy-style” is curated by local connoisseurs of food and spirits, including Steve Kurowski of the Colorado Brewers Guild on beer selection detail. Outdoor and indoor experiences will be available including a trip to the onsite '80s Ski Lodge. grandoozy.com
Call it a nod to our cow town roots, a love for majestic creatures, an excuse to get outside or an active-lifestyle sport, Coloradans love equestrian events. According to the research done by The Colorado Horse Park, Douglas County has the largest horse population per capita on this side of the Mississippi. Regardless of if your style is garden party attire for polo or cowboy hats and boots for the rodeo, you and your family will have plenty of opportunities to cheer on horses and professional riders this summer.
Polo, known as the sport of kings, dates back more than 2,000 years. The first recorded match between the Turks and Persians has been traced to 600 B.C. The sport is centered on not only the skill of the player, but also the athleticism of the horse. Today there are more than 250 polo clubs in the United States and competitions are often known for pairings with lively parties and charity fundraisers.
Celebration of the Horse
On the weekend of June 1, Denver Polo Club will host several events at the highest level for a weekend of excitement and spectacular horsemanship as it honors Dr. Marvin Beeman. On Friday there will be a welcome stake for jump-riders followed by an exhibitors BBQ. Saturday begins with the Celebration Cup polo semifinals, followed by a $10,000 jumping competition. The evening will include a PBR Touring Pro rough stock rodeo, mutton busting and concert. On Sunday, Dr. Beeman is officially honored and the Celebration Cup polo finals take place with a $25,000 jumping Grand Prix.
Denver Polo Classic
The nation’s largest charity polo event is hosted by Denver Active 20-30 Children’s Foundation, an organization of local business leaders between the ages of 20 and 39 who raise money for disadvantaged children. Philanthropic efforts improve education, health, wellbeing, child advocacy and personal enrichment with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty during a child’s formative years. The three-day event begins with a black-tie dinner and dancing, June 22 followed by Bank of America Family Day of fun for all ages on June 23 and concluding with crowning of the Denver Polo Classic champion at a garden party attire event for ages 21+ catered by Denver’s top restaurants, complete with fully-stocked open bar.
Mile High Women’s Invitational
Women from around the world compete at the Denver Polo fields in Sedalia for the championship title at the Mile High Women’s Invitational. New this year, the finalists of the Women’s World Cup will also compete in the world-class polo event, the Rocky Mountain Polo Festival on Aug. 5 at the Denver Polo fields, which features the Colorado Open and World Cup competitions in both men’s and women’s polo. USA will be hosting Argentina, UK and Jamaica.
There are plenty of chances to see bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, mutton busting and livestock competitions throughout Colorado this summer to hold us over to Stock Show season.
The Elizabeth Stampede is June 1-3 at Casey Jones Park.
Carbondale’s Wild West Rodeo is every Thursday from June 7 to Aug. 23 at Gus Darien Riding Arena in Carbondale.
The Snowmass Rodeo from June 13-Aug. 22 celebrates 45 years of operations this summer, making it the longest continuously running rodeo in Colorado. The Snowmass Rodeo takes place on Wednesdays, rain or shine, throughout the summer.
The PRCA Rodeo Series at the Greeley Stampede will be held June 27-28, June 30 and July 1-3. The Miss Rodeo Colorado pageant will also be held June 28 at the Greeley Stampede.
Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series takes place Friday nights and Saturday nights throughout the summer and July 2-4 rodeo at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena.
Cattlemen’s Days will be held in Gunnison on July 6-15 and rodeos will be held July 12-14. This event is known as the “Granddaddy of Colorado Rodeos.”
Douglas County Fair & Rodeo will be held Aug. 2-5 at Douglas County Fairgrounds.
This year’s Colorado State Fair and Rodeo will be Aug. 24 to Sept. 3 at Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.
More Colorado rodeos: colorado.com/articles/beyond-national-western-stock-show-rodeos-colorado
Other Equestrian Events
The Colorado Horse Park is hosting a 7-week series of hunter, jumper and equestrian competitions June 6 through July 22. This family-friendly event draws top riders in equestrian sports including Olympians and world cup competitors. Spectators will have access to a cash bar, food trucks, optional picnic packages and open seating. Events include free admission and parking at 7522 S. Pinery Drive in Parker. The series culminates with the $100,000 Adequan Grand Prix competition featuring a course of jumps reaching nearly 5-feet tall. The Colorado Horse Park is also hosting the American Eventing Championship Aug. 27 through Sept. 2, which will include a cross-country course with natural-looking barriers on a 7-mile trail. Show jumping and dressage will also be included. Marion Maybank, director of operations at The Colorado Horse Park, describes dressage as “basically, ballet for horses.” On any given week in the summer, 400-1,200 horses pass through The Colorado Horse Park.
Danielle Yuthas is a Denver native, journalist and digital marketer for franchise brands. Her byline has also appeared in the Huffington Post Travel Blog and local publications. As a true weekend warrior, you will see her on the festival circuit this summer.
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