As much fun as it is to visit Colorado in the winter months for some of the best downhill skiing on the planet, I love summer in the mountains because of its glorious weather – blue skies, low humidity and moderate temperatures. July through August also bring some phenomenal annual festivals to my home state. Here’s a peek at just a few of the most popular summer events in Colorado mountain resorts:
Food & Wine Classic in Aspen: June 14-16
Celebrity chefs and celebrated winemakers descend upon Aspen to toast all things food and wine to kick off the summer season in this chic resort town during the annual Food & Wine Classic. Grand tastings, cooking seminars, chef Q&As and a whole lot of parties mark the festive weekend.
Best for: Foodies, wine connoisseurs, over 21, for sure.
Telluride Bluegrass: June 20-23
Marking its 40th year, the Telluride Bluegrass festival brings outstanding performers and songwriters to the mountains for outdoor performances of live music. There are performances on the main stage all day, plus intimate workshops, songwriting contests, late-night events and surprising jam sessions.
Best for: Music lovers, free spirits. Children under 12 are free with an accompanying paying parent, though I’d talk to young kids about being “good listeners,” especially at smaller shows.
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival: July 8-14
The wildflowers peak in July in this charming high-altitude town, so it’s a great time to hike amid the meadows – and into evergreen forest and aspen groves. Festival-goers choose from among 80 different hikes, or attend photography classes, jeep rides or garden tours.
Best for: Artists, outdoorsy types. Children and teens under 18 must be accompanied by an adult..
Two fabulous family-friendly events take place in Steamboat Springs over one weekend in July. First, watch colorful hot-air balloons launch into a bluebird sky, then head over to a local park to check out more than 140 art vendors showing their work. There’s live entertainment, plus an interactive area for kids.
Best for: Photographers, art lovers, the whole family.
US Pro Cycling Challenge:August 19-25
This challenging multi-day professional road cycling stage race actually visits eight Colorado cities over the seven days. The course is grueling: nearly 700 miles with elevations reaching more than 12,000 feet. Opportunities for spectators to watch – and enjoy accompanying events, like expos and autograph signings – take place in Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Beaver Creek, Vail, Loveland, Fort Collins and Denver.
Best for: Athletes and sport spectators; watching the race is free, just keep an eye on small children as the cyclists whiz through city streets and down steep mountain passes.
Tickets for some of the above events are already on sale, so if you’d like to attend, you may want to snag some before they’re all sold out. Of course, lodging is at a premium during these popular festivals, too, so it would be smart to book that sooner than later.