13 Colorado Events and Outdoor Festivals That Locals Love

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If you’re looking for the best outdoor events and festivals in Colorado then keep reading.

Summer is a very busy time of year for festivals, and Colorado has lots of beautiful sunny days and balmy nights.

However, there are lots of festivities happening in the fall and winter times, too. 

There is always something going on both day and night in Colorado.

Growing up in Colorado, I remember attending lots of local art shows and parades in many historic towns.

If you’re planning a visit to Colorado in the early summer, line up with the locals to celebrate the history and culture of our cities!

Many of the bigger cities in Colorado will be celebrating Territory Days with music, performances, food, and even petting zoos.


You’ll definitely feel like a local with these outdoor events and food festivals. They’re a great way to learn more about the history of Colorado.

Important: Due to the dryness of our air in basically all of Colorado, fireworks for personal use are almost totally illegal.

Nearly every city will have a large community fireworks show on holidays like Fourth of July and New Year’s for your viewing pleasure.

Here is a quick line up of all the Colorado events and outdoor festivals you can’t miss!

1. A Taste of Colorado

While many cities host their own food tour events, by far the biggest food tour in Colorado is A Taste of Colorado.

Celebrate the rich diversity of Colorado’s food culture over Labor Day weekend this year in downtown Denver.

Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz

You’ll get a chance to try food and drinks from popular restaurants throughout the state, meet the chefs, and sample local beers and wines as well.

Dates: May 14, June 4, July 9, 2023.

2. Denver BBQ Festival

How can you improve on the combo of fresh BBQ, cold beer and live music? How about an entire weekend dedicated to that perfect trinity of BBQ, cold beer and live music. 

Join thousands of other barbecue enthusiasts for the 5th annual Denver BBQ Festival.

Hosted at the Mile High Stadium in Denver, this event is free to enter with drinks and food available for purchase.

Over 18,000 pounds of meat will be barbecued up and served during this delicious weekend. Who doesn’t love meat cooked on a charcoal smoker for long hours with tons of flavor?  

Plus, VIP Pit Pass purchasers will go behind-the-scenes to meet the barbecue Pit Masters.

Dates: May 27-28, 2023

3. Crested Butte Wildflower Festival

As we mentioned in a previous post, Crested Butte, Colorado is best known as the wildflower capital of Colorado. 

Every July, the city of Crested Butte hosts the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival.

Flower lovers will enjoy hiking tours to see the wildflowers or get a lift into the backcountry with a 4×4 Jeep tour through the fields.

You can also take part in an art or gardening class!

Dates: July 7-16, 2023

4. Telluride Bluegrass Festival

For music fans head to Telluride, Colorado for the 50th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June! 

Past performances include some big names like John Butler Trio, Mumford and Sons, Elvis Costello, and more!

This is a 4-day-long musical event, and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike!

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Telluride also made our list of best places in Colorado to beat the heat

It’s a mountain town with much cooler daily temperatures, and perfect for a summer getaway.

Dates: June 15-18, 2023

5. Telluride Balloon Festival

Due to the cool nights, warm days, and generally dry air in Colorado, the state hosts many hot air balloon festivals throughout the year.

And after the sun sets, you can even catch a balloon glow! 

Watch the lighted balloons float through the night sky. It’s a spectacular end to any balloon festival.

colorado events hot air balloon festivals

Catch the first major balloon festival of the season, the Telluride Balloon Festival.

Rise early, and you may even get to help balloon operators launch from Town Park on the east side of town!

The balloons then sail off down the box canyon to land about one mile out of town. 

On Saturday night, grab a sweater and stick around for the balloon glow!

Dates: June 2-4, 2023

6. Frederick in Flight Hot Air Balloon Festival

Towards the end of June, visit the Frederick in Flight Hot Air Balloon Festival in Frederick, Colorado.

The event is celebrating their 12th year with hot air balloons and fun for the whole family. 

Take-off starts at 6 am, so get there early to partake of the breakfast food vendors. 

Then, watch the balloon pilots fire up for the morning takeoff.

The Glow Party will take place on Saturday evening from 5-9pm at Centennial Park.

Dates: June 23-25, 2023

7. Palisade Peach Fest

If you’ve never had a Colorado peach, then you’re missing out. But you can get your fill at the annual Palisade Peach Festival.

Head down to Palisade, Colorado for live music, vendors, activities, and yes, peaches! 

This type of peach is native to Colorado and is one of the unique foods that make such a colorful food scene.

These peaches are even sweeter and juicier than a Georgia peach, and well worth the trip.

Dates: August 17-19, 2023

8. Colorado State Fair

In Pueblo, Colorado towards the end of summer is the amazing Colorado State Fair. 

Adult admission cost $15 with admission for kids 5-12 years old costing $7 each. But there is a discount price of $9 for adult tickets if bought before the gates open on the 25th.

And there are lots of special discount days including:

  • Kids day
  • Senior day
  • American heroes day (military and first responders enter free)
free things to do in colorado

The Colorado State Fair features all your state fair favorites: rides, food, carnival games, a concert series and rodeo tour.

You will also find craft and homebrew competitions and live music throughout the fair’s 11-day run.

Or check out the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. Close out the summer with classic fair food, rides, and attractions in Pueblo, Colorado.

Dates: August 25 – September 4, 2023

9. Renaissance Festival in Larkspur

The Renaissance Festival in Larkspur is open for 8 spectacular weekends in the summer.

Enjoy a unique experience with magical memories of the renaissance days. Play games, watch skilled knights, and drink wine with lords and ladies.

silverton colorado mountain

There may be traffic or construction delays on Interstate 25 so give yourself plenty of time to get to and from the festival.

Dates: Saturdays and Sundays only, June 17th-August 6th, 2023

10. Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Catch performances of your favorite Shakespeare plays every week during the summer at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Enjoy musica and the outdoors in the amphitheater on the Colorado University campus.

And if you’re visiting around Memorial Day weekend, stop into the Colorado Springs Territory Days in Colorado Springs. Or visit the Manitou Springs Territory Days.

Dates: Various dates from June 13 – August 13, 2023

11. Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off

If you’re in Colorado Springs for Labor Day weekend, you’re in for a Labor Day Lift Off treat! This free event is fun for all ages!

Start your morning off right with a hot air balloon mass ascension of more than 70 balloons, and enjoy breakfast and drinks from local vendors.

You’ll definitely want to stay for the entire weekend!

Fun activities featured at this even include skydiving demonstrations, wakeboarding exhibitions, live entertainment, and chainsaw carving.

Plus, check out the Wings of Blue USAF Skydiving Team preform aerial acrobatics with highly trained maneuvers and choreographed spectacles that will awe onlookers of all ages.

Just when you think you can’t have any more fun, the balloon glow starts at dusk.

Dates: September 2-4, 2023

12. Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo

In Colorado Springs each July, throw on your boots and spurs and head for the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo.

If you’ve never been to a rodeo before, you’ll see all the rodeo staples, including rodeo clowns.

Get five days of competition and themed performances, and watch the opening rodeo parade.

Dates: July 11-15, 2023

13. Botanic Gardens

A great Colorado event right here in Denver is a visit to the Botanic Gardens

It’s a worthwhile destination any time of the year but we highly recommend you stop in on one of their many Walk Through Thyme Tour days that happen throughout the year.

On this tour you will take you on a journey into the past where you will learn about plants that are paramount in our histories as humans and the affect they had on our development as a people.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the cultivation and impact plants have had on us as a people over the ages.

Dates: Open all year

Colorado events happening all year 

As you’re planning your summer or seeing fall colors, keep these epic Colorado events in mind. 

Or to find a specific festival any other time of year, check out Colorado.com/Events

You’ll get travel inspiration, deals, and other info directly from the Colorado destinations.


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