19 Fall Festivals & Autumn Events to Visit in Colorado in October

by Ryan Nicholson | Last Updated:  July 9, 2021

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Colorado in October is one of the most beautiful times of year. There are so many festivals, outdoor events, and picturesque destinations to visit.

Fall really is one of the most beautiful times of year in this state.

It’s when the crazy summer heat is beginning to cool down but we haven’t been dumped on with snow yet.

It’s the perfect time to explore small-town festivals and enjoy outdoor fall activities. There are so many ways to get active while being outdoors.

Read on to learn more about the best fall festivals in Colorado in October available during the fall season.

favorite fall hiking in colorado

2021 update: Due to the pandemic, some of the events and festivals listed here are either cancelled or postponed. Read on to find out more information about each event.

Whether you’re #TeamCider or #TeamPSL, there are tons of fall activities to do in Colorado this time of year.

We are split in our family, and both flavors make it feel like fall no matter which one you prefer. One of us loves cider and the other enjoys pumpkin spice everything!

Here are some of our top recommendations for Colorado fall festivals in October.

1. Elk Fest in Estes Park

Visit Estes Park, Colorado (at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National) Park for Elk Fest on October 2-3, 2021.

This festival celebrates the annual elk rut (or breeding season), known by the Native Americans as the “wapiti.”

This is a classic Colorado festival that many native Coloradans will remember from their childhoods!

2. Denver Botanic Gardens Pumpkin Festival

When visiting Denver, we highly recommend attending the Denver Botanic Gardens Pumpkin Festival on October 8-10, 2021.

Tickets to the Chatfield Farms include access to the 10-acre pumpkin patch and lots of activities for the whole family, including:

Bring your own wagon to haul away your pumpkins!

If you’ve picked your perfect pumpkin but aren’t ready to head home just yet, free pumpkin day care is available while you enjoy the rest of the farm.

colorado pumkin festival

3. Telluride Autumn Classic

Car lovers can soak up a world-class automotive celebration and the stunning September foliage in Telluride, Colorado.

Enjoy the Telluride Festival of Cars and Colors, now called the Telluride Autumn Classic.

Although the 2020 festival was cancelled the 4-day festival is back this year! Mark your calendars for September 23-36, 2021.

Collectors and enthusiasts can enter their car or motorcycle in the show.

And spectators of all ages can join in the fun during the Medallion Hunt, the photo contest, and more!

telluride colorado in fall

4. Local Farmers Markets

Foodies and #buylocal shoppers will enjoy the Colorado Farmers’ Markets in fall.

Most markets throughout the state run well into September and October and are open most days of the week.

If you want to find a farmer’s market near you, check out this handy PDF from the Colorado.gov website.

It summarizes ALL of the farmers’ markets happening around Colorado, so it’s easy to find produce that’s in season near you.

colorado events and outdoor festivals

5. Boo at the Zoo

Wanting a family night of fun instead of a daytime activity?

Visit the original creatures of the night when you attend Boo at the Zoo at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in October.

This is a great evening activity for kids and adults alike. The whole family will enjoy dressing up in costume to visit the animals at the zoo.

It’s all treats and no tricks at the zoo this Halloween!

The Denver Zoo also offers its own spooky twist on Halloween at the zoo when you attend Enchanted Hollows in October.

Travel along an eerie trail at twilight as the forest comes alive with nocturnal noises. But don’t be scared, this is family fun for all ages.

boo at the zoo

6. Glow at the Gardens in Denver

Return to the Denver Botanic Gardens for their incredible Glow at the Gardens featured in the evenings, October 19-24, 2021.

This is a luminous nighttime celebration of America’s favorite fall-time gourd.

Tour the gardens at night to see spooky lighting displays and hundreds of carved, lighted pumpkins.

All of the pumpkins are real and harvested from local farms to create incredible sculptures and unbelievably detailed jack-o-lanterns.

Bring a bag for trick-or-treating and stay for the glow-in-the-dark games and other fun activities!

Check out our in-depth guide for more information about the events happening at the Denver Botanic Gardens this year.

glow at the gardens

7. Great American Beer Festival

Grown ups will enjoy the Great American Beer Festival which is usulally hosted in October in Denver, Colorado.

However, the in-person festival will return in 2022 and we will publish an update with more info.

The GABF Passport is open for registration though and goes on sale with deals from September 17 to October 17, 2021.

This two-day festival showcases nearly 700 different Colorado breweries and thousands of beers available to taste and enjoy.

If you use the Untappd app, you will love checking bottles off the 2020 menu!

top colorado craft beer

8. Drive through Glenwood Canyon

If you’re looking for that fabulous fall foliage, head to the mountains in late September or early October.

We highly recommend a fall visit to Glenwood Canyon, which we have featured in our guide to Glenwood Springs.

Turn off I-70 into the mountains, through Glenwood Canyon (like you’re headed to Aspen) to see all the trees changing near Frisco.

We make the trek every year in October to soak up the colors and really feel those fall vibes along the Colorado river!

You can’t go wrong with a drive through a canyon!

Not only will you be surrounded by beautiful fall foliage, there’s always somewhere to pull off and go for a hike.

Hikes can vary from easy to moderate to rock-climbing-level of difficulty. So, pick a pace that works for you and enjoy yourself.

driving through glendwood canyon colorado

9. Autumn and Art Show in Cripple Creek

Another great place to visit in the fall is Cripple Creek, Colorado thanks to awesome events like the Autumn and Art Show.

This historic gambling and mining town is on the southwest slopes of Pikes Peak.

And it was once the hub for thousands of gold-seeking miners, so there is loads of history here.

The Autumn and Art Show will be hosted from September 25 to October 3, 2021 at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center.

cripple creek colorado

10. Palisade Peach Festival

There are some fall foods that every native Coloradoan just can’t resist. And newcomers will quickly be hooked too!

There is nothing like a Palisade peach in the fall and the best way to celebrate this is at the Palisade Peach Festival from August 19-21, 2021.  

Load up on these local peaches for some ah-may-zing peach cobbler, peach chutney on pork chops, or just eat them fresh.

In the harvest season, you’ll find plenty of squashes, like pumpkin and butternut squash.

Our favorite flavor of fall is sage, which gives an earthy, homey flavor to those warm and filling dishes we all love this time of year.

Fun fact: There are lots of kinds of sage that grow natively in Colorado and can be eaten straight off the bush.

palisade peach colorado

11. Happy Apple Farm in Penrose

Growing up, a childhood favorite of mine was an annual visit to Happy Apple Farm in Penrose, Colorado (near Pueblo).

At this pick-your-own fruit farm, you can bring home fresh fruit as well as jams, jellies, donuts, and cider from the country store.

For 2021 most of the apple harvest suffered from a late freeze in April, but you can still enjoy the great pumpkin patch opening in late August this year.

12. Morrison Cider Festival

Every September you can head to Morrison, Colorado (southeast of Denver) for the Morrison Cider Festival.

This year’s fest is open from 10am to dark Saturday, September 25, 2021.

Enjoy free admission for hot mugs of apple cider and activities like horseshoe tournaments, pony rides, and live music.

Kids and adults will love watching the cider press demonstration and learn how cider is made from apples.

Hard ciders are also available to sample for a fee for adults.

13. Chile & Frijoles Festival in Pueblo

Celebrate Pueblo, Colorado’s famous green chile at the Chile & Frijoles Festival in historic downtown Pueblo, September 24-26, 2021.

Throughout late August and early September, you’ll often see chefs charring green chiles in barrel drums outdoors.

But come fall time, there’s no better place to partake of Pueblo’s favorite food than this festival.

Taste the delicious Colorado green chile smothered over a burrito or as a salsa.

Stay for the cooking competitions, live music, dancing, arts and crafts, and the farmer’s market.

green chili covered burrito colorado food

14. Applefest in Cedaredge

Typically, on the first full weekend of October you can enjoy the Cederedge Applefest from October 1-3, 2021.

The event is on your way toward Grand Junction and Palisade. And it’s home to row after row of apple trees.

Applefest has more than 150 vendors, and features a classic car and antique tractor show, and live music.

There is even a beer stein holding competition for those over 21.

It’s a five-hour drive from Denver, but so worth the journey for a real small-town fall feel.

15. Rock Creek Farm Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze

Kids and adults will love the Rock Creek Farm Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in Broomfield, Colorado.

This is one of the largest pumpkin patches in the state and boasts over 100 acres of pumpkins to pick!

There are three corn mazes to choose from, including one that traces 5 miles of maze across 30 acres of field.

Rock Creek Farm opens at the beginning of October 2021 and remains open through Halloween.

colorado corn maze

16. Punkin Chunkin

You don’t want to miss the Punkin Chunkin festival in Aurora, Colorado.

Sadly for 2021 the event has been cancelled, but is expected to be back in 2022, where you’ll get a front row seat to all the punkin chunkin competition.

Competitors will shoot pumpkins with cannons, fling them with catapults, and generally throw some gourds around.

Come for the chunkin, stay for the chainsaw-carving, the you-pick pumpkins, live music, crafts, and food and beverage vendors.

17. Oktoberfest Denver

Beer lovers can rejoice thanks to the Oktoberfest Denver festival. The next event will be held on two weekends in September 2021.

Mark your calendars for the weekends of September 17-19 & 24-26, 2021.

Get free admission and more than just beer (although the beer selection is incredible!).

All ages will enjoy the dachshund derby, costume contests, food booths, polka dancing, and live music.

denver beer festival

18. Parade of Homes

As the summer winds down, we personally look forward to checking out the Springs Parade of Homes.

Hosted September 10-26, 2021 in both Colorado Springs and Denver.

This event is a fun way to see some of the amazing homes that have been built in Colorado!

You’ll see unique features that most traditional homes don’t have, like secret doorways behind bookcases and trapdoors to movie theaters.

parade of homes colorado

19. Pumpkin Nights in Denver

This year Pumpkin Nights is back and coming to Colorado October 17 to November 3, 2021.

Journey through over 3,000 hand-carved artificial pumpkins and various fantasy lands made from pumpkins.

Kids and adults alike will love the colorful light displays, an enchanted forest, pumpkin reef, pirate’s cove, and live artist demonstrations.

Since this event is held in late fall, dress warm. Wear lots of layers and comfortable shoes for walking around.

Warm up with refreshments from local food trucks and seasonal drinks like hot apple cider.

The event is held in Denver at the Adams County Fairgrounds and is open from 5:30pm – 10:30pm nightly.

When it comes to fall activities in Colorado in October, it’s a blast no matter what you do.

Head for the mountains, eat your fill, or explore spooky new places.

Ryan Nicholson is a homegrown born and raised Colorado native. Being a rare unicorn to have grown up in CO, he has a unique perspective on the changes here and knows all the hidden spots to get outside in this state. Ryan's a classically French trained chef so he LOVES to try new foods and places to eat. When he's not experimenting in the kitchen or working as a personal chef along the Front Range, he loves to get outdoors and away from it all hiking, camping and backpacking.