Summertime in Colorado is synonymous with outdoor music festivals. From bluegrass to rock and everything in between, there’s a festival for every type of music lover. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most amazing music festivals in Colorado and what makes each one unique. So grab your sunscreen, dancing shoes, and let’s get started!
Yampa River Reggae Festival: Jun 17, 2023
Located along the waters of the Yampa River in Craig, this free festival has it all — from a 5k fun run and yoga in the park to food vendors and a beer garden — with live music scheduled from day to night. Past performances have included Ghost.Wav, The Flowmads, Sensi Trails and Tomorrows Bad Seeds playing to an audience cozied up on the lawn at Loudy-Simpson Park. Tip: Bring a blanket or lawn chair for extra comfort as you soak up the music’s good vibes.
Vail Jazz Festival: July 9–Sept. 4, 2023
A full summer of jazz performances in Vail concludes with a four-night, five-day bash at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa over Labor Day weekend. Celebrate the festival’s 29th year with a jam-packed lineup featuring several headliners that join together to play in group performances, multi-artist jam sessions and inspiring tributes to jazz legends. Embracing the spontaneous roots of authentic jazz, the party has in the past hosted soloists such as Ernie Adams, Dick Oatts, Shelly Berg and Wycliffe Gordon, as well as groups like the Monty Alexander Trio and Clayton Brothers Quintet in a cabaret-style setting. Tip: The Patron Pass grants you early entry to all 11 performances and functions, including an opening-night reception and Sunday brunch.
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival: Aug. 11–13, 2023
Set in the culture-rich, tiny mountain town of Lyons, the Folks Festival celebrates song and story with music from morning to night with songwriting workshops sprinkled throughout the day. Embrace the laid-back vibe of the community with three-days of music, camping and inspiration at the festival’s famed venue, Planet Bluegrass. The mellow festival has featured folksy talent such as Brandi Carlile, Josh Ritter, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Don’t miss the impromptu late-night campsite sessions put on by festival attendees. Tip: Bring your swimsuit and a beach towel and take a refreshing dip in the St. Vrain River just steps from the festival.
JAS Labor Day Experience Sep. 1–3, 2023
This three-day festival just east of Aspen at the Snowmass Town Park in Snowmass tops off the summer season with a dance-inducing display of rock, heritage, country, pop and alternative. Fall in love with this ski village like never before at this free-spirited event that draws incredible artists to celebrate the unofficial end of summer. At past events, you could catch large stars like Steely Dan sharing mountain-framed stages with Fitz and the Tantrums, Lenny Kravitz and the Zac Brown Band gracing the stage. Tip: Make sure to drink lots of water when dancing in the sun all day at 8,100 feet.
Telluride Blues and Brews Festival: Sept. 15–17, 2023
Telluride, a festival capital of Colorado, hosts this soulful gathering complete with brews from more than 20 of the country’s best craft breweries. Throughout this three-day event, discover all that this acclaimed ski town has to offer in the summer, while relishing the sounds of celebrated artists with a Colorado craft brew in hand. Previous years’ lineups were a who’s who of the blues, rock and gospel worlds, including Chicago, The Fray, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, and Galactic and Jimmie Vaughan (Stevie Ray’s big brother). Check the site in June to see this year’s roster. Tip: Camping is popular with festivalgoers headed to this picturesque resort town. Get there early; spots are first-come, first-served.