Ten don't-miss mountain festivals in Colorado

The Telluride Balloon Festival takes place this weekend.
Sometimes you just need to escape the heat. And luckily, those pointed peaks off in the west are the perfect place to cool down and enjoy some natural beauty and some killer festivals this summer. Colorado's colorful mountain towns are the host to tons of quirky extravaganzas that are centered around everything from beer to pirates to balloons, and tons more.

Our Summer Guide, which hit the streets Thursday inside the regular issue of Westword, has information on hundreds of events, as well as this list of ten not-to-miss mountain festivals. Keep reading for our picks.

See also: Ten things to do on a Denver stay-cation

Telluride Balloon Festival
June 6-8

One of the most magical sights of the summer is sure to be that of colorful hot air balloons rising up over Telluride in early June. Spectators are invited to help with the launch in the early morning hours, learn about hot-air balloon photography from expert Paul D deBerjeois in the afternoon, and experience the glow of the propane at dusk while the pilots inflate their balloons along Main Street.

Colorado BBQ Challenge
June 12-14
Main Street, Frisco

Barbecue lovers can expect to get their hands messy at the 21st annual Colorado BBQ Challenge. Celebrity chefs and more than seventy teams from all over America will line Frisco's Main Street to compete in categories including pork, brisket, ribs, sauce -- and all of it is available for purchase. But it's not just about stuffing your face: You can also join the Bacon Burner 6K and dance to the sounds of Bonerama, the London Souls and the Rebirth Brass Band to clear out those arteries.

Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
June 28-29
Bond Park, Estes Park

Maypoles, flower wreaths and all things solstice will be at the center of this Scandinavian celebration in Estes Park. From Lindsborg Swedish folk dancers to Fjellborg Viking reenactors, the midsummer party in the park will offer a unique taste of Nordic culture while celebrating the longest day of the year.

Location Info


Telluride Town Park

500 E. Colorado Ave., Telluride, CO

Category: General

Micky's Top Sirloin

6 E. 70th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Estes Park

36, Estes Park, CO

Category: General


Highway 133, Paonia, CO

Category: General

Crested Butte Mountain Resort

135, Crested Butte, CO

Category: General

Riverside Park

F Street and Sackett, Salida, CO

Category: General

Miyako Japanese Restaurant

1551 S. Havana St., Aurora, CO

Category: Restaurant

Buena Vista

24, Buena Vista, CO

Category: General


Colo. Highway 9, south of I-70, Breckenridge, CO

Category: General


74, Centennial, CO

Category: General

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Kathy Hirschboeck
Kathy Hirschboeck

Can't really limit this to 10 festivals. The whole state is a giant festival starting in June into October. There is something happening somewhere every weekend. Let the summer begin!

Stephen Felt
Stephen Felt

Blues Festival in Winter Park June 27-29

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