Few destinations can upstage the variety of Colorado’s arts and cultural experiences. In fact, Colorado ranks number one in the nation for the percentage of adults engaged in creative pursuits — a whopping 68 percent. Colorado hosts 22 Certified Creative Districts, is home to more than 300 music festivals each year including this September’s inaugural Grandoozy from the creators of Bonnaroo, and presents world-class art and cultural exhibits across the state including this November’s U.S. debut of the renowned exhibition, Dior: From Paris to the World. Here are a handful of Colorado favorites.
Music Festivals and Events
Music on the Mountain, held at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, is a benefit concert series with shows from mid-August through late-September. Guests can ride the tram and enjoy the concerts for free with the donation of at least one can of food for the local food pantries. Local and regional bands play under the stars, where guests can take in beautiful views and experience the Local’s Choice for best place to view the sunset.
Visit the Farm to Fiddle Summer Festival in Hotchkiss for two days of live music and entertainment, local food and vendors, crafts and more. The Delta County Fair complements this family-friendly festival.
Vail and Denver host the four stages of the second-annual Colorado Classic men’s and women’s pro-cycling race. In Denver, the race pairs up with a three-day music and cycling fan fest known as Velorama in the RiNo Art District. This year’s musical line-up includes Modest Mouse, Cold War Kids, Matt and Kim and more.
Alongside the St. Vrain River, the Folks Fest invites music lovers to celebrate songs and stories in the Rocky Mountains. The easy-going festival invites attendees to bring a picnic or enjoy a wide variety of local food vendors on site. This year’s headliners include Indigo Girls, Los Lobos, Jeff Tweedy and Regina Spektor.
Superfly Productions, the creators of popular festivals Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, launches its latest music festival in Denver’s Overland Park this fall. This three-day weekend festival features big-name headliners Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine and Stevie Wonder, as well as homegrown, local up-and-comers like Gasoline Lollipops and Dragondeer.
Founded by Jack and Barbara Yule, who retired and moved to Huerfano County from Scotland in 2000, the festival offers more than 60 different events and features top Celtic musicians like Ed Miller, Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra, and festival favorite, Tanya Kay Perkins. Plus, festival attendees can get in on the action with dancing, vocal, guitar, harp, violin workshops and more throughout the weekend.
Unique Performance Venues
Toasted as “One of 10 great places to see the lights off Broadway” by USA Today, the Creede Repertory Theatre has been entertaining theatre-goers for more than 50 years at 9,000 feet above sea level. The Theatre is a cultural home for artists, residents, and visitors of the West and creates a diverse repertory season of plays, new works and dynamic education programs each year.
The Mish — as it’s known locally — is a beloved live music venue northwest of Fort Collins in Bellvue. Set on the wooded banks of the Poudre River, the lineup of jam bands draws big crowds to the endearingly rustic lodgepole-pine stage. Acts like Leftover Salmon, Toad The Wet Sprocket and The Wailers keep the Colorado-cool vibe here alive.
The naturally occurring, acoustically perfect, jaw-droppingly scenic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison is the mother of all outdoor music venues, and it’s been captivating audiences and musicians alike for more than 100 years now. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, U2 and The Grateful Dead are just a few big names among the countless legendary acts that have rocked this world-famous stage.
The cultural hub of Southern Colorado, the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center gives visitors the tools to think and act creatively through a three-building complex including seven galleries offering the best in historic and contemporary art by artists of local, regional and national renown. The Arts Center offers the Buell Children’s Museum, recognized as the second-best museum for art in the nation by Child magazine and a 500-seat theater featuring a variety of performing arts programs.
Simply touring Leadville’s historic Tabor Opera House is a cultural treat. This majestic opera house, once billed as the finest theatre between St. Louis and San Francisco, was built by silver baron Horace Tabor in 1879 in just 100 days. John Philip Sousa, Oscar Wilde, and Anna Held have performed here, and circus tigers have roamed its stage. Visitors can take in a performance while sitting in one of the grand theater’s original red velvet chairs.
The TANK is a water tower that was converted into a nationally acclaimed performance and recording space for sound artists and musicians. The TANK hosts reserved visits, recording sessions, artist residencies, performances and Open Saturdays. The venue got its start with the support of an eclectic group of artists, sonic explorers, and practical minds, bound together by the experience of The TANK, who joined in the effort to save and develop a magnificent acoustic resource.
Art Exhibitions and Creative District Happenings
Colorado Creative Corridor
Just this year, the Colorado Tourism Office teamed up with five state-certified creative districts to launch the Colorado Creative Corridor. The Colorado Creative Corridor is a 331-mile trail linking the mountain towns of Carbondale, Paonia, Crested Butte, Ridgway, and Salida. These five communities combine to offer a collective experience of unique event programming and activities alongside authentic Colorado mountain culture.
Final Friday Frolics – May-October (Paonia)
The North Fork Valley Creative Coalition hosts an art walk on the last Friday of the month from May to October. Join local businesses and artists and sample local food and wine while taking in the creative art that this agricultural region has to offer. Stop by Paonia’s Pickin’ in the Park every Thursday, featuring national and local music acts.
Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) – August 10-19 (Breckenridge)
Inspired by themes of environment and mountain culture, the 10-day festival brings together a variety of performances, exhibitions, screenings, workshops, talks and surprise collaborations, with an eclectic mix of music, dance, film, visual arts and family entertainment.
Ridgway Rendezvous Art and Crafts Festival – August 11-12 (Ridgway)
Weehawken Creative Arts presents the 34th Annual Ridgway Rendezvous Art and Crafts Festival. This juried arts festival gets better every year with more than 140 artisans and craftsman, live music, and theatre shows. Kids can enjoy a magic show, free activities, mini-train rides and face painting while adults can swing by the libations tent just steps away from the entertainment stage.
Art on the Streets Guided Walking Tour – September 1 (Colorado Springs)
This year’s 20th anniversary of the Art on the Streets program in downtown Colorado Springs features 18 unique pieces including 12 from Colorado artists. One-hour guided walking tours provide insight into this year’s exhibit.
CRUSH WALLS – September 3-8 (Denver)
This urban art festival in Denver’s hip RiNo Arts District features 77 art happenings in seven days across the district. This celebration of graffiti and street art takes over the neighborhood with artists hailing from all corners of the globe. The unique festival empowers artists to bring art out of the galleries and into the streets.
Durango Autumn Arts Festival – September 15-16 (Durango)
Durango hosts the 24th Annual Autumn Arts Festival in its beautiful and historic downtown district. This family-friendly festival hosts nearly 100 booths with woodworking, ceramics, jewelry, glass and more. Kids can stop by the Creation Station for enjoyable activities suited for youngsters, and the main stage hosts live entertainment.
Iron Pour – Thursday, October 4 (Crested Butte)
The one-of-a-kind Iron Pour in Crested Butte is truly part art and part performance. Glowing, molten iron is poured into premade sand blocks and hardened to create one-of-a-kind sculptures. The Center for the Arts in Crested Butte offers carving events where artists and guests alike can design a sand block to be filled with molten iron on Pour Day.
Dior: From Paris to the World – November 19, 2018 – March 3, 2019 (Denver)
Dior: From Paris to the World surveys 70 years of the House of Dior’s enduring legacy and global influence. A selection of 150 couture dresses, as well as accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos, and other archival material, will trace the history of the iconic haute couture fashion house, its founder, Christian Dior, and the subsequent artistic directors who carried Dior’s vision into the 21st century.
For more information, visit: https://www.colorado.com/arts-culture