Transforming from a mining town to a world-renowned skiing destination, Telluride, Colorado has slowly developed into one of the most popular places to visit in the state. Alongside its breathtaking box-canyon scenery and easy access to outdoor sports, Telluride’s many great festivals draw tourists to San Miguel County all year long.
Here’s a look at Telluride’s top festivals for music, arts, food, and Colorado culture, in no particular order:
Telluride Bluegrass Festival – June
Held annually in mid-June, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is one of the town’s most famous and longest-standing celebrations. Featuring bluegrass music and performances from related genres, the popular festival is now spread out over two weekends, attracting over 10,000 ticket holders each day.
Hosted by Planet Bluegrass, more information can be found on the festival website. As one of the largest celebrations of the genre, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival has included past performances from famous country and bluegrass musicians such as Brandi Carlise, Sturgill Simpson, Sam Bush Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, the Infamous Stringdusters, and John Prine.
The Ride Music Festival – July
If you’re a bit more “rock n’ roll” than country, we suggest the annual RIDE music festival which is hosted in 7 different venues across Telluride for ten days in early July. The Ride Music Festival began in 2014 and has offered intimate performances on the town’s many stages from both emerging bands and living legends.
In addition to an eclectic assortment of lesser-known artists, the Ride Music Festival has featured concerts from well-known rock acts such as Widespread Panic, Jason Isbell, and the 400 Unit, Pearl Jam, Sheryl Crow, The Sting Cheese Incent, Spoon, Gov’t Mule, and more.
Tickets and information about this year’s event can be found on the Ride Music Festival website.
Telluride Jazz Festival – August
Bringing the creativity and boldness of a uniquely American genre to San Miguel County, the Telluride Jazz Festival is an annual celebration of music and culture like no other. Every August, the festival’s limited ticket sales attract jazz and nature lovers alike with the sounds and sights of New Orleans showcased on Telluride’s intimate indoor and outdoor music stages.
Headlining acts typically play on the main stage in Telluride Town Park during festival evenings, and attendees are also strongly encouraged to catch part of the “Jazz After Dark” series for the full experience.
To close out the celebration each year, the festival’s Sunday kicks off with a parade down Main Street featuring a second line brass band, floats, beads, and more Louisiana-inspired fun. Tickets and information can be found on the Telluride Jazz Festival’s homepage.
Blues & Brews Festival – September
Concluding a summer of outdoor fun, few events are better than the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. Boasting three full days of music in Telluride Town Park, the microbrew-centric festival has featured live performances from nationally recognized acts like Nathanial Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Buddy Guy, Boz Skaggs, Robert Plant, and Steve Winwood.
Held each fall since 1994, Telluride Blues and Brews attracts music and beer lovers from all over the world and includes opportunities for camping or glamping on-site. For tickets and more information, please visit tellurideblues.com.
Telluride Chamber Music Festival – July
Catering to those that enjoy classical music, the Telluride Chamber Music Festival is a longstanding annual celebration of intimate, instrumental concerts. Since 1973, the festival has been hosting early August chamber music concerts and programs at the Michael D. Palm Theatre, with associated events also happening in Telluride Town Park.
The Chamber Music Festival attracts world-renowned musicians and also sponsors a winter concert series. To learn more, please visit the Telluride Chamber Music Festival’s official website.
Telluride Americana Music Festival – July
As our final musically focused event on the list, Telluride’s Americana Music Festival is a celebration of folk, alternative country, rockabilly, and more. With a spotlight on singer-songwriters, the Americana Music Festival is one of Telluride’s hidden gems, occurring every July at the Sheridan Opera House.
With four nights of music to choose from, attendees can purchase single-night tickets as well as full festival passes. Past acts include headliners like Jack Ingram, Jon Randall, Sam Baker, Joe Ely, Jessi Alexander, and more. Tickets and information can be found through the Telluride Americana Festival homepage.
Telluride Film Festival – September
Switching gears to the visual arts, September’s Telluride Film Festival is an annual event operated by the National Film Preserve. Showcasing independent films since 1974, the TFF has premiered many renowned pictures such as David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and Ken Burn’s The Civil War.
To accommodate the popular event, make-shift theatres appear all over Telluride, with venues such as the middle school gym and the Mountain Village Conference Center transforming into theatres alongside events held at the opera house and town park.
Tickets, passes, and additional information for the annual Labor Day event can be found on the Telluride Film Festival website, with attendance options for cinephiles of all budgets.
MountainFilm – May
Complementing the Telluride Film Festival at the beginning of summer, MountainFilm is a Memorial Day weekend celebration dating back to 1979. Stylized by colorful prayer flags around town, MountainFilm is centered around respect, freedom, well-being, and other Tibetan and Buddist customs and values.
MountainFilm’s events are comprised of film screenings, speakers, and an award ceremony dedicated to the festival’s best in show. Please visit mountainfilm.org to learn more about attending the event, held annually in late May.
The Telluride Horror Show – October
As Colorado’s longest-standing genre-specific film festival, the Telluride Horror Show is a one-of-a-kind event held over a three-day weekend every October. Screening international horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy, and thriller films in Telluride’s theatre venues, the annual celebration of spooky, creepy, and scary fun has been gaining popularity since its 2010 debut.
For film submissions, trailers, and attendance information, please learn more on the Telluride Horror Show homepage.
The Telluride Autumn Classic – September
For fans of cars and fall colors, the Telluride Autumn Classic is a four-day celebration of automobiles and Rocky Mountain scenery. As the aspens glow their autumnal yellow, Autumn Classic attendees can enjoy vintage and exotic cars and motorcycles alongside live music, fine arts, and speaker events.
Tickets for the Telluride Autumn Classic can be purchased on the festival website.
Telluride Yoga Festival – June
Since 2007, the annual Telluride Yoga Festival has hosted health and wellness events for 4 days each June. With activities centered around the Telluride High School, the festival includes participatory events such as yoga, mediation, hiking, music, dining, and more.
Nestled into the town’s beautiful box canyon, the Telluride Yoga Festival attracts internationally recognized authors, gurus, and thought leaders to participate in the event. Learn more about the Telluride Yoga Festival on the event website.
Telluride Balloon Festival – June
Every year since 1973, the Telluride Balloon Festival has filled the town’s parks, streets, and skies with bright, colorful hot air balloons. Occurring annually on the first weekend of June, the Telluride Balloon Festival is a free event for locals and visitors to enjoy during their visit to the unique mountain town.
Telluride Wine Festival
At the end of June, the annual Telluride Wine Festival is a high-end celebration of food, drink, and culture. Featuring products from dozens of local and international wineries, the Telluride Wine Festival hosts live music, tastings, dining, and other interactive events.
Please visit the festival website for experience information and festival passes.
Telluride Mushroom Festival – August
Hosted by the Telluride Institute each August, the Telluride Mushroom Festival is a one-of-a-kind event with exhibits and events throughout the town’s parks and venues. The Mycology-centered festival features presentations, poetry, forays, and even a parade dedicated to celebrating all things fungi.
Officially launched in 1981, the Telluride Mushroom Festival has hosted internationally-known scientists, anthropologists, doctors, chemists, and other speakers as well as many hands-on opportunities for edible mushroom identification and consumption. Learn more about the event through the Telluride Institute.
Telluride Comedy Festival – February
Tucked right into the heart of ski season, the Telluride Comedy Festival is hands-down the “funniest” festival in town, featuring four nights of live entertainment every President’s Day weekend. The February festival is hosted at the Sheridan Opera House with stand-up comedy and improv from some of the best in the business.
Typically, the Comedy Festival opens with a local’s night, but out-of-towners are welcome to join the fun Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Past guests have included Eric Andre, Flight of the Conchords, Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll, Ed Helms, and other well-known comedians.
Telluride Plein Air Festival – July
Also hosted by the Sheridan Opera House, the Telluride Plein Air Festival is a unique celebration of the arts dating back to Independence Day of 2003. Every year since, the festival has celebrated painting “en plein air,” which is a french expression often used to refer to painting in the outdoors.
With scenic vistas and beautiful architecture everywhere you look, visitors can observe the nation’s best plein air artists in their element throughout the town as well as into the surrounding natural areas during the event. After a week of live painting demonstrations and events, artwork created during the Telluride Plein Air Festival is exhibited and sold to support the Sheridan Arts Foundation.
Telluride Fire Festival – December
Inspired by Burning Man, a world-famous festival held 2 states over, the Telluride Fire Festival is an annual celebration of interactive performing arts. With specific appeal to pyromaniacs, the winter festival is held with events in both Mountain Village and the town of Telluride.
For those that are unfamiliar with “burner” culture, attendees can expect an eclectic mix of visual and experiential art exhibits featuring flaming art cars, fire art installations, and workshops for those interested in several related trades, skills, and hobbies. More information and tickets can be found on the festival homepage.
Those are more than a dozen of the best festivals to attend each year in Telluride, Colorado. Remember to reserve your ticket(s) and hotel/camping spot well in advance!
This content was originally published here.