19 Best Colorado Events and Festivals plus the World's Largest Rodeo

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We love festivals. Want to dance, drink, and eat good food all in the name of a frozen dead guy? Done. How about attend the best small rodeo in America? Yep, got that covered too. Or how about throwing on a kilt and tossing a kaber? Better yet, how about tossing it with the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop? Done, done and done.

January/February

Snow sculptures at Breckenridge

Snow Sculpture Competition in Breckenridge Colorado

International Snow Sculpture Championships, Breckenridge

Snow artists from around the world compete in Breckenridge, Colorado. at the International Snow Sculpture Championships. Sculptures start as 12-foot-tall, 20+ ton blocks of snow. Teams from all over the world use only hand tools, and artists achieve finished pieces across five days (65 hours) of sculpting in this one of a kind event. www.gobreck.com/events/budweiser-international-snow-sculpture-championships

March

Coffin races at Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, Colo.

Coffin races at Frozen Dead Guy Days

Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland

This three-day party celebrates Nederland’s only frozen resident (Grandpa Bredo, soon to be 110 years old). Yep, it’s a long story, but locals flock to this mountain town an hour south of Estes Park for the lookalike contest, art exhibits, salmon toss, live music at the Blue Ball, and Colorado’s only coffin race. And, oh yes, beer. frozendeadguydays.org

May

Boulder Creek Festival

Boulder Creek Festival

Boulder Creek Festival, Boulder

Enjoy local microbrews, organic food, art, and music as Boulder kicks off the summer season. More than 500 vendors attend this Memorial Day Weekend event, promoting sustainable living, the arts, and one of the wildest fundraisers ever, a rubber ducky river race. bouldercreekfest.com

June

Lumberjack Show at the Greeley Stampede

Lumberjack Show at the Greeley Stampede

Greeley Stampede, Greeley

Cowboy culture, bull riding, and concerts headline this rocking festival near Fort Collins. Catch pro rodeo events most nights, plus monster truck rallies, a demolition derby, and an old-fashioned carnival. greeleystampede.org

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

Indian Market and Powwow, Morrison

Each year, the Tesoro Cultural Center in Morrison holds a tribute to the native nations of Bent's Old Fort. Bent's was an improtant fur trading post on the famous Santa Fe Trail in the 1830s. www.tesoroculturalcenter.org

Colorado BBQ Challenge, Frisco

More than 70 barbecuers compete with their recipes for pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, sauce, side dishes, salsa, dessert and an award for "anything goes." www.townoffrisco.com/play/colorado-bbq-challenge/general-info/

Colorado Wine Festival, Manitou

Sample wine from over 30 Colorado wineries while enjoying live music and food vendors in beautiful Memorial Park. manitousprings.org/events/

Colorado Lavender Festival, Palisade

Visit local lavender farms on a guided bus tour or self-guided tour. Enjoy cooking demos and educational seminars, plus an artison fair with food vendors. coloradolavender.org

Summerfest on the Rio, Alamosa

Head for San Luis Valley near Great Sand Dunes National Park to kick-off summer with a festival of entertainment, crafts, artists, food vendors and beer garden. summerfestontherio.org

Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride

Every Summer Solstice, 11,000+ music fans head to this historic mining town in the San Juan Mountains for four days of adventurous acoustic music in the stunning Telluride box canyon. bluegrass.com/telluride

Colorado Tiny House Festival, Brighton

Tour tiny houses, container homes, semi-trailer conversions, skoolies, van conversions, teardrops, yurts and more. Plus learn how to make your tiny house dream come true with educational workshops and speakers. coloradotinyhousefestival.com

July 

Fireworks over a Colorado Lake

July 4th Fireworks 

Tough call: a shoreline seat in Grand Lake (www.visitgrandcounty.com), which claims Colorado’s largest display, a small mountain town celebration in Frisco, or Boulder, where locals hike to the top of the Flatirons for unparalleled vistas? If you're on the east side of the park, Estes Park also shows fireworks over their lake - www.visitestespark.com

Rooftop Rodeo, Estes Park

Estes Park goes cowboy for this week of parades, racing, and bull riding. Favorite events include live music at the Queen’s Ball and shows at Performance Park. rooftoprodeo.com

Cheyenne Frontier Days, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Although not in Colorado, this event takes place just across the border in Wyoming's capital city the last full week of July. It's an easy side trip from Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Cheyenne Frontier Days is the largest outdoor rodeo in the world and attracts big names from all over the country. It provides spectators with the best outdoor rodeo action in the world by hosting the top names each year. These top riders don’t want to miss competing for the largest purse on the professional circuit.

Besides the exciting PRCA rodeo action, there is a carnival midway, top-name entertainment concerts, Indian village and dancing, USAF Thunderbirds Air Show, free parades, a free chili cook-off plus much more. For a change of pace, don’t miss the Old West Museum and Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show and Sale. cfdrodeo.com

Bela's Acoustic Trio playing at RockyGrass in Lyons, Colo.

Bela's Acoustic Trio playing at RockyGrass

RockyGrass, Lyons

Listen to both classic and up-and-coming folk bands at this local-favorite festival, held in a lovely grove beside the St. Vrain River in Lyons. Diehard fans make a weekend of it, camping on the festival grounds or in nearby campgrounds, floating the river in inner tubes by day, and staying up late for impromptu jam sessions at night. bluegrass.com/rockygrass

August 

Mountain Town Music Festival, Keystone

Dance to national music acts on the River Run Village stage and enjoy local food vendors as they showcase their best peach recipes as well as other harvest favorites like Rocky Ford melons, Olathe sweet corn & elk. www.keystonefestivals.com/festivals/mountain-town-music-festival/

Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, Estes Park

The course runs on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, CO. Most of the pre and post-race activities will be held in Estes Park, CO. Register at www.therockymountainhalf.com/registration

September

Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park, Colo.

Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival

Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival, Estes Park

Sponsored by Guinness, this mix of Highland games, Celtic concerts, dances, and filling food is an annual favorite in Estes Park. scotfest.com

Autumn aspen on the Glacier Gorge trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Autumn aspen on the Glacier Gorge trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Autumn Gold Festival, Estes Park

Listen to some foot tapping music and relax with a cold brew and a mustard-smothered bratwurst in Estes Park's Bond Park. Then venture out to Rocky Mountain National Park's Glacier Gorge trailhead for some golden hikes on the way to Alberta Falls and Mills Lakewww.visitestespark.com/events-calendar/special-events/autumn-gold-festival/

October 

Elk in the valley in Rocky Mountain National Park

A bull elk and his harem of cows in Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk Fest, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park

Witness bugling competitions (by humans), a Mountain Man Rendezvous, and elk-inspired arts and crafts. Guided elk-viewing tours take you to spots around Estes Park to view elk but the real action is inside Rocky Mountain National Park along side the valleys at dusk when the elk harems venture out of the woods. www.visitestespark.com/events-calendar/special-events/elk-fest/

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Also don't miss any of the free national park days.

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