It’s summer time, and the living’s easy. But you don’t want to take it TOO easy. The advent of hot days and warm nights means a plethora of festivals coming out of the Southwestern woodwork. We put together a guide for you to follow over the next three months. Whether you love bluegrass, beer or simply fraternizing with energetic throngs of people, here’s what you shouldn’t miss in the Four Corners and (slightly) beyond. And hurry, because a lot of these festivals (especially the Telluride fests) sell out quickly! That means they’re good.
Durango Concert Hall @ the Park
When: 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., Thursdays, kicks off June 16
Where: Buckley Park, 1200 Main Ave.
Why you should go: You don’t need tickets to see the diverse range of live music for Concerts @ the Park, though concert-goers are asked to bring their own chairs or blankets. Fired Up Pizzeria and Schlotzsky’s offer food for sale, plus picnics are invited. This year’s lineup includes After Midnight Jazz Band, Cale Tyson, Leftover Cuties, Mo’ Mojo, Paa Kow and Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons.
The Rochester Secret Garden Concert Series
When: June 29 - Aug. 31
Where: The Rochester Hotel, 726 E 2nd Ave
Cost: $10 cover charge at the gate
Why you should go: The garden at The Rochester Hotel is a beautiful, comfortable setting in which to support local musicians and benefit Durango’s nonprofit community. A different nonprofit will be featured each week and at the end of the series, all the proceeds are pooled and distributed to the featured organizations. Music lineup includes Lost Souls; Hello, Dollface; Badly Bent;Carute Roma and more.
Music in the Mountains
When: July 8 - July 31
Where: Multiple venues (Bayfield, Durango, Purgatory)
Cost: $20 - $54
Why you should go: If you’re a classy lady or gent who enjoys classical music, this one is for you. Now in its 30th season, Music in the Mountains hosts a full orchestra, chamber and world music performances in local venues. This year features world-renowned musicians like Karina Canellakis, Vadim Gluzman and Aviram Reichert.
The San Juan Brewfest
When: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27
Where: Buckley Park, 1200 Main Ave.
Cost: General Admission $30, VIP tickets $60
Why you should go: Want to get sloppy without having to leave town? Buckley Park has that small, intimate feel – but there will be 54 breweries in attendance (from near and far) and live music (Sweetwater String Band, Liver Down the River and Hog MaGundy) to liven things up.
SilvertonSilverton’s 4th of July Celebration
When: 10:30 a.m., Monday, July 4
Where: Various locations around Silverton (Main street, Memorial Park)
Why you should go: This is the biggest fireworks display on the western slope of Colorado. It’s a weekend filled with delightful warm-weather events such as a Rhubarb Festival at Memorial Park, a parade and a firefighter water fight.
Telluride Telluride Free Sunset Concert Series
When: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., June 22 - Aug. 17
Where: Sunset Plaza, 455 Mountain Village Blvd.
Why you should go: Mountain Village is but a quaint 10-minute gondola ride up the mountain from Telluride. Wednesdays are the place to be this summer for watching gorgeous sunsets and listening to free music, often featuring artists playing later in the week at one of Telluride’s major music fests. This year’s lineup includes The Who Show, Albert Cummings, Red, White & Blues, Pimps of Joytime and Sister Sparrow.
Telluride Jazz Festival
When: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Aug. 5 - 7
Where: Various venues around Telluride (Wilkinson Public Library, Sheridan Opera House, The Moon, Smuggler’s Brew Pub)
Cost: 3-Day Park Pass $145, Weekend All-Access Pass $200
Why you should go: Since 1977, Telluride has been the site of an annual event produced by the Telluride Society for Jazz. This year’s lineup includes Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Marcus Miller, Galactic, Ms. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton, John Scofield and Jon Cleary Duo, Jeff Coffin and the Mu’Tet, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and more.
Telluride Film Festival
When: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sept. 2 - 5
Where: Various venues around Telluride (Sheridan Opera House, The Werner Herzog Theatre in Town Park, Chuck Jones’ Cinema)
Cost: The Cinephile Pass $390, The Acme Pass $580, The Festival Pass $780
Why you should go: Among the most eminent film festivals in the world, Telluride has none of the red carpet glitz and glamor of Sundance or Cannes, but all of the wonderful movies. On Labor Day weekend, cinephiles from near and far flock to town without even knowing the film lineup – because that’s not revealed until the day before it starts. Films like “Juno,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “12 Years a Slave” made their debuts at TFF.
Telluride Blues and Brews Festival
When: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sept. 16 - 18
Where: Various venues around Telluride (primarily at the Main Stage, 500 E Colorado Ave.)
Cost: $199 3-Day Pass, Late Night Shows $25, Single Day tickets $70
Why you should go: Blues and Brews is a three-day celebration of blues, funk, jam bands, indie, rock, gospel and soul performances, accompanied by regional and national microbreweries. This year’s lineup includes Joe Walsh, Gary Clark Jr., the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band featuring Rick Vito, Jason Isbell, Anders Osborne and Shakey Graves.
CortezMontezuma Land Conservancy 18th Annual Harvest Beer Festival
When: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m., Sept. 10
Where: Parque de Vida, located on Mildred Street across from Centennial Park
Cost: Regular ticket $25, non-drinking ticket $15
Why you should go: Fall is a lovely time of year in the Four Corners. At this fest you can look at the foliage, sample regional brews and ales and listen to live music. Musical acts are two local favorites, Last Nickel and The Lawn Chair Kings.
MancosThe Second Annual Mancos Valley Summer Brewfest
When: Starts at 10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 13
Where: Cottonwood Park, Spruce Street
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 at the gate
Why you should go: More music and beer, the perfect pairing. Music lineup includes Secondhand Strings; Wake Up Laughing; Afrobeatniks; and Hello, Dollface. Beer provided by Mancos Brewing Company and Riff Raff Brewing from Pagosa Springs, and wine provided by Guy Drew Vineyards.
Lake CityLake City Uncorked Wine & Music Festival
When: Gates open 10 a.m., music starts 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 17
Where: Lake City Town Park, 3rd street
Cost: Wine and music $60, Music only $40
Why you should go: There a ton of beer fests in Colorado, but some sophisticates prefer wine. This year’s music lineup includes KC Errett, Blue Recluse, Boxcar 79, Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore, Cash’d Out and Wylie “Crazy Horse” Jones & Family. Music provided between acts by Bruce Hayes.
Pagosa Springs Four Corners Folk Festival
When: Sept. 2 - 4
Where: Reservoir Hill Park, 320 Hot Springs Blvd.
Cost: Friday only $45, Saturday OR Sunday only $55, 2-day Pass $95, 3-day pass $105
Why you should go: This year marks the 21st anniversary. The family-friendly outdoor music festival boasts scenic on-site camping plus music workshops, a free children’s program, a selection of microbrews, food and crafts vendors. Lineup includes Trout Steak Revival, Coral Creek, The Lonely Heartstring Band, Darrell Scott, Sara Watkins, The O’Connor Band (featuring Mark O’Connor), and the Milk Carton Kids.
Music and Micro-Brew Festival
When: 3 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17
Where: Pagosa Springs Town Park, 551 Hot Springs Blvd.
Cost: Admission $5, Unlimited Beer Tasting +$15 (for a total of $20)
Why you should go: This fest will host 20 brewers from around Colorado and Northern New Mexico, more than 1,000 guests and several food vendors. At dusk, the Hot Air Balloon Glow will light up until end the night.
Crested ButteCrested Butte Musical Festival
When: June 25 - Aug. 20
Where: Mirror Palace and various venues in Crested Butte
Cost: $20 - $190
Why you should go: Another event for you high-brow Coloradans, this festival is in its 20th year and includes a diverse blend of music, opera and dance. Lineup features the American String Quartet, Cabaret Bleu with the Crested Butte Opera Studio, Eufórquestra, T Sisters, Trout Steak Revival, Charles Yang and Peter Dugan and more.
Grand Junction 25th Annual Country Jam
When: June 16 - 19
Where: Jam Ranch, 1065 Highway 6 & 50, Mack, CO (just outside Grand Junction)
Cost: 4-Day general admission $165, 4-day student general admission $115, Thursday $99, Friday or Saturday $109
Why you should go: Crazy for country? You’re in luck. Country Jam 2016 marks the fest’s 25th anniversary with its biggest lineup and country music celebration yet. Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Lee Brice and Zac Brown Band are headlining. In 2015, more than 80,000 people were in attendance, so be prepared for a crowd.
Santa FeFantaSe Dome Fest
When: 6 p.m. - midnight, Saturday, June 18
Where: De Vargas Park (downtown Santa Fe River)
Cost: Free & open to the public
Why you should go: This annual event pairs live bands with video projected onto massive portable geodesic domes. Performers include Lone Piñon, Future Scars, St. Range, Thieves & Gypsys and The Outfit.
Santa Fe Pride Fest 2016
When: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday, June 25
Where: The Plaza, 100 Old Santa Fe Trail
Why you should go: To celebrate the LGBT community and your American right to love who you want. In typical gay pride festival fashion, this event will feature music, food, speakers, dancing and people who know how to party.
Art Santa Fe
When: 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. Thursday, July 7, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Friday/Saturday, July 8 - 9, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, July 10
Where: Santa Fe Community Convention Center, 201 West Marcy St.
Cost: Total Ticket Pass $100, General Public, 3-Day Pass $25 online, General Public, 1-Day Pass $20 online
Why you should go: This is a gathering of exceptional established artists, top galleries and art publishers from around the world. Gain a deeper appreciation for modern and contemporary art in a city with the second largest art market in the United States.
Explosions in the Sky Block Party
When: 6:30 p.m. - 11:55 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25
Where: Meow Wolf, 1352 Rufina Circle
Cost: Tickets $22 in advance, $27 day of show
Why you should go: Legendary American post-rock band Explosions in the Sky (their music is primarily instrumental) will be playing at the awesome new Santa fe art collective Meow Wolf. Their performance is happening in the parking lot, accompanied by a mini-orchestra.
Santa Fe Renaissance Fair
When: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sept. 17 - 18
Where: El Rancho de las Golondrinas, 334 Los Pinos Road
Cost: Seniors and teens $8, 12 and under free
Why you should go: If you’ve never been to a ren fair, you’re missing out on some fantastical nerdy fun. This one will feature medieval combat, jugglers, live entertainment and dancers, vendors, kids’ games and delicious food, beer and mead. Yes, real mead – that’s the old school way of getting wasted.
Information: https://golondrinas.org/festivals/santa-fe-renaissance-fair/ 505-471-2261
AlbuquerqueDarius Rucker, Dan and Shay & Michael Ray
When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 8
Where: Isleta Amphitheater, 5601 University Blvd. SE
Why you should go: Nostalgia central. Get your mid-’90s on with Hootie and the Blowfish front man Darius Rucker.
Albuquerque Summerfest Summerfest is actually four separate festivals rolled into one glorious summer full of tunes. The first one (Heights Summerfest 2016) already happened, but the next three are comin’ up.
All Summerfests are free to the public.
Route 66 Summerfest
When: 2 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16
Where: Central Ave.
Why you should go: Central Ave. will be filled with live music and entertainment, a car show, shopping, kids’ activities, food trucks, The Mother Road Market, Cork & Tap Beer and Wine Garden, and more. The music headliner is Booker T. Jones (A Stax Revue and a Journey Thru Soul, Blues, and R&B).
Downtown Summerfest 2016
When: 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
Where: Civic Plaza
Why you should go: Headliner is The Wailers.
Westside Summerfest 2016
When: 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Saturday Aug. 20
Where: Ellison Dr. between Alameda Blvd. and Cottonwood Dr.
Why you should go: Headliner is Big Head Todd & The Monsters.
Blink 182, A Day To Remember & All Time Low
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25
Where: Isleta Amphitheater
Why you should go: If you’re a millennial who rocked out and cried to Blink 182 back in high school, now’s your chance to reminisce.
Moab Moab Music Festival
When: Sept. 1 - 12
Where: Variety of indoor and outdoor Moab venues (Star Hall, Colorado River Wilderness Grotto, Red Cliffs Lodge)
Why you should go: The Moab Music Festival (this year is the fest’s 24th) brings musicians to stunning red rock venues for a combo of chamber music, jazz and traditional music concerts. They call it “music in concert with the landscape.” A 4-day and 3-night Musical Raft Trip through Cataract Canyon immediately follows the festival.