A concert under the stars at the stunning, geologically formed, open-air Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison is an absolute must-do. But if you’re seeking a lower-key experience, the concert calendars at smaller venues boast lighter crowds, affordable ticket prices (many are free) and that oh-my-goodness scenery Colorado is famous for.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Tickets available online | May–September
Wander through the trees, stretch out next to a pond, and enjoy local and national bands in a serene setting blanketed by summer blooms and gorgeous greenery. The ticket price includes admission to the gardens and you’re welcome to BYOB. Denver Botanic Garden also offers concerts at Chatfield Farms, a 700-acre native-plant refuge (they’ve got wildflowers for days) and working farm nestled on the banks of Deer Creek.
Castle Creek Guitars at ibar Ranch
Gunnison | Tickets available online or onsite
For a taste of the Old West, this converted early-1900s hay barn is the perfect place to soak up a stampede of tunes. Past performers who’ve graced the stage over the summer include Wynonna Judd and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the venue also has a well-stocked cash bar and campground (where you can slumber safely after a few drinks).
Loveland | Free | July and August
Musicians play on a stage surrounded by water on Thursdays at Civic Center Park’s Foote Lagoon, a hidden gem in the Front Range enclave of Loveland. With a separate stage for kids and a mix of vendors selling local goods, this weekly affair from Loveland Museum and Gallery serves up a solid dose of weekly family-centered entertainment.
Louisville Downtown Street Faire
Free | June–August
While Louisville routinely tops lists of the best cities to live in and raise kids, the normally sleepy town’s annual concert series is anything but subdued. Every Friday evening, the main thoroughfare comes alive with vendors selling portable food to devour while you lend your ears to the stage. The event’s focus has shifted from big-name musicians like Los Lobos and the Gin Blossoms to smaller local bands, making it the perfect setting to find something new.
Bohemian Nights Presents Thursday Night Live
Fort Collins | Free | June–August
Don’t let Fort Collins’ quaint appearance fool you: It’s a bustling community with an artistic core and one of the most diverse music scenes in the state. At Thursday Night Live at Old Town Park, emerging artists play alongside established acts, making it the perfect place to sing along to your favorite band or get turned on to one of Colorado’s up-and-coming stars.
Rochester Hotel’s Secret Garden
Durango | $10 recommended donation
Shhh, the lush Secret Garden at the historic 1892 Rochester Hotel isn’t exactly a secret, but the mellow, low-pro ambiance is what makes it so splendid. Bands play weekly under strands of twinkling lights, and all proceeds go to charity. Other perks include food trucks, a bar and location right in downtown.
Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concerts
Free | June–August
Pack a picnic (find ideas on where to pick up supplies on p. XX) before you head toward the stage at Howelsen Hill, where they’ve been “keepin’ it free since 1993.” The series has featured a stellar lineup from practically every musical genre, including Big Head Todd & the Monsters and Sam Bush. Get your hands on a Locals Lounge Pass for access to an exclusive viewing area, the only full bar at the show and private bathrooms (a true concert-goer’s fantasy).
Sundays @ Six
Alamosa | Free | June–August
On Sunday nights, the good people of the San Luis Valley flock to Cole Park for Sundays @ Six, where local talent plays alongside big-name national acts. It’s the diversity of talent — along with the bluest-blue skies and scenery (you can see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the park on a clear day) — that make this series so special. Look for ops to get up and dance on nights featuring country, jazz and mariachi bands.
Dillon | Free | June–September
Thousands flock to this open-air venue on the banks of sparkling Dillon Reservoir on Friday and Saturday nights for shows that suit an array of musical thirsts, from Pink Floyd and Allman Brothers tribute bands to rock, reggae and jazz. Sashay over to the amphitheater on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for free swing, tango, cha-cha or Western dance lessons with sunsets over the snow-marbled Gore Range as a backdrop.
Concerts on the Rails
Multiple locations | Tickets available online
Various dates throughout the summer
Several Colorado trains host concert experiences during the summer months. Snag a ticket for Mountain Rails Live, where you’ll travel on the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad from Alamosa to a show at the only-reachable-by-train Fir Summit Amphitheater (June–September). Other live-music trains to consider include Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s Blues Train (June and August) or Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad’s Sunset Dinner Train (July–September). More about Colorado trains >>
More Cool Concert Series
- Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark, Boulder, May–September
- Arvada Center Summer Stage, May–September
- Mountain Air Music, Ouray, June
- Sounds Exciting, Lakewood, June and July
- Snowmass Free Music Series, June–August
- Alpenglow, Crested Butte, June–August
- Hot Summer Nights, Vail, June–August
- City Park Jazz, Denver, June–August
- Sunset Concerts Telluride, June–August
- Elway’s Tastes & Tunes, Cherry Creek, June–August
- Hudson Gardens, Littleton, June–September
- Breckenridge Music Fest’s Champagne Series Brunch Concerts, Various dates throughout the summer