By May, Coloradans have packed away the sweaters and dusted off the flip-flops for the start of the busy festival season. Here’s just a sampling of warm-weather-embracing Colorado events that have us counting down the days until spring. Find your way to one of these, or check our Colorado events calendar to plan your vacation around our famous festivals.
Spring in Montrose: May 2018
The southwest town of Montrose kicks spring fun into high gear with three big events. First, the Montrose Wine & Food Festival (May 18–19, 2018) takes over historic downtown with fare from renowned national and regional chefs. Then, the stunning Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park serves at the backdrop for the Annual Black Canyon Ascent (May 19, 2018). The race leads runners and walkers from the valley floor to the rim of the canyon, navigating a more than 2,000-foot elevation gain in what has been dubbed Colorado’s toughest six-mile road race.
Buena Vista PaddleFest: May 25–28, 2018
Considered the kickoff to the always-anticipated Colorado rafting season, Buena Vista Paddlefest invites lovers of rapids to the banks of the Arkansas River, one of the nation’s most popular whitewater destinations. Festivalgoers can check out clinics, gear swaps, concerts and a disc-golf tournament. All the activities center around the fest’s main event — the Buena Vista Whitewater Pro Rodeo. This freestyle competition among the world’s top playboat athletes will take place at the Buena Vista Whitewater Park.
Boulder Creek Festival: May 26–28, 2018
The season of outdoor festivals in the foothills college town of Boulder begins on the banks of its beautiful creek on Memorial Day weekend with the Boulder Creek Festival. Vendors offer everything from handcrafted jewelry to reflexology treatments to backpacks, and the locals come hungry to sample craft-brewed root beer, locally made chocolates, tofu burgers (this is Boulder, after all) and much more. There’s also live music on multiple stages, dancing in the streets, carnival rides, a beer garden and the crowd-favorite Great Rubber Duck Race, where thousands of bright-yellow duckies float down the creek to win their owner prizes and benefit a good cause.
Junior College Baseball World Series: May 26–June 2, 2018
Grand Junction has been home to the Junior College Baseball World Series for more than 50 years. The tournament is a great opportunity for baseball fans to see young players from all over the county coming into their own before they hit the big leagues. Each year, dozens of players from the National Junior College Athletic Association are selected in Major League Baseball’s draft. The 12,000-seat Suplizio Field, set amid Colorado’s beautiful wine country, hosts all 19 games of the series. Visit the Junior College World Series website for information and tickets.
Mesa Verde Indian Arts and Culture Festival: May TBA, 2018
May is Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month in Colorado, and the communities near Mesa Verde National Park are celebrating the really old West with this festival. The area in and around the park, as well as the southwestern towns of Cortez, Dolores, Mancos and Towaoc, was home to Ancestral Puebloans as many as 2,000 years ago. Honor these cultures at the Indian art market, rug seminars and auctions, traditional dances, a powwow, and glassblowing demonstrations by award-winning glass artist Ramson Lomatewama. Learn about the ancient people who built Mesa Verde’s incredible cliff dwellings with ranger-led tours of the park and behind-the-scenes tours of the Anasazi Heritage Center’s artifacts collection.
Estes Park Jazz Fest & Art Walk: June 2–3, 2018
Estes Park is especially festive when Grammy-nominated jazz singers headline the annual free Estes Park Jazz Fest concert series in the mountain town’s open-air amphitheater. Performers will be announced soon. Before the concerts, stroll Elkhorn Avenue’s galleries to see paintings, prints, pottery, jewelry and other pieces crafted by local artists, many of whom will be on hand for demonstrations and chatting with admirers.
Photo: Courtesy of the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau.