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.
1. Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Competition, January/February
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
2. Frozen Dead Guy Days, March
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
3. Boulder Creek Festival, May
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. bceproductions.com
4. Greeley Stampede, June
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
5. Fireworks, July 4
Tough call: a shoreline seat in Grand Lake (www.visitgrandcounty.com), which claims Colorado’s largest display, a small mountain town celebration, 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
6. Rooftop Rodeo, July
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
7. Cheyenne Frontier Days, July
Many of Wyoming’s rodeos are known throughout the world, including Cheyenne Frontier Days – the “Daddy of ‘Em All.” This event takes place the last full week of July in Wyoming’s capital city.
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.
8. RockyGrass, July
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
9. Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, August
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
10. Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival, September
Sponsored by Guinness, this mix of Highland games, Celtic concerts, dances, and filling food is an annual favorite in Estes Park. scotfest.com
11. Autumn Gold Festival, September
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 Lake. www.visitestespark.com/events-calendar/special-events/autumn-gold-festival/
12. Elk Fest, October
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/