A 2017 Guide To Colorado Summer Music Festivals From CPR’s OpenAir

Photo: 2017 OpenAir Summer Music Festival Guide

Photo: 2017 OpenAir Summer Music Festival GuideSummer has a way of sneaking up on all of us. So it's never too early to start making plans for the warm and sunny season.

For us, that always means live music. And there are plenty of festivals in Colorado that let you soak up the sun while enjoying some of the best music from the Centennial State and beyond.

Below, read up on 11 music festivals taking place from May to September. You'll find dates, info and musical highlights for each.

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

SEPT. 15-17

The summer festival season comes to a close with this music and microbrewery collaboration. This year's headliners include some classic rockers as well as relative newcomer Benjamin Booker, whose new "Witness" album is out in June.

Highlights: Steve Winwood, Benjamin Booker, Chicano Batman

Past Events

photo: STRFKR 1Project Pabst

​MAY 20

After a successful inaugural year, Project Pabst returns to Denver's River North neighborhood for a day of national and local music. The lineup for this year features a diverse blend of rap, electronica and indie rock.

Highlights: Phantogram, Kurt Vile & the Violators, Danny Brown, STRFKR

Photo: Elephant Revival at Red Rocks stillTelluride Bluegrass Festival

JUNE 15-18

The first of several events listed here taking place in beautiful Telluride, the Bluegrass Festival brings four days of folk, gospel and bluegrass artists to the southwestern Colorado town. Fans of "A Prairie Home Companion" on CPR News should be sure to catch at least one of two scheduled performances from that program's host, Chris Thile.

Highlights: Brandi Carlile, Elephant Revival

Photo: Shakey Graves performs at Twist & Shout RecordsWestword Music Showcase


Last year's Showcase demonstrated the resolve of Colorado musicians: After a power outage hit many venues in Denver's Golden Triangle neighborhood, several artists played acoustic shows to appreciative attendees. Here's hoping all the lights can stay on this year, especially at the two outdoor stages.

Highlights: Shakey Graves, Cut Copy, iZCALLi

The Ride Festival

JULY 8-9

It's hard to plan an Independence Day getaway when July 4 lands in the middle of the week, like it does this year. But if you can have patience and make it to the weekend, The Ride Festival provides ample opportunity for a musical vacation starring Beck.

Highlights: Beck, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Rose Hill Drive

Photo: Polica at UMS 2016The Underground Music Showcase

JULY 27-30

This four-day festival in Denver's Baker neighborhood is always one of the biggest chances for new musical discoveries in Colorado each summer. The first lineup announcement featured a list 195 bands -- most of them from Colorado.

Highlights: Benjamin Booker, Esmé Patterson, Chimney Choir

Telluride Jazz Festival

AUG. 4-6

Not for jazz fans alone, this festival brings some of the premier soul and funk artists in the country to a beautiful mountain backdrop. And for night hawks, there are plenty of Jazz After Dark late shows to prolong the experience.

Highlights: Mavis Staples, Bootsy Collins, Lee Fields & The Expressions

ARISE Music Festival

AUG. 4-6

A short drive from both Denver and Fort Collins, Loveland's Sunrise Ranch hosts three days of this nature-minded music and arts festival. Attendees can also stay busy with yoga and art workshops during breaks in the music.

Highlights: Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Pandas & People

Photo: Death Cab For Cutie At Riot Fest 2016Velorama Music Festival

AUG. 11-13

Velorama is the latest festival to come to Colorado. It's tied to the Colorado Classic bicycle race set to wind through Denver, Colorado Springs and Breckenridge. The music event -- which features some marquee indie rock acts -- takes place in Denver's RiNo neighborhood.

Highlights: Wilco, Death Cab For Cutie, Tennis

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

AUG. 11-13

Fort Collins continues to develop as a live music destination, with new venues and performance spaces. This free, three-day festival takes place downtown and highlights dozens of northern Colorado artists, as well as some national headliners.

Highlights: Brandi Carlile, Cake, Slim Cessna's Auto Club

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival

AUG. 18-20

This festival celebrates its 27th year in Lyons with a Colorado-heavy lineup, including headliner Gregory Alan Isakov. The nearby St. Vrain River should help festival-goers stay cool in the August sun.

Highlights: Gregory Alan Isakov, Lake Street Dive, SHEL

Browse our Colorado summer festival map to plan out your road trip: