Everyone has their favorite season — but it seems like people love fall a little more than others. As the air gets cooler and the leaves change color, people go crazy for anything pumpkin spice while they bundle up in layers of sweaters and gorge themselves on Halloween candy.
Luckily Colorado has a ton of fall festivals to choose from, revolving around the usual suspects: Halloween, Pumpkins, Dia de Los Muertos and Oktoberfest. But there are quite a few that aren’t all about fall, like a Bloody Mary Festival, the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival and a John Denver Celebration. We’ve rounded up plenty of opportunities to get decked out in spooky attire, pick pumpkins, drink cider and other interesting ways to celebrate the season.
When: Saturday, October 6, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Fickel Park, Berthoud
Cost: $5 per person or five tickets for $25
The Lowdown: If you missed Denver Oktoberfest, the close by town of Berthoud is hosting its own annual festival this weekend. The event is complete with lederhosen, dirndl, stein holding and pretzel eating contests. It will offer classic German food like brats and kraut burgers — and beer and wine to drink. Two German bands will be playing throughout the day. Over 50 different vendors will be present and other activities like dancing, a kids zone and a 50/50 raffle (splitting the cash with another contestant).
When: Saturday, October 6, 1 to 5 p.m.
Where: Purgatory Resort, Durango
Cost: $5 per person or $15 with a beer glass and two beers.
The Lowdown: A bit of a hike, but Durango is worth the drive, especially for the fall foliage this time of the year. This weekend, Durango’s Oktoberfest will celebrate the town and its several local breweries. It will be held on the lush green grounds of the Purgatory Resort with surrounding views of the yellow dotted mountains where you can easily pretend you’re in Germany. There will be live music from Devin Scott, State 38 and The Alpiners. Local food and vendors will be on-site as well.
When: Saturday, October 6, 3 to 9 p.m.
Where: Various locations, Ouray
Cost: Free Admission from 3 to 5 p.m.; $5 per person from 5 to 9 p.m.
The Lowdown: Ouray is one of the many gorgeous mountain towns in Colorado and it also loves to give a pretty new Jeep to one lucky winner every year. The 54th annual Jeep Raffle will coincide with Ouray’s Oktoberfest Celebration this Saturday. From 3 to 5 p.m. Jeep raffle tickets will be on sale by the outdoor beer garden in front of its city hall. At 5 p.m. the party will move to the Ouray Community Center with live music from the Austrian Connection, polka dancing and authentic German food. You can expect a good stein hoisting, a German costume competition, as well as door giveaway prizes. Most importantly — you may win a shiny new Jeep.
When: Saturday, October 6 – Sunday, October 7
Where: Arapahoe Park Racetrack, 26000 E. Quincy, Ave., Aurora
Cost: $5 per person; Free for kids four and under.
The Lowdown: Want to see pumpkins launch, shoot and sling from catapults, slingshots and other contraptions? This weekend, at the Punkin Chunkin in Aurora, you can watch tons of pumpkins fly through the air and smash to the ground. If that’s not enough action for you, there will be chainsaw pumpkin carving contests, a medieval play, a car show and a pumpkin patch. This event is very family-friendly with kid activities like a petting zoo, pony rides, a giant slide — and a beer garden for the adults.
When: Saturday, October 6 – Sunday, October 7, 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
Where: Lakewood Heritage Center, 801 S. Yarrow St., Lakewood
Cost: $8 per adult, $38 for admission and hard cider tastings; $5 per child.
The Lowdown: The 43rd annual Cider Days in Lakewood this weekend is pretty jam-packed with activities celebrating fall and all things, apples. Of course, hard cider will be available — over 50 to be exact. While you sip crisp ciders, you can watch pigs doing tricks, an ax-throwing tournament and historical demonstrations like blacksmithing and butter churning. If somehow you didn’t know, cider comes from apples — apples will be everywhere at this event. You can enter the Apple Pie Eating contest on both days and vote in Apple Annie’s Baking Challenge on Sunday for your favorite baked goods. The event also hosts Colorado’s largest tractor pull.
Pumpkin Harvest Festival
When: Saturday, October 6 – Sunday, October 7, 10 a.m to 4 p.m.
Where: Four Mile Historic Park, 715 S. Forest St., Denver
Cost: Free Admission
The Lowdown: Four Mile Historic Park is home to the oldest standing residential structure in the metropolitan area built-in 1859. It is a preserved 12-acre farm of a previous 600+ acres of agricultural land. Its annual Pumpkin Harvest Festival this weekend is a great chance to explore what life was like in 19th century Colorado. Take a tour in a horse-drawn wagon or tour the Four Mile House Museum which includes historical demonstrations. Celebrate fall by picking out the perfect pumpkin, building your own scarecrow and more. Enjoy fare from local food trucks and drinks from the beer garden.
John Denver Celebration
When: Wednesday, October 10 – Monday, October 15
Where: Various locations, Aspen
Cost: Free to $80 (depending on the event)
The Lowdown: Singer-songwriter, John Denver’s last name isn’t actually ‘Denver,’ it is Deutschendorf. He changed his last name to make himself more marketable and chose Denver because Colorado was his favorite state. You may know his hit song “Rocky Mountain High,” boasting about the beauty of this state. To celebrate the musician, every year a John Denver Celebration is held in Aspen around this time, where fans gather together for a week of events. Festivities will include tribute bands, a gathering at the John Denver Sanctuary and stories of Denver told by his friend, Jim Salestrom.
Telluride Horror Show
When: Friday, October 12 – Sunday, October 14
Where: Various locations, Telluride
Cost: $150 for three-day passes; $75 for six film tickets; $15 for individual film tickets.
The Lowdown: Honestly, horror movies may be the best part about Halloween — so a film festival dedicated to the genre, with the bonus of being located in Telluride, naturally attracts scary movie fans from around the world. The Telluride Horror Show is a weekend full of film screenings with both new horror features and shorts from around the world including the US, Ireland, Japan, Austria and more. Most notably, commemorating the 30th anniversary of Killer Klowns from Outer Space will be a showing and a Q & A with director Stephen Chiodo. We can’t think of a better excuse to get out to Telluride. To see the full film lineup and more, check out our recent story.
When: Friday, October 12 – Sunday, October 14, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Chatfield Farms, 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Rd., Littleton
Cost: $10 per adult; $8 per child; Discounted advance and member pricing.
The Lowdown: Just south in Littleton, the Botanic Gardens’ Chatfield Farms will soon be hosting its Pumpkin Festival — a full weekend of pumpkin picking and fall activities. This event is all about the kids with face painting, pony rides, photo booths, a mini-maze, bouncers and slides. Local craft booths, food and drink vendors, live music and horse-drawn hayrides will be available as well. This is the perfect fall day of fun for the family.
Bloody Mary Festival
When: Saturday, October 13, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: EXDO Event Center, 1399 35th St., Denver
Cost: $45 for general admission; buy tickets here.
The Lowdown: Are you a bloody mary aficionado? Well, we’ve got a festival for you. The Bloody Mary Festival will stop through Austin, San Francisco and here in Denver to fulfill your vodka and tomato juice dreams. It is ultimately a conquest to taste a variety of bloody marys from several restaurants in Denver and choose your favorite. Food trucks, food samples and live music will round out this event commemorating brunch’s most coveted drink.
St. Dominic’s Oktoberfest
When: Saturday, October 13, 2 to 8 p.m.
Where: St. Dominic Catholic Church parking lot, 2905 Federal Blvd., Denver
Cost: Free Admission
The Lowdown: St. Dominic’s Oktoberfest held in the St. Dominic’s Parish parking lot, is essentially a brewery festival for the Highlands. The event will host seven micro-local breweries: Little Machine Beer, Zuni Street, Joyride Brewing, Blind Faith, De Steeg Brewing, Factotum Brewhouse and Diebolt. Three highlands food vendors have been announced so far and three Denver based bands will be playing live music throughout the day. Support local businesses and have a lovely beer drinking time.
Pumpkins & Pilsners Festival
When: Saturday, October 13, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Bond Park, 170 MacGregor Ave., Estes Park
Cost: Free Admission
The Lowdown: If you’re itching to get away, Estes Park is looking pretty good this time of year (as is all of Colorado), but still — it’s a nice fall getaway. The annual Pumpkins and Pilsners hosted by Families for Estes is a free fall festival, fun for kids and adults alike. Just like the name, it’s all about craft beer and picking pumpkins. For the kids, there will be a bounce house, games and crafts. All profits from the festival will go to the sponsor in order to support educational, family-friendly and recreational opportunities in Estes Park.
Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival
When: Friday, October 19 – Sunday, October 21
Where: Various locations, Breckenridge
Cost: $15 – $90 (depending on the event)
The Lowdown: Breckenridge, if you haven’t been, is one of the coolest ski towns in Colorado and there is always something exciting going on. The Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival coming up is no exception. It will be hosted at Beaver Run Resort, where you can also book a room or condo to stay during the festival. The weekend will consist of cocktail workshops, a scavenger hunt and bar mix off, a guided tour of the town’s historic district and tastings. The main event is the Grand Tasting ‘Still on the Hill’ — admission provides craft spirit tastings, craft cocktails, artisanal snacks, people’s choice voting and live music.
Giant Pumpkin Festival
When: Saturday, October 20, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Old Colorado City, 2324 W. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs
The Lowdown: Charlie Brown’s: It’s the Great Pumpkin comes to mind with the mention of a giant pumpkin. Have a Charlie Brown moment this fall at the Giant Pumpkin Festival at Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs. The Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers (RMGVG) will be competing for the Biggest Pumpkin in Southern Colorado. In addition to browsing the large pumpkins, there will be a pumpkin patch for people and families to pick from. Kids can get their face painted or a balloon animal from a balloon artist. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their Halloween best. The area has tons of shopping and restaurants as well for you to enjoy before or after the event.
Broadway Halloween Parade
When: Saturday, October 20, 6 p.m.
Where: Broadway from 5th Ave. to Alameda Ave., Denver
The Lowdown: Broadway is a very diverse area with all kinds of personalities and people roaming around, so what better place to have a crazy costumed Halloween Parade? In its second year, the Broadway Halloween Parade presented by City Council, the Broadway Merchants Association and Lucky District 7 will take place two weekends before Halloween. The parade will travel down Broadway from 5th Avenue to Alameda. Decked out floats, marchers, bands and attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite costumes. Close to the end of the parade, festival-goers can march in the street with all of the floats and performers.
Emma Crawford Coffin Races & Festival
When: Saturday, October 27, 12 to 4 p.m.
Where: Manitou Springs
The Lowdown: Manitou Springs is having its 23rd annual festival about a woman, Emma Crawford, who came to the town in 1889. She arrived searching for a tuberculosis cure and fell in love with the town. Two years later, Crawford died and her wish was to be buried on the top of Red Mountain. In 1929, her coffin came racing down the side of the mountain and a few kids found the coffin and some of her remains. So the town made a coffin race and festival about this crazy story and legend of Manitou Springs. Watch racers and non-racers dressed up in their best spooky attire glide down the main thoroughfare of this gorgeous, old-timey town.
Georgetown Loop Railroad – Oktoberfest
When: October 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28
Where: Georgetown Devil’s Gate Depot, 646 Loop Dr., Georgetown
Cost: Prices vary; Tickets can be purchased here.
The Lowdown: The last three weekends in October you can experience a magical Oktoberfest train ride on the Georgetown Loop. All riders on these dates will receive a free Colorado microbrew tasting, root beers for the kids and a free bratwurst or hot dog. Nothing too fancy, just a great excuse to take a ride and witness the changing leaves.
Glow at the Gardens
When: October 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25
Where: Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver
Cost: $10 – $18; buy tickets here.
The Lowdown: Experience Glow at the Gardens where the botanic gardens get all dressed up at night with luminaria-lined pathways, spooky displays and glowing pumpkins. Several pumpkin artists carved them up in their own way, making for a different sight everywhere you turn. Enjoy scary storytelling, pumpkin carving demos, glow in the dark cornhole, a Halloween trivia wheel, LED performers and tons more. Seasonal food and beverages will be available at both of the gardens’ cafes. You can either just enjoy the sights or take in part in one of the many activities.
Halloween Events at the Denver Zoo
When: October 5 – 28
Where: The Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St., Denver
Cost: Prices vary; Member and non-member pricing.
The Lowdown: The Denver Zoo has several events planned for the Halloween season, starting this weekend. The Enchanted Hollows, a night walk experience for both kids and adults, will be held every weekend until Halloween. Guides will tell stories of the roots of Halloween on an eerie trail through the zoo. Boo at the Zoo is an all-day event (Oct 21, 22, 28 and 29) for kids to trick or treat and wear costumes with a unique view of the zoo during fall. And Taps and Tails is for the adults on Thursday nights in October to sip local beers and watch live music — you may as well dress up and laugh at each other, too.
When: October 17 – November 4
Where: Adams County Fairgrounds, 9755 Henderson Rd., Brighton
Cost: Prices vary; buy tickets here.
The Lowdown: Want to pretend you live in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas? Well, you’re in luck, the event Pumpkin Nights which has 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins and eight “Pumpkin Lands” will be coming to Denver for its first time. Each pumpkin land is themed one being the Hogwarts castle in Happy Potter. It is a half-mile long walking path with insane pumpkin displays covered in crazy lights and decor. There will be pumpkin painting, pumpkin artist carving demos and fire dancers from the Spirit of Pumpkins fire show. Enjoy local food and beverages while you take in this dazzling, spooky pumpkin wonderland.
Día de Los Muertos – Breckenridge
When: Thursday, November 1 – Saturday, November 3
Where: Arts District, Various locations, Breckenridge
Cost: Free workshops, exhibitions, activities and more.
The Lowdown: If you’re an art lover, this festival is for you. The Breckenridge Dia de Los Muertos will be a weekend full of activities, starting with an opening party featuring a five-piece salsa band playing at the ‘Ofrenda’ exhibit at Old Masonic Hall. It will also have a free buffet, with a cash bar. Events include five exhibitions + performances, four folk art workshops and several activities and talks. Whether you want to make a Catrina skull doll, get your face painted or participate in a flash mob — your creative senses are sure to be pleased.
Día de Los Muertos Celebration – First Friday Art Walk
When: Friday, November 2, 4 to 9:30 p.m.
The Lowdown: If you’ve never experienced first Fridays on Santa Fe, it’s a time when all of the galleries on the strip between 7th and 9th avenues come alive on the first Friday evening of the month. The first Friday of November will be a celebration of Dia de Los Muertos in the Santa Fe Arts District. Face decoration stations will be positioned throughout the Arts District starting at 4 p.m. Dress in Catrina attire and join in on the parade starting at 7 p.m. There will be a costume contest as well. If you don’t want to dress up, just come to enjoy the sights and celebrations.
10th Annual Pumpkin Smash Festival
When: Saturday, November 3, 12 to 4 p.m.
Where: Idaho Springs baseball fields, 101 Idaho Springs Rd., Idaho Springs
Cost: Free with a signed ticket; Details here.
The Lowdown: The folks at Scraps-to-Soil, a composting collective in Idaho Springs, have a unique way of disposing of pumpkins after Halloween. The 10th annual Pumpkin Smash takes place at Shelly/Quinn Fields in town, where people bring their pumpkins and pulverize them into pieces using Louisville Sluggers and slingshots. There will also be food vendors, beer, a pumpkin pinata, pumpkin bowling, face painting and more. This is a great opportunity for kids and adults alike, to learn about composting all while smashing pumpkins.
Día de Los Muertos Celebration – Botanic Gardens
When: Saturday, November 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver
Cost: Free Gardens and Event Admission
The Lowdown: It’s not often that you can get into the Botanic Gardens for free, so its Dia de Los Muertos celebration is the perfect excuse to see the gardens and take in part in this 3,000-year-old Mexican celebration of the dead. Costumes are encouraged and featured activities include live art demonstrations, Lucha Libre, face painting, children’s crafts and more. Some activities will be dependent on the weather. A market (El Mercado) will showcase artist vendors from Colorado sharing their Dia de Los Muertos original art. Traditional altars and shrines for deceased loved ones will be arranged throughout, making for a colorful beautiful way to celebrate the dead.
Vintage Market Days
When: Friday, November 16 – Sunday, November 18
Where: Norris Penrose Event Center, 1045 Lower Gold Camp Rd., Colorado Springs
Cost: $5 per person; Free admission for kids 12 and under.
The Lowdown: ‘Bringing the vintage experience to you.’ Vintage Market Days is an event that began in Tulsa in 2011 but has since grown to eight locations and five states. It is a gathering of vendors selling antiques and re-purposed and handmade items. Food vendors, artists, gardeners and chefs also showcase their products and talent. Vendors include Stella Ella Vintage Dress, Inglenook Soaps & Co., Rusted Rabbit and more. Venture to Colorado Springs next month for some fall decor and attire — and perhaps a few Christmas presents.