It’s official — live music is back. With new shows being announced at Red Rocks – which is now open at full capacity on a nearly daily basis, and local music venues showcasing both new and familiar acts every weekend, there’s no better place to be than right here in Colorado. Additionally, summer music festivals are popping up around the state at an exciting pace. We know it’s difficult to keep up with all these announcements, so 303 Magazine has made a list of the most exciting music festivals happening in Colorado this summer. Boogie down, head-bang and sing your heart out all summer long in one of the most important musical destinations in America right now — Colorado.
Colorado Music Festival
When: Now – July 29
Where: Chautauqua Auditorium (900 Baseline Rd, Boulder, 80302)
Cost: Prices Vary
The Lowdown: The celebrated Colorado Music Festival returns this year, providing some of the best modern classical performers and symphonies from around the world. This six-week festival includes over 42 musicians, representing 44 orchestras from 23 states, 4 provinces, and 3 countries.
Global Dance Festival
When: July 23 – July 24
Where: Empower Field (1701 Bryant St, Denver, 80204)
The Lowdown: This two-day festival will showcase the best EDM and electronic music from around the world. From globally recognized artists such as Excision, Illenium, Kaskade, Gryffin, and Getter, to local favorites including Of the Trees, Kyral X Banko, and Mersiv, there’s no better place to dance the night away.
RiNo Showcase Music and Arts Festival
When: July 25
Where: Number Thirty Eight, (3560 Chestnut Pl, Denver, 80216)
The Lowdown: Didn’t get enough music at the Global Dance Festival? Well, luckily for you, the RiNo Showcase Music and Arts Festival will demonstrate some of the best local talent the following day. Located in the beautiful River Arts District, this all-day event will showcase the best Denver has to offer. Strictly local, the Showcase will feature more than 50 Colorada visual artists, musicians, artisans, and creators. Additionally, food will be provided by some of the most celebrated local chefs and food trucks. Even better, all artists keep 100% of their profits from the event.
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival
When: August 6 – August 8
Where: Planet Bluegrass Ranch (500 W Main St, Lyons, 80540)
Cost: $80 (Single Day), $175 (3-Day Pass)
The Lowdown: This year’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival boasts an impressive lineup of both old and new bluegrass artists, including Shakey Graves, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Shawn Colvin, Hiss Golden Messenger, and more. The festival is also environmentally conscious, focusing on “sustainable festation,” which, according to the Rocky Mountain Folks website, means “The act of creating a conscious community centered around a love of music and respect for the planet.”
Shine Music Festival
When: August 8
Where: Levitt Pavilion (1380 W Florida Ave, Denver, 80223)
The Lowdown: By far the most unique festival on our list, the Shine festival, according to its website, is a “radically accessible music event” that’s providing a space for disabled music lovers to rejoice in live music in a mindful space. It’s an event dedicated to empowering disabled people, who often miss out on concert experiences due to a lack of accessibility and disability accommodations. The tickets are free for everyone, but if you’re feeling generous or want to support this event in a more meaningful way, feel free to donate to the cause through their website.
Breckenridge Music Festival
When: August 8 – August 14
Where: 201 S Ridge St, Breckenridge, CO 80424
The Lowdown: For Breckenridge Music Festival’s 40th year, artistic director and conductor Steven Schick is structuring the event around themes of “Awakening.” This positivity stems from a desire to move forward after a year of tragic loss due to a global pandemic. Events will include “Tiny Porch Sessions” and “Acoustic Flow,” with a lineup of more than 15 musicians from across the country. Learn more at the Breckenridge Music website.
When: August 12 – 14, August 19 – 21
Where: Aztlan Theatre (976 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, 80219)
Cost: $30 – $120
The Lowdown: The Animas Immersive Music and Arts Festival will be a unique experience, to say the least. More than just a music festival, the event will also feature immersive art installations, an outdoor block party, a secret speakeasy, local vendors, food trucks, sound healing, a cannabis consumption bus, and live painting. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding this event, which is no doubt purposeful and part of the experience. Each night is dedicated to a specific musical genre, mostly focusing on hip-hop and bass music. There’s even a dedicated “circus night” which is sure to be an experience entirely on its own. The lineup features Bluetech, Jacklndn, Top Flight Empire, Trev Rich, Viel, Notlo and more.
Telluride Jazz Festival
When: August 13 – August 15
Where: Telluride, CO
Cost: $64-$75 (Single Day), $190 (3 Day Pass)
The Lowdown: The Telluride Jazz Festival, which has been around since 1977, again takes place in the beautifully quaint town of Telluride, surrounded by gorgeous mountains everywhere you look. With 26 artists on the lineup, from Galactic’s R&B-inspired, groovy pop Jazz to Robert Glasper’s upbeat, drum-centric modern Jazz music, there’s a sound for everyone to enjoy. At night, the local music venues accommodate performing artists for the special “Jazz After Dark” experience with more intimate live performances.
Reggae on the Rocks
When: August 21 – August 22
Where: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Cost: GA – from $80, Reserved Seats – from $144
The Lowdown: The beloved, annual Reggae on the Rocks Festival – which has been around for over 30 years – is back once again. Spend a groovy, fun-filled weekend on the rocks accompanied by great vibrations and even better music. Reggae on the Rocks will feature eccentric and popular reggae bands such as Rebelution and Steel Pulse, accompanied by great opening acts including Inner Circle, The Green, and many others. As we all try to readjust to normal life once again, this festival is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
The Underground Music Showcase (UMS)
When: August 27 – August 29
Where: Various venues on South Broadway
The Lowdown: Arguably the most important local music festival in Colorado, the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) is a fan-favorite for a good reason. Each year, the best Colorado artists give incredible performances to the most dedicated and energetic crowds in the state. The official lineup is now out and it features a ton of local and national heavy hitters. This is definitely a weekend you don’t want to miss.
When: August 28
Where: 16th Street Mall
The Lowdown: Set across five unique stages lining Denver’s iconic 16th Street Mall, the Denver Day of Rock Festival is eight hours of great music. The event will benefit Amp the Cause, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the livelihood of Denver’s youth by supporting child-focused health and education organizations through fundraising events and community service projects. Headliners include The Band Perry, Cale Dodds, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, and Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers.
JAS Aspen Labor Day Experience
When: September 3 – September 5
Where: JAS Center (110 E Hallam St # 104, Aspen, 81611)
Cost: $360 (3 day pass)
The Lowdown: The JAS Aspen Labor Day Experience, which is celebrating its 30th year in 2021, will be held in the beautiful JAS Center in one of the most scenic towns in America — Aspen, Colorado. Surrounded by incredible mountain peaks, this festival will host some of the most iconic musicians of the last fifty years – including Stevie Nicks, Kings of Leon and Gary Clarck Jr.
Sunnyside Music Festival
When: September 11
Where: Chaffee Park (1901 W 43rd Ave, Denver, 80216)
The Lowdown: Another music festival dedicated to promoting local acts, the Sunnyside Music Festival is a day of music, beer, food and family-friendly activities. The annual festival prides itself in providing performing opportunities for Denver’s youth and supporting local youth music and arts programs.
Telluride Blues & Brews
When: September 16 – September 19
Where: Telluride CO
Cost: Prices Vary
The Lowdown: With more than 30 artists performing, the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival boasts an impressive lineup of incredible blues musicians. From acoustic blues to rock music, there’s no shortage of soulful talent in the lineup, which includes Nathaniel Ratcliff & The Night Sweats, Buddy Guy, Jamestown Revival, Monophonics, and many, many more. Unfortunately, this year’s festival will not include the traditional Grand Tasting, which usually features 56 breweries and 170 styles of beer. The stripped-back event will still have a large selection of beers to choose from, though.
Westword Music Showcase
When: September 17 – September 18
Where: RiNo Arts District (Friday), Mission Ballroom (Saturday)
Cost: FREE (Friday, Locals Only show), $45 – $190 (Saturday Shows)
The Lowdown: The beloved Westword Music Showcase returns this year after the 2020 hiatus, bigger and better than ever. A genre-less music festival, the showcase will feature everything from punk, metal and rock to hip-hop, R&B, indie, jazz, alternative, country, folk, bluegrass and electronic. Friday is dedicated to local acts, while Saturday will feature nationally recognized stars including Kaytranada, Young the Giant, Thundercat, Matoma, Hippo Campus and more. Additionally, the streets in RiNo will see live painting, interactive art, and dozens of food trucks and other activities.