A Gastronomic Journey Through Colorado’s Summer Food Festivals

BY Steph Wilson

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Summer in Colorado is a time for sun-kissed peaks, alpine lakes, and a never-ending feast for the senses. And what better way to indulge in this culinary paradise than by exploring its food festivals? From mountain towns to urban cities, Colorado offers a smorgasbord of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you hungry for more. So, pack up your picnic blankets and bust out your stretchy pants, because we’ve got the scoop on the hottest festivals that will make your taste buds sing.

May

RARE, The Denver Steak Championship, May 25

The Denver Center for Performing Arts Complex & Sculpture Park

1736 Speer Blvd, Denver, CO 80204

Denver’s love for steak takes center stage at RARE, the ultimate food festival dedicated to showcasing the best steak bites and cocktails the city has to offer. This one-night-only event features 25 of the region’s top steak purveyors competing head-to-head for the title of Top Steak. Hosted by the team behind Denver’s most sought-after culinary events, RARE promises to be a fun-filled evening of food, drink, and entertainment that will tantalize your taste buds and ignite your senses. Mark your calendars and get ready to sink your teeth into the juiciest evening of the year at Denver’s very own steak championships. Tickets go on sale on March 14—sign up for text reminders now (the only way to purchase tix) so you don’t miss out. raresteakfest.com

Blues, Brews, & BBQ, Beaver Creek, May 26–28

210 Offerson Rd Avon, CO 81620

Memorial Day in the Rocky Mountains means it’s the Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival at Beaver Creek! This much-loved weekend of BBQ, brews and live music heralds the start of summer for you and your family. beavercreek.com

June

Whiskey + Doughnuts, June 10

Denver, CO

Held every year between National Whiskey Day and National Doughnut Day during Denver Doughnut Week, this once-a-year event is a can’t miss, incredible experience with more whiskey and doughnuts than you could possibly sample in three days much less one afternoon. The vendors, often times the very owners and creators themselves, break out the good stuff to showcase their craft. You will not find a more delicious mix of sugary treats and finely made spirits anywhere else in the world. Come meet the changemakers of the rapidly growing local distilling and doughnut scene.

Colorado BBQ Challenge, Copper, June 15–17

509 Copper Rd, Frisco, CO 80443

​​Get your bibs ready, folks, because the Colorado BBQ Challenge is about to get wild. This year, the competition is moving up to Copper Mountain, and it’s bringing all the finger-licking, lip-smacking BBQ goodness that we crave. But that’s not all, Copper’s summer activities like The Rocky Mountain Coaster and Woodward Wrecktangle are sure to add a bit of spice to your weekend. And with competitions like Ribs & Jibs rail jam and the 5k Bacon Burner run, it’s not just about the BBQ; it’s about the heart-pumping thrills, too. coppercolorado.com

Aspen Food & Wine Classic, June 16–18

350 E Durant Ave, Aspen, CO 81611

Celebrating 40 Years of Icons & Innovators with a look back at the standout talent, trends, and recipes that have made the Classic a must-visit experience for four decades. This premier culinary event consists of three incredible days of cooking demonstrations, wine & spirit tastings, and panel discussions led by world-class chefs and beverage experts. It’s already sold out, but hey—that’s what scalpers are for. classic.foodandwine.com

Telluride Wine Festival, June 22–25

Telluride, CO 81435

After skipping the festival in 2022, the team behind this annual festival is ready to do it up big, with an all-new Culinary Village. This year, the celebration is centered on wine, women, and song. More details are still to come, so keep an eye on the fest’s website if you want to learn more. telluridewinefestival.com

July

Tacos make us happy, too. Photo courtesy Top Taco Festival

Top Taco, Downtown Westminster’s Center Park, July 13

10455 N Sheridan Blvd, Westminster, CO 80020

At Top Taco, festival-goers sample unlimited taco tastes and signature tequila cocktails

from some of the best restaurants in Denver, voting for their favorites to crown four categories of awards: Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top Vegetarian Taco, and Top Cocktail. With five stages of amazing music, creative tequila lounge areas, an entire tent dedicated to mezcal tasting, and some of the best chefs and mixologists in the city, Top Taco has become the can’t-miss summer event in Denver – and always sells out. toptacodenver.com

Keystone Wine & Jazz, July 15–16

100 Dercum Square, Keystone, CO 80435

With hundreds of varietals of wines to sip and savor, this is your chance to sip on wines while strolling River Run Village to the beat of a dozen jazz musicians. This year the focus is on the classics with more wine, delectable food dishes, and unique merchandise from near and far. Wine-tasting glasses as well as food passes are available for purchase, and the popular 2 Glass 1 Food Pass ticket returns so you can have fun with a friend. keystonefestivals.com

Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival, July 19–23

Crested Butte CO 81224

Explore enlightening seminars, elegant winemaker dinners, exciting tasting events, and the annual Grand Tasting in the wildflower capital of Colorado. This summer tradition brings passionate hospitality professionals, culinary stars, celebrated winemakers, award-winning beverage experts, and adventurous foodies from around the world to Crested Butte to eat, drink, and give. cbwineandfood.org

Breckenridge Food & Wine Festival, July 28–30

Breckenridge, CO 80424

The Breckenridge Food and Wine Festival brings you a unique, wine-tasting experience. Main Street Station Plaza and The Village at Breckenridge, (at the base of Peak Nine), transform into a beautiful, mountain-side vineyard starring an array of varietals created by top wineries. From the soft and smooth to the unabashedly bold, guests will get more than their fair share of delicious sips. Event highlights include a VIP wine pairing dinner on Friday, Saturday’s Grand Tasting, and the Brunch and Vines event on Sunday. gobreck.com

August

It’s all fun and games at Chicken Fight! Fest, returning to Elitch Gardens again this August.

Chicken Fight! Fest, Elitch Gardens, Aug. TBD

2000 Elitch Cir, Denver, CO 80204

Open up the season at Denver’s iconic amusement park with this adults-only, private, one-night extravaganza for the senses. Chefs from 45 of the city’s top restaurants will compete for your vote as we look to crown the best in chicken wings, fried chicken, bourbon chicken, chicken tacos, and chicken sandwiches—ok, everything chicken!—and wash it down with perfectly paired cocktails… The all-inclusive ticket gets you unlimited tastes from dozens of your favorite Denver restaurants, a massive cocktail competition and tasting featuring the city’s most elite bartenders, and more than 40 spirits. Bottomless ice-cold beer and refreshments, five stages of killer live country, bluegrass, and blues—and unlimited rides, roller coasters, and more. chickenfightfest.com

Telluride Reserve, Telluride, Aug. 17–19

Telluride, CO 81435

Intimate and alluring, Telluride Reserve is an unrivaled exploration of taste and culture set amongst Colorado’s dramatic San Juan Mountains. Centered around industry collaboration, each event during Telluride Reserve connects guests with admired creators within the culinary and vintner world as they showcase the subtleties that define flavor. In these moments, we come together to experience the enthralling passions behind food and wine, in a setting that exudes the feeling of being at the peak of life. A three-day food and wine event in Telluride, Telluride Reserve features chefs, purveyors, winemakers, sommeliers, and mixologists. Guests can purchase reserve access for any of the seminars, lunches, and dinners, as well as the Grand Tasting, Adieu BBQ, and Sunset Industry Welcome. Guests can also purchase individual tickets to any event. On Friday night, join Chef Paul Reilly in peak farmers market season for the Farm to Gallery dinner in a Telluride Art District gallery. From the same team that brings us the Steamboat Food & Wine Festival, which goes down once summer has ceded way to fall, Sept. 28–Oct. 1, 2023. telluridereserve.com

Vail Wine Classic, August 10–12

Vail, CO 81657

Explore all that the Vail Wine Classic has to offer. Sip wines from the West Coast to France with 100+ wineries featured at the Grand Tastings. Immerse yourself in the world of wine during expertly paired dinners and lunches throughout the weekend. The adventure continues with paired wine hikes and lifestyle events. Elevate your wine knowledge during classroom-style seminars hosted by winemakers and sommeliers. vailwineclassic.com

Breckenridge Hogfest: Bacon & Bourbon, Aug. 25–27

Breckenridge, CO 80424

Bacon is the most loved food in the universe and the route to all things swine and divine. Add in the quintessential American liquor, bourbon; mind blown. These indulgences come together for Breckenridge Hogfest: Bacon & Bourbon. Meat connoisseurs will be able to taste their way through a spectrum of pork samples, premium whiskeys, single malt scotches, and barrel-aged spirits while enjoying live music and mixology below Peak Nine. Event highlights include a VIP Bourbon Pairing dinner on Friday, the Grand Tasting on Saturday, and an oh-my-god-we-made-it brunch on Sunday. gobreck.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steph Wilson

Steph Wilson is a writer, editor, and creative maximalist in Denver. She makes magazines for a living and throws color around the world like confetti for fun.

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