Summer Guide: Ten Best Summer Music Festivals
Westword Music Showcase returns for its twenty-second year.
Focus 4 Design
Colorado will host dozens of music festivals throughout the state over the next four months or so, many tailored to particular genres, whether it be bluegrass, folk, country, EDM or rock. Others run the gamut of styles. We’ve pared it down to ten must-see festivals (listed below in alphabetical order) — some of which have been around for decades and some that are brand-new.
Zac Brown Band is one of the headliners at Country Jam.
10. Country Jam
June 16-19, four-day passes start at $165
Country Jam Ranch, 1065 Highway 6 and 50
Although it’s nearly a four-hour drive from Denver to Grand Junction, the ride to the 25th annual Country Jam might be worth it if you’re a hardcore country fan. Acts include some of the biggest names in the genre: Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Lee Brice, Trace Adkins, Aaron Watson, Big & Rich and Tyler Farr.
Blondie will be at the Divide Music Festival.
Debi Del Grande for LA Weekly
9. Divide Music Festival
July 22-24, $65-$345
The debut three-day Divide Music Festival features a strong lineup of national acts, including Kid Cudi, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, the Fray, Cake, Passion Pit, Blondie and Bleachers, as well as a decent assortment of local acts, including Gasoline Lollipops, One Flew West, AMZY and Edison. The festival will also include Colorado craft beers, local-food artisans and camping.
8. Global Dance Festival
July 8-10, three-day pass $180-$300
Over the past dozen years, Global Dance Festival has established itself as one the finest electronic-music festivals in the state, consistently bringing in some of the best names in EDM. This year’s lineup includes Above & Beyond, DJ Snake, Knife Party with Anna Lunoe, Autoerotique, Boombox Cartel, Bear Grillz, Brillz and more.
A view of the stage at Telluride Town Park.
7. Ride Festival
July 9-10, two-day pass $265
Telluride Town Park
Since making its debut in Telluride in 2012, the Ride Festival has been gathering steam, with bigger lineups every year. Pearl Jam is this year’s headliner; the bill also includes national acts Cage the Elephant, the Dirty Knobs, the Temperance Movement, Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons and Band of Heathens.
Fans at Riot Fest.
6. Riot Fest
September 2-4, three-day pass $169.98-$299.98
National Western Complex
Since Riot Fest came to Denver in 2013, the festival has booked some stellar lineups, like punk legends Iggy Pop & the Stooges and the Replacements, hip-hop greats Run DMC and De La Soul, and alt-rock stars like the Pixies and Guided by Voices. This year’s roster includes a reunion of original Misfits members Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, along with Ween, Death Cab for Cutie, Jane’s Addiction (performing Ritual de lo Habitual), Sleater-Kinney and more.
Tipper headlines this year's Sonic Bloom.
5. Sonic Bloom
June 16-19, four-day pass $222-$444
Now in its eleventh year, the four-day electronica-centric Sonic Bloom festival, which includes yoga, performance artists, workshops and art installations, returns to Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country with another outstanding lineup that includes big national names like Tipper, Bonobo, the Opiuo Band and Nightmares on Wax, as well as prominent local electronica acts like EOTO and Michal Menert & the Pretty Fantastics.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival returns for its forty-third year.
4. Telluride Bluegrass
June 16-19, $80-$230
Telluride Town Park
Over the past four decades, the folks at Planet Bluegrass, who also put on the first-rate RockyGrass and Folks Festival, have made the Telluride Bluegrass Festival one of the finest of its kind in the world. This year’s lineup includes Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, Punch Brothers, Ryan Adams, Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band.
Trey Anastasio Band performs two sets at the first Vertex festival.
August 5-7, three-day pass $249.75
The inaugural Vertex music and camping festival includes more than thirty national acts, among them Odesza, Alabama Shakes, Trey Anastasio Band (which will perform two sets) and Duke Dumont. “At its core,” the fest’s website states, “Vertex merges the best of worlds to create a present-day frontier where anything is possible. Diverse music, exhilarating outdoor adventures and artful fun and games bring people together for an enduring shared experience.”
Fans at Underground Music Showcase.
2. Underground Music Showcase
July 28-31, four-day pass $55
As with previous years, the sixteenth annual UMS features a diverse pool of local talent and national bands including Polica, Thee Oh Sees, Allah Las and San Fermin over four days at multiple venues and stages along South Broadway.
Westword Music Showcase.
1. Westword Music Showcase
June 25, $45/VIP $95
The Westword Music Showcase, now in its 22nd year, will be bigger and better in 2016. National headliners Dillon Francis, Cold War Kids, Matt & Kim, New Politics, HEALTH, Brick + Mortar, Black Pistol Fire, Chef’Special, Grizfolk and 888 will perform on two main stages, with 100 of Denver’s best local acts performing at a dozen venues throughout the Golden Triangle.
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