Music festivals are often thought to be a strictly summer kind of thing, but luckily for Colorado, our 300 days of sunshine allow for a whole extra season of live music outdoors. This spring, electronic acts like Diplo and Kaskade, local superstars like Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and hip-hop legends like Ghostface Killah and Raekwon will throw down at big events throughout Colorado. Whether you prefer to enjoy live music in a mountain setting or are partial to a show in the city streets, there's a festival waiting to be discovered. We've compiled a list of ten great music gatherings happening before June here — but be sure to check out the online Westword calendar for a full list of upcoming concerts.
1. Lafayette Electronic Arts Festival
Center for Musical Arts, Lafayette
Friday, April 1
Electronic music and art intertwine at this free day-to-evening community-centered festival. Immerse yourself in out-of-this-world sonic textures and visual landscapes as local and national musicians, videographers, tech geeks and digital artists like the Synth_Drone Collective, Orbiting Olympia, Andrew Blanton and Benton C. Bainbridge create multi-sensory magic in real time.
2. Minus Zero Festival
Winter Park Resort
Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3
$95 to $339
The Minus Zero Festival in Winter Park brings many of electronic music's biggest and most influential stars to its slopes for some fun in the snow and sun. Diplo, Kaskade, Bass Physics, Manufactured Superstars and many more acts make up this two-day mountain fest dedicated to enjoying live sets in an outdoor setting. Parking is free, lift-ticket/festival pass combinations are available, and all tickets are good for post-fest after-parties.
3. Ultimate Music Xperience
Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3
Doubling as a live show and an audition for a slot at the upcoming 45th Annual Capitol Hill People's Fair, the Ultimate Music Xperience gives local acts a chance to shine. All genres are welcome as dozens of Colorado acts like Star Monday, JL Universe, Random Hero and Franny & the Jets fill two days' worth of free entertainment in the heart of the city.
4. 420 Eve on the Rocks
Tuesday, April 19
$35 to $150
The weed holiday has happily become an event that is equally about the music, and the 420 Eve on the Rocks show gets a jumpstart on the celebratory marijuana-themed festivities. The killer lineup includes ganja party staples Method Man and Redman, fellow heavyweights Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, Collie Buddz, Joey Bada$$ and more. They'll all take over the Rocks for a night that promises to go up in smoke.
5. Spread the Word Music Festival
Quixote's True Blue, Sancho's Boulder Arrow, Owsley's Golden Road, 1301 Broadway, Boulder
Friday, April 29, through Sunday, May 1
$15 to $40
An excellently curated two-day, two-city festival of some of Colorado's best acts, the Spread the Word Music Festival gives listeners a chance to sample the work of dozens of musicians from across the state. Venues in Denver and Boulder will host acts like Rowdy Shadehouse, ATOMGA, Midnight Pressure, Rastasaurus and more, offering fest-goers an excellent survey of the eclectic music community.
6. Sun Drenched Music Festival
Denver Beer Co. Canworks
Sunday, May 14
$35 to $65
Denver Beer Co. transforms its brewery into a summer beach party hosting live music and fun in the sun activities like sand volleyball, beer balloon fights and more. The festival portion of this shindig brings big names like Hot Buttered Rum, Town Mountain and the Rapidgrass Quintet to the stage for a warm-season event like no other in the city.
7. Project Pabst
Outdoor stages between 27th and 28th Streets on Larimer
Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22
With a lineup offering up the likes of Courtney Barnett, Big K.R.I.T and Violent Femmes, it's clear that this two-day gathering is all about a wide variety of music. Traffic will be stopped for the street party, and hometown heroes Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats will also play, giving local fans a chance to say hello and party along with Denver's big stars.
8. Five Points Jazz Festival
Saturday, May 21
The vibrant local and national jazz community gets center stage for the Five Points Jazz Festival, a Denver tradition going strong for more than ten years. The free event attracts thousands of guests to not only enjoy a day of wonderful latin, blues and funkacts, but take time to celebrate the Five Points neighborhood — once known as the "Harlem of the West." Check back with the Jazz Fest for a line-up as it is announced.
9. 8th Annual Music MeadowGrass Festival
La Foret Conference & Retreat Center, Colorado Springs
Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29
Free to $316
A true mountain destination music event, the MeadowGrass Music Festival hosts over twenty bands under one tent. This year, Jackie Green, the Jeff Austin Band, the Barr Brothers, Fruit Bats and more will take part in the sustainable, environmentally friendly gathering made for lovers of music and the wilderness. Tickets are still available, but camping spots for the two-day Memorial Day weekend festival go fast.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
10. Denver Day of Rock
Various locations, downtown Denver
Saturday, May 28
With five stages of music spread throughout downtown Denver, the annual Denver Day of Rock is sure to have something for every kind of music listener. Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, Pandas & People, the Knew, Foxfield Four and many more perform during the daytime community event, which is aimed at showing off national musicians as well as the talent that we've got right here in Colorado.