Long weekends are like finding money in last season's coat pocket — not entirely unexpected, but easy to forget about until it's right there in your hand. If you have children, though, long weekends can shift from uninterrupted indulgences to a series of desperate plans designed to keep your kids entertained when they'd ordinarily be in school or otherwise out of your hair.
What are you doing with the family this Labor Day weekend? Enjoy the unexpected windfall of a free day, and make plans to take the clan to one or more of these family-friendly events.
John McEuen & the String Wizards
Friday, August 30, 8 to 10 p.m.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs
John McEuen is a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and he's headlining the very first ticketed event featuring an internationally recognized artist at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The venue's rides and attractions will close at 6 p.m. for the concert (though the gondola will remain open), but if you want to take in everything that the adventure park has to offer, spend the day there on the drops, coasters, swings and zip rides, or take the kids to play on the climbing wall or wear themselves out battling each other in laser tag. Then McEuen will take the stage and pick the night away with a group of all-star bluegrass musicians, including fellow Dirt Band founder Les Thompson, plus John Cable and Matt Cartsonis.
Copper Country Music Festival
August 30 to September 1
Copper Mountain Resort
209 Ten Mile Circle, Frisco
Copper Mountain's country-music tradition includes free live music all weekend from some of the top-ranked artists on the country charts, plus a maker's market and fine arts festival, and several kids' activities, including face painting and chalk art. This year's Copper Country headliners include Lucinda Williams, North Mississippi Allstars, the Earls of Leicester, Donavon Frankenreiter, Ruston Kelly, Molly Tuttle, Bishop Gunn, Futurebirds, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Nathan Kalish and the Last Callers, and the Aaron Burdett Band. You can also upgrade to premium seating areas and receive a commemorative souvenir, if you prefer. It's the perfect way to enjoy the ski slopes before the winter season starts.
JAS Labor Day Experience
August 30 to September 1
Benedict Music Tent
2000 Brush Creek Road, Snowmass
$120 and up
Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) has moved well beyond jazz in recent years to offer some of the most memorable musical experiences you can find in the heart of the mountains. The Labor Day festival is one of the events where the planning committees pull out all the stops, booking some of the most popular names in music — and this year is no exception. John Mayer, Weezer, Sting, Portugal.The Man, H.E.R., Luke Combs, ZZ Ward and more will be taking the main stages from Friday to Sunday, and performances by up-and-coming bands will keep you entertained in between. Some shows are sold out, so be sure to check the website and snap up your tickets before heading for the hills!
Creede Labor Day Weekend
August 30 to September 2
Free to $10
You don't have to be a child to appreciate hot air balloons filling the skies above Creede, and while the balloons are the main attraction at the Labor Day Weekend festival, this is one mountain town that knows how to throw a party for the whole family. Wake up early to watch the balloons launch in the morning and possibly even help out the pilots as they get ready to fly; then watch the little ones run around the Kids Carnival at Basham Park, with a bounce house and carnival games. Other activities include pancake breakfasts, live music and entertainment, barbecue fundraisers and the Salsa Fiesta (buy tickets separately to taste all the salsa you can handle). Sign up in advance for the Creede Mountain Run, with 2-mile, 12-mile, 22-mile and 50-kilometer courses, and stick around through Monday to watch the ATV Rodeo, which tests the speed and agility of various all-terrain and off-road vehicles.
Mile High Flea Market
Saturday, August 31, and Sunday, September 1
7007 East 88th Avenue, Henderson
$2 admission on Friday, $3 Saturday or Sunday, rides extra
What goes 'round comes 'round. At 9 a.m. August 31, the Heritage Big Wheel, a sixty-foot-tall, sixteen-bucket Ferris wheel, will start rolling at the Mile High Flea Market, which already boasts rides ranging from bumper boats to a classic roller coaster. This Ferris wheel debuted in 1978 at Old Chicago Towne in Boling Brook, Ilinois, then moved to the amusement park at Heritage Square, where it kept turning until June 2018. On opening weekend at its new home, a portion of proceeds from ticket sales will go to Super Heroes 4 Charity; come with a photo of yourself on the ride when it was at Heritage Square, and you'll get a free ride. The first hundred riders will get a free commemorative bumper sticker.
Commonwheel Labor Day Arts Festival
August 31 to September 1
Manitou Springs Memorial Park
502 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs
Commonwheel is an artist's co-op based in the Pikes Peak region, and this festival is a prime opportunity to browse wares from the area's most talented artists in a variety of media. Although art is definitely the main attraction, the festival also includes an art activities booth where kids can create wearable art to take home with them, as well as face painting, balloon artists and giant bubbles. And there will be plenty of live music and entertainment happening throughout the weekend, including performances by singer-songwriters and folk, world music, jazz, bluegrass and other musicians. While you're in Manitou Springs, soak up the mineral springs, take a tour through the cliff dwellings — or just enjoy everything Commonwheel has to offer.
A Taste of Colorado
August 31 to September 2
Civic Center Park
There's a reason that A Taste of Colorado has become a Labor Day tradition for so many people, but not everybody is aware that the smorgasbord of food and headlining musical acts also includes a ton of fun activities for kids. While parents gorge on food from the best restaurants in the state and enjoy music from KC and the Sunshine Band, Dwight Yoakum, Scott Stapp, Kool and the Gang and more, the kids' area by the Denver Public Library will include a pop-up playground, climbing walls, an obstacle course, bounce houses and laser tag, plus kid-friendly food for sale. You can also introduce your budding gastronomes to an array of new foods by asking for "taste-sized" portions from the participating Taste of Colorado restaurants, which will be more than happy to give your kids a sample of their best dishes for three or four tickets.
Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival
August 31 to September 2
Main Street, Breckenridge
Breckenridge is beautiful during the summer, and you might even glimpse some of the first leaves turning this weekend if you decide to head up for one of the top-ranked art festivals in the country. This will be the 44th year for Gathering at the Great Divide, which has been nationally ranked by Sunshine Artists Magazine and includes jewelry, glass, pottery, photography and much more from many of the best artists on the festival circuit. You'll find more than 100 artists displaying their wares from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday, plus all the usual fun and attractions that Breckenridge has to offer. It's the perfect time to spend a weekend at a resort before it's overrun by the ski season.
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Ouray County Fair and Rodeo
September 1 to 2
Ouray County Fairgrounds
22739 US-550, Ridgway
$5 to $30
Did the entire summer pass you by without the chance to watch cowboys ride ’em at a rodeo? Take advantage of one of the last rodeos of the season in Ouray, featuring sanctioned rodeo events on both Sunday and Monday, plus a parade, barbecue in the park, Cowboy Church and a fireman's dance. Children six and younger and active members of the military can attend for free, and admission is just $10 for adults and $5 for kids between the ages of seven and eighteen. Go big and buy a beer garden ticket for $30 (which includes general admission) to ensure you're well hydrated for the weekend full of bucking broncos, steer roping, barrel racing and more.
September 2 to 8
RiNo Art District
At the tail end of Labor Day is the beginning of the Crush Walls festival, now in its tenth year. The murals that Crush has established on public walls in RiNo have gathered attention from underground artists and Instagram influencers alike, providing an outlet for the vibrant street-arts scene in the Mile High City. The weeklong festival offers the chance to glimpse art in the making as artists create new pieces in the neighborhood, and also includes interactive exhibits, artist talks, after-parties, and workshops on everything from paint-by-numbers to stencil and chalk spray. The Street Art Calligraphy for Kids activity on Monday, September 2, is sold out, but you can still check out the art map with 88 different stops and spend your day walking the pedestrian circuit to watch the artists at work.
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