Ten Best Summer Music Festivals in Colorado

Global Dance Festival
Global Dance Festival Aaron Thackeray

Page 2 of 2

Mavis Staples
Mathew Tucciarone
Telluride Jazz Festival
August 4-6
Telluride Town Park, Telluride

While the four-decade-old Telluride Jazz Festival always boasts some first-rate jazz acts and also hosts “Jazz After Dark” shows around downtown Telluride, its headliners this year lean more in the direction of soul and R&B, with such heavies as Mavis Staples, Macy Gray and Lee Fields & the Expressions. Also in the lineup: Cha Wa Mardi Gras Indian Band and Hooligan Brass Band, which will both deliver lively, New Orleans-inspired funk and jazz.

August 11-13
RiNo Arts District
$35-$45 per day

Although Velorama, which will take over a dozen blocks in RiNo in August, is part of the Colorado Classic race and geared toward cyclists and their fans, the festival will also feature a stellar music lineup, with national headliners Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, The New Pornographers, Saint Motel and La Santa Cecilia, as well as local acts.

click to enlarge Zakk Wylde - BRANDON MARSHALL
Zakk Wylde
Brandon Marshall
Guitar Town
August 12-14
Copper Mountain Resort

For past eleven years, Guitar Town has brought in some of the world’s greatest guitarists, and this year’s lineup lives up to that. The festival will feature a diverse set of pickers, among them Zakk Wylde (who fronts Black Label Society and toured with Ozzy Osbourne); Tommy Emmanuel, one of the world’s finest finger-style players; blues masters Harvey Mandel and Bob Margolin; and Guitar Army, with John Jorgenson, Lee Roy Parnell and Joe Robinson. In addition to concerts, the three-day festival offers guitar and songwriting workshops and kids’ music activities.

click to enlarge Gregory Alan Isakov - BRANDON MARSHALL
Gregory Alan Isakov
Brandon Marshall
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival
August 18-20
Planet Bluegrass, Lyons

The same group that puts on the outstanding Telluride Bluegrass and RockyGrass festivals also produces the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, a favorite for nearly three decades. While this year’s shindig includes local acts Gregory Alan Isakov and Elephant Revival (both have headlined Red Rocks), it will also play host to some great nationally known folk, roots and Americana artists, such as Rhiannon Giddens, Loudon Wainwright II, Dave Rawlings Machine, Lake Street Dive, Josh Ritter and more.

High Elevation Rock Festival
September 22-23
Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre

With Five Finger Death Punch, fronted by former Denverite Ivan Moody, and Korn headlining this two-day hard-rock festival, things are bound to get heavy and, well, probably downright muscular, musically speaking. Also on tap are A Day to Remember, Stone Sour, Halestorm, In This Moment, Steel Panther, Black Veil Brides and more.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon