Festivals in the San Juan Skyway

While in Colorado visitors should not miss traveling on and around the scenic 232-mile San Juan Skyway. This breathtaking loop through the San Juan Mountains is designated as an All-American Road, a National Forest Scenic Byway and a Colorado Scenic & Historic Byway. In addition to being called one of the most beautiful drives in America, it should also be described as the gateway to an amazing plethora of festivals in towns around the San Juans. Month after month, mainly from April through September, these festivals are intended to provide much more than entertainment and fun together with business opportunities for local and other merchants. Each one of the festivals is uniquely connected to local history, culture and community aspirations.
Multipe Balloons in Ridgway

Held in June or other months since 2015, the Ridgway Spirit Fest provides a really good example of a festival that combines speakers and presentations, art and music, designed to increase awareness and understanding of the many faiths, cultures, philosophies and traditions that shine through Western, American and local cultures. Likewise the Ridgway Spirit Fest aims to highlight creativity and engagement in community experiences, quite apart from any religion or church affiliation. A creative arts festival in August basically shares the same goals. In addition to attracting a cross-section of outdoor-oriented enthusiasts, Ridgway wants to become a magnet for creative arts and talented people who want a lifestyle nourished by creativity and that is ecologically sustainable.

Durango has developed a well-earned reputation for outstanding festivals. In April visitors can listen to bands from across the country at the annual Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. The festival’s events are spread over many local venues including the historic Henry Strater Theater, Durango Arts Center, Wildhorse Saloon, and Discovery Museum. For kids the festival includes the Bluegrass in the Schools program, workshops and even an Old Time Barn Dance.

Farmers Market

A very different kind of festival held on the Saturday before Labor Day in downtown Durango, The San Juan Brewfest features a full day of exceptional fun, beer-tasting and live musical entertainment sponsored by more than 50 breweries. Here again, the festival has a community purpose, raising funds to benefit United Way of Southwest Colorado. Over the past 23 years, since its birth at the Purgatory Resort, the event has grown to more than 2,500 attendees and 50 breweries. The Brewfest is held on the same day as the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon, which adds another fun twist to the event.

End of April/beginning of May, Durango has a three-day Durango Wine Experience that includes educational seminars, wine dinners and unique tastings, with participation by hundreds of wineries and creators of wines and craft beers. The event includes a Friday Walk-About Durango to familiarize visitors and locals with top local chefs, breweries, and distilleries. A forum for winemakers, the event covers winemaking trends and raises money for local charities. In the same month Durango enables visitors to savor food, drink and fun on Main Avenue at the Taste of Durango. Dozens of local restaurants participate and there’s entertainment.

Native American Music Festival
In the third week of May, Telluride’s three-day LitFest celebrates the joy of reading with many events that include performance poetry, author talks, panel discussions and lots of children’s activities. Telluride deserves credit for bringing together a coalition of regional writers, organizations and businesses involved in the literary arts. LitFest falls on the weekend before Mountainfilm.Since 1979, Telluride MountainFilm has been showcasing the best of documentaries and filmmakers that showcase stories about environmental, cultural, political and social justice issues. Mountainfilm, includes interactive talks, community events, a gallery walk, outdoor programming and presentations. The goal is to inspire audiences to action on worthy causes. On a lighter note, in early June the Telluride Balloon Festival kicks off with display of the balloons of Friday followed at sunrise on Saturday morning by a mass ascension of balloons from Telluride Town Park.
Festival Winter Vacation
Each June, music lovers from around the globe come together at the Telluride BlueGrass festival for four days of toe-tapping, carefree-dancing and music-loving fun. Also in June the Telluride Wine Festival caters to wine lovers and festivalgoers also can attend cooking demonstrations, decadent meals and seminars led by sommeliers and celebrity chefs, and of course concerts. Don’t miss the Telluride Jazz Festival in August and in September the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival that for three decades has been bringing world-class musicians to the mountain town. The genres at the event include gospel, soul, jam-band, rock, indie, funk and blues. Per usual at festivals in the San Juans, there are also lots of activities for kids.