Below are some of the major annual events in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and the surrounding area. You'll find additional events on the Internet at www.colorado.com and www.denver365.com, as well as on each city's website. We strongly recommend, however, that if a particular event is especially important to your visit, you confirm the date by telephone before you leave home. For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you’ll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Great Fruitcake Toss, Colorado Springs. This zany event, in which contestants compete to see who can throw a fruitcake the farthest, has been covered by national media and is among the most outlandish and festive spectacles of the year. It takes place in Manitou Springs’ Memorial Park, 5 miles west of downtown Colorado Springs. Call tel. 800/642-2567 or 719/685-5089 for more information. Early January.
MahlerFest, Boulder. This may be the only festival celebrating the work of Gustav Mahler. Attend a full orchestra concert, free chamber concerts, or the free symposium. Call tel. 303/447-0513 or visit www.mahlerfest.org for more information. Early January.
National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, Denver. This is the world’s largest livestock show and indoor rodeo, with about two dozen rodeo performances, a trade exposition, Western food and crafts booths, and livestock auctions. Call tel. 303/297-1166 for details. Second and third weeks in January.
Boulder Bach Festival, Boulder. Local and national musicians gather to perform music of the master baroque composer. Call tel. 303/652-9101 or visit www.boulderbachfestival.org for details. Last weekend in January.
Buffalo Bill’s Birthday Celebration, Golden. Ceremonies and live entertainment that commemorate the life of the legendary scout and entertainer take place at the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum. Call tel. 303/526-0744 or 303/526-0747 or check www.buffalobill.org for further information. Late February.
Colorado Springs Dance Theatre Wine Festival, Colorado Springs. Sample the best wines at this 3-day benefit for the Colorado Springs Dance Theatre. Call tel. 719/630-7434 for information. Early March.
Pow Wow, Denver. More than 1,500 American Indians (as well as 60 drum groups), representing some 85 tribes from 32 states, perform traditional music and dances. Arts and crafts are also sold. Call tel. 303/934-8045 for details. Mid-March.
Saint Patrick’s Day, Denver. Among the largest Irish holiday parades in the United States, with floats, marching bands, and more than 5,000 horses. Call tel. 303/892-1112 for further information. Saturday before March 17.
Easter Sunrise Service, Colorado Springs and Denver. Worshipers watch the rising sun light red sandstone formations in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. For details, call tel. 719/634-3144. Denver’s Easter Sunrise Service takes place at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, also in the midst of stunning geological formations. Call tel. 303/295-4444 or visit www.redrocksonline.com for further information. Easter Sunday.
Cinco de Mayo, Denver and Colorado Springs. More than 250,000 people from around the Denver metro area celebrate this annual Hispanic event, centered on north Federal Boulevard. It features mariachi bands, dancers, Mexican food, and other activities. Call tel. 303/534-8342 for information. Memorial Park is the site for the Colorado Springs celebration. Call tel. 719/635-5001 for information. May 5.
Plant and Book Sale, Denver. The largest volunteer-run plant and book sale in the nation, this event at Denver Botanic Gardens offers more than 250,000 plants, thousands of new and used books, and free gardening advice. Call tel. 720/865-3500 or visit www.botanicgardens.org for details. Early May.
Boulder Kinetic Fest, Boulder. This is a wacky event that’s a real crowd pleaser. Most years an average of 70 teams race over land and water at Boulder Reservoir in a variety of imaginative, human-powered conveyances. Activities include the kinetic parade, kinetic concerts, the kinetic ball, and a hot-air balloon launch. Call tel. 303/444-5600 for details. Early May.
Bolder Boulder, Boulder. This footrace attracts some 40,000 entrants each year, plus numerous spectators. Participants walk, jog, or run the 10K course. Call tel. 303/444-RACE [444-7223] or visit www.bolderboulder.com for details. Memorial Day.
International Buskerfest, Denver. An international street performers' festival featuring amazing shows by world-class jugglers, sword swallowers, magicians, tightrope artists, mimes, and acrobats! Call tel. 303/478-7878 for more information. Mid-June.
Wool Market, Estes Park. This huge natural-fiber show boasts contests, demonstrations, a children's tent, and sale of animals as well as products made from their wool. Kids love it. Call tel. 970/586-5800 or go to www.estesnet.com for details. Mid-June.
Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Boulder. This is considered among the top Shakespeare festivals in the country, with most performances in an outdoor theater. Call tel. 303/492-0554 for details. Late June through late August.
Garden Concerts, Denver. Jazz, blues, and folk concerts take place in the outdoor amphitheater at Denver Botanic Gardens. Call tel. 720/865-3500 or visit www.botanicgardens.org for information. June through September.
Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb, Colorado Springs. This “race to the clouds,” held annually since 1916, takes drivers to the top of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak. Call tel. 719/685-4400 for additional information. Usually the Saturday before or after July 4th.
Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Denver. This 3-day celebration of visual arts, which takes place in the chic Cherry Creek neighborhood, brings over 200 artists and 300,000 visitors. Call tel. 303/355-2787 or visit www.cherryarts.org for information. Early July.
Rooftop Rodeo & Parade, Estes Park. Features award-winning rodeos Tuesday through Sunday evenings. A grand parade kicks it all off on Tuesday morning. Call tel. 970/586-5800 or visit www.estesnet.com for details. Mid-July.
ArtFair, Boulder. Some 150 local and regional artists display their works in downtown Boulder, offering “fine art to fun art” plus live musical performances. Call tel. 303/449-3774 or visit www.boulderdowntown.com for more information. Third weekend in July.
Buffalo Bill Days, Golden. A parade, kids' rides, a burro race, arts and crafts displays, a petting zoo, a car show, and a pancake breakfast mark Golden's largest event. Call tel. 303/384-0003 or visit www.buffalobilldays.com for more information. Late July.
Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, Colorado Springs. Colorado's largest outdoor rodeo is a popular stop on the professional rodeo circuit. Call tel. 719/635-3547 or visit www.coloradospringsrodeo.com for details. Early August.
Colorado State Fair, Pueblo. National professional rodeo, carnival rides, food booths, industrial displays, horse shows, animal exhibits, and entertainment by top-name performers. Call tel. 800/876-4567, ext. 2028, or visit www.coloradostatefair.com for additional information. Mid-August through Labor Day.
Colorado Springs Balloon Classic, Colorado Springs. More than 100 colorful hot-air balloons launch from Memorial Park, making this one of the largest balloon rallies in the country. Call tel. 719/471-4833 or visit www.balloonclassic.com for more information. Labor Day weekend.
A Taste of Colorado, Denver. This is Denver’s largest celebration, with an annual attendance of about 400,000. Local restaurants serve house specialties; there are also crafts exhibits and free concerts. Call tel. 303/295-6330 or visit www.atasteofcolorado.com for details. Labor Day weekend.
Fall Festival, Boulder. An Oktoberfest celebration in downtown Boulder, this festival includes polka bands, food, carnival rides, and an art fair. Call tel. 303/449-3774 or visit www.boulderdowntown.com for more information. Late September or early October.
Great American Beer Festival, Denver. Hundreds of American beers are available for sampling, and seminars are presented at what is considered the largest and most prestigious beer event in the United States. Call tel. 303/447-0816 or visit www.beertown.org for information. Early October.
Pumpkin Festival, Denver. This family event, sponsored by Denver Botanic Gardens and held at Chatfield Nature Preserve southwest of town, includes pumpkin picking, food, crafts, hayrides, and other activities. Call tel. 720/865-3500 or visit www.botanicgardens.org for details. Mid-October.
Holiday Sale, Denver. Handmade Christmas ornaments, gifts, dried-flower arrangements, and food items are among the unique merchandise at this annual sale at Denver Botanic Gardens. Call tel. 720/865-3500 or visit www.botanicgardens.org for information. Mid-November.
World’s Largest Christmas Lighting Display, Denver. Some 40,000 colored floodlights illuminate the Denver City and County Building. All month.
Trail of Light, Denver. More than 12,000 sparkling lights cascade through the Botanic Gardens. Grand topiaries, nightly entertainment, "kissing spots," whimsical displays, and warm treats make for an unforgettable winter evening. Call tel. 303/865-3500 or visit www.botanicgardens.org for information. All month.
Parade of Lights, Denver. A holiday parade winds through downtown Denver, with floats, balloons, and marching bands. Call tel. 303/478-7878 or visit www.denverparadeoflights.com for information. Early December.
Festival of Lights Parade, Colorado Springs. A nighttime parade kicks off this month-long celebration of the holidays. Features include decorated live trees and holiday scenes from cultures around the world. Call tel. 719/649-9111 or visit www.coloradospringsfestivaloflights.org for information. Early December.
Christmas with Cody, Golden. Buffalo Bill Cody playing Santa? He sure did, and a reenactor continues the tradition, with gifts for the kids at the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum. Call tel. 303/526-0744 or 303/526-0747 or check www.buffalobill.org for further information. First Sunday in December.
Pikes Peak Summit Fireworks, Colorado Springs. A wondrous fireworks display to ring in the New Year. Call tel. 800/888-4748 or 719/635-7506 or visit www.experiencecoloradosprings.com. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.