Below are some of the major annual events in Colorado. You'll find additional events on the Internet at www.colorado.com, www.coloradofestival.com, and www.denver365.com, as well as on each city's website. I strongly recommend, however, that if a particular event is especially important to 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, where contestants compete to see who can throw a fruitcake the farthest, is among the most outlandish and festive spectacles of the year. It takes place in Manitou Springs's 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 composer 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 week of January.
Ullr Fest, Breckenridge. A week of wacky events dedicated to Ullr, the Norse snow god, culminates in a wackier parade. Call tel. 970/453-6018 or visit www.gobreck.com. Mid-January.
Wintersköl Carnival, Aspen and Snowmass. A 4-day event that includes a parade, fireworks, and a torchlight descent. Call tel. 970/925-1940 or see www.aspenchamber.org. Mid-January.
International Snow Sculpture Championships, Breckenridge. Four-person teams transform 20-ton blocks of snow into works of art. Call tel. 970/453-6018 or visit www.gobreck.com. Late January.
Boulder Bach Festival, Boulder. Music of the master baroque composer. Call tel. 303/652-9101 or visit www.boulderbachfest.org for details. Last weekend in January.
Loveland Valentine Remailing Program, Loveland. More than 200,000 valentines are remailed annually from Loveland. Call tel. 970/667-6311 or see www.loveland.org for details. Early February.
Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival, Steamboat Springs. Festivities include races, jumping, broomball, and skijoring -- that's horse-powered skiing -- street events. Call tel. 970/879-0695 or visit www.sswsc.org. First full week in February.
Leadville Valentine's Day Wine Tasting, Leadville. Wine tasting, good food, workshops, and related activities cosponsored by the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. Call tel. 888/532-3845 or see www.leadvilleusa.com for information. Mid-February.
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 further 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 or browse www.denvermarchpowwow.org for details. Mid-March.
Saint Patrick's Day, Denver. Among the largest Irish holiday parades in the United States, with floats, marching bands, and thousands of 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 illuminate red sandstone formations in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. For details, call tel. 719/634-6666. 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.
Spring Barrel Tasting, Grand Junction. Wine sampling, talks on winemaking, and good food. Call tel. 970/244-1480 or see www.visitgrandjunction.com for information. Late April.
Cinco de Mayo, Denver and Colorado Springs. More than 250,000 people from around the Denver area celebrate this annual event centered on north Federal Boulevard with 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. 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.
Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Durango. Mountain bikers race against a steam train from Durango to Silverton. Call tel. 970/259-4621 or see www.ironhorsebicycleclassic.com. Memorial Day weekend.
Taste of Creede, Creede. A festival of fine arts, with live music, artists' demonstrations, food, and an art auction. Call 800/327-2102 or see www.creede.com for information. Memorial Day weekend.
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.
FIBArk Whitewater Festival, Salida. North America's longest and oldest downriver kayak race highlights this festival, which includes carnival rides, a parade, a white-water rodeo, and live entertainment. Call tel. 719/539-6918 or visit www.fibark.net. Mid-June.
Strawberry Days, Glenwood Springs. One of Colorado's oldest civic celebrations, with a rodeo, talent show, music, dancing, an arts-and-crafts fair, parade, carnival, and footraces. Call tel. 970/945-2425 or visit www.strawberrydaysfestival.com. Mid-June.
Glenn Miller Dancin' on the Plains, Fort Morgan. A big-band music extravaganza in the hometown of the legendary big band leader. Call tel. 800/354-8660 or see www.fortmorganchamber.org for information. Mid-June.
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 a sale of animals (sheep, llamas), plus products made from their wool. Kids love it. Call tel. 970/586-5800 or go to www.estesnet.com. Mid-June.
Aspen Music Festival, Aspen. Considered one of the finest summer music festivals in the country, featuring world-renowned artists in classical, chamber, and opera performances. Call tel. 970/925-9042 or see www.aspenmusicfestival.com. Mid-June through mid-August.
Strings Music Festival, Steamboat Springs. Top-notch classical, jazz, country, and pop musicians perform. Call tel. 970/879-5056 or see www.stringsinthemountains.com. June through mid-August.
Greeley Stampede, Greeley. One of the West's biggest rodeos, with top national entertainers, plus concerts, kids' events, art exhibits, fireworks, and more. Call tel. 800/982-2855 or go to www.greeleystampede.org for details. Late June to early July.
Colorado Brewers' Festival, Fort Collins. Samples of more than 40 Colorado beers plus food and music. Call tel. 800/274-3678 or see www.downtownfortcollins.com. Late June.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride. This major international music gathering features bluegrass, folk, and country music. Call tel. 800/624-2422 or see www.telluridebluegrass.com. Late June.
Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Boulder. 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.
Brush Rodeo, Brush. Billed as Colorado's largest professional rodeo, with hundreds of participants, this event offers traditional rodeo competition, children's activities, an art show, a parade, a free barbecue, a footrace, a dance, and fireworks. Call tel. 970/842-5001 or see www.brushcolo.com. Early July.
Colorado State Mining Championship, Creede. Entrants from six states compete in old-style hand steeling, hand mucking, spike driving, and newer methods of machine drilling and machine mucking. Call tel. 800/327-2102 or visit www.creede.com. July 4th weekend.
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. Saturday close to July 4th.
Woodcarvers Rendezvous, Creede. This weeklong event includes woodcarving classes, demonstrations, and an auction. Call tel. 800/327-2102 or see www.creedewoodcarvers.com. Early to mid-July.
Rooftop Rodeo & Parade, Estes Park. 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.
Crested Butte Wild Flower Festival, Crested Butte. This mountain community shows off its spectacular wildflowers with hikes, photo workshops, classes, and other activities. Call tel. 800/455-1290 or see www.crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com. Mid-July.
Art Fair, 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.
Boom Days, Leadville. Events celebrate Leadville's mining and Wild West heritage with a parade, a carnival, gun-slinger reenactments, a mine-drilling competition, and a burro race. Call tel. 888/532-3845 or see www.leadvilleboomdays.com. First weekend in August.
Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, Colorado Springs. Colorado's largest outdoor rodeo, and a popular stop on the professional rodeo circuit. Call tel. 719/635-3547 or visit www.coloradospringsrodeo.com for details. Early August.
Sculpture in the Park, Loveland. This outdoor juried exhibit of sculpture includes works by close to 200 sculptors from around the world. Call tel. 970/663-2940 or see www.sculptureinthepark.org. Mid-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 or visit www.coloradostatefair.com for additional information. Mid-August through Labor Day.
Telluride Film Festival, Telluride. This influential festival has premiered some of the finest independent films in recent years. Call tel. 510/665-9494 or see www.telluridefilmfestival.org. Early September.
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.
Vail Oktoberfest, Vail. A traditional village-wide weekend celebration, it features street entertainment, German beer and food, dancing, games, and singalongs. Call tel. 970/476-6797 or go to www.vailoktoberfest.com. Mid-September.
Fall Festival, Boulder. An Oktoberfest celebration, 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/events/gabf for information. Early October.
Cowboy Gathering, Durango. Cowboy poetry, Western art, motorless parade, a dance, historical lectures, and demonstrations. Call tel. 970/382-7494 or go to www.durangocowboygathering.org. 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 Gift & Garden Market, Denver. Handmade Christmas ornaments, gifts, dried-flower arrangements, and food items are among the unique merchandise at this annual sale at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Call tel. 720/865-3500 or visit www.botanicgardens.org for information. Mid-November.
Christmas Mountain USA, Salida. More than 3,000 lights outline a huge tree; it also boasts a parade of lights and a visit from Santa Claus. Call tel. 877/772-5432 or see www.salidachamber.org. Day after Thanksgiving.
World's Largest Christmas Lighting Display, Denver. Some 40,000 colored floodlights illuminate the Denver City and County Building. All month.
Blossoms of Light, Denver. Over 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. 719/634-5581 or visit www.csfineartscenter.org for information. Early December.
Country Christmas Jubilee at Old Town, Burlington. Victorian carolers and Christmas music, historic buildings decorated in individual themes, bell ringing, plus other Victorian Christmas activities. Call tel. 800/288-1334 or check www.burlingtoncolo.com. 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.
Olde Golden Christmas, Golden. Come to Golden for an old-fashioned candlelight walk on the first Friday in December, and stay for weekend festivities in town. Call tel. 303/279-3113 or visit www.goldencochamber.org for information. Begins in early 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 check out www.coloradosprings-travel.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.