Colorado Music Festivals 2018: Your Official Guide To Fest Season

Festival season is the biggest time of the year for the music world. So here at BolderBeat, we’ll be updating this feature with every Colorado festival announcement that comes our way. Stay as on the pulse as we are:

May Play Music Festival May 11th

Downtown Greeley is hosting their fourth annual May Play fest with artists like The Burroughs, Brent Cowles, Slow Caves, Silver & Gold, and Post Paradise on the bill. There are a ton of other great local artists to check out, so swoop details and tickets here.

Spread The Word Music Festival May 11th-13th

Taking place at Denver’s Fox Street Compound, Spread The Word features a mix of local and national artists with styles including rock, jam, funk, reggae, hip-hop, folk/grass, electronic and fusion. Headliners of this year's fest include Jeff Austin Band (formerly of Yonder Mountain String Band), Everyone Orchestra (conducted by Matt Butler), A-Mac & The Height, and Bass Physics. Full lineup here.

303 Music Festival May 17th

Hosted by Ru Johnson at Denver's The Church, 303 Magazine is bringing you one awesome night of local music. Trev Rich, CITRA, Eldren, and The Other Black are just some of the bands on the lineup. Full details and tickets here

Five Points Jazz Festival May 19th

This FREE annual festival is back this year in Denver's Five Points neighborhood and will feature artists like Jakarta, The King Stan Band, Impulse, The Hendersons, Patrick McDevitt Nation, and more. You can bounce between venues or just walk around and take in all the good sounds. Full lineup and details here.

Mountain Games June 7th-10th

GoPro is putting on a festival in Vail with headliners like Chris Robinson Brotherhood, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Bonfire Dub, and The Wood Brothers. The weekend will also feature a slew of athletic events, including competitions for your dog, a silent disco, and art exhibits. You can grab tickets to Mountain Games here.

Greeley Blues Jam June 8th-9th

The Greeley Blues Jam keeps the blues scene alive and this year, their lineup includes The Devon Allman Project, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, and Danielle Nicole. This is one weekend you’ll enjoy being blue. Full lineup on their website.

Taste of Fort Collins June 8th-10th

The 22nd annual Taste of Fort Collins headliners include William Michael Morgan, Eddie Money, Everlast, and Judah & the Lion. Tickets are only $5-$10 and the fest is hosted at Civic Center Park in Old Towne. Grab more info on their website.

Country Jam June 14th-17th

Grand Junction will host Country Jam’s 27th annual four-day fest this year. Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert, Brett Eldredge, and Big & Rich top the headliners list of the 30+ artists that will play to your boot kickin’ desire. Surrounded by the red rocks of GJ, this festival annually hosts some of the biggest names in country music. More info at this link.

Sonic Bloom Festival June 14th-17th

If you like electronic music, there’s no better place to be than Colorado’s Sonic Bloom Festival. Happening at Hummingbird Ranch in Spanish Peaks Country, the weekend will feature performances from Shpongle, Keys N Krates, Nightmares On Wax, Liquid Stranger, EOTO and a huge array of other beatmasters. The festival will also feature yogis and movement leaders, as well as interpretive artists. And did we mention the visuals? Full lineup here.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 15th-18th

Telluride Bluegrass Festival celebrates its 45th year this summer! Tedeschi Trucks Band, Greensky Bluegrass, and Leftover Salmon top the fest’s 2018 list. We can tell you from past experience that this fest is magical and we’ve even met some our favorite musicians at (where else?) the Port-a-Potties. More info and tickets here.

Cover Rock Festival June 22nd-23rd

Looking for tunes from tribute bands? This festival is all about it. Hosted in Avon, Cover Rock Festival will feature tributes to artists like Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, the late Tom Petty (RIP!!), and others. More info and tickets here.

Westword Music Showcase June 23rd

Denver’s alt weekly newspaper will host their annual summer celebration this year. With Galantis, Bonobo, The Front Bottoms, Joywave, and a ton of local artists, this will be one to clink a summer beer to and enjoy. More info and tickets on their website.

Van’s Warped Tour July 1st

Warped Tour recently announced that 2018 will be the last year for the traveling festival. Though much has changed since what was arguably Warped Tour’s heyday (moshing is now frowned upon), we’re still sad to see it go. Give these bands a proper send-off- locals 30H!3 are top-billed with acts like All Time Low, Asking Alexandria, and more. Tickets here.

Colorado Rocky Mountain Old Time Music Association (CROMA) July 11th-15th

CROMA's annual Parrish Ranch festival features a great old-time music lineup, workshops, nightly dances, open jams, classes for kids, open stage times, and couples dance workshops. The festival manages to keep old traditions alive while also bringing a modern twist to some elements. Artists at this year's fest will include Bryant and Brown, The Onlies, Betse & Clarke, The Barn Owls, Patt and Possum, Caroline Oakley, Chris Kemiet, and Larry Edelman. Get full details and tickets here.

The Ride Festival July 14th-15th

The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, and Grace Potter will headline The Ride Festival this year, another Telluride fest that is sure to get you groovin’. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Something, and others will keep your summer-chill vibes in check at this one. Full lineup here.

Global Dance Festival July 20th-21st

If you’re ready to dance, Global’s got a crazy mix of electronic and hip-hop artists like Deadmau5, Gucci Mane, Future, and Machine Gun Kelly topping their list. The event is at Sports Authority Field this year and you can snag tickets here.

The Underground Music Showcase July 27th-29th

One of our absolute favorite weekends of the summer is Denver’s The UMS due to its focus on local artists, and all the fun that comes along with wandering around the South Broadway venues hosting the three-day event. In news this year, Two Parts has taken over the event. This year's lineup is stellar with headliners like Alvvays, BJ the Chicago Kid, Classixx, Deerhunter, Digable Planets and over 100 local artists who we absolutely adore. Tickets and full details here

Rockygrass Festival July 27th-29th

Bluegrass, bluegrass, and more bluegrass. That’s what Rockygrass in Lyons is all about! Last year, the festival showed us the changing face of the genre. This year, Sam Bush Bluegrass Band, David Grisman and Peter Rowan, and Hot Rize are already confirmed for this pickin’ celebration, so get your tickets now. More info and tickets at this link.

ARISE Music Festival August 3rd-5th

Colorado’s ARISE is back for its sixth year at Loveland’s Sunrise Ranch, and features seven stages of live music, yoga, workshops, theme camps, art galleries & installations, a children’s village, speakers, and films! Some of the top billed artists for 2017 include Slightly Stoopid, Thievery Corporation, and Trevor Hall. Get more details here.

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest August 10th-12th

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is a FREE, recurring, three-day music festival held every August in the historic downtown of Fort Collins. Bohemian Nights headliners this year include The Motet, Blondie, and The Decemberists. The festival also hosts a number of local bands on their stages- get the full schedule and details for the weekend here.

Local Jam Grand Junction August 10th-12th

Known for its "creativity, passion, dedication, style,  [and] massive talent," Grand Junction's three-day festival Local Jam is a celebration of Western Slope bands ranging from metal to bluegrass. Stray Grass, Jack + Jill, Suckafish, Tim + Richard, and others have been announced for the year. Full details and lineup here.

Mountain Town Music Festival August 17th-18th

Back for its fifth year, Keystone’s Mountain Town Music Festival features a mix of rock and grass bands like Ages & Ages, Mipso, Strange Americans, and Shovels & Rope. The fest is a celebration of “all things Colorado” so you can expect some good brews along with the shows. More info and tickets here.

Velorama Colorado August 17th-19th

Following the Colorado Classic bicycle race, Velorama is returning to Denver’s RiNo Neighborhood for its second year this summer. Cold War Kids, Matt & Kim, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and The Kills are the bands announced so far, and you don’t have to bike in the race to partake in the party. Plus local acts Brent Cowles, Wildermiss, and Slow Caves are on the bill! More about this new fest here.

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival August 17th-19th

Rocky Mountain Folks Festival showcased artists who brought current politics into their tunes last year, bringing people together in solidarity. Along with its songwriting workshops, the Lyons, CO fest created an awesome artistic community that managed to showcase great national acts too. Indigo Girls, Jeff Tweedy, and Los Lobos have been announced for this year’s fest. Tickets here.

Compound Sound Festival August 24th-26th

Boogie Groove Entertainment is producing this year's first annual Compound Sound. What started as friends performing at a private ranch in 2009 has officially launched into a major music festival. Along with headliners like Cycles, Lucid Vision, Tnertle, and Spectacle, the fest will also have food trucks and vendors, yoga and flow workshops, a healing village and "many more shenanigans." Details and tickets here

Four Corners Folk Festival August 31st-September 2nd

Pagosa Springs 23rd annual Four Corners Folks Fest is ready for a campout with bands like Nahko And Medicine For The People, Amy Helm, We Banjo 3, and Jon Stickley Trio. The weekend will also feature jam camps for kids and adults, and lots of tasty local vendors. See more for yourself and grab camping info and tickets here.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass August 31st-September 2nd

Lionel Richie, Jack Johnson, Zac Brown Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Fitz and the Tantrums, Gary Clark Jr., Bahamas, and The Record Company are the big acts at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day event this year. JAS has a smaller June event too, which will feature Lizz Wright, Leslie Odom Jr., Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Josh Kagler and Harmonistic Praise Crusade, and Georgia On My Mind: A Tribute To Ray Charles. Details on both events here.

Seven Peaks Music Festival August 31st-September 2nd

Dierks Bentley is throwing a three-day music festival in Chaffee County this year with headliners like Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne, Elle King, Lanco, Del McCoury, Sam Bush and The Cadillac Three. The new fest is a real treat for country lovers and the scenery of Buena Vista sure won't hurt! Get details and tickets here.

Denver Jazz Festival September 14th-16th

With a mix of local and international jazz acts, Denver Jazz Festival promises over 600 dancers and listeners for their three-day fest. Hal Smith's Swing Central, Jonathan Doyle Swingtet, Red Hot Rhythm Rocket, and many others are on the lineup. Check out news and get tickets here.

Grandoozy September 14th-16th

Superfly, the geniuses behind Bonnaroo, are bringing Grandoozy to Denver this year! In what could possibly be the biggest festival production the state has seen, headliners have already been announced and include Kendrick Lamar, Florence + The Machine, and Stevie Wonder. Sturgill Simpson, Miguel, and St. Vincent have also made the list; Denver-based acts Tennis, Dragondeer, Gasoline Lollipops, and Flaural will perform as well. This fest is our most highly anticipated of 2018 so don’t snoozy- Tier 1 tickets are already sold-out so grab your passes here.

Telluride Blues & Brews September 14th-16th

As regular festivalgoers of Blues & Brews say, “It's not the altitude that'll take your breath away. It's the views.” That, and of course, the music. This year, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Govt Mule, Booker T’s Stax Revue, JJ Grey & Mofro, and Anders Osborne will headline. Early bird tickets are already sold-out, so grab passes while you can here.

Festivals of The Past

Wondering what happened to some of your other favorite Colorado festivals? Project Pabst dissipated into the PBR-fueled mountain air with no Denver announcement this year (but Superfly who put it on is the force behind Grandoozy). Bass Center is now in Virginia after the fest was first moved from Colorado to New Jersey last year; Divide Music Festival, who were rumored to return this year, has now been postponed until 2019 stating, “greater forces are working against us;” Groove Festival’s web presence is still replaced by this Japanese site making us still question everything; Mad Decent Block Party appears to have officially gone off the radar; Riot Fest has again only listed its Chicago date in 2018 after the fest cancelled its Denver show last year; and Vertex (which we freakin’ loved) appears to be a distant dream after it was cancelled in 2017.

Make sure to keep up with our festival coverage all summer on BolderBeat’s dedicated fest page!

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

A Day in the Life: Your Weird, PBR-Fueled Adventure at The Big Wonderful

By: Hannah Oreskovich

I wasn't sure what the Big Wonderful was, and I wasn't alone.

“An art festival.” “A food truck lot.” “Some outdoor deal with music.” “A DIY-scene thing.”

These were the rumored descriptions of Denver’s The Big Wonderful. Several Boulder and Denver bands had posted about playing the event and the cursive yellow sign occasionally crept into my Instagram feed. So I rolled over to TBW lot on 26th and Lawrence one Saturday. And if you had come with me, this is what you would have seen:

Upon entering (admission is free), the staff try to talk to you about buying various alcohol packages. It’s too hot for you to listen, but you learn over the course of the afternoon that this is a booze-heavy event. There’s a giant tent in the middle of the lot where you can get cocktails depending on the drink deal you buy. There is also a keg truck if you go the beer route. And between musical performances, the emcee (who appears like the ringleader of this hipster circus in his top hat and vest) auctions off cocktail packages and ski shots. That’s all you know about the dranks because you meet some of the bands and hang ‘backstage.’ The artists are paid with a check and a six-pack of PBR, so you dip into some of their free poison water for kicks.

After chatting with the local bands on the lineup, you decide to wander around. The Big Wonderful is set up in one big circle, so you do a lap and make a mental list of what’s up:

1. There are food trucks. The most notable: a giant red one that sells lobster (which appears to be very popular), a real-looking fire truck that sells crepes, and thank god, an ice-cream truck. You are very grateful for Happy Cones Co. in this heat today.

At The Big Wonderful, people love lobster. 

At The Big Wonderful, people love lobster. 

2. You come upon a giant, old abandoned tour bus, the kind with seating on the roof. You want to take a selfie in front of it, but feel like someone may shout “millennial” at you, so you don’t.

You took this instead of a selfie :(

You took this instead of a selfie :(

3. There is a weird, enclosed, wooden hut with streamers that looks like it was used for pony rides years ago by carnies on LSD but it’s currently used for nothing. You stare at it and contemplate The Big Wonderful’s funky circus vibes.

wtf.

wtf.

4. You pass a small windowed house that claims to be full of local art merch, but is empty.

vacant.

vacant.

5. You see fashion trucks. A ton of fashion trucks.

One of many. 

One of many. 

6. You sit under the big beer garden tent at a picnic table for a few minutes with your PBR. Everyone around you is either drinking or napping. This is the only real shade you can find.

Get your booze on.

Get your booze on.

7. Occasionally, you notice cool art painted on various trucks/structures.

Dig. 

Dig. 

8. There are some yard games and a sand pit to your left. You wonder what might be buried in that sand pit.

you can volley.

you can volley.

9. You walk toward the stage, where four bands play through the course of the day. There is no one else anywhere near the stage at any point of your time there, except for a group of girls who hoop for five minutes and then disappear. One of them tells you she has to leave to try to find vegan edibles.

The hoopers braved the sun to get close to the bands.

The hoopers braved the sun to get close to the bands.

10. Suddenly, your curiosity about why The Big Wonderful exists is suddenly overwhelming. You enter what appears to be The Big Wonderful information tent. You ask the 20-something volunteer sitting among all of the TBW merch what this crazy festival is about. She smiles, points at two men chatting in a different tent nearby, and tells you, “Ummmm- why don’t you go talk to the guy over there who started it?” You then wonder if any of the volunteers know more about this event than you do. You ask a volunteer near the exit about TBW and he directs you back to the information tent. You then ask him how long The Big Wonderful has been around. He tells you six months; later a third volunteer tells you two years.

General TBW-ness.

General TBW-ness.

And that’s when you realize, though this event has a lot of potential, it’s just not quite there yet.

The food trucks are scattered and some are even located behind each other, making it impossible for you to mouth-wateringly glance at all of your delicious options at once. And dotted among these food trucks are the fashion trucks. You wish these had their own designated area of The Big Wonderful circle so you could traipse through their wares, one after the other, instead of spending $25 on a crystal necklace and then wishing you still had cash for that all-natural deodorant stand. You hippie.

You look at the band playing and realize that since the stage is so far from any shade and oddly sandwiched between two empty structures (the windowed house and the pony hut), the musicians have had no contact with any sort of audience today. Except the hoopers.

People also get close to the stage for a few seconds for sign selfies. psh. millennials.

People also get close to the stage for a few seconds for sign selfies. psh. millennials.

And speaking of the empty structures, you wonder: Why isn’t the pony hut a trippy VIP booze area or something? Where is the local art that the little house claims to hold? Why isn’t the tour bus repurposed so that it’s more than just something to look at? The pieces stand alone like bones.

You’ve officially sweated out all of your PBR, so you decide to call it a day. You think about trying to ask yet another volunteer questions on your way out, but he appears passed out in the shade, or dead. It’s hard to tell.

Walking away, you wish The Big Wonderful felt a little more like a proper festival. It has the potential to be, with some organization, planning, and general DIY-awesomeness. The bones for a sweet weekend event exist at The Big Wonderful, but someone needs to put this skeleton together.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos per the author. Volleyball photo per Erin Burke. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.