10 Best Festivals in Durango, CO: Music, Art, Western Culture & More

Annual Festivals in Durango, CO

Discover the vibrant festival scene in Durango, Colorado, which offers unique events throughout the year. Durango's bounty of cultural events and music festivals contributes to its status as one of the best towns in Colorado: from the Snowdown Festival in winter to the San Juan Brewfest in the summer, there's always something exciting happening. Each season offers distinct celebrations that highlight Durango's community spirit and diverse interests. Explore the best festivals in Durango and find out why this city is a hub for cultural and recreational activities all year round.

Springtime Festivals in Durango

Spring sees the Durango community come alive, and as the snow melts off the mountains and ridges, quite a few jamborees encourage and celebrate the budding warmth. Here are some of the most popular spring festivals in Durango.

The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown

The sounds of bluegrass music with twanging banjos, harmonicas, and knee-slapping singers abound at the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. At this annual event, which has been running since 1995, attendees arrive with their instruments ready for impromptu jam sessions between scheduled performances from world-class bluegrass musicians.

The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown is typically held at some of the top venues in town, and bluegrass lovers have been known to plan their Durango vacations around the festival dates. At least 15 acts are slated to perform most years, and aspiring musicians and industry promoters can enroll in workshops throughout the week. The three-day festival is typically held on a weekend in mid-April, and it draws fans from throughout La Plata County and beyond. Attendees can choose between day passes or full weekend passes, with single-day tickets typically priced from around $65 and up.

There are tons of things to do with kids in Durango, but the festival's free admission for kids 12 and under make it a can't miss event for young music lovers.

The Durango Celtic Festival at Fort Lewis College

Celtic traditions meld seamlessly into the town's vibe at the Durango Celtic Festival. For three days in mid-March, the classic and modern sounds of Celtic cultures reign across the campus of Fort Lewis College, emanating from the school's Community Concert Hall. Held just outside of Historic Downtown Durango, guests can expect to hear music from countries including:

  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Hebrides
  • Cape Breton

The Durango Celtic Festival features top acts every year, and it was held for the 10th year in 2024. Each year, an official festival movie plays at the Henry Strater Theatre.

Hundreds of classes are offered, such as Whistle for Beginners, Uillan Pipes, Mandolin, Recording and Production, Irish Fiddle, Beginner Guitar, and so much more. The Durango Celtic Society sponsors this annual event; attending it is one of the most unique things to do in Durango.

Durango's Summer Festivals

There are countless things to do in Durango during summer, with the sizzling sun beckoning folks to get out and be involved with the community happenings. Durango's hottest summer festivals are just what the city needs to cool off. Any of the festivals below can be an exciting addition to a summer trip to Durango.

Music in the Mountains: Serenading Sizzling Summers

Music in the Mountains FestivalStarting in mid-July and running for three weeks, the Music in the Mountains Festival features top artists from several genres performing across town. Various venues, including Durango's best parks, pubs, Fort Lewis College, and the Ute Event Center, host more than 50 shows throughout the fest. The newly introduced "Road Show" mobile stage brings concerts to almost every street in town.

Orchestral performances and chamber concerts will include Durango's finest musicians and special guests at the Community Concert Hall. Every year, conductors ranging from Juilliard School grads to Grammy award-winning orchestral leaders join the show.

Throughout Music in the Mountains, there will be over 40 thrilling events for music lovers. The daily picnics are laid-back, and concerts with special wine and chocolate pairings are decadent weekend additions. Don't miss out on this one-of-a-kind Southwest Colorado music experience.

Strum it Up at the Rocky Mountain UkeFest

The Rocky Mountain UkeFest, which is usually held in early August, brings the sounds of island strings to Durango. The event was founded by Denise Leslie, who decided to take her love for the ukulele and create a way to introduce and share this unique guitar with the community. After seeing festivals of this type around the nation, she knew that this mountain town would appreciate such a fest right here.

Since its inception in 2015, the Rocky Mountain UkeFest has hosted notable presenters, including:

  • Daniel Ward & Heidi Swedberg
  • Sarah Maisel & Craig Chee
  • Jason Arimoto
  • Danielle Ate the Sandwich
  • Victor & Penny
  • Mark Jackson & Jane Jelbert
  • Gerald Ross
  • Victoria Vox
  • Devin Scott

Performances occur at various places around town, including at the Strater Hotel—one of Durango's best hotels and historic sites—but the jam sessions don't cease after the festival concludes. Workshops are held in the spring and fall, and the annual Rocky Mountain Campground Tour and Get Your Uke On are other uke-centric events. Several monthly jams occur online and in person.

Summertime Suds at the San Juan Brewfest

The last weekend of August is when the community comes together to say goodbye to summer with a cold one at the San Juan Brewfest. Over two days, thirsty festival-goers head to Buckley Park in Durango to taste local craft beers, listen to live music and participate in special events.

The San Juan Brewfest is officially the largest regional beer sampling festival in Colorado, and attendees are never disappointed. First established in 1998 and held near Purgatory Resort-area homes, the crowds of beer lovers grew quickly. In response, Brewfest coordinators moved the festival to the downtown streets below some of the most sought-after condos in Durango.

Every year, more than 50 brewers each bring at least two beers for guests to sample. Booth after booth, guests are presented with one-of-a-kind brews, free swag, and tasty snacks. Brewfest typically sells out in advance, so get tickets in advance. Day passes range from $40 to $50, while VIP weekend passes cost $100.

Durango's Favorite Fall Festivals

The arrival of autumn's crisp air gets locals motivated to explore the great outdoors and the region's beauty before the arrival of winter. Also feeling inspired by the perfect weather, locals over the years have established quite a few fall festivals to celebrate the season. Here are some of the most popular activities that locals attend year after year.

Fall for the Durango Fall Gallery Walk & Showcase

While this event also occurs in spring to experience the fresh blooms, the Durango Fall Gallery Walk & Showcase highlights the lovely color transitions that occur in autumn. On the third weekend of September, Downtown Durango is awash with orange, yellow, and red leaves that compliment the evergreens that grace the base of the San Juan Mountains.

Art galleries and spaces line the streets in vendor booths and standalone galleries with works ranging from glass, western, and Native American sculptures to contemporary pieces. Works by local and regional artisans and art from internationally recognized artists will be present.

Visitors enjoy strolling the streets and popping into the various galleries. It's not uncommon for the actual artists to be present to greet the spectators. Hand-crafted jewelry, paintings, and crafts of all types are available for purchase. Come out and see the fall leaves, experience wonderful art, listen to live music, and support the community and economy in Durango.

Soak in the Colors at the Durango Autumn Arts Festival

Autumn Arts FestivalIn mid-September, the Durango Autumn Arts Festival on East Second Avenue attracts artists from all over the world. While the primary focus is on local and regional creators, this annual Durango event features a wide array of fine arts and crafts. More than 7,000 art lovers come to see the visual exhibits or find the perfect piece to complement their collection.

Restaurants and pubs are well-prepared for the crowds and will typically offer food and drink specials. Sponsored by the Durango Arts Center, a portion of the proceeds from sold pieces go towards local non-profits supporting the Four Corners' artistic community.

Preserve the Western Spirit at the Durango Cowboy Gathering

The Durango Cowboy Gathering takes place in early October each year. This festival celebrates the language and stories of the American West and the history of Durango, but guests don't need any wrangling experience to enjoy the performances. This festival is about more than just poems. There is also a parade, which has been lauded as the largest non-motorized parade in the state.

On Saturday during the fest, there is a western-style chuckwagon breakfast before the parade. Servings are typically limited, so arrive early to get a plate. Proceeds and donations go to support the annual event and the organization's youth programs.

Winter is Chilly, But These Durango Winter Festivals Are Hot

While it might sound tempting to hole up in one of Durango's luxury homes and hibernate for the winter, these festivals bring out locals and visitors who are ready to warm up to the snow season. Here are two Durango winter festivals that are too much fun to keep even the coldest bears in their caves.

Brighten Up a Chilly Day at the Snowdown Festival

January culminates with the annual Snowdown Festival in Durango. Activities, shows, and contests are dispersed throughout the community for the duration of the festival. First conceived in 1979 to rejoice in the winter season, Snowdown has a different theme each year. Just some of the never-ending fun includes:

  • Costume Contests
  • Trivia Games
  • Eating Contests
  • Kids Crafts
  • Various Themed Competitions

A highlight of the Snowdown Festival is the after-dark Parade of Lights. Many decorated vehicles adorned with lights, intricate paint themes, and just about anything imaginable cruise down the streets alongside floats. Firework displays go off during the parade to brighten up the night after a brilliant day at Snowdown.

A Showcase of Independent Artists: The Durango Film Festival

Durango Film FestivalThe highly-anticipated Durango Film Festival aims to showcase independent filmmakers' works locally, regionally, and globally. This unique and interactive viewing experience takes place in March and brings the Four Corners film buff community together in one of Colorado's best mountain towns.

Many networking connections between industry innovators come to fruition here, with creators, writers, producers, and filmmakers finding commonalities and sharing advice across genres. Many celebrities have attended and assisted with promoting the festival, including Jim Belushi, Lindsay Wagner, and Mackenzie Astin.

Genres are a mixed bag at the Durango Film Festival. Native Cinema, adventure seeker's documentaries, horror, sci-fi, fan fiction, and family-friendly films are just a few offerings. Anyone interested in film can join various workshops throughout the week, having coffee chats with innovators, listening panels, and much more. Nightly parties are a fun way to end each day of the film fest.

Durango's Festivals Enhance Every Season

More than 55,000 call the Durango metro area home. Located at the foothills of the majestic San Juan Mountains, Durango is a haven for festival-loving individuals. Many love calling Durango home because of its natural beauty, prolific art, vibrant food scene, and proximity to sites like Mesa Verde National Park, the wild Animas River, and Pikes Peak. Anyone on the fence about moving to Durango should visit during any of the town's great festivals and discover the wonders of this Colorado town.

If Durango sounds like the perfect place for you, contact Colorado Property Group of RE/MAX with Durango Homes for Sale at (970) 946-0601 to get in touch with a Durango real estate agent and get ready to call this beautiful mountain town home.

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