The little mountain town of Telluride is a destination meant for celebration. Aside from a true Colorado retreat — nestled at the base of the San Juan Mountains — the idyllic setting offers visitors world-class vistas and top-notch recreation, along with one of the country’s most diverse and impressive festival lineups. So, no matter when you go, you’ll find it’s worth the trip.
End of May kicked off the season, but things really got rolling in June. Although some festivals have already come and gone, Keira Skinner, Telluride Tourism Board director of marketing and public relations, said it’s already a year to remember.
“This season, we are celebrating the milestone anniversaries of some of our most cherished summer festivals,” Skinner said. “The longevity of these events illustrates how the community embraces the importance of arts, culture and entertainment.”
MountainFilm in Telluride just celebrated 35 years running at the end of May, and the Telluride Balloon Festival turned 30 during the first weekend of June. The town’s anniversary summer continues with the 40-year mark for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the Chamber Music Festival and the Telluride Film Festival, as well as the 20th year for Telluride Blues and Brews. To top off the cake, a Telluride landmark — The Historic Sheridan Opera House — turns 100 this year.
“Really it was 40 years ago when Telluride was transitioning from a mining town to a ski town and local residents started to add summer events to the calendar to draw visitors to the area,” Skinner said.
Pronounced popularity for some of the events have made spots coveted — tickets to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival were sold out.
A zen celebration
Amidst this deeply rooted festival culture, a variety of relatively new and hip happenings are coming to the scene. In its sixth year, the Telluride Yoga Festival attracted teachers and practitioners in from all over the country to meet in the mountains from July 11 to 14.
“The Telluride Yoga Festival is really about deepening your practice in a truly sacred place,” said Aubrey Hackman, festival founder and producer. “Telluride really has a special vibe to it, and it doesn’t look like anywhere else in Colorado. Instead of going somewhere that is more mainstream, it’s about getting off the beaten path and feeling Telluride’s powerful and unique energy.”
Hackman explained how in an “authentic way,” she thinks the Telluride Yoga Festival is a little more conservative than other yoga festivals — a little less about the “party.” She said people are generally there to deepen their practice, their stamina and their understanding of yoga.
“It’s really a potent experience if you are a beginner yoga or an advanced practitioner; all levels are very well-accommodated,” Hackman said. “Yoga allows for people to really tap into their full experience in one of the most beautiful and powerful places in the world.”
On the same mid-July weekend as the Telluride Yoga Festival, The Ride Festival, presented by Telluride’s local community KOTO radio, rocked venues in Telluride and the nearby Mountain Village with a diverse list of acts, including David Byrne and St. Vincent, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Cake and many more.
Steve Gumble, Telluride Blues and Brews Festival owner and director, said the annual September event is like a recipe, with a lot of ingredients that come together to make something really special.
“(That) time of year, the trees are starting to change for fall,” he said. “It’s a pretty time to be in the mountains, and the music and the microbrews are simply a huge draw.”
Gumble said the beer tasting of an estimated 150 microbreweries is what really makes Blues and Brews stand out from other music festivals in the country, along with the array of legendary artists who come on stage, year after year.
The festival has hosted everyone from James Brown and B.B. King to the Allman Brothers in the past, and this year, the three-day lineup includes a variety of noteworthy talent gracing stages from Sept. 13 to 15.
“We are super excited about the lineup because it has a little bit of everyone,” Gumble said. “There will be hard-core blues with Gary Clark Jr., pure rock ’n’ roll with The Black Crows and new, fresh stuff with My Morning Jacket.”
Gumble expressed his desire to “hit the nerves” of those who have been attending the festival from the beginning.
“I really want to appeal, appease and attract everyone who has been coming and been faithful to us for 20 years,” Gumble said.
For more information on Telluride Blues and Brews and to purchase tickets, visit www.tellurideblues.com.