Denver fall festivals: Here are 13 festivals to attend in the metro area

Editor’s note: Due to possible event changes or cancellations due to COVID-19 and the delta variant, please check the event organizer’s website as well as the state of Colorado’s guidance at covid19.colorado.gov.

As we watch the summer skies fill with haze from wildfires in the West, it’s easy to find ourselves dreaming of cool, crisp autumn days. Leaf-peeping aspens, German beer tastings and sweater weather are just around the corner.

Fall in Colorado is a vibrant season. Family-friendly weekends without sweltering; food and wine fests; the milder temperatures of the great outdoors; markets with handmade artisanal goods; and Oktoberfest are among some of the things to anticipate as August comes to an end.

Fun fact: Most Oktoberfests take place in September. The German festival was less beer-centric and instead celebrated the matrimony of Prince Regent Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Today, Oktoberfest is a worldwide celebration, and Colorado is home to a few of them.

From stein-hoisting competitions to mountain festivals, here are some fall events happening in and near Denver to add to your calendar, listed by dates.

Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival in Estes Park. The festival celebrates Scottish-Irish heritage and takes place in North America’s Celtic capital. Enjoy Celtic music, ethnic dances, bagpipe bands, whiskey and beer tastings and Scottish Highland athletics.

The festival begins Friday, Sept. 10, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 12. Tickets are available and range between $12.99 and $84.99. Go to bit.ly/3ssSeS1 to buy tickets. For more information, visit scotfest.com or call 970-586-6308. The parade starts at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, in downtown Estes Park. Other events will take place at the fairgrounds.1209 Manford Ave., Estes Park

Breckenridge Wine Classic

Breckenridge’s annual Wine Classic, Sept. 16-19, features wines from around the world paired with quality food and guidance from master sommeliers alongside the golden aspen trees. The event schedule includes tastings of Colorado wines, Italian-themed pairings, a Spanish-style lunch, a bubbly hike, a barbeque, sake tastings and more. Tickets range from $75 to $200. For tickets, go to breckenridgewineclassic.com. Riverwalk Center Lawn, 150 Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Breckenridge Film Festival

Coinciding with the Wine Classic, the 40th anniversary of the Breck Film Fest will take place in-person Sept. 16-19 and virtually Sept. 17-26. Screenings will show at three different venues: Riverwalk, the Eclipse Theater and the Breck Backstage Theater. Films include “Buried,” “I Am Burt Reynolds,” and “The River Runner.” All venues are within walking distance from one another and close to Main Street. Tickets range between $81 and $225. To see the lineup and purchase tickets, visit breckfilm.org. 103 South Harris St., Breckenridge

Oktoberfest Denver

Named best Oktoberfest in the U.S. by Maxim and USA Today, the Denver Oktoberfest is back this year for the last two weekends of September, Sept. 17-19 and 24-26. The celebration includes live music, beer and wine, a costume contest, stein hoisting and keg bowling. Tickets for Oktoberfest are not yet on sale, but keep checking the website, thedenveroktoberfest.com. 2100 Larimer St. 

Denver Arts Festival

The Denver Arts Festival will include 140 artists, live music, food, a kids zone, wine and beer. The event is free, and so is parking. The festival, held at the Conservatory Green in the Central Park neighborhood, begins on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 9 a.m. and ends on Sunday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. Go to denverartsfestival.com or check out the event on Facebook. 8303 E.49th Place 

Denver BBQ Festival

The Denver BBQ Festival is smoking up 30,000 pounds of meat in this year’s three-day event. There will be live music, a variety of barbeque flavors from well-known pitmasters and an all-you-can-eat pass that includes free beer, wine and cocktails. Entry is free, with barbeque and drinks available to purchase. The Denver BBQ Festival runs Friday, Sept. 17, from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 18, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 19; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Empower Field at Mile High, 1701 Bryant St. denverbbqfest.com 

Brecktoberfest

New this year: Festival-goers must purchase tickets to attend sessions, and there will not be a Main Street event. Instead, each session is three hours long and there will be two sessions per day. The first sessions all three days, Sept. 24-26, are from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and the second is 3-6 p.m. Tickets include admission, two beer tokens and a half-liter stein glass. You must be 21 years of age to attend; tickets are $50 per session.

There also will be a kid-friendly fair in the Breckenridge Creative Arts District for those interested in activities geared toward families. Breckcreate.org has more details. Visit gobreck.com for more about Brecktoberfest; and bit.ly/2Xy0eWx is where to go to purchase tickets. Riverwalk Center and Lawn, 150 W. Adams Ave., 970-453-5579

Bluebird Music Festival

The Macky Auditorium in Boulder is hosting the Bluebird Music Festival Sept. 25-26, with Molly Tuttle, City and Colour, Jeff Tweedy and many others performing. Tickets for the event range from $29 to $49; VIP passes are $199; and private opera box tickets are $900. Note: There are no refunds unless the event is canceled. For tickets, go to bluebirdmusicfestival.org. 1595 Pleasant St., Boulder

Autumn Gold Festival

Celebrate autumn with beer, music and brats at the Autumn Gold Festival in Estes Park on Sept. 25 and 26. The event is free and features a variety of family-friendly activities such as a bounce house, corn bag toss, face painting and a classic car show. This year’s festival also features a raffle, with a grand prize of $10,000. All proceeds go toward college and vocational school scholarships. Bond Park, 170 MacGregor Ave., Estes Park; visitestespark.com 

Heritage Brew Fest, Manitou Springs

The sixth annual Heritage Brew Fest in Manitou Springs will include more than 20 brewers, three bands and a large soft pretzel upon entry. Tickets for the fest, on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 1 to 5 p.m., are on sale at eventbrite.com (but early bird tickets are sold out). The cost: general admission is $34; designated drivers get in for $10; and those with a military ID receive $5 off. Memorial Park, 502 Manitou Ave. Manitou Springs; manitouspringsheritagecenter.org or 719-685-1454  

Boulder Fall Fest

There will be food, a margarita, beer and wine garden, live music and family-friendly entertainment at this year’s Boulder Fall Fest Sept 10-12. The festival also features the Firefly Handmade Market, a women-owned market featuring local Colorado artists, makers and creators. (FYI: Firefly Handmade Market is also hosting its Summer Market two weeks prior to the Boulder Fall Fest at Historic South Gaylord Street, Aug. 28 and 29.) Pearl Street Mall, Boulder; boulderdowntown.com 

Chile and Frijoles Festival

The annual Chile and Frijoles festival in Pueblo will include a jalapeno eating contest, chihuahua parade, live food demonstrations, a farmers market and chile roasting, Sept. 24-26. Admission is $5 at the gate. Hours: 3 p.m. to midnight on Sept. 24; 10 a.m. to midnight on Sept. 25; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 26. Union Avenue Historic District, Pueblo; pueblochilefestival.com or 719-542-1704.

Estes Park Elk Fest

This celebration of all things elk on Oct. 2-3 includes a 5K, bugling contest, axe throwing, live music and refreshments. The fest takes place during elk mating season, when spectators and visitors may be lucky enough to witness male elk bugling to find a mate.

“Wild elk are often easily seen in town and in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Visitors are reminded that elk are wild animals and that they should always keep a safe distance, especially the males (bulls), which can be aggressive as they defend their females (cows) from other bulls,” writes Julie Klett, special events coordinator in Estes Park. Bond Park, 170 MacGregor Ave., Estes Park; visitestespark.com 

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