Mike the Headless Chicken Festival
Fruita, Colorado, miketheheadlesschicken.org
- Courtesy Fruita
- Mike the Headless Chicken Festival
In 1945, a Colorado farmer beheaded his chicken, expecting to eat it for dinner that night. Instead, Mike the Headless Chicken lived on for 18 months, becoming quite the sideshow celebrity. The small town of Fruita celebrates this resilient fowl every year with a festival of, well, seemingly unrelated events. Between the boisterous live music, the car show and the golf tournament, enjoy a 5K run, vendor booths and — perhaps morbidly — a wing- and peep-eating contest. Though the weekend's lineup contains a poultry show, the likelihood of any Mike impersonators is pretty low. No chicken has ever beaten that 18-month record.
Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown
Denver Marriott South, 10345 Park Meadows Drive, Lone Tree, pinballshowdown.com
- Courtesy Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown
- Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown
The word "gamer" may have different definitions these days. Just know that the kinds of gamers attracted to this event aren't going to be playing Call of Duty. Instead, check out a gameroom expo with pinball and retro video games, from console to arcade. Representatives from pinball leagues (yes, there is such a thing) from around the country will be on hand to demonstrate their skills and recruit players. Plus, as with any good convention, speakers and panels will provide a pretty sweet education in all things pinball. The best part? No quarters required. Once you pay your $15 to $70 admission, you can pinball to your heart's content.
Colorado Renaissance Festival
Weekends, June 10-July 30
650 W. Perry Park Ave., Larkspur, coloradorenaissance.com
Time to strap into that corset. Just remember to let out the laces when you start in on that turkey leg.
America the Beautiful Park, 126 Cimino Drive, springsspree.org
Summer shenanigans of all sorts, for all manner of local interests.
Called "the nation's oldest whitewater festival," FIBArk stands for "First in Boating on the Arkansas." Basically, now that the weather's nice, the people of Salida can't wait to dunk themselves in freezing water and leave their boats and bodies to the mercy of the river, raging with runoff. But they sure as heck have a good time doing it. With kayak competitions, races on river and land, surfing, a parade and live music, the weekend celebrates much more than just the river. It also celebrates the community of Salida.
Pikes Peak Celtic Festival
Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave., pikespeakcelticfestival.com
Bagpipes, beer and Highland games — no kilt required.
Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, 1805 N. 30th St., tinyurl.com/CS-Star-Spec
Night biking has never been brighter. This year's theme: superheroes.
Pikes Peak Airstrip Attack
Colorado Jet Center at Colorado Springs Airport, 1575 Aviation Way, pikespeakairstripattack.com
Think The Fast and the Furious with fewer explosions and more actual racing.
Donkey Derby Days
Cripple Creek, Bennett Avenue, facebook.com/VisitCrippleCreek
Believe it or not, Cripple Creek boasts a vibrant, bustling donkey scene. See the best of it at this annual event.
Sand in the City
Ralston Park, 64th Avenue and Simms Street, Arvada, sandinthecityarvada.org
Landlocked Colorado might not be the place where you'd expect a beach party, but Arvada finds a way to provide. Sand in the City dishes out exactly what it promises: sand. Buckets of it. Local artists will create monstrously huge sand sculptures, and kids and families can try their hand at creating their own in the giant sandbox. If you aren't too interested in getting sand in your shoes, you can still enjoy the live music, the luaus on Saturday and Sunday, the food and beer, and a plethora of kids' activities. Maybe it's not Cancun, but it's the best beach party in Colorado.
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
Pikes Peak, ppihc.com
These people actually choose to make that horrifying, winding drive up Pikes Peak — at speeds of 70-plus mph.
Green Box Arts Festival
Green Mountain Falls, greenboxarts.org
Dance, silversmithing, painting, culinary arts and more — Green Box has it all. And you'd be surprised how much of it is free.
Colorado Black Arts Festival
Denver City Park, East 17th Avenue, colbaf.org
- Courtesy Colorado Black Arts Festival
- Colorado Black Arts Festival
Celebrate and congregate at what has been called a "family reunion" of sorts, which draws artists and attendees from all over the world. This celebration of African-American culture lasts three days, and includes a showcase of African-American visual arts, music, performing arts, cuisine and more. Not only can you enjoy a rather extensive marketplace of artisan goods and crafts, but you can also join in on the parade and enjoy screenings of films by black filmmakers in the pavilion. Last year, more than 40,000 people attended.
America the Beautiful Park, 126 Cimino Drive, coloradospringspridefest.com
We're here, we're queer, we're ready to party.
Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Days
Downtown Colorado Springs, pikespeakorbust.org
Classic cowboy and Western events, plus the most important part to some: beer.
El Paso County Fair
County Fairgrounds, 366 10th St., Calhan, elpasocountyfair.com
What, like we could list it all in a sentence? There's so much going on, you're bound to find some cool activities and entertainment to tickle your fancy.
Telluride Nothing Festival
Telluride, Colorado, telluridenothingfestival.com
When we ask someone at the office in Telluride if the Nothing Festival is still going on — or, rather, not going on — she laughs and says yes, and that it might be a nice, quiet time to visit Telluride. According to the Nothing Festival's website, it was "accidentally" created by a resident who was sick and tired of how many festivals filled the streets in summer. So, this weekend was set aside for absolutely nothing to happen in the town of Telluride. During this festival, "sunrises and sunsets [will continue] as normal; gravity will continue to be in effect; the earth's rotation will be increased to add a few thrills; the laws of physics will be on display." Though one annual event breaks through the nothing. On the last day of the festival, a parade of people walks through downtown wearing — and this is important — absolutely nothing.
Rocky Mountain State Games
July 21-23 and 28-30
Every sport under the sun — or under the lights — with athletes of all ages and levels.
Copper Mountain Mac & Cheese Fest
Copper Mountain, 209 Ten Mile Circle, coppercolorado.com
In honor of that versatile childhood staple that can become gourmet in the hands of the right chef, this festival celebrates the glorious marriage of noodle and cheese. Not only will there be a contest for a $1,000 cash prize and the title of "Best Mac & Cheese in Summit County," but there's also plenty to get up to even if you aren't a chef. Help judge the food, participate in eating contests, bring the family for mini-golf, bumper boats, a climbing wall and more, and enjoy live music while you're at it.
Vail Dance Festival
July 29-Aug. 12
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre, 530 S. Frontage Road, Vail, vvf.org
- Erin Baiano
- Vail Dance Festival
Forget these weekend-long festivals. The town of Vail brings in so many dancers for this event, they've got two weeks set aside to celebrate them and share their performances. Not only will this year's festival include some of the best of the best from Colorado itself, such as Colorado Ballet, but it will also bring in companies from all over the country. Whether your flavor is classic ballet or modern interpretive dance, hip-hop, blues, ballroom or tango, you'll be able to find at least one event in this impressive lineup to consider. Notable companies include: Wonderbound (who recently performed right here in the Springs), Martha Graham Dance Company and BalletX.
Blues Under the Bridge
Colorado Avenue Bridge, 218 W. Colorado Ave., bluesunderthebridge.com
This annual blues bash has become a Springs staple for good reason.
Fiddles, Vittles and Vino
Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, 3105 Gateway Road, fiddlesvittlesandvino.com
Go for the wine, the food or the bluegrass. Just be sure to go!
Springs Beer Fest
America the Beautiful Park, 126 Cimino Drive, springsbeerfest.com
More than 50 breweries pack this outdoor festival to share their top suds with beer enthusiasts.
Rocky Mountain Rampage
Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave., sk8-strong.org/rocky-mountain-rampage
Sponsor a young skateboarder or just come out to watch professionals and amateurs alike shred the Memorial Park halfpipe.
Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon
Aug. 19 (ascent), Aug. 20 (marathon)
Barr Trail, Manitou Springs, pikespeakmarathon.org
Test your own endurance or simply celebrate your superhuman running buddies.
Salute to American Veterans Rally
Cripple Creek, theveteransrally.org
No motorcycle required to attend, but you'll see a lot of them during this three-day festival in honor of veterans.
Colorado State Fair
Aug. 25-Sept. 4
State Fairgrounds, 1001 Beulah Ave., Pueblo, coloradostatefair.com
Like the aforementioned county fair but, you know, bigger.