Vail is known worldwide for its famous ski terrain, backcountry bowls, and perfectly charming ski village, but Vail in summer should get just as much press as winter. Between the ski season’s closing day and opening day, there will be an astounding 25 festivals throughout the Vail Valley in 2019. These include annual events that attract national attention, such as the GoPro Mountain Games, as well as smaller, more local parties, like the celebrated Hot Summer Nights free concert series. All in all, the Vail Valley is one of the best places to spend a summer in Colorado.
Whether you’re interested in Vail music festivals, art exhibits, wine and culinary events, or outdoor games and competitions, summer in Vail has everything you need to get the most out of your Rocky Mountain vacation. Check out all our recommended Vail summer activities and big events below, and scroll down for a detailed look at each individual event.
Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival: August 8-11
Vail Film Festival: August 15-18
Gourmet on Gore: August 30- September 2
Vail Rotary Duck Race: Labor Day
Oktoberfest: Multiple throughout September
All summer long, Vail boasts free concerts and cultural events on specific days to help guests and locals alike fully enjoy a summer in the mountains. Below are a few of the most highly anticipated series for summer 2019.
Held in beautiful Beaver Creek, this festival is now in its 16th year, and includes competitions between local pitmasters, live music, beer gardens, kid zones and more. This year, bands include Los Lobos, Larkin Poe, Shemekia Copeland and more. Events run from 2-6pm on Friday and 12-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Click here to see a full schedule of events.
The Bonfire Block Party takes place in Eagle, Colorado, just 30 minutes down the road from Vail. For two days the small mountain town's Main Street shuts down, bands take to a stage in the street, and on Sunday, there's even a brunch for all. This year's bands include brass funk outfit Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, bluegrass legends Railroad Earth, blues and funk rockers North Mississippi Allstars, and more. Learn more about the annual event here.
The GoPro Mountain Games have become one of Vail's most highly anticipated events, and include a huge range of outdoor competitions and activities. From dog athleticism contests to mud runs, kayaking, climbing, disc golf and more, you'll find an activity you'll want to watch--or take part in. Professionals, amateurs and weekend warriors comingle, and the events are spread out throughout Vail Valley. Head over to the main page to see a full list of events, schedules, locations, and incredible GoPro footage.
Check out the video below of 2018's games, and we're sure you'll want to book a place in Vail soon after. You won't want to miss out on this year's lineup of events.
Beer fests are a dime a dozen these days, but the Vail Craft Beer Classic has found a way to turn a tired trope into a truly one-of-a-kind event. Here you can experience the world's highest beer tasting and dinner, go fly fishing with a brewer on an Ales and Anglers tour, tour Vail Pass by bike on the Gears and Beers tour, and attend countless seminars, toasts, and tastings. You'll need tickets for the particular events you want to go on, so head over to the official website to learn more.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of this celebrated festival, and will feature the works of more than 80 artists. The festival takes place at the Lionshead Mall and the Arrabelle at Vail Square, where artists of all mediums will set up to present their works and create on the spot. Come celebrate the Vail Valley's longest-running outdoor arts festival.
Vail's 4th of July celebration, Vail America Days, is on our list of the best 4th of July celebrations in Colorado thanks to the iconic parade that runs through Vail's beautiful pedestrian villages. After the parade, explore the region, and find a spot to watch the evening fireworks, regarded as one of the best firework shows in the state.
Located just down the road in Edwards, CO, Art on the Rockies brings together 125 artists to put on a festival that equal parts refined gala and mountain-town gathering. Support the Vail Valley Arts League with the silent auction, and enjoy the free admission, food, and beverages. It's a casual way to learn more about art amid the beautiful Rocky Mountain setting.
Celebrating its 80th year in 2019, the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo began as a "day of competition and camaraderie," and has since turned into a weekend-long event that attracts people from all over the state. Rodeo competitions, petting zoos, pony rides, and more are all in store this year. See the complete schedule of events here.
The Vail Dance Festival takes place over two weeks and is spread out between the Vilar Performace Center, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, and the Avon Performance Pavilion. Enjoy performances by dance companies from all over the world, including Cuba's Malpaso Dance Company and several international players. The event is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation, which supports athletics, art, and education throughout the area. See the full schedule here.
Check out the video below from last year's festival. This performance was filmed at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater during the International Evenings of Dance.
This free festival is a great place for local artists to meet with artists from more than 30 states in the beautiful setting of Beaver Creek. Now in its 32nd year, the event showcases art of all mediums, and includes everything from traditional works to contemporary ideas. After perusing the artwork, spend the weekend in famous Beaver Creek, where you'll find award-winning restaurants and can take part in the neighborhood's famous community events.
Beginning on August 8th with the Mirabelle Farm to Table Dinner and live music from the Whiskey Wranglers, this annual festival will kick off its 13th year. The next three days will be filled with dinners, pairings, socials, and tastings, and conclude with the port and cheese 4x4 excursion. There will be several throughout the day, so be sure to pick a slot and get your tickets early. Tickets range from $100-$175 depending on the event. You can find a full schedule and buy your tickets here.
The Vail Film Festival has been running for 16 years, and has been a huge supporter in the world of independent film making. The festival includes screenings, panel discussions, workshops, and more. It's also an opportunity for budding filmmakers and screenplay writers to show their stuff—every year cash prizes are awarded to winning submissions. Find out more about this iconic late summer Vail festival here.
Set on the streets of Vail every Labor Day, Gourmet on Gore invites everyone to come to this open-air tasting, where you can sample amazing foods and pair them with the world's best beer, wine, and spirits. Open-air tastings take place on the Sunday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend, however the party officially starts on Friday with a tasting tour through Vail at some of the town's best restaurants. The festival closes out on Labor Day with a pay-as-you-go brunch lineup outside, featuring live jazz music. See the full schedule here.
It's a regular event for Rotary Clubs around the country, but where else can you watch your yellow rubber duck race down the river surrounded by Vail's gorgeous peaks? Even better, the winner of the event gets $1,000,000. The race is held the Sunday before Labor Day, so if you're in town for Gourmet on Gore, be sure to buy your duck and enter the competition. Find out more about the Vail Rotary Club and its annual duck race here.
Come September, Vail's European-inspired streets fill with revelers ready for a change of season during Oktoberfest. Dance, drink, see live music, and sample beers from around Bavaria at this annual event that marks the coming of fall. With the surrounding peaks, ever-present lederhosen, and authentic beers, you may for a moment feel you're celebrating in Europe itself. 2019 dates will be September 6-8 in Lionshead and September 13-15 in Vail Village. Find out more about the event here.