Just because the weather is beginning to cool off doesn’t mean you need to start hibernating for the winter, not in Colorado where most days are sunny and there are always lots of fun events and fall festivals to enjoy. Every fall you can catch several different annual festivals, each with their own crafts, music, food and other entertainment. If you’re willing to drive a little bit outside of Denver, you can enjoy even more wonderful festivities. From harvest festivals to horror film festivals, there is a little something for everyone. So don’t go barricading the doors in fear of snow just yet, take some time to enjoy the cool temperatures and these fantastic annual treats.
A Taste of Colorado
Civic Center Park
101 W 14th Ave
Denver, CO 80204
Dates: Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, 2014
Labor Day Weekend signifies the unofficial end of summer. It’s the time when the days are growing shorter, kids are back in school and you are seeking one last hurrah before the sweaters come out of the closet. This is why A Taste of Colorado is the perfect festival for those end-of-summer blues. You’ll find more than 50 of Colorado’s best restaurants in attendance, all showing off the very best in all of their culinary treats. You can have a bite or a meal, depending on how much you’d like to spend. Or just hang out and peruse more than 250 different arts and crafts vendors and enjoy the live music featuring lots of great local bands. No matter how you spend the day, you’ll have a blast saying goodbye to summer at this annual Colorado festival.
Larkspur Autumn Harvest & Craft Fest
Larkspur, CO 80118
Date: Sept. 13, 2014
Most Denverites visit Larkspur during the summer to enjoy the Colorado Renaissance Fair, however once the king and queen have packed up their court and headed on to the next city, Larkspur is still a wonderful town to visit. Check out the awesome small-town feel at the annual Larkspur Autumn Harvest & Craft Fest. You’ll find a huge craft fair with lots of local goods, live music and even a fire truck and helicopter for the kids to explore. As with many other small-town fairs, there will be a pie-baking contest, complete with prizes for the best pie in town. More than 1,500 people attended the fair last year, and the numbers are expected to be even bigger this year. Larkspur is only about 45 minutes south of Denver, so don’t be shy and head down to check out this wonderful annual event.
Related: Top Fall Family Getaways
Larimer St between 20th St and 22nd St
Denver, CO 80205
Dates: Sept. 19-21 and 26-28, 2014
Nothing says “fall is here” like an ice cold beer, a bratwurst and some lederhosen. Since 1969, the Denver Oktoberfest has celebrated German cuisine and culture. It has even been recognized as the Best Oktoberfest in the United States in both Maxim Magazine and USA Today. Dine on bratwurst, homemade sauerkraut, sausage, potato salad and lots of classic German treats. Or enjoy a few steins full of ice-cold Oktoberfest beer. Make sure to swing by the entertainment stages for live music, dancing, keg bowling, the long-dog derby and the always-popular stein hoisting contests. If you want to really live it up, purchase the VIP package, which comes with all you can eat in the special section, your own Oktoberfest stein, T-shirt and an authentic German hat.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Dates: Oct. 4-5, 2014
As fall begins in Colorado, the leaves start to change colors, the air grows crisp and cool and you get your last chance to check out the amazing natural beauty of the elk herds in the Rocky Mountains. Head to Estes Park for the annual Elk Fest to enjoy lots of wildlife viewing among several other great activities. There will be Native American storytelling, a raptor display, live music and educational areas as well as a scavenger hunt, crafts and even a bouncy house for the kids. You can purchase tickets to hop on an elk-viewing bus that will take you on an hour-long tour throughout the area so you can get plenty of great elk viewing in while you are there.
Telluride Horror Show
110 N Oak St
Telluride, CO 81435
Dates: Oct. 10-12, 2014
What is the biggest and best holiday of the fall season? Halloween, of course. Get in the spirit of the holiday a little early during the Telluride Horror Show. The fifth annual three-day horror film festival is a huge celebration of everything spooky and scary on film. You’ll get to check out the latest in horror, sci-fi and fantasy films with more than 20 different feature-length flicks to check out and 30 short films. Make sure to stay for the closing party at the New Sheridan Hotel Historic Bar, where you’ll see live cowboy zombie slayers and zombie miners mingling with the crowd. Come in costume and really get in on all of the fun.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.