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The Colorado Cider & Beer Circus. Photo by Tyra Sutak

10 Can’t-Miss Summer Festivals for Foodies

From epic burger battles to scenic mountain beer fests, these are the top food and booze events of the season.

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Summer is almost here again, and with it comes a moveable feast of food-centric festivals. There are so many events vying for space on our calendars, in fact, that we created this guide to the season’s tastiest. Consider this list your 10 must-attend food and booze festivals from now until Labor Day.

For a full listing of summer events, check out our calendar.

Burning Can Beer Fest
June 3

Burning Can isn’t your typical beer festival. Spawned from the eccentric minds behind Oskar Blues Brewery, and in conjunction with Lyons Outdoor Games, this event is part beer tasting, part outdoors summit. In addition to the 50-plus national breweries pouring tasters of canned beers (participants include Florida-based Cigar City Brewing and California’s 21st Amendment Brewery), Burning Can also features live music, camping, and adventure in the form of a trail running relay, kayaking, mountain biking, dog-friendly events, BMX dirt jumps, slacklining, goat yoga (yes, we said goat yoga), and much more.
Tickets: $45 general admission, $65 for VIP (includes early entry and VIP amenities)
Bohn Park, 199 Second Ave., Lyons

Burning Can
Lyons’ Burning Can festival. Photo courtesy of Burning Can

Wings and Whiskey 2017
June 11

Denver’s top chefs will once again compete for the title of Denver’s Wing King (or Queen) at this year’s fourth Annual Wings & Whiskey. Ticket holders will enjoy unlimited wings tastes prepared by eight Denver wing masters, including Ryan Gorby of Cho77, Jamey Fader of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, and Mimi Banis of Osage Café, casting their votes for the people’s choice along the way. And did we mention the whiskey? Plenty of boozy cocktails will be flowing from Ace’s rollicking bar.
Tickets: $50 General Admission (includes three drink tickets), $70 VIP (includes an open whiskey bar and early admission)
Ace Eat Serve, 501 E. 17th Ave.

Denver Taco Festival
June 24–25

An entire weekend devoted to tacos and tequila? Count us in! But there’s more to this funky festival than just food and booze. As you nosh on $2 tacos from local restaurants and taste tequilas in the “Mexico in a Bottle” section of the event, you can also enjoy live music, lucha libre wrestling, chihuahua racing, game shows, and more.
Tickets: $5 pre-sale festival one-day entry, $20 “Mexico in a Bottle” tequila tastings, $60 VIP (four taco coupons, three drink tickets, VIP amenities)
The Compound, 725 W. 39th Ave.

Mac & Cheese Fest
June 29–30

Ever tasted a $1,000 bowl of mac & cheese? No? Then it might be time to add Copper Mountain’s third Annual Mac & Cheese Festival to your summer calendar. There, you may sample the best mac and cheese from Summit County restaurants like Endos Adenaline Grill, Incline Bar and Grill, Eagle BBQ, JJ’s Tavern, and Casa Sanchez. One chef will walk away with a $1,000 prize and the coveted title of “Best Mac & Cheese in Summit County.” In addition to tasting all of that cheesy, gooey goodness, ticket holders can test their stomachs in a mac and cheese eating contest, enjoy adult beverages, and dance the afternoon away to live tunes.
Tickets: $1 per mac and cheese taster for kids, $3 to $5 per mac and cheese taster for adults. (Prices vary by restaurant booth.) Taster tickets can be purchased in advance. General admission and parking is free.
Copper Mountain Resort, 209 Ten Mile Circle, Copper

The Big Eat
July 13

Each year, the Big Eat brings together 70 of the area’s best independent restaurants for the city’s ultimate food festival. Participants include Blackbelly Market, Snooze, El Five, soon-to-open Tavernetta, and many more. As an added bonus, the festival layout organizes restaurants by neighborhood, making it akin to a mini tour of all of Denver’s best eats in one convenient place. The Big Eat also features live music and marks the kickoff of Slow Food Nations weekend.
Tickets: $65 general admission
The Galleria, Denver Center for Performing Arts, 1400 Curtis Street

Wings & Whiskey
Ace’s Wings & Whiskey festival. Photo courtesy of Ace Eat Serve

Slow Food Nations
July 14–16

Learn (and taste!) what the Slow Food movement is all about at the first-ever U.S. festival, Slow Food Nations. This sustainable-food-focused event is an opportunity for diners to “explore a world of good, clean, and fair food.” Over the course of the weekend, foodies can attend a wide array of interactive educational workshops and talks, tastings, and local tours. The mix of paid and free events includes everything from a Burgers, Brews, and Bluegrass Block Party, which will feature a variety of patties and local brews from the Post Brewing Company ($69 per person), to free discussions about topics such as the history of agriculture in the U.S.
Tickets: Prices vary by event. See a full list of events for more info.
Locations vary, but most events take place at Larimer Square and Union Station

BrüFrou Fest
July 16

Craft beer and delicious bites take center stage at one of Denver’s largest dining festivals. 130 chefs, brewers, and mixologists will once again team up to create inspired parings that showcase Colorado’s tight-knit food and beverage community. You can expect plenty of tasty innovation from duos such as Rise & Shine Biscuit Kitchen and Cafe with Little Machine Beer and Fresh Thymes Eatery with Holidaily Brewing Company. Enjoy while boogieing down to the sounds of the Mowgli’s, Zach Deputy, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and more.
Tickets: $35 general admission festival entry plus eight food tokens, $40 general admission festival entry plus eight full pairing tokens, $95 VIP ticket with all-you-can-enjoy food, $125 VIP ticket with all-you-can-enjoy full pairings
Tivoli Quad, 1363 E. 9th Ave.

Denver Burger Battle
August 3

If you’re a burger aficionado, then this is the event for you. Taste samples from 15 Denver restaurants, all of whom are competing for bragging rights. Judges (including Cattivella’s Elise Wiggins and Steuben’s, Ace Eat Serve, and Vesta’s Josh Wolkon) will determine the winner as ticket-holders dine on burgers from iconic restaurants like the Cherry Cricket, My Brother’s Bar, Highland Tap & Burger, and many more. Bonus: 100 percent of the proceeds go to local charities.
Tickets: $69.99 general admission, $124.99 VIP (includes limited tastes plus beer, wine, and early entry)
Tivoli Quad, 1363 E. 9th Ave.

Palisade Peaches
Feast on fruit at the Palisade Peach Festival. Lauren Brown / Flickr via Creative Commons

Palisade Peach Festival
August 17–20

While summer is an excellent season for visiting the adorable town of Palisade, located roughly four hours from Denver along Colorado’s scenic Western Slope, you should really wait to go during August’s Palisade peach festival. Spend the weekend feasting on the namesake fruit, touring orchards, and watching the biggest peach contest. Or just go straight for the peach-filled dishes and cooking demonstrations from Colorado chefs such as Palisade’s own Stacy Hinkle from the Wine Country Inn and Michael Aschmann from Grand Junction’s No Coast Sushi.
Tickets: $7 single day adult, $5 single day senior, $3 single day children; $10 weekend rate adult, $8 weekend rate senior, $5 weekend rate children, $25 special weekend family pack
Palisade

Colorado Cider & Beer Circus
August 25–26

Why choose between beer or cider when you can have both at this scenic fest? Sip on 75 craft cider and beer offerings from Colorado and beyond, including purveyors like Wild Cider, Big B’s, Stem Ciders, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, and Pikes Peak Brewing Company. Along with the gorgeous mountain views, festival attendees will also be treated to live tunes and other forms of entertainment throughout the day.
Tickets: $45 early bird first pour (sales start on June 6), $30 grand tasting (sales start on June 6), $50 first pour (sales start July 25), $35 grand tasting (sales start July 25)
Copper Mountain Resort, 209 Ten Mile Circle, Copper

(Want more? Check out 11 summer festivals that are worth the drive.)

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