August 20 2010, 12:08 PM
I try to make an annual summer pilgrimage to Telluride, but a few years ago my schedule delayed my plans until nearly fall. I'd failed to notice that the Telluride Film Festival was taking place over the same extended weekend, and with tickets at $20 per show or passes (which often sell out early) starting in the low hundreds of dollars, cash for movie screenings wasn't in my budget. Then I inadvertently discovered the Open Air Cinema, where each of the festival's premiers are played for free outdoors, hitting the frugal traveler's motherload. Festival attendees have even more budget options this year, including free programs, a discounted Late Show Pass, and more. (See the list at the Festival on a Budget page of the event's website.) This year's festival, the 37th annual, takes place from September 3-6. If you decide to check out the Open Air screenings, arrive early in the evening and bring something to cushion your seat, as well as warm and waterproof attire. It can get rainy and cold during the evenings this time of year. Bonus: Instead of ponying up for a room, camp at one of the various spots in and around Telluride. And stock up on local provisions at the Telluride Farmers Market, which is held every Friday from June through October.