Nothing says summer in the Centennial State quite like sipping IPAs or eating a mountain of smoked meat while listening to live music in the sun. Festival season is officially here and, while there are plenty of reasons to hop in the car and head to the mountains or the Western Slope, there are also a variety of indulgent food and drink festivals right here in the Denver metro area. Below are a few of our favorites.   

Boulder Creek Festival | May 26–29

Ring in the start of the summer season at this 34-year-old Memorial Day tradition, which takes place along the banks of the namesake waterway at the foot of the Flatirons. This year, the four-day bash includes live music from more than 30 bands, including a concert from headliner DeadPhish Orchestra; carnival-style rides and eats from more than 20 vendors; and a beer fest with suds from breweries such as Upslope Brewing Company and FlyteCo Brewing.

Denver BBQ Festival | May 27–28

Once a year, Empower Field at Mile High transforms from a football stadium to a literal barbecue paradise for the Denver BBQ Festival. Talented pit bosses from Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Arizona, and Florida will smoke more than 30,000 cumulative pounds of succulent meat—and you can try it all, in between barbecue demos, live musical performances, and a “Rib Rumble” meat-eating contest. And if you want to get in a little exercise before the festivities, sign up for the Run for the Ribs, a 5K that, naturally, ends with a serving of ribs at the finish line.

Taste of Colorado at ¡Viva! Streets Denver | June 4 and June 9

Instead of hosting its iconic Labor Day weekend bash, Taste of Colorado is implementing a fresh format for the first time in 38 years: a series of smaller events at Civic Center Park (the first took place on May 14). From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., attendees can savor bites from vendors such as Barbed Wire Reef Gourmexican and Bits and Pieces con Cerveza; groove to live tunes by local musicians; and partake in kid-friendly activities such as bocce ball and face painting.

Denver Greek Festival | June 9–11

Though the Denver Greek Festival is more of a full-blown cultural festival, food plays a starring role at this family-friendly event, which is in its 56th year. Gyros, spanakopita, souvlaki, loukoumades, baklava, and other classic Greek foods are on the menu all weekend long at Denver’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral (4610 E. Alameda Ave.), along with live Greek music, dancing, and church tours. 

Top Taco | July 13

If your idea of a good time involves unlimited tacos and tequila cocktails, head to Westminster City Park for Top Taco, where you can feast on bites from more than 60 Colorado restaurants. Mosy between five stages of live music and chat with chefs and mixologists, all while casting your vote for the best tacos and cocktails.

Blues & BBQ | July 15

Over the last 25 years, this festival has raised more than $470,000 to support affordable housing projects in the Denver metro area via Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. If that’s a cause you can get behind (and you enjoy delicious barbecue and good music, to boot), then be sure to put Blues & BBQ for Better Housing Festival on your calendar. The event will take place at Edgewater’s Citizens Park Pavillion and the musical lineup this year includes Wild Love Tigress (R&B/soul) and the Duke Street Kings (rock).

Bastille Day: French Fest | July 14–15

In lieu of its annual Cherry Creek Al Fresco/Food & Wine event, Cherry Creek North will honor the best of French culture through a Bastille Day festival. At the two-day affair, which will take place at Fillmore Plaza, Francophiles can peruse 40 to 50 vendors selling food, wine, art, and other goods that embrace the culture of the Western European country. On July 20, Cherry Creek North will also host 5280 Top of the Town at Fillmore Plaza, a celebration of the best places to eat, drink, and play in the Mile High City and the magazine’s 30th anniversary. 

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival | July 22–23

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival at Edgewater’s Sloan’s Lake Park, the largest event of its kind in the United States, draws more than 150,000 attendees every year. There, you can watch impressive boat racers and performers and sample the mouth-watering cuisines of Thailand, India, the Philippines, Laos, Hawaii, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and other Asian and South Pacific nations at the festival’s Taste of Asia food court.

The Big Eat | July 20

The Front Range wouldn’t be the culinary powerhouse it is today without the many dedicated chefs, bartenders, servers, dishwashers, owners, and everyone else who works tirelessly in restaurants and bars. Say thank you by attending the Big Eat at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, the annual fundraising event for EatDenver, which supports more than 275 independent restaurants. Feast on signature dishes, plus cocktails, wine, cider, and beer, from nearly 60 restaurants and bars across the city, all organized conveniently by neighborhood. 

Denver Burger Battle | August 3

Chefs from across the metro area go head-to-head at the Denver Burger Battle, all vying for the crown (and the street cred) of making the best burger in Denver. Stanley Beer Hall and Cherry Cricket are the defending champs from 2021, but there are plenty of restaurants to give them a run for their money this year, from the Original to Edgewater Beer Garden. As a festival-goer, all you have to do is eat as many burgers as you can (and sip unlimited beer, wine, and cocktail samples), then follow your taste buds and vote for your favorite.

Boulder Taco Fest | August 26

For a Saturday full of gourmet tacos and margs, make the quick trek up U.S. 36 for the Boulder Taco Fest, where you’ll also be able to watch lucha libre wrestling and jam out to live music. If tequila isn’t your thing, they’ll also have craft beer from local breweries like Avery Brewing Co. and Boot Strap Brewing. Don’t feel guilty going back for seconds (or thirds) at all the participating restaurants—from Mama Lolita’s Kitchen and Tacos Tepa to McDevitt Taco Supply. Consider it research for voting on the best taco at the festival.

Denver Food & Wine Festival | September 6–9

Denver Food & Wine, hosted by the Colorado Restaurant Foundation and Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, honors the local culinary community via a series of exciting events. On September 9, more than 50 Front Range eateries bring their best nibbles to the Grand Tasting at Tivoli Quad at Auraria Campus, which also features unlimited samples from hundreds of wine, spirit, and beer makers. Other signature happenings include wine seminars and the Shake & Brake Showdown cocktail competition paired with eats prepared by Denver’s best food trucks. Proceeds from festival events benefit Colorado restaurant workers through the CRF’s educational and workforce programming and hardship grants.

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Sarah Kuta
Sarah Kuta
Sarah Kuta is Colorado-based writer and editor. She writes about travel, lifestyle, food and beverage, fitness, education and anything with a great story behind it.