It’s time to gas up the car, pack the stretchy pants and green juice, and get ready to road-trip to some of the region’s best summer food festivals.

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen | June 14–16
Distance from Denver: 197.9 miles

For the last 37 years, this larger-than-life festival has kicked off the summer season with celeb chefs, seminars, grand tastings, more wine than you can imagine, and parties galore. This year will be no different (festival passes are still available) and the lineup is the best to date with appearances from the beloved father-daughter duo Jacques and Claudine Pépin, Martha Stewart, Rick Bayless, Frasca Food & Wine’s Bobby Stuckey, Ruth Reichl, Top Chef’s Gail Simmons, chef Marcus Samuelsson, and many more. New this year is a collection of chef collaboration dinners, with all eyes on Jonathan Waxman’s one night only Barbuto pop-up. (Last week, the beloved West Village restaurant closed its doors after 15 years.). P.S. Make sure to nab a ticket ($150–$200) for Heritage Fire, an offshoot bash where dozens of Denver and Boulder chefs get their grill on in Snowmass. $1,600–$4,000

Jackson Hole Food & Wine | June 20–22
Distance from Denver: 512.4 miles

The third annual Jackson Hole Food & Wine festival makes a big play this year with star-studded names like culinary icon Daniel Boulud; 2019 James Beard Foundation Award Best Chef: Southeast nominee Katie Button, 2019 James Beard Foundation Award Outstanding Restaurant nominee Mike LataTop Chef season six winner Bryan Voltaggio, and Jackson Hole Food & Wine’s Culinary Director Drew Nieporent. The à la carte events (plus a festival taste-around) include the mountain-top Taste of Jackson Hole with the best of the local culinary community; a dinner series; panel discussions like Big Wines, Small Plates; a hands-on cocktail class with the illustrious Death & Co; and more—all set against the backdrop of the Grand Tetons. $100–$350

Keystone’s Bacon & Bourbon Festival | June 22–23
Distance from Denver: 76.9 miles

Unless you’re a vegetarian, we can’t think of a single reason to miss a festival that serves thousands of pounds of bacon over the course of two days. Plus bourbon. Plus live music. This year, festival goers will groove to the tunes of O’Connor Brothers Band, King Cardinal, The Sweet Lillies, Katie Glassman & Snapshot, Who’s Bad, and Hell’s Belles while sipping a variety of bourbons (or beer and cocktails) and munching on smoked-pork-inspired bites. Bonus: The kiddos will love face painting and make-it-and-take-it crafts at Camp Bacon. $4–$65

Copper’s Mac & Cheese Fest | July 27–28
Distance from Denver: 78 miles

There’s no such thing as too much mac and cheese! For the fifth-annual bash, chefs will take the classic dish into a new dimension. Nosh on creative takes like mac and cheese wontons over a bed of Asian slaw or Kansas barbecue-style burnt ends atop creamy mac and cheese. Plus, there’s an eating competition (more mac and cheese!), live music, and activities for the kids. $20–$100

Telluride Mushroom Festival | August 14–18
Distance from Denver: 512 miles

The Telluride Mushroom Festival has put the “fun” in “funghi” by celebrating all things mycological for 38 years. And with Denver’s recent passage of Initiative 301 decriminalizing hallucinogenic mushrooms, there’s bound to be a lively discussion related to this year’s theme, “Healing the Mind, Healing the Planet.” Aside from that, the fest will also showcase the annual mushroom cook-off, wild food dinner experience, a free mushroom identification tent, mushrooming adventures, and appearances from mushroom experts including professor emeritus of pharmacology at Purdue, Dr. David Nichols, and founder-director of Chile’s Fundación Fungi, Giuliana Furci. $50–$300   

Hatch Valley Chile Festival | August 31–September 1
Distance from Denver: 632.9 miles

Every Labor Day weekend, some 30,000 chile aficionados head to Hatch, New Mexico, to champion the famed peppers grown in and around the Chile Capital of the World. There’s a chile eating contest (insert horror face), a watermelon eating contest (insert happy face), interactive ristra (or chile stringing) workshops, live music, and a carnival. And of course, there are bushels of roasted and fresh chiles to bring back home. $20 per car

Don’t want to leave Denver? Here are two delicious events happening in the Mile High City:

The Big Eat | June 20

On June 20, EatDenver throws down with this strolling dinner party under the glass atrium at the Denver Performing Art Center. The ninth-annual food fest kicks off the summer season by highlighting the best of the local dining scene. Entrance to the Big Eat gets you unlimited samples from the 60-plus participating independent restaurants, breweries, wineries, ciders, distilleries, and tea and soda makers. $65

Slow Food Nations | July 19–21

Slow Food Nations is back for the third time July 19–21 . This annual “food festival for all” grows each year both in size and scope, but its mission is always food with a conscience. This year’s theme “Where Tradition Meets Innovation,” reminds us to look to the past and the future as we explore modern issues such as food waste, dwindling bee populations, and overfishing. Slow Food Nations is far more than a festival, it’s a means of connecting and convening with farmers, producers, and fellow foodies through summits, workshops, pop-ups, tastings, and block parties. The experience is meaningful and thought-provoking—and fun for the whole family. Click here for the full schedule. Much of the weekend is free and open to all; ticketed events range from $20 to $300.

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.