In the Winter 2018 issue of Colorado Meetings + Events that will be released this December, I wrote a feature story about the Experience Economy. Instead of being hemmed in by four walls or one conference hotel, groups want local experiences. In my opinion, one of the best and simplest ways to get a real taste of local without going to a bunch of work and expense is scheduling in tandem with a destination’s event calendar.
Why put a bunch of money into hiring a band and venue when you can go to free or ticketed outdoor concert already happening? Or time a meeting so it happens during one of Colorado’s amazing festivals. One of the issues with this second idea is that lodging often sells out and is at a premium price during some of the state’s most popular celebrations. That’s why I was excited to see best known and less known festival ideas shared by the Colorado Tourism Office recently.
Here are a few under-the-radar options that could work well for groups.
Best Known: Wintersköl, Jan. 11-14, 2018
Less Known: Mac N Cheese Festival, Sept. 8, 2018
Taking place on Aspen’s “Restaurant Row,” this festival showcases the best Mac N Cheese creations in the Aspen area. Visitors pay $5 to participate, bring their own spoon and vote for favorites in five categories.
Best Known: International Snow Sculpture Championships, Jan. 22-29, 2018
Less Known: Still on the Hill: Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival, October 2018 (TBA)
Take part in a grand tasting of handcrafted spirits, craft cocktails, artisanal bites and more. Also on the schedule are mixology workshops, historical walking tours, ghost tours and scavenger hunts.
Best Known: Great American Beer Festival, Sept. 20-22, 2018
Less Known: Collaboration Fest, March 31, 2018
Collaboration Fest features brews that are the result of collaborations between two or more breweries from around the state, country and world. These individual collaborations mean that every beer tapped will be its first time and every beer has a unique story.
Best Known: Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Oct. 4-7, 2018
Less Known: San Juan Brewfest, Aug. 25, 2018
The 20th anniversary of the Four Corners’ biggest beer tasting festival will showcase live music and 50 breweries, each highlighting at least two beers. Ticket sales benefit the United Way of Southwest Colorado.
Best Known: JAS Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, Aug.31-Sept.2, 2018
Less Known: Aspen Snowmass Vintage Car Race, Sept. 16-17, 2018
Watch the sights and sounds of high-octane racing come alive on the streets of Snowmass Village as vintage Corvettes, BMWs, Porsches, Mustangs and formula racecars from the 1960s and 1970s fly by.
Best Known: Winter Carnival, Feb. 7-11, 2018
Less Known: Wild West Air Fest, Sept. 1, 2018
Every Labor Day weekend, some of the best pilots in the West and nationally renowned performers present thrilling aerobatics and formation flying.