Sunny days, mountain air and spectacular landscapes conspire to create the perfect setting for some of the year’s best Southwestern festivals.
By Celeste Sepessy
Taos Lilac Festival Taos, NM • May 15–17
Stroll down this mountain town’s ancient irrigation networks in a sea of purple. With blooms peaking the last half of May, the annual lilac festival celebrates the town flower with local vendors, crafts and live entertainment.
Highlight: Free gardening seminars from Los Jardineros Garden Club of Taos
Telluride Mountainfilm Telluride, CO • May 22–25
In its 37th year, the acclaimed Telluride Mountainfilm festival presents about 85 international films alongside relevant panels, symposiums and music. The event announces annual film selections in early May.
Highlight: The (organic, of course) picnic and closing awards ceremony
Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Durango, CO • May 22–25
Pick your (healthy) poison: road, mountain or cross-country cycling. The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic offers bike events for real pros and regular Joes alike, with routes winding through mining country in the Animas Valley.
Highlight: Sunday’s social, burger-fueled Grassburger Group Ride
Made in the Shade Beer Tasting Festival Flagstaff, AZ • June 13
Pour one out for northern Arizona’s largest and longest-running beer festival: Made in the Shade. Held in the Fort Tuthill County Park forest, this festival celebrates brews for a charitable cause.
Highlight: Take your pick from the 50 local breweries tapping pints
Utah Shakespeare Festival Cedar City, UT • June 25–Oct. 31
This Tony Award-winning festival offers multiple shows every day in July and August, along with tours and seminars. Choose from Amadeus, King Lear, Henry IV and more.
Highlight: Complete the Canon, the festival’s initiative to produce Shakespeare’s 38-play repertoire
Prescott Frontier Days Prescott, AZ • June 29–July 5
Saddle up for the World’s Oldest Rodeo (128 years, to be exact) and a long run of roping and riding. Cap off the excitement with July 4 celebrations at Pioneer Park.
Highlight: The Fourth of July parade — Arizona’s second-largest — in downtown Prescott
Land of Enchantment Rod Run Farmington, NM • July 18
Billed as the largest nostalgic event in the Four Corners, the 33-year-old Rod Run showcases hundreds of old-school cars in historical downtown Farmington.
Highlight: Whips from 2014’s host, the Northern New Mexico Street Rodders
Telluride Jazz Festival Telluride, CO • July 31–Aug. 2
This citywide festival spans Telluride’s most scenic views for a multisensory jazz performance. And don’t forget about Jazz After Dark, when the shows migrate to the city’s legendary clubs.
Highlight: Sunday’s New Orleans Day brass band parade
Moab Music Festival Moab, UT • Sept. 3–14
Musicians and aficionados flock to Moab’s red-rock canyons for two weeks of first-class chamber music, jazz and more.
Highlight: The festival’s post-music raft trip down the Colorado River