Annual Events in Gunnison and Crested Butte

There is practically always something going on in Gunnison and Crested Butte! No matter the season, you can find something fun to do outside on our public lands and 1200+ miles of trails. There is also a variety of uniquely Gunnison and Crested Butte annual events. We have everything from mountain bike races, art shows, and parades to a rodeo, festivals celebrating food and wildflowers, and Nordic ski races. Any one of them will give you a look into the culture of Gunnison Valley.  

Whether you’re coming to skimountain bike or enjoy the outdoors through any of the many other things to do, check and see if there’s also an event happening. Or plan your trip around one of these experiences that you can’t get anywhere else!

Crested Butte Wildflower Festival

Crested Butte is the Wildflower Capital of Colorado! Every summer Crested Butte comes alive with a rainbow of wildflowers like lupine, columbine, and mule’s ear sunflowers. The Wildflower Festival happens every July and celebrates the beauty of wildflowers while advocating for their preservation. The festival features photography workshops, guided hikes, art classes, garden tours, and more, all designed to help people learn about and appreciate wildflowers. The Wildflower Festival is held in mid-July.

A field of wildflowers in front of Crested Butte Mountain in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Cattlemen's Days is the fourth oldest pro rodeo in the US. It is held in Gunnison, Colorado.

Cattlemen’s Days

Gunnison has a strong ranching heritage and industry. Every year this heritage is honored with Cattlemen’s Days, the fourth-oldest pro rodeo in the United States and the oldest in Colorado. The event features a carnival, 4-H shows, a parade and several nights of rodeos that showcase different ranching skills. Cattlemen’s Days supports Tough Enough to Wear Pink, a non-profit dedicated to providing support for local cancer patients and healthcare facilities. Cattlemen’s Days is held in mid-July.

Chili & Beer Festival

This event is held at the base area of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The event features craft breweries from all over Colorado with a chili tasting contest and live music. Taste-testers sample locally made chili and craft beer, and have the chance to vote for their favorites. Chili and Beer Festival is held in September. 

Crested Butte Mountain in Crested Butte, Colorado
Mountain bikers at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison, Colorado racing in the Original Growler.

The Original Growler

This mountain bike race has three courses and a free kids race with varying times based on age. The races start in downtown Gunnison and take riders on iconic routes through Hartman Rocks, which is high alpine desert right outside of town that has more than 40 miles of singletrack trail. This event is a fundraiser for Gunnison Trails, a trail advocacy nonprofit that builds and maintains trails in Gunnison. The Original Growler is held on Memorial Day weekend in May. 

Crested Butte Arts Festival

The Crested Butte Arts Festival was founded to preserve Crested Butte’s art community. It is now one of the most well-known and competitive juried art annual events in the West. The event showcases artists who use a variety of mediums and are from all over the world. The festival also features live music, art classes and special art events for children. The Crested Butte Arts Festival is held in August. 

Downtown Crested Butte, Colorado on a sunny day during an event.
Crested Butte Mountain in Crested Butte, Colorado on a cloudy fall day with yellow aspen leaves.

Crested Butte Film Festival

The goal of the Crested Butte Film Festival is to create connection and cultural and social awareness through the power of film. The festival features award-winning films from a diverse group of filmmakers. Patrons can attend film showings, panels, Q&As and kids’ films. It is hosted by the Center for the Arts Crested Butte. The Crested Butte Film Festival is held in September. 

Fourth of July Parade

Every Fourth of July, Elk Avenue in Crested Butte closes down for the annual 4th of July parade! Face painting, fireworks and a water fight are all part of this beloved Crested Butte event. 

The Fourth of July parade in Crested Butte, Colorado.
The Alley Loop Nordic race in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado runs through the town of Crested Butte. Its also a costume party.

Alley Loop

Like most annual events in Crested Butte, the Alley Loop is a party! This Nordic ski race is open to skate and classic skiers and has routes for adults and kids. It is an American Birkebeiner Qualifying event and the best costume party all year. In fact, the costume contest is taken as seriously, if not more, than the skiing. The Alley Loop is held in February. 

Night of Lights

Night of Lights is the annual tree lighting celebration in Gunnison to kick off the Christmas season. Main Street closes to traffic, and local businesses and organizations set up tables to share information and hot cocoa. Downtown Gunnison is decked out in Christmas lights, and Santa lights the tree at the intersection of Highway 135 and Highway 50. Night of Lights is held in early December. 

Downtown Gunnison, Colorado at Night of Lights, the annual tree lighting.
Downtown Gunnison, Colorado.

Gunnison Car Show

The Gunnison Car Show has a passion for cool cars and cool mountains. This free weekend-long event showcases hundreds of cars, live music, a poker run and a car cruise. The event runs in conjunction with the High Octane Arts and Crafts Festival, which features only handmade and handcrafted goods. These events are held in August.

Crested Butte Music Festival

The mission of the Crested Butte Music Festival is to inspire a love of art by showcasing diverse music, opera and dance through exceptional performances and to develop future performers. Along with performances, the festival emphasizes education and offers camps, interactive experiences, workshops and lectures for patrons of all ages. Crested Butte Music Festival is held in July and August. 

An event on the lawn of the Arts Center in Crested Butte, in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Skiers during the Grand Traverse Ski race in Crested Butte, Colorado.

The Grand Traverse

This point-to-point backcountry ski race goes through the Elk Mountains from Crested Butte to Aspen. As a nod to mail delivery routes between mining towns from the 1880s, it is 40 miles long and competitors climb over 6,800 vertical feet. Competitors can also do the Grand Traverse Mountain Run and Bike in summer for a chance to complete the Grand Traverse Triple Crown. The Grand Traverse happens in April. 

The Grand Traverse Mountain Run

The Grand Traverse Mountain Run is a point-to-point ultra-marathon that follows the same route as the Grand Traverse Ski. Runners travel 40 miles through the Elk Mountains from Crested Butte to Aspen. Competitors can also do the Grand Traverse Bike and Ski in winter for a chance to complete the Grand Traverse Triple Crown. The Grand Traverse Mountain Run is in September.

A trail runner running through aspen trees in Crested Butte, Colorado.
A mountain biker rides a trail in Crested Butte, Colorado

The Grand Traverse Mountain Bike

The Grand Traverse Mountain Bike is a point-to-point mountain bike race from Crested Butte to Aspen through the Elk Mountains. The race begins with a 3000′ ascent and is 40 miles with over 7,800′ of elevation gain. Competitors can also do the Grand Traverse Run and Ski in winter for a chance to complete the Grand Traverse Triple Crown. The Grand Traverse Mountain Bike is in September.

Blister Summit

Blister Summit is the only consumer-focused gear testing and demo event in the world. The summit gives attendees the chance to test gear, ski with Blister reviewers and professional skiers, talk to company founders, attend panels, and hopefully make some new ski buddies. Blister Summit is held in February.  

A skier at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Crested Butte, Colorado.
A student roller blades while holding a flag during the Western Colorado University homecoming parade in Gunnison, Colorado.

Western Colorado University Homecoming

Every fall Western Colorado University celebrates homecoming weekend with the homecoming parade, the lighting of the W, a concert at iBar Ranch, tailgating and the homecoming football game. 

Photo credit: F4D Studio

Mountain Words Literary Festival

The Mountain Words Literary Festival celebrates literature and words. The festival features readings, workshops, kids’ events, parties, panel discussions, live theater and more. Writers from all over the country attend every year. The festival is held at the end of May. 

The Mountain Words Literary Festival, held in Crested Butte, CO
The Gunnison River Festival in Gunnison, CO

Gunnison River Festival

This festival celebrates the headwaters of the Gunnison Watershed. The festival also works for the preservation of our water. It is held in early summer. 

No matter when you’re visiting, be sure to check out our events calendar! There is a wide assortment of annual events that happen throughout the year in Gunnison Valley. 

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