Summertime in Colorado means festival time. The Centennial State boasts abundant celebrations of music, sports, theater, food and more over the next few months. This summer on gazette.com, we will highlight five festivals from around the state each week. We hope they'll inspire you to get out and explore.
It's dark in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison - so devoid of light pollution that the National Park Service holds a star-viewing festival each summer. This year's celebration is June 13-June 16 in the South Rim Campground and Visitor Center, 12 miles east of Montrose.
"The Black" was certified as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, a designation given to places with minimal to zero light pollution.
"Astrofest" features astronomy and safe solar-viewing programs, nighttime telescopic viewing, kids' activities and events to showcase the night skies. Author Craig Childs will present "Talking with the Sky" at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Montrose Pavilion.
Evening programs include "Our Park After Dark" about night creatures and a "Learn the Sky Planisphere Workshop," where attendees can make a night sky chart and dark sky-friendly flashlight.
Cost: $15 per vehicle or free with National Parks pass
Info: 970-249-1914, ext. 441, or goo.gl/7zceJ3
Colorado Shakespeare Festival
"Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but love." The quote is from William Shakespeare's comedy "Love's Labour's Lost," one of the Bard's plays selected for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Friday-Aug. 12. It's "the original rom-com," said Timothy Orr, festival producing artistic director. "We haven't seen it on our stage in 10 years, and we can't wait to revisit it. As with any Shakespeare play, it'll be interesting to hear what this play has to say to us now."
The nation's second oldest Shakespeare festival, in its 61st year, celebrates a "summer of love and ambition under the stars" in the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre.
It also will feature Shakespeare's "Richard III," (June 22-Aug. 11); Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac" (July 6-Aug. 11), "You Can't Take It With You" by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman (July 20-Aug. 12); and "Edward III" by Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd (Aug. 5).
Cost: Tickets start at $20.
Info: 303-492-8008 or coloradoshakes.org
GoPro Mountain Games
Elite-level extreme sports (for people and dogs), yoga, art, food and music come together in Vail from Thursday through Sunday. More than 70,000 spectators are expected to view competitions in climbing, trail running, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fly-fishing, disc golf, mountain biking, BMX, cycling, slacklining and more.
"The GoPro Mountain Games encapsulate everything we love about mountain lifestyle," said Dave Dressman, vice president of sales and sponsorship for Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the event each year.
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater will come alive with performances by George Porter Jr. & Runnin Pardners, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Brothers Keeper, Playing for Change Band, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Bonfire Dub, and The Wood Brothers. Dance to music of your own choosing at a silent disco at "The Amp" starting at 7 p.m. Friday.
Fan-favorite canine events are highlighted by the DockDogs Outdoor Big Air competition Thursday. Dogs sprint down a runway and jump into a pool as a trainer tosses a toy for each to catch. The longest distance wins.
Greeley Blues Jam
Get ready to catch blues fever at this blues fest Friday and Saturday in the open-air Island Grove Arena, 501 N. 14th Ave. The motto for this celebration is "Ain't nothin' but a party." One of the better music festivals in northern Colorado features acts including the Devon Allman Project (featuring the son of the late Gregg Allman) with special guest Duane Betts (son of Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts). Also, blues guitarist Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters; solo artist Danielle Nicole; Otis Taylor Band; Victor Wainwright and the Train; the Dany Franchi Band from Italy; Chris Daniels & The Kings with Freddi Gowdy; Mojomama; the Blues DoGS with special guest Dave Beegle & Friends; and Grace Kuch & Friends - Future of the Blues.
Pre-festival activities begin at 4 p.m. Friday on the 9th Street Plaza. Listen to blues in more than 16 venues with no cover charge.
Pro tip: Bring sunscreen and bug spray, lawn chairs, rain gear, a hat and bottled water. Dogs are not allowed.
Cost: Tickets are $60 for preferred seating (under a tent); $40 at the door; $30 for active military with ID; and free for kids under 12 accompanied by an adult. RV and tent camping sites are available ($25-$35).
Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown and Gameroom Expo
If you're serious about gaming or just like it a lot, check out the Ultimate Colorado Pinball and Gamer Festival Experience Friday through Sunday in Lone Tree at the Denver Marriott South at Park Meadows, 10345 Park Meadows Drive. All ages and gaming skill levels are invited to play hundreds of pinball, retro video and classic arcade games - no quarters needed. You can play for fun or compete in tournaments for trophies and cash prizes. Celebrity gamers will be available to meet and greet.
Attendees may enter and exit freely with a wristband Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Admission is $33 a day for adults or $85 for all three days; tickets for kids ages 7-12 cost $15 a day or $35 for all three days; kids 6 and younger get in free. The Ultimate Gamer Package ($175) includes three-day admission, bonus play hours, meet and greets with special guests, exclusive invitation to Bring-A-Game Hours, T-shirt, pin and personalized collector's badge with lanyard.
Info: 303-938-9889 or pinballshowdown.com