Fall Fun in the Vail Valley: Exploring Festivals, Art, and Music

As the warm embrace of summer gives way to the vibrant hues of autumn, the Vail Valley transforms into a captivating wonderland that beckons travelers seeking a fall getaway like no other. Nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, the Vail Valley is a tapestry of stunning landscapes, cultural festivities, and artistic expressions. Whether you're drawn to the golden aspen leaves, the lively festivals, or the thriving arts scene, autumn in the Vail Valley promises a multi-sensory experience that will leave you enchanted. Join us as we uncover the essence of fall in this captivating destination, where every moment is an opportunity to embrace the season's magic. 

If you needed another reason to spend your fall vacation in beautifuL and scenic Colorado, look no further! The Vail Valley offers many festivals, events, art & cultural experiences, and fantastic outdoor scenery during the magical fall season. 

Festivals and Events 

As the leaves begin to change, the Vail Valley comes alive with an array of festivals and events that celebrate the spirit of fall. The Vail Jazz Festival, an evergreen favorite, fills the crisp mountain air with soulful melodies, showcasing world-class musicians and jazz enthusiasts from around the globe. Savor the music against the backdrop of majestic peaks, creating an ambiance that's both soothing and invigorating. 

The Vail Jazz Festival runs from Aug. 31 - Sept. 4, 2023, featuring five days of music. The Vail Underground Sound series celebrates a 6-week run at Beaver Creek, featuring 1 - 2 shows per week in a 7-show series spanning from Sept. 15 - Oct. 2, 2023. If you buy a pass, it’s fully transferable between family and friends! Their seven-show, seven-drink pass is $150. 

Is bluegrass more your jam? Check out the FreeFall Bluegrass Festival, a family-friendly event featuring delicious food and a lineup including Bluegrass Generals, Drew Emmitt Band, Riverfront Ramblers, and more. This event features the Rock and Roll Playhouse, which is the largest kid-friendly live concert series in the nation, running Oct. 14 - 15, 2023 in Vail Village.

Rock and Roll Playhouse I Shore Fire Media 

Tip from the locals: If you’re drinking alcohol, remember you’re at high altitudes and it can affect you differently than you’re used to! Stay safe and hydrated by drinking one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume. 

If you’re a beer fan, you won’t want to miss Vail Oktoberfest! Occurring on two weekends (Sept. 8 - 10, 2023 in Lionshead Village and Sept. 15 - 17,2023 in Vail Village), each festival includes a biergarten, stein-holding and bratwurst-eating competitions, keg bowling, yodeling and alphorn blowing, live music, and more. 

The four-day Vail Automotive Classic features a car show, acrobatic air show, and proceeds benefit local Vail charities. This includes the Vail Concours, an annual car event in Lionshead since 2009 coinciding with Oktoberfest featuring everything from vintage collector cars to today’s coolest automotive offerings. Runs from Sept. 15 - 17, 2023. 

Love a good car festival? The Colorado Grand is an annual vintage car race spanning a 1,000-mile tour of Colorado, ending in Lionshead Village Sept. 11 - 16, 2023. The classic cars are on display between 9am and noon the following morning. This event has contributed more than $8.3 million dollars to Colorado charities since its inception in 1989. 

Just here for the food? Gourmet on Gore is a Labor Day weekend tradition in Vail, bringing world-class wine, beer and spirits together with culinary delights from Vail’s best chefs. This family-friendly event includes a kid’s corner, yoga, and food truck dining experience. 

Vail Oktoberfest I How long can YOU hold a stein? I Image Credit: Tomas Cohen Photography, Commercially Licensed  

Art and Culture Amidst Nature's Canvas 

The Vail Valley's vibrant arts scene takes on a new dimension in the fall. Wander through the streets of Vail Village and Beaver Creek, where art galleries come alive with exhibitions that capture the beauty of the changing season. Discover contemporary and traditional works that reflect the connection between artistic expression and the natural world. 

Grab your flannels and head to Avon for the 13th annual Man of the Cliff, a rugged Lumberjack-style mountain man fundraiser. Throw an axe, toss a hammer (or even a keg!), shoot an arrow, try your hand at “speed-chopping”, and definitely hoist a beer to raise money for the First Descents and their local adventure programs. Their adventure program benefits young

adults impacted by multiple sclerosis. With over 200 competitors and 3,000 attendees, it’s a fun weekend packed with great food, drinks and live music. Man of the Cliff takes place in Harry A. Nottingham Park on Oct. 14, 2023, from 10am to 5pm. 

Head to Eagle, Colorado every 2nd Friday of the month to enjoy the EagleARTS ARTWalk, featuring galleries, shops, restaurants, art exhibitions, live music, sales and specials. 

Love handmade arts and crafts? Come to Vail Village for the 16th annual Handmade in Colorado Expo. The Expo shares Colorado’s finest artisans dabbling in an array of mediums including metal, glass, textiles, clay, paint, wax, gems, and even food! Live music is part of the fun for this free event, which takes place in Estes Park/Bond Park from Aug. 25 - 27, 2023, and in Vail Village Oct. 6 - 7, 2023. 

Axe-Throwing at Man of the Cliff  I Image Credit: Avon.org Official Website 

Enveloped in Golden Splendor - Experience Leisurely Fall Hiking in the Vail Valley 

Autumn in the Vail Valley is synonymous with the breathtaking transformation of aspen trees, which turn the landscape into a symphony of gold and amber. One of the best ways to witness this transformation is by taking a hike along the area's scenic trails. The Holy Cross Wilderness and Eagles Nest Wilderness offer enchanting paths that meander through forests ablaze with color. As you traverse the trails, you'll be treated to panoramic vistas, babbling creeks, and the rustling of leaves underfoot. 

A Symphony of Colors: Booth Falls Trail 

If you're seeking a leisurely hike that immerses you in the breathtaking fall foliage of the Vail Valley, the Booth Falls Trail is an exquisite choice. This trail is a quintessential Colorado experience, offering a harmonious blend of natural beauty and ease of access. 

The Booth Falls Trailhead, located just a short drive from Vail, serves as the gateway to this scenic journey. As you set foot on the trail, you'll be greeted by a meandering path that gradually winds its way through groves of aspen trees, each one adorned with leaves that glisten like gold in the sunlight. 

The trail's gentle ascent provides the perfect opportunity to savor the sights, sounds, and scents of the fall season. The rustling leaves, the soft babble of a nearby creek, and the occasional call of a bird create a symphony that enhances the immersive experience. Along the way, you'll encounter picturesque bridges that span the creek, adding an extra touch of charm to your hike. 

As you continue your ascent, the trail leads you to the breathtaking Booth Falls. The journey to the falls spans about 3 miles round trip, making it an ideal option for hikers of varying skill levels. 

Booth Falls I Image Credit: Adobe Stock

A Gem of Tranquility: Beaver Lake Trail 

Nestled in the heart of Beaver Creek, the Beaver Lake Trail offers a serene escape into nature's embrace. This leisurely hike leads you through lush forests, beside babbling brooks, and to the tranquil shores of Beaver Lake, where the reflection of the surrounding peaks dances upon the water's surface. 

Starting from the Beaver Creek Village, the trail gradually ascends through groves of aspen and pine trees. The dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves creates a play of light and shadows that's simply enchanting. Along the way, you'll encounter the sounds of nature—a bird's melodic song, the gentle rustling of leaves, and the soothing rush of water. 

As you approach Beaver Lake, the lake's crystalline waters mirror the surrounding landscape, offering a sense of serenity that's perfect for quiet contemplation or a leisurely picnic. The trail is approximately 6 miles round trip, making it a wonderful option for those looking to spend a few hours in nature's embrace without strenuous exertion. 

If you’re an outdoor foodie, try the Hike, Wine & Dine - a very relaxed 5-mile hike in the middle of leaf season that encourages meandering, long conversations, and frequent stops to enjoy the many culinary and cocktail options. Hike, Wine & Dine is a fundraiser for Jack’s Place, a Cancer Caring House. This year’s Hike, Wine & Dine takes place on October 1, 2023. 

Farmer’s markets aren’t unique to the Vail Valley, but each one is definitely one of a kind! Find handcrafted goodes, art, and more during the summer months and early fall: 

Vail Village: Sundays 10am - 3:30pm 

Minturn: Saturdays 9am - 2pm 

Edwards: Saturdays 9am - 1:30pm 

Gypsum: Fridays 3:30pm - 7:30pm 

Fall in the Vail Valley is an invitation to immerse yourself in the magic of the season. Whether you're captivated by jazz melodies, entranced by artistic expressions, or simply yearning to be surrounded by nature's vibrant palette, this destination offers an experience that resonates with the soul. As the sun sets over the Rocky Mountains and the cool mountain air carries a hint of anticipation, you'll find refuge at The Inn at Riverwalk—where you can do the mountains Inn style. 

Embrace the season's spirit, let the melodies of jazz and the allure of art envelop you, and create memories that will linger long after the leaves have fallen. Fall in the Vail Valley is a celebration of life's simple pleasures and the beauty that lies in embracing change.