Telluride Jazz Festival: The Guide

Your all-encompassing guide to the 2017 Telluride Jazz Festival

This year the Telluride Jazz Festival is more dynamic than ever! Many new events have been added to complement festival classics, making for a weekend that will be full of world-class music and fun. Additionally Telluride offers outstanding dining, outdoor recreation and sightseeing opportunities. Here the Telluride Jazz Festival staff has put together a comprehensive festival guide for the best festival experience possible!


Summer is a beautiful time in Telluride! Lush hillsides boast abundant wildflowers and beautiful landscapes. In the Rocky Mountains, weather can move fast and can be sporadic. Telluride’s weather is no exception and can be a bit of sunshine, rain, overcast and everything in between during August. It’s best to be over-prepared, than under-prepared.

August 5 - Historic Average Temperatures: Low 41 High: 73

Packing for the Festival

Each day of the Festival, the gates open in the mid-morning and the event spans into the evening. During the daytime, weather can be mild and perfect for tee shirts, sandals and shorts. UV rays can be higher than you’re accustomed to and the air is dry, so we recommend you bring sunscreen and a water bottle to fill at free water stations located throughout the venue.

Nothing beats a tarp when things are looking wet! In case of precipitation, we recommend you bring waterproof, quick-dry and insulating layers. The Telluride Town Park field can get a bit muddy with rain or snow. Wearing waterproof boots and wool or synthetic moisture wicking socks are also encouraged.

Sunsets during this time of year typically happen around 8:20 p.m. and can be stunning; however, be prepared for the quick drop in temperatures. Even on a warm day, temperatures can swing more than twenty degrees in a matter of hours. We recommended that you bring a change of clothing layers for this evening shift.  Hats and long underwear are all great items to bring to the show in a backpack.

Packing for Camping at the Festival

Camping at the Telluride Jazz Festival is something to be experienced! The beautiful Town Park Campground can be a fun, social camping experience that is a short stroll from the festival. It does get chilly at night so, pack appropriately-rated sleeping bags and gear. In the event of rain, a ground cloth or tarp does wonders.

Festival like a Pro

In addition to the Main Stage, the Telluride Jazz Festival offers an abundance of programing!

The “Society Stage” at Elks Park - The “Society Stage” at Elks Park - Returning to the 2017 Festival is the “Society Stage” at Elks Park. Located in the heart of historic downtown Telluride, the grassy outdoor amphitheater will host a series of free artist workshops and performances by student bands throughout the festival weekend. Artist workshops give attendees and locals a chance to interact with festival artists while learning about jazz culture, history and methods. Catch FatsO, Davina and The Vagabonds, Ranky Tanky and a variety of student bands here. See the full schedule →

Brought to you by the generous support from the Dalton Family Foundation, Dworbell Inc., the Raynier Institute & Foundation, The Telluride Foundation and Telluride's Commission for Community Assistance, Arts, and Special Events (CCAASE).

Jazz After Dark - On Friday and Saturday nights, after the festival ends in Town Park, we continue the music with “Jazz After Dark” shows located in various venues throughout Telluride. One pass allows entry into three different shows!

Jazz After Dark passes allow access to all venues for the night purchased. Be aware, Jazz After Dark passes do not guarantee entry to the show, all venues are first come, first served and based on the capacity of each venue. As they fill up, we direct you to which Jazz After Dark venues are not full. As the night goes on, crowds at the Jazz After Dark tend to rotate, so even if you can't catch the start of the band you want to see, there's a good chance you can catch the last half of their show. So, if there is one particular band you really want to see, get in line early for the show! After the shows begin, entry is dependent on capacity.

The Patron Pass includes entry into all Jazz After Dark Shows and priority early entry.  For the Jazz After Dark schedule, click here.

Mavis! - Filmrasier for San Miguel Resource Center - Join us for the Telluride Jazz Festival film screening of Mavis! on Tuesday, August 1st at 8:00 pm at this historic Sheridan Opera House presented by KOTO FM's DJ Jimmy Jazz along with the San Miguel Resource Center (SMRC), the Telluride Society for Jazz and the Telluride Jazz Festival.

Start your Festival early with a party and film screening celebrating the 2017 festival headliner and one of the greatest soul singers of all time, Mavis Staples. A good time and a good cause - all proceeds are donated to the SMRC, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of domestic violence.

A pre-film VIP Reception Party will include live music, cash bar, complimentary food and raffle ticket. Tickets for the reception are $35 per person and available here. The film, with a separate admission ($15 suggested donation to the SMRC, will start shortly after the Reception Party. For more info or to purchase tickets, click here.

Jazz Art Walk - Kick off the 2017 Telluride Jazz Festival in style with the new Jazz Art Walk! The Jazz Art Walk will take place from Thursday, August 3, from 5:00 - 8:00 PM in the heart of historic downtown Telluride. Held in collaboration with the Telluride Arts District’s "First Thursday’s Art Walk", the event will feature over 20 exhibits highlighted by five official Jazz Art Walk galleries. Learn more →

Macy Gray Paton Opening Concert - The Patron Experience features a private opening concert with Grammy Award winning artist Macy Gray at the historic Sheridan Opera House on Thursday, August 3, 2017 at 9 PM.

Set in the heart of downtown Telluride, the opening concert is the final addition to the enhanced 2017 Patron Experience which will treat pass-holders to top-of-the-line festival amenities making for a truly elegant and memorable experience. The opening concert joins a fleet of fresh upgrades to the Patron Experience including a one-of-a-kind, on-stage seated viewing area accompanied by a full stage-side hosted bar. For more info or to purchase tickets, click here.

Liberty Sessions - Following the “Jazz After Dark” shows, a new late night series named “Liberty Sessions” will take place at Telluride’s most recent addition, The Liberty Bar & Lounge. Free and open to the public, the series will feature The McCarthy Trio on Friday and The Bob Montgomery and Josh Quinlan Sextet on Saturday.

First Note Yoga - Start your morning off right with First Note Yoga provided by the Telluride Yoga Festival! Enjoy a fluid yoga flow, activating breath practice, liberating movement and playful exercises to discover new realms of embodied pleasure. Guests of all skill levels are welcome to join us on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8:30 am in Elks Park during the Festival weekend. Participation is free, no registration required. 

What to Bring: Water, Yoga Mat, Towel and Active Wear (Come with or without - these items are not mandatory to join in the class)

For more info, click here.

Historical Walking Tour - Discover the past with Saturday morning's Historical Walking Tour presented by the Telluride Historical Museum. Presenter and long-time resident Ashley Boling will guide visitors through Telluride’s storied past and celebrated landmarks. To register for the walking tour, click here.

The tour is limited to 30 participants, is free of charge and will start at 9am in front of the Courthouse, across from Elks Park on Colorado Ave (Telluride’s Main Street).

NOLA 2nd Line Parade - Second Line Parades are a New Orleans tradition. Brass-bands take to the street, play and march. Onlookers who followed along to enjoy the music were known as the second line.

On Sunday, August 6th at Noon, Join the Festival staff, attendees, Cha Wa Mardi Gras Indian Band and Hooligan Brass Band at Elk's Park for a Second Line Parade down Main Street all the way to Telluride Town Park. Everyone is welcome! Colorful floats, costumes, beads and decorations are all welcome as attendees join in on the march through town.

The Final Waltz - After Mavis Staples closes down the Main Stage, the festival concludes with a special performance by Vaud and the Villains at the historic Sheridan Opera House. This energetic vaudeville style show in the beautiful preserved Victorian-era Sheridan Opera House is sure to be a memorable way to end the 2017 Telluride Jazz Festival. Show starts at 9 pm. Get tickets →


Drinks at the Festival - The beer, wine and cocktails will be served throughout the festival. Odell Brewing will be serving up a full menu of Colorado craft beer including Nail Knot Craft Lager, 90 Shilling Ale, Drumroll American Pale Ale and IPA. Read more here. 14 Hands and Red Diamond will be serving wine and Peach Street Distillers will be crafting cocktails. To read more, click here.

Two complimentary tastings will also take place during the festival.

Wine & Whiskey - "Wine & Whiskey" is a complimentary tasting that takes place inside the festival grounds on Friday, August 4th from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The tasting features some of the best distilleries, wineries in Colorado and beyond. Enjoy music on the Main Stage while sampling premium wine and spirits in a beautiful setting. Commemorative glasses are provided to all festival goers.

Bubbles & Bloodies - "Bubbles & Bloodies" is a complimentary tasting that takes places inside the festival grounds on Sunday, August 6th from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The tasting features a variety of sparkling wine and Bloody Mary's. Commemorative glasses are provided to all festival goers.

Drinks on the Town - There's many great establishments to grab a beverage in the Town of Telluride.

  • New Sheridan - Go shoot pool and play some foose in this historic old-timey bar. Great vibe, music and drinks.
  • Oak: The New Fat Alley - Grab some fried okra and a pint of Schlitz on the patio! The best place to mellow out during the festival and eat great BBQ.
  • Smuggler's Brew Pub - With a diverse menu and extensive beer list, this restaurant is not to be missed! Be sure to try the seasonal beer styles.
  • There - A diverse collection of cocktails and food menu, a fusion of the new with the old, the trendy with the traditional. Staff suggestions: Grapefruit martini, Blueberry Gin jam cocktail.
  • Telluride Brewing - Take a trip out to Lawson Hill and check out Telluride’s microbrewery. Fresh beer from the source and brewery tours available.  
  • Tomboy Tavern - Wraparound bar, oversized leather couches, beer garden and patio in the heart of Mountain Village.
  • Poacher's Pub - Classic American menu with a sunny patio and wide selection of food and drinks.
  • Cornerhouse Grille - Casual dining in Telluride with a great selection of traditional pub fare. Check out the specials menu!

Click here for a full list of bars in the area.


Festival Food - If you're a foodie, prepare for food heaven! The delicious food vendor menus at the Telluride Jazz Festival will keep your taste buds satisfied all weekend long. View our vendors  →

Patron Experience Dinning - Putting a priority on high quality food, this year's Patron Experience features an eclectic menu served in an exclusive, covered Patron Lounge located in the backstage area of the festival. Tantalize your taste buds with this delicious 'tour de food' presented by Telluride chef Josh Klein.

Patrons can also enjoy fine dinning at Rustico Ristorante during Thursday's Opening Reception and Sunday's Jazz Brunch.

Food on the Town - Telluride is filled with a variety of great dinning experiences.

  • Brown Dog Pizza - Brown Dog Pizza is located on Main Street and has delicious pizza, subs, salads and beer on tap. Also, late-night slices!
  • Siam - Fun fact: some of the best Thai food in the world is found in Telluride! Staff suggestions: Drunken Noodles, Pad Thai and Molly's Lobster Tempura.
  • Floradora - Looking for the best burger in town? Check out Floradora on Main Street for delicious burgers (get the Matty Burger), jalapeño poppers, salads, sliders and more!
  • New Sheridan Chop House - Easily some of the best food in town. You can eat two ways – very nice or laid back. ‘Very nice’ consists of sitting down for a nice steak and glass of wine. Or you can eat ‘Laid back’ by sitting at the bar or in the Parlor Bar for an informal meal with the same tasty menu. Tasty brunch, too.
  • Baked in Telluride - Great spot to grab coffee and a quick breakfast in the morning - "B.I.T.” offers bagels, doughnuts, croissants, muffins, pizza, sandwiches, cookies and a whole lot more.
  • Cosmopolitan - Hands down the best happy hour in town! Half-price sushi and Cosmos from 5:00 -6:00 p.m. every day of the week!
  • La Cocina - Delicious menu featuring local and organic Mexican food on Main Street with indoor and outdoor seating.
  • Pescado - Looking for some good sushi? Our friends at Pescado have some of the best in Colorado. Follow them on Twitter for special deals!
  • La Marmotte - A modern take on elegant bistro fare. An excellent romantic getaway tucked into one of Telluride's oldest building. Staff suggestions: Roast Quail, Short ribs and Molten Chocolate Cake.

For a list of Telluride restaurants, visit's Dining Guide.

Explore like a Local

Hands down, Telluride is one of the best towns in the world for outdoor recreation! The towering peaks of the San Juan Mountain Range offer adventure for novices to pros alike.

Hiking - If you’re up for adventure, there are plenty of beautiful hikes starting directly from downtown Telluride to explore: Bear Creek Trail is less than one block from Town Park (S. Pine Street) and is a perfect beginner trail up to a waterfall.

If you seek a more challenging hike, check out the Jud Wiebe Trail (N. Aspen Street) which takes you to a gorgeous overlook of the entire town.

Mountain Biking - Miles of mountain bike trails span the Telluride box cannon. Beginners should start with the Valley Floor Trail.

Experienced bikers might consider the Prospect Trail Loop off of the Telluride Mountain Village Gondola.

Scenic Off-Road Drives - Many scenic paved and backcountry roads weave through the peaks and valleys of Telluride. For those without a four-wheel drive car, HWY 145 South towards Dolores offers stunning views of the Telluride Valley, Wilson Mesa and Lizard Head Pass.

Those with a four-wheel drive, high clearance cars can consider a trip to Bridal Veil Falls.

Ride the Gondola - The only FREE transportation of its kind in the country, Telluride’s Gondola is a must-do while visiting during the week. If you don’t journey up to the free concert on Thursday night, make sure you take the time to check out this spectacular ride. Get out up top (Station San Sophia) to hike around or ride the Gondola down into Mountain Village to check out the local bars, shops and restaurants. The Gondola runs from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. on Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday, and 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on Sunday of the Festival.

Paddleboarding - Located 27 minutes South of Telluride Trout Lake offers stunning paddleboarding with beautiful alpine views. Paddleboards can be rented locally at BootDoctors™ Paragon Outdoors.  

Fly-Fishing - Telluride is an angler’s paradise. Alpine lakes, creeks and rivers are frequent throughout the Telluride region. For more information about fly-fishing click here.

For more information about hiking, diving, paddleboarding, fly-fishing and biking in Telluride’s visitor guide.

Shop and See

Historical downtown Telluride is home to an abundance of great merchant shops and art galleries. From boutique clothing shops, inviting art galleries, and unique victorian architecture, it’s easy to spend a day exploring. Click here for a full shopping guide.