2018 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival "Survive And Thrive" Guide
You have your tickets, you’re coming to the 25th Annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival! Nice work! Now, what’s your plan when you’re here?
Yes, like most festivals there’s a Main Stage, but at Blues & Brews and in Telluride there’s so much more! With multiple stages, yoga sessions, late night shows, TONS of beer styles to try, world-class restaurants, alpine surroundings and more, it can’t hurt to have a little guidance. Curated by our staff experts, we are proud to present the comprehensive 2018 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival “Survive and Thrive” Guide.
Fall is a beautiful time in Telluride! Hillsides glimmer with golden colors as plant life enjoys warm days, cool nights and prepares for the winter ahead. In the Rocky Mountains, weather can move fast and sporadically. Telluride’s weather is no exception and can be a bit of sunshine, rain, snow, overcast and everything in between during September. It’s best to be over-prepared, rather than end up under-prepared.
September 15 Historic Average Temperatures: Low 44 High: 67
Packing for the Festival
Each day, the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival starts mid-morning and spans into the evening. During the daytime, weather is usually mild and perfect for t-shirts, sandals and shorts. At Telluride’s 8,750 foot elevation, the UV rays are intense and the air is dry, so we recommend bringing sunscreen and a water bottle to fill up at free hydration stations located throughout the venue.
Nothing beats a tarp when things are looking wet! In case of precipitation, we recommend bringing 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 7:15 pm 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 bringing layers to change into during this evening shift. Light gloves, hats and long underwear are all great items to bring to the show in a backpack.
A Great Telluride Layer - Festival partner Voormi’s River Run Hoodie is made exclusively with Rocky Mountain Highcountry Merino™ Wool to offer a versatile lightweight fit. Stop by their booth in the festival to learn more.
Packing for Camping at the Festival
Camping at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is something to be experienced! Year after year, many campers return to camp at the festival, creating an unmatched feeling of community comradery. 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.
Making My Blues Green: Coolest and Cleanest Campsite Challenge - We’re excited to announce the return of the Campsite Challenge! Brought to you in collaboration with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, the contest encourages festival campers to build a clean, sustainable and creative campsite for a chance to win 2019 Blues & Brews tickets and other great prizes! Learn more here.
The Ideal Festival Tent - Festival partner Kelty's Sequoia 4 features a spacious interior and the height to standup inside. Stop by their booth in the festival to learn more.
The Best Cooler Available - Yeti's Tundra 35 Cooler allows the ultimate portability, durability and ColdCell Insulation to keep Yeti’s FatWall™ design and extreme insulation keeps food and drinks colder for longer. Stop by their booth in the festival to learn more.
Daily Festival Campground Sessions from 3:00 - 4:00 pm including a bonus 4:30 - 5:30 Saturday session with Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers!
Festival like a Pro
In addition to the Town Park Main Stage, the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival offers an abundance of festival programing!
The Blues Stage - Located adjacent to the festival grounds and campground, the Blues Stage offers indoor music and comedy throughout the day. The Blues Stage is a great place to get out of the sun, catch some blues music and laughs. Check out the full Blues Stage schedule for more information.
Campground Sessions - Exclusive to campers only, daily campground sessions feature sets performed on a wood stage in the festival campground. Here the views are aesthetic and the sessions pack in high energy. Campers don’t miss these sessions! View the full schedule here.
Sunset Blues Concert - Kick off the festival right Thursday evening with the Sunset Blues Concert in Mountain Village’s Sunset Plaza. Featuring Dragondeer, Denver's best psychedelic blues band, and larger-than-life one man band The Bones of J.R. Jones, this concert will be dynamic and electric. The Sunset Plaza is just a short, beautiful gondola ride up the mountain from the town of Telluride! The event lasts from 5 to 7 pm and is free and open to the public. Be sure to bring a blanket and a picnic!
Mitch Woods Club 88 Free After Hours Jam - Mitch Woods has hosted an after-hours Piano Bar jam on the Legendary Blues Cruise for over 12 years. For the 2nd year in a row, he’s bringing his open-jam back to Telluride! Any artist with an instrument is welcome to join in. Jams take place on Friday and Saturday nights at the Liberty Bar & Lounge (located at 121 S Fir Street) starting at 11:30 pm.
Festival Yoga - Join instructor Lauren Miller in Elks Park Saturday and Sunday mornings at for Festival Yoga Sessions. 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!
Location: Telluride Elks Park* (FREE and open to the public)
Time: September 15 and 16 (Saturday and Sunday of the Festival) 10:00 - 11:00 am
What to Bring: Water, Yoga Mat, Towel and Active Wear (Come with or without! These items are not mandatory to join in the class.)
Rainbow Kids Area - Kids of all ages can enjoy various activities in the Rainbow Kids Area during the festival weekend with the help from Living Folklore. Living Folklore features children’s entertainment, workshops, and two parades specifically geared for the kids (or the kid at heart) – one on Saturday and one on Sunday. So, bring your kids to the Rainbow Kids Area located in the back of the festival grounds to join the wild and wacky Living Folklore Clowns, Giggly Sprout and Gumbo Wobbly, along with activities like a bungee trampoline, climbing wall, inflatable bounce games, face painting, a talent show, and much more!
Bal De Maison (Opening Party) - Original Bal de Maison were southern dances held as house parties - typically in the front room which was cleared of furniture. On Thursday, September 14, we’re throwing our own Bal De Maison, an opening party, with festival favorite Samantha Fish at the Sheridan Opera house. This show is sold out!
Juke Joint Late Night Shows - Some of the best shows you’ll see all weekend are after dark at Telluride’s intimate concert venues: The Blues Stage (Hanley Pavilion), The Moon at O'Bannon's Sheridan Opera House, the Elks Lodge and the Liberty Bar & Lounge. At the Juke Joint shows, the bands usually like to play late and get rowdy. Friday and Saturday Juke Joint passes allow access to all venues for the night purchase but get there early as all venues are first-come, first served. Doors open each night at 9:45 pm and the VIP 3-Day Pass includes entry into all Juke Joints. For the lineup of the Juke Joint shows click here.
Blues For Breakfast - Start your mornings off proper with a hearty breakfast, live blues music, and drinks at Blues for Breakfast! Kicking off at 9:00 am on both Saturday and Sunday of the Festival weekend, Blues for Breakfast offers a pleasant warm-up to a dynamic day and late night full of music. Join us at the Telluride's intimate Elks Lodge (located at 472 West Pacific Avenue), for a bite to eat as the first official chords of the day are struck. Saturday’s breakfast hosts The Telluride Blues Challenge Finals and Sunday’s hosts The Telluride Blues Challenge Finals Runner-Up and Johnny Sansone. Elks Lodge will prepare a traditional breakfast spread featuring classics like the "world-famous" black bean sauté, scrambled eggs, pancakes, hash browns, toast, bacon and sausages. Coffee, juice and breakfast bar drinks will also be available. Breakfast is $12, Bloody Mary's, Mimosas, and other breakfast bar drinks are extra.
Telluride Blues Challenge - Taking place during Blues for Breakfast, the Telluride Blues Challenge invites eight standout solo blues musicians to the finals to battle it out for a spot on the 2019 Main Stage, a recording session with Gondola Sessions and other prizes. This contest is a festival favorite and is not to be missed. Challenge starts at 9:00 am on Saturday morning.
Blisters & Brews 5k Race - Blisters & Brews is a 5k Fundraiser Race giving Festival patrons the opportunity to exercise before they imbibe. The 5k Race, sponsored by BootDoctors™ Paragon Outdoors, raises money for the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program in remembrance of dear festival friend Felix Snow. Beginning and ending in Telluride's Elks Park, Blisters & Brews provides runners with a safe, beautiful way to kick off their Saturday in downtown Telluride. The route and start / finish area have been planned to enhance the running experience and highlight the beauty of the heart of Telluride.
Backpacker "Get Out More" Tour - Festival partner Backpacker Magazine will be on-site at the festival to answer questions about hiking, gear and more. They’ll also be giving away free gear, swag, providing gear demos and hosting a free gear demo hike at 9:00 am on Sunday morning! Make sure to stop by their booth inside the festival for more info.
Fais Do-Do - "Fais Do-Do" roughly translates to "Cajun dance party” and will be the final show of the 24th Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. The bluesy grooves of RL Boyce And The Hill Country Allstars will bring us home and deliver a set not to miss. This show is sold out!
Survive - Drinks At The Festival
Beer + Hard Cider - The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival features over 30 artists! Did you know it also features 56 breweries and 170 styles of craft beer? All festival long, enjoy eight different, unique styles of beer from official festival beer sponsor Sierra Nevada including the coveted Back Porch Lager! The Back Porch Lager, an exclusive style only available at Blues & Brews, was created by the festival staff at Sierra Nevada’s beer camp. Also enjoy six premium craft beers and two hard ciders from Big B’s Hard Cider, Bonfire Brewing, Durango Brewing Co, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Ska Brewing and Telluride Brewing Co in the House of Brews.
On Saturday, indulge in free beer samples from 56 microbreweries and cideries during the Grand Tasting from 12:00 to 3:00 pm! The tasting’s most popular brewery will be crowned ‘Best-of-Fest’ so make sure to text-to-vote for your favorite brewery. Look for the special brewer codes and instructions at each booth! Read more about the festival beer selection here.
Cocktails - A full cocktail bar will be available inside the festival grounds! Enjoy a tasty menu with ingredients from Tito's Vodka and more.
Wine - Wine will be available at bars throughout the festival.
Green - Marijuana use, possession and purchase is legal in Telluride! For those interested in marijuana use, we suggest asking the experts at the O.PenVAPE booth or at the Telluride Green Room about usage laws and effects. Like alcohol, marijuana can be enjoyable, but dangerous if consumed in excess. Go slow at first, especially with edible consumption! Festival partner O.PenVAPE will be on-site all weekend and is ready to talk with attendees ages 21 and up about all things marijuana and vaporizer innovation, so make sure to stop by their booth! If you're in town, make sure to swing by the Telluride Green Room!
Thrive - Drinks On The Town
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.
Explore like a Local
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.
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 (located on South Pine Street) and is a perfect beginner trail up to a waterfall. For a complete list of trails in the region, explore the hiking guide here.
If you're seeking a more challenging hike, check out the Jud Wiebe Trail (located on North Aspen Street) which takes you to a gorgeous overlook of the entire town.
Backpacker "Get Out More" Tour - Festival partner Backpacker Magazine will be at the festival to answer questions about hiking, gear and more. They’ll also be giving away free gear, swag, providing gear demos and organizing a group hike at 9am on Sunday! Make sure to stop by their booth.
Miles upon miles of single-track trails span throughout the Telluride box canyon. 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 Drive
Many scenic paved and backcountry roads weave the peaks and valleys of Telluride. For those without a four-wheel drive car HWY 145 South towards Delores offers stunning views of the Telluride Valley, Wilson Mesa and Lizard Head Pass.
Those with a four-wheel drive, high clearance car 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 (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 am to 12:00 am on Thursday, 7:00 am to 2:00 am on both Friday and Saturday, and 7:00 am to 1:00 am 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.
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. Visit Telluride.com for a full shopping guide.
Survive - Food At The Festival
Festival Food - If you're a foodie, prepare for food heaven! The delicious food vendor menus at the 2018 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival will keep your taste buds satisfied all weekend long. Our vendors satisfy even the most particular eater. Gluten-free? They've got you covered! Vegan or vegetarian? No problem! Paleo diet? You're in luck!
Thrive - Food On The Town
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 pm 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 Telluride.com's Dining Guide.
Survive - Public Transportation
Ride the Gondola - The only FREE transportation of its kind in the country, Telluride’s Gondola is the best way to get to and from, Telluride to Mountain Village. The Gondola runs from 7:00 am to 12:00 am on Thursday, 7:00 am to 2:00 am on both Friday and Saturday, and 7:00 am to 1:00 am on Sunday of the festival.
Ride the Galloping Goose - The Galloping Goose shuttle buses run every 20 minutes between 7 am and 1 am during the festival weekend and is free. Stops are located every few blocks throughout Telluride.
Transportation within Mountain Village - Free shuttles run throughout Mountain Village every half hour. Dial-A-Ride is available daily to guests in Mountain Village between 7 am and 12:30 am during summer and winter. Call 970.728.8888 for information.
Thrive - Telluride Express
Telluride Express - Our transportation partner, Telluride Express is Telluride's premier ground transportation service to and from all regional airports including Telluride, Montrose, Grand Junction, Durango, Cortez and Gunnison. They also offer door to door shared-ride, private and custom accommodations. To schedule a ride visit their website here or call (970) 728-6000.
Join the Conversation
Facebook - We can’t wait to see your posts and photos! Share with us and let us know how your weekend is going on the official Telluride Blues & Brews Festival Facebook page!
Twitter - Tag your tweets and photos with the hashtags #TellurideBlues and #TBBF18 to tell us about your favorite shows, photos and good times! Tag @TellurideBlues and we’ll be sure to RT.
Instagram - Fan photos are the best! Post your favorite photos from Town Park and use #TellurideBlues and tag @TellurideBlues and we'll share festival favorite posts all weekend long.
Spotify - While you pack your bags, listen to our Telluride Blues & Brews Festival playlists on Spotify to get you pumped for the weekend!
Listen the festival Live - Can't make this year's festival? You're in luck! Telluride Blues & Brews Festival will be airing the festival live from Telluride Town Park all weekend long with the help from our local community radio station KOTO FM. Click here for more info.