Fresh Air

Active Outdoor Festivals 2019

Hot air balloons, yoga, and Carbondale's Mountain Fair's eclectic offerings are all good to reasons to take it outside.

By Todd Hartley Photography by Courtesy Photo by Hal Williams June 6, 2019 Published in the Summer 2019 issue of Aspen Sojourner

Image above: Floating above it all in Snowmass Village during the balloon festival. Photograph by Hal Williams/Courtesy Snowmass Tourism 

Snowmass Balloon Festival
September 6–8

Up, up, and away could describe the recent trajectory of this 44-year-old spectator event, in addition to the hot-air balloons it celebrates. After hovering at the status quo for some four decades, the annual family-friendly weekend has blown up of late, including concerts and a host of auxiliary events throughout Snowmass Village. Despite that, the heart of the event remains the 30 balloons and their pilots, who compete in some of the country’s highest-altitude races and challenges, as well as the Fanny Hill Night Glow on Saturday.

Increase the festival vibe: If you’re only going to one day of the festival, make it Saturday, when Snowmass Village soars with not just balloons by the golf course but two great festivals elsewhere in town. On the mall, Cidermass (1–4 p.m.), a celebration of hard cider, features tastings from more than two dozen craft cideries, including several from Colorado. Down at Base Village, Septemberfest (4–7 p.m.) invites people of all ages to enjoy food tastings, shopping, kids’ activities, and live music.

Insider tip

The scene as the balloons inflate and slowly ease up into a bluebird sky, like sleeping giants awakening, makes for great photos and memories. Arrive by 7 a.m. each day, and bundle up—September mornings at 8,000 feet can be chilly.

Mountain Fair
July 26–28 

There are few burgs so town-proud as Carbondale, and the 48-year-old Mountain Fair plays a huge role in that civic pride. A three-day festival in every sense of the word, the fair takes over downtown’s Sopris Park with music, performances (fire! aerials!), some 150 artisans and other vendors, food booths, kids’ activities, a pie and cake bake-off, contests like wood-splitting and doing the limbo, and a beer garden, engendering a vibrant spirit that must be experienced to be fully appreciated. “The fair is unique in the fact that it’s volunteer driven,” says Amy Kimberly, executive director of Carbondale Arts, which organizes the event. “It’s all about the community coming together, kind of like a barn raising.” When that raising includes dynamic headlining acts like gypsy/grass jammers Ponder the Albatross (Friday), the internationally influenced Jyemo Club (Saturday), and modern soulsters the Burroughs (Sunday), count us in.

Insider tip

Need to let off some steam? Show up for the legendary Friday evening drum circle. Or sign up for one of the races concurrent with the fair: Saturday’s 14.2-mile Mount Sopris Runoff or 4-mile Fair Run, and/or Sunday’s Porcupine Bike Loop Race (costumes required).

Yoga on the Mountain
July 19–21

Yoga mat–toting folks in tank tops and leggings mingle with downhill mountain bikers wearing full body armor and families heading to the on-mountain Lost Forest adventure park during a weekend that blends the tribes at Snowmass’s Base Village. As if the magnificent setting isn’t motivation enough for festival goers to Awaken the Spirit (this year’s theme), the third iteration of the mindful gathering includes added outdoor activities, more live music, and three days of 70-plus classes and presentations. New-this-year sessions include aerial silks, slacklining, and hike-to practice at the yin-yang platform off the Rim Trail, while the music lineup features the upbeat band Satsang, sound healing by Drishti Beats, a Saturday night silent disco, and a daily lunchtime DJ at the vendor village. Plus, a third of the yoga classes—taught by both local and nationally known instructors—will have live music accompaniment to really get your flow going. Snowmass Village

Bonus workout: Looking to add some cardio to your practice? Sign up for the 5K on the Mountain fun run (July 20), part of the Colorado Brewery Running Series. The course starts and ends at the Snowmass Mall, and runners of all levels are welcome. Afterward, join fellow 5Kers at the New Belgium Ranger Station for a post-run party.

Insider tip

For the ultimate chill class, register for Yoga and Beats, the signature class with a deep-house DJ taught by two instructors from Eagle, Colorado. “The music kind of feels like your heartbeat,” says Yoga on the Mountain co-founder Krista DeBuhr.

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