Book Lodging

6 Things I Learned At My First Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Friday • June 22, 2018

I picked a crazy week to move from Chicago to Telluride. Between the looming fires and the busiest week of the year in Telluride, it’s been a wild ride. 

For years I’ve heard about how amazing the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is, but this year, I finally got to experience it for myself. With 45 years in the books, I knew it was going to be amazing, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

It didn’t disappoint.

Dress for Everything

It's extremely hot during the day. The weather may say it’s only 70 degrees, but when that sun is beating down on you with zero shade to be found, it feels more like 90. But once that sun goes down, it's freezing. 

You can definitely tell who has been to the fest before – they come prepared with umbrellas, tents, hats, spray bottles, hoodies, blankets – the whole shebang. As a newbie, I didn’t have a hat or any other clothing aside from what was on my back. I was a frequent visitor to the sunscreen stand and envied those who had layers with them.

The heat was not a joke this year. People were literally huddling behind port-o-potties and dumpsters to catch any glimpse of shade they could find. Since you’re allowed to leave the fest, the river was chock full of people dipping their toes in mid-day or chowing down on some lunch in the shade (and sweet hammock setups) just north of the festival entrance. Not to mention, there are plenty of kids frolicking around with squirt guns and spray bottles. Take advantage.

My Take: Visit the sunscreen stand. There are giant tubs located near the medical tent on the south side of the fest. They’re free with a suggested donation.

It’s Chill

I’m from Chicago. I’ve been to about every festival there and have experienced everything from kids jumping fences at Lollapalooza to people getting arrested at Riot Fest. This is by far the coolest festival I’ve ever been to. 

The people are chill – there’s security around, but it’s not to break up any fights. Everyone is super friendly, welcoming, and it seems as if everyone is on the same page about the fest. They just want to chill, listen to some music, and maybe throw back a few brews (Avery Brewing sponsors the event) while enjoying the scenery. 

My Take: BE NICE TO EVERYONE because everyone there is awesome.

The Tarp Run Is the Best

 Photo via kob717/Instagram

As a newcomer, I had never heard of the tarp run. It might be my favorite thing ever. Obviously, I’ve been to fests and seen people converge on festival grounds once the gates open, but never anything like this.

People literally line up for hours (some overnight) and race to get the best spots on the lawn each day of the fest. It’s crazy, strange, and you’ll definitely see some moves you’ve never seen before.

My Take: This T-Rex rules. 

It’s Extremely Family Friendly

As aforementioned, I’ve been to about every fest out there. I have never seen so many kids at an all-day music festival in my entire life. Kids under 12 are free, so it makes for a nice family event without the extravagant cost of bringing your kid to a festival.

The best part? They’re all about it. They dance, they sing and they certainly look the part. Every child I saw didn’t look like their parents dragged them there – they genuinely looked like they were enjoying themselves. 

My Take: Bring the entire family!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Thinking about just dumping trash somewhere? Think again. While other festivals try to implement recycling throughout grounds, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival is all about it (and they enforce it). 

They have giant dumpsters everywhere: one for trash, one for recycling and one for compost. They also have lovely volunteers making sure each item is put into the right receptacle (I even saw one jump in and fetch something that was thrown into the wrong bin). 

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a compost pile (besides at Bonnaroo) at a music festival. Pretty cool.

They also serve their drinks in reusable cups ($2 for a small plastic one and $10 for a metal cold cup) which is also very economical. Plus, the cups are sweet and I'll definitely use mine in the future. 

My Take: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Telluride Rules

We all already knew that, though. There are plenty of other festivals throughout the summer, and I can't wait to experience them with everyone!