The best outdoor festivals above 3,000 feet

Not looking forward to repeating the crush (and heat) of Coachella? Here are six of the best mountain-based festivals happening this summer. From bluegrass to biking, rock ‘n’ roll to Reiki, it’s easy to find some high-altitude fun that is perfect for you.

Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Crowds gather in the beautiful San Juan Mountains of Colorado for a tradition nearly a half century old. Photo: Courtesy of Telluride Bluegrass Festival
The Colorado town of Telluride, tucked away in a San Juan Mountain box canyon at 8,750 feet, puts on a different festival every week during the summer. You can choose from beer, wine, jazz, film, folk, craft and art festivals. However, if you have to pick just one, make it the legendary Bluegrass Festival.

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This year’s edition, the 44th, starts on June 15 with headline acts including Jason Mraz and Norah Jones. It’s a magical time of sun, scenery and light, with incredible music and a great vibe that pervades the historic mining town.

Pass’Portes du Soleil

Pass’Portes du Soleil kicks off the European mountain biking season in the Swiss resort of Morzine from June 23-25. It’s a mass-participation event that includes 4 miles of downhill mountain biking across the whole of the Portes du Soleil ski region. The rides take in the incredible French Alps scenery and are made easy, or at least easier, by the superb lift access.

You can choose to ride all or none of the three days, with different rides on offer depending on your ability. Apart from the riding, the annual gear exhibition, where around 70 of the biggest brands in mountain biking display their new wares, is also a huge draw. Out-of-the-saddle film screenings, concerts and late club nights all add to the festival feel.

If there is a better time to be had on two wheels, we have yet to find it.

Mountain Jam

Rockin’ the free world, and the Catskills. Photo: Courtesy of Mountain Jam
Held over three days at Upstate New York’s premier ski destination, Hunter Mountain, the Mountain Jam is a music festival billed as “Rock ‘n ‘Roll in the Mountains.” This year’s headliners include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Steve Miller Band and The String Cheese Incident.

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Now in its 13th year, the Mountain Jam also has late-night shows, kids’ activities and seminars. Camping is a big part of the experience, and the campground often offers as much clean-air excitement as the main stage. This year the festival runs from June 16-18.

Chamonix Cosmojazz Festival

Just one of the incredible stage settings at Cosmo. Photo: Courtesy of Cosmojazz Festival
This year’s eighth edition of the Cosmojazz Festival will be held from July 22-30 in the European adventure-sports hub of Chamonix, France. Each year, jazz enthusiasts from all around the world converge under Mont Blanc to share in the amazing landscapes and cosmic sounds.

All concerts are free and held at various sites selected for their majestic scenery and panoramas. In the evening the focus turns to the town of Chamonix, where the bars and clubs offer a range of gigs into the early hours.

Aspen Ideas Festival

Expanding minds in Aspen, Colorado, in 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Aspen Ideas Festival
A touch more esoteric, this one, but if you believe that clean mountain air promotes clean thinking, the Aspen Ideas Festival might be your high-altitude choice this summer. The festival gathers leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to present and discuss the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times.

The discussions tend to be intimate affairs, allowing you to engage with artists, scientists, authors, business executives, scholars, economists, foreign-policy specialists and entrepreneurs. These conversations can occur in varied settings such as over lunch on the lawn, a coffee at the espresso bar, in auditoriums and in small seminar rooms. Bring your own light bulb June 22 through July 1.

Wanderlust

Whistler, British Columbia’s Wanderlust Festival is an all-out, eclectic celebration that brings the world’s leading yoga teachers, talented musicians, renowned speakers, chefs and thrilling performers to the spectacular Coast Mountains.

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The festival was initiated to explore the connection between nature, yoga and music, and you can pick from a huge range of experiences. Choose from live-music meditation to explorations of local flora and fauna, sunrise hikes or a farm-to-table dinner at 6,000 feet, all happening Aug. 3-6.

If you need a break from all this well-being, you could always try standup paddleboard yoga, mountain biking, rafting, ziplining, rock climbing and slacklining, which are all available in Whistler in the summertime.