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Live Music Is Back—Here’s Where to Get Your Groove on In the Mountains This Summer

In honor of live music's returns to the mountains, we rounded up the best music festivals to add to your calendar this summer.

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Of the many things that Covid upended throughout the last year, events were some of the most impacted—and have been the last to return. When we set out to update an article from a couple years back on the best summer music festivals in ski country, only two events of the 10 listed were returning for 2021 after getting canceled last summer.

Brews and Funk Squaw
Squaw Alpine’s Brews, Jazz & Funk Fest return to the Village at Squaw in August. Photo: Courtesy of Squaw Alpine

The good news is that music festivals are coming back, albeit slowly. The weekend-long format has been replaced by music series in some locations, or moved from larger venues to multiple smaller ones. But it’s progress, and we can say with confidence that live, outdoor concerts are indeed returning.

Here’s a new roundup of where you can listen to music in the mountains this summer. We hope for an even longer list next summer, when some of the crowd-favorite classics can return, but for now we’re grateful to get our groove on in view of spectacular mountain backdrops.

Best Mountain Music Festivals For Summer 2021

JAS Experience 

  • Where: Aspen Snowmass, Colo
  • When: June 24-27, 2021

This festival organized by Jazz Aspen Snowmass is the premier jazz fest in the state, featuring performances by some of the most renowned artists and ensembles in the industry. This year’s event includes Take 6, The Family Stone, and the Motet, the Denver-based septet that infuses funk and soul into their unique take on jazz. If you can’t make it to the JAS Experience, there’s a similar JAS event that takes place over Labor Day weekend. 

The Ride Festival

  • Where: Telluride, Colo.
  • When: July 2-11, 2021

Telluride is the summer music festival capital of North America, so it’s not surprising that events are successfully going off here this summer, including the incredibly popular Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which went off without a hitch earlier this month.

But if you missed that one, The Ride Festival deserves a spot on your music calendar this summer. This festival that’s in its 9th year returns in a new, more diffused format, with music taking place at various venues throughout the town rather than at Telluride Town Park. The rock-n-roll-inspired independent artists on the schedule include Citizen Cope, Black Pistol Fire, and Big Something, a rock, pop, and funk fusion from the Southeast known for its horns and synth sounds.

Vermont Summer Orchestra Summer Under the Stars

  • Where: Rutland, Vt.
  • When: July 24-25, 2021

The wonderful VSO is actually doing several tours this summer at various outdoor venues throughout the state, but this Summer Under the Stars event is a chance to hear the best of the orchestra over the course of a single weekend. The 25-piece chamber orchestra will take the stage at the Vermont State Fairground in Rutland, near Killington, for a family-friendly concert conducted by Matt LaRoca and accompanied vocally by Burlington singer-songwriter Francesca Blanchard.

The HIVE Festival

  • Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • When: Aug. 6-7, 2021

Not technically in the mountains but close enough to squeak onto our list, The HIVE Festival attracts some of the biggest names in rap and hip hop to the expansive Utah State Fairpark for a two-day fete that is guaranteed to feel pretty close to a pre-pandemic music extravaganza. This is a new event that was scheduled to debut last summer, so this summer’s inaugural event, featuring Post Malone, The Suicide Boys, Trippie Red, and more, is guaranteed to be one to remember. Bonus: There will be one surprise, unannounced performer on the festival’s docket, and the only way to find out who it is is to go.

Brews, Jazz & Funk Festival

  • Where: Squaw Alpine, Calif.
  • When: Aug. 14-15, 2021

This popular Brew, Jazz, and Funk Festival returns for its 19th year this summer, combining the funk and jazz genres with brews from nationally renowned breweries, all to benefit the four-legged furballs at the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe. The lineup is still being finalized but so far includes The Motet, Vella,  Sneaky Creatures, and Peter Joseph Burtt & The King Tide, all performing at the Village at Squaw with the mountains in the background. Participating breweries haven’t been announced yet, but past festivals included New Belgium, Mad River Brewing Company, and Tahoe Mountain Brewery.


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