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Festivals Telluride Balloon Festival

At an elevation of 8,750 feet, spring saunters into the canyon when it feels like it — and typically not before the final days of May. So there’s just something extra spectacular about the first week of June in Telluride when the sun cuts the crisp morning air and for the first time since September, the mountains aren’t white, but instead, eye-popping green.

This is also when — if you’re up with the sun — you might see, rising into a pinkish sky, a dozen or more balloons lifting above the town!

It’s hard not to wax dramatic about Telluride Balloon Festival. This is how the Washington Post tells it: “Telluride’s town park transformed into a mosaic of orange and pink, turquoise and yellow as the enormous canvases were unfurled onto the dewy grass.”

And so it is, each year since 1983, a fleet of majestic hot air balloons lift from Telluride’s east end of the canyon to bob about the valley. It’s spectacular — and Telluride’s most low-key festival.

Early morning coffee sipping spectators gather for the “Mass Ascension” at sunrise in Telluride Town Park. At sunset, Telluride’s Colorado Ave is closed off to traffic for the “Main Street Glow,” where balloons inflate, but don’t launch. (Imagine a Macy’s parade, where you move about and the balloons hold still). Take it in from one of Telluride’s rooftop bars or while dining al fresco at The New Sheridan Chop House.

They say if you don’t like the weather in Telluride, wait five minutes. Naturally, all of the events and times are subject to those ever-changing conditions. No matter, Telluride Balloon Festival is entirely free and fun for everyone in the family.

So, where will you stay?

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38° N, 108° W