1. Travel

The Best Annual Events and Festivals in the Southwest

Plan Your Next Trip Around One of These Special Times


Is there any place with more heart, more soul or more flavor than the Southwest United States? If you’ve been looking for the perfect time to visit, why not plan your next trip around one of these special events or festivals? From balloon glows to rodeos, you’ve got options. 


Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Ray Watt - Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

The view at dawn is breathtaking, as dozens of glowing balloons light up the sky in an event that you will always remember. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Throughout the day you’ll get a chance to see giant “special shape” balloons – such as cows, smiling suns and soda cans – and even take a turn going up in the basket yourself. Held annually in October (this year it’s Oct. 4-11), it’s worth planning a trip here during this time just to see it. 


Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival

If you’re into celebrity sighting, you can’t miss the chance to check out this incredible, internationally known festival that draws celebrities from around the world. Held every year in January in Park City, expect screenings, parties and lots and lots of fun. Can’t get tickets to the event? No worries. The star spotting will be just as good at popular Park City hotels such as Stein Eriksen Lodge, Montage Resort at Deer Valley and Waldorf Astoria Park City. 


Ride the Rockies

Consider yourself an athletic type? Put that to the test with Ride the Rockies, an annual weeklong bicycle tour held in June that takes participants through the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Trust me, there’s no more personal way to see this incredible part of the state, and the feeling of accomplishment you’ll experience at the end is priceless. 


Art Santa Fe

From hand-painted pottery to gorgeous, perfectly crafted jewelry to canvases from some of today’s best-known artists, Santa Fe is well known for its arts scene. So why not plan a trip when that art scene is on full display during Art Santa Fe, a biannual celebration of the international contemporary art community held at the Convention Center in downtown Santa Fe. 


Austin City Limits Festival

Talk about a rockin’ good time. If you’re into music, you’ll definitely find an artist you like at the Austin City Limits Festival, an annual three-day fall event that features more than 130 bands. Past performers have included Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Muse, Phish, The Strokes, Band of Horses, Pete Yorn, Blues Traveler and Norah Jones. One-day tickets and three-day passes are available. 


Prescott Frontier Days

Touted as the “world’s oldest rodeo,” this annual event in Prescott, Ariz. has been attracting attention since it began in 1888. Since then, it has grown into a weeklong tradition that includes big money riding competition, a royalty pageant, cowboy church, a trail ride and a parade. Heading there with your sweetie? There’s also a rodeo dance.


Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon

You think you know Las Vegas? No matter how many times you’ve visited Sin City, chances are good you haven’t gotten a view of all its famous landmarks as you ran past them in Spandex. Unless, that is, you’re a member of Cirque du Soleil – or you’ve participated in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, held every December. It’s worth taking a gamble on this fun event, which features live music and livelier characters.


New Belguim Brewing Fruita Fat Tire Festival

Like beer? Like biking? Then this event is for you. Held annually in late May or early June, this festival features displays from some of the best known bicycle retailers in the country as well as a beer garden with plenty of suds. There’s also an associated bicycle race. 


©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.