6 Colorado Food and Drink Festivals to Get Excited About in Spring 2022

Two years ago, the team at Taste of Vail was hard at work, preparing big plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the spring food and drink festival.

And then the world shut down.

When 2021 rolled around, they had high hopes again, but the coronavirus pandemic raged on. They canceled for the second year in a row.

Now at last (knock on wood, fingers crossed, hold your breath) Taste of Vail marks 30 years of showcasing Vail’s top chefs, as well as wineries and winemakers from across the northern hemisphere. The four-day festival is scheduled for April 6-9 at various Vail locations, featuring a range of seminars, wine dinners and tastings, including a crowd-favorite “mountain top” tasting held at 10,350 feet above sea level at the ski resort (tastedevail.com).

“We’re back and better than ever,” said Angela Mueller, the festival’s executive director. “We will celebrate what we were going to celebrate in 2020.”

Like Taste of Vail, many food and drink festival organizers across Colorado are gearing up to hold their first in-person events in two years. And while many of these gatherings are still months away in the summer, you can get a head start on planning as the weather warms up.

From quirky craft beers to chocolate heaven, here are the spring food and drink festivals we’re most looking forward to in the coming months.

Hosted by the Colorado Brewers Guild, Collab Fest features beers from 135 participating breweries (Provided by Colorado Brewers Guild/Dustin Hall of The Brewtography Project)

collaboration party

Craft brewers and craft beer enthusiasts are happily celebrating the return of Collaboration Fest – aka Collab Fest – which is one of the most beloved beer festivals in the state.

Why? Because breweries can come together and create something totally new and different. This allows brewers to flex their creative muscles and spend quality time with their peers in this social industry.

Organized by the Colorado Brewers Guild, Collab Fest features beers from 135 participating breweries. In years past, brewers have crafted original beers with surprising ingredients like hot stones, butter, pine and juniper branches; one group even had a beer while rafting the Platte River. And this year will be no different: if you attend, you can sip wild and crazy beer the world has never seen before. You’ll also taste the camaraderie in every glass.

April 2, Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 N Clarkson St., Denver, collaborationbeerfest.com

A bee flies towards a cherry blossom in Markendorf, Germany, Thursday, April 19, 2018. (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)

International Palisade Bee Festival

Without bees and other pollinators, the world would truly be a very sad (and hungry) place. Honey bees are responsible for about a third of the food we eat, according to the US Department of Agriculture, through pollinating crops.

It’s time again to thank the humble bee of the Palisade International Honeybee Festival, who took a two-year hiatus during the pandemic. Put on your best yellow and black outfit (for the costume contest!) and attend lectures, vendor booths, chef demonstrations, educational demonstrations and, of course, the spelling bee.

The festival, which started in 2008, has “international” in its name because the world’s honey bee population is at risk due to climate change, pesticides, diseases, pests and other threats. Palisade wouldn’t have such strong fruit and wine industries without bees, but the issue is far bigger than Colorado and festival organizers hope to raise awareness.

April 9, various locations in Palisade, palisadehoneybeefest.org

The great commotion

New to the food festival scene this spring is The Big Stir, a festival honoring the many hardworking women who make Colorado’s food scene so robust. A ticket gets you a front-row seat to tastings, live music, and seminars led by award-winning author Adrian Miller, wine educator Maia Parish, and agave expert Valeria Alvarado.

Organizers will also honor 10 Colorado women with leadership awards, including Aminata Dia, chef-owner of Le French Bakery & Cafe; Nicole Mattson, co-founder of Nocturne and Noble Riot; and Fathima Dickerson, co-owner of Welton Street Cafe, to name a few.

The one-day event also raises funds for the Colorado Les Dames d’Escoffier Scholarship Fund, which helps women pursue training and professional development opportunities in hospitality, catering and beverages.

April 23, Tivoli Turnhalle, 900 Auraria Parkway, Denver, thebigstirfestival.com

Kevin Mohatt, special for the Denver Post

Chocolates molded to look like shoes and other items sold by an Italian chocolatier at the 18th annual Christkindl Market on Saturday, November 17, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Kevin Mohatt/Denver Post Special)

Colorado Chocolate Festival

After the hell of the past two years, we could all use a little more chocolate in our lives. The Colorado Chocolate Festival delivers — and more — with two days of what organizers describe as “chocolate heaven.”

Walk through over 30,000 square feet of chocolate, with over 100 vendors from across the United States sharing their cocktails, brownies, candies, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, fudges, coffees, caramels and literally anything you can dream made from chocolate.

Aside from treats, there’s also a market perfect for scoring a gift for mom ahead of Mother’s Day, as well as kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, contests, speakers and giveaways. games. The “Chocolatier Championships” will decide who will make the best truffles, fudge, toffee, designer chocolate and other treats.

May 6-7, Crowne Plaza Convention Center, 15500 East 40th Ave., Denver, cococholatefests.com

The Durango Wine Experience will be held this year from April 29 to May 1. (Provided by Durango Wine Experience)

Durango Wine Experience

As if you needed another reason to visit this cool West Slope town, the Durango Wine Experience awaits. The three-day event is jam-packed with wine dinners, educational seminars and tastings, all to help raise funds for the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, an organization that supports local nonprofits.

If you can only make it for a day, visit on Fridays and catch the ‘Walkabout’, the festival’s signature tasting of finger foods and wine in downtown shops, art galleries and patios of Durango. Wearing a cowboy hat and other western attire is not required, but is definitely encouraged.

April 29-May 1, Downtown Durango, durangowine.com

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