Best Annual Events in the Southwest

Balloons, Music, Film, Rodeos, and More

The Southwest overflows with heart, soul, and flavor. If you’ve got a trip to that appealing region in your sights and have been looking for the perfect time to visit, one of these special events or festivals might make your decision for you. From balloon glows to rodeos, you’ve got a lot of options. 

01 of 08

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Getty Images/Bill Heinsohn

The view at dawn is breathtaking as dozens of glowing balloons light up the sky in an event that you are sure to 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, it’s worth planning a trip to Albuquerque at this time just to see it. 

02 of 08

Sundance Film Festival

Park City main street in the evening.
Getty Images/Jason Cameron

If you’re into celebrity sightings, you can’t miss the chance to check out this incredible, internationally known festival that draws celebrities from around the world. It's held every January in Park City, and you can 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. 

03 of 08

Ride the Rockies

Rocky Mountain National Park
Getty Images/Natalia Kochina / EyeEm

If you consider yourself an athletic type, put that to the test with Ride the Rockies, an annual weeklong bicycle tour that happens every year in June that takes participants through the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. 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. 

04 of 08

Art Santa Fe

Huichol Indian yarn painter Mariano Navarro from Mexico demonstrates his art
Getty Images/Archive Photos/Robert Alexander

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.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. It's a special time to be there.

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05 of 08

Austin City Limits Music Festival

ACL Music Festival 2016 - Weekend 2
Getty Images/FilmMagic/Jim Bennett

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. 

06 of 08

Prescott Frontier Days

Prescott Frontier Days 'World's Oldest Rodeo'
Getty Images Sport/Christian Petersen

Touted as the “world’s oldest rodeo,” this annual event in Prescott, Arizona, 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.

07 of 08

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon
Getty Images/WireImage/Denise Truscello

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, if you’re a member of Cirque du Soleil or you’ve participated in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, held in November in 2017. It’s worth taking a gamble on this fun event, which features live music and livelier characters.

08 of 08

New Belgium Brewing Fruita Fat Tire Festival

If you like beer and biking, this event is for you. Held annually in the spring, 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. 

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