After seeing Widespread Panic for the first time at Sloss Music & Arts Festival in 2016, I was hooked, so when John said to me, “Taylor, Widespread is playing in 10 hours just 6 hours from here. You want to go?” it was a no brainer.
We made it to Telluride with what we thought was plenty of time to buy tickets and get in before the show started. As it turned out, the box office had sold out of Friday night tickets, so John and I were forced to look for tickets outside of the festival. We were never able to find single day tickets, but we bought weekend passes and thought, “We’ll stay for another day of the festival or sell the passes.” After having the tickets emailed to us, we hopped in line as the show started at 7 pm.
Telluride has very strict noise ordinance, so the bands are only allowed to play during their allotted times. Though they are a notoriously late band, Panic started playing right on schedule in an attempt to respect their 10 pm cutoff time. Apparently other “spreadnecks” thought the same as John and I, and everyone showed up around the same time. As the first four songs played, we waited in the blocks-long security line. We were not happy at first, but Panic put on such a great show that we forgot how mad we were after finding a spot in the crowd.
The festival venue is unbelievable. The stage is set up against the mountainside, so we were looking not only at an incredible show but stunning, lush mountains while listening and dancing to really, really good music. Both nights’ sunsets added to the already wonderful ambiance, and when the moon rose on the second night, the whole crowd erupted into howls.
The merchandise tents and food vendors were set along the back edge and allowed plenty of space to keep the lines from congesting the venue. Ride Fest allowed us to bring in food, water, and tents, but no alcohol was allowed in. There was plenty of space for families and groups to spread out blankets and sunshades behind the soundboard which also meant plenty of space for dancing and running around.
Along with tickets and weekend passes, the festival also sold camping passes. The campground was adjacent to the music venue but required a different wristband to enter. Sadly they were all sold out when we got into town, but John and I walked right in without wristbands on Saturday morning and were able to take a look around the campgrounds.
Before the shows on Saturday, we took a lovely hike up to Bridal Veil Falls. This is one of Telluride’s most popular trails, and it leads to Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfall! It’s about two miles to the base of the waterfall and an additional half mile to the top of it. The entire hike looks down on the town of Telluride, and the views only got better the further up we went. So far, it is one of my favorite hikes in Colorado that is less than 5 miles long.
After our hike, we headed into town to grab a bite to eat at The Floradora Saloon. As a lot of other things in Telluride, the “saloon” was very bougie, but we enjoyed our burgers and a few cocktails before heading to the festival.
Day two of the festival included other bands such as Temperance Movement and Thunderpussy, but we only went for Big Something and Widespread Panic. This was our second time seeing Big Something and nearly our 10th time seeing Panic. Big Something put on a groovy rock show that put us in the mood for dancing. Their Ewi player, Casey, laid down the funky sounds while the lead singer, Nick, spit some mean rhymes on their more upbeat tracks.
Panic put on one burner of a show. Two hours and fifteen minutes of uninterrupted rock and roll made for one of the best WSP shows I have seen. Late in the show, the lead singer, JB, addressed the audience, “To put it into words, we’re happy to be here.” These words perfectly summed up the atmosphere of the festival and their gratitude for the crowd. At 11 pm sharp, the band wrapped up without an encore thanks to city ordinances. The festival features a series of late night shows around town called Night Ride, but John and I opted out of these free shows to find a place to camp.
We woke up a little sore on Sunday from the hiking and dancing we had done the day before and opted not to do any hiking that morning. Instead, we grabbed a bite of breakfast at The Butcher and The Baker (still curious where the candlestick maker is). We enjoyed a wonderful, al fresco meal on the main street of Telluride while talking to other festival goers about the shows we had seen.
We had noticed that the gondola next to the festival entrance was in operation, so we decided to see where they led and check out some of Telluride’s slopes. Even though there was no skiing, the lifts were crowded with tourists, mountain bikers, and hikers.
We got off at the Mountain Village and explored some of the trails and shops before taking a second gondola to Market Plaza. There wasn’t as much to see at the second stop, so we quickly hopped back on to enjoy the views of the ride again. The perspective of the mountains and valley that host Telluride was incredible. We were glad to have gone, and we were even happier that it was free!
We had never planned on going to the shows on Sunday, but we had a little time to kill before heading back to Denver, so we popped into the festival to catch the last few songs of Dorthy’s performance. The crowd was a bit smaller that early in the afternoon, but everyone was still moving and grooving to the music. When they wrapped up, we decided it was time to wrap up our trip too.
Everything from the festival lineup, to the venue, and the town was absolutely perfect. Going to Ride Fest was one of the best day-of decisions I have made in a long time, and I cannot wait until next year or until the next Widespread Panic show.
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.