Boulder hosts a variety of festivals each year involving music, film and theatre. Every January brings an annual celebration honoring Austrian composer Gustav Mahler called the Colorado MahlerFest. Colorado MahlerFest celebrates the life, music, and times of the great composer Gustav Mahler. It was founded in 1988 by Robert Olson. The week-long festival culminates in two orchestral performances with concerts, recitals, and scholarly symposia, with film, fine art, dance, theater, and multimedia presentations scheduled throughout the festival. Drawn by a common passion for Mahler’s music, the MahlerFest orchestra's 100-plus musicians come together from across the United States and other countries, mostly on a volunteer basis.
If you like independent film, you’ll love the Boulder International Film Festival. It is held each February by the Colorado Film Society, a nonprofit organization founded by local filmmakers Kathy and Robin Beeck. The festival aims to provide the Denver/Boulder metro area with an early look at the best new films in international cinema. BIFF has hosted over 150 filmmakers from around the world since 2005.
Each summer brings the Colorado Music Festival, a six-week classical music festival with professional musicians from around the world. This event is held at the historic Chautauqua Auditorium at the base of the Flatirons.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CSF) brings a variety of the famous bard’s most-loved plays to the stage each year. The festival’s mission is to illuminate meaning, expand understanding and deepen appreciation of Shakespeare's texts—through performances, workshops and lectures—providing invigorating, hands-on experience for students, teachers and communities throughout Colorado.
The festival began in 1958 with productions of Julius Caesar, Hamlet and The Taming of a Shrew. CSF now presents five productions each summer, several plays on the stage of the picturesque, Greek-style Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre and several in the indoor, proscenium University Theatre, both located on the grounds of the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 1975, with the production of Cymbeline, the CSF became the seventh theatre in the world to complete the entire Shakespearean canon of 37 plays.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival draws as many as 40,000 audience members each season.