It’s the biggest community party of the year, and you can do it big without breaking the bank.
Technically, you can experience the annual Boulder Creek Festival without spending a dollar. The event is free to attend and open to the public. But if you can scrounge up even a little money, this is one occasion where that cash will stretch far.
This year, a new company (Team Player Productions) is producing the event, so it is a little different than recent years.
First, the basics.
What: The 32nd-annual Boulder Creek Fest
When: May 25-27
Saturday, May 25: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, May 26: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Monday, May 27: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (exhibitor booths close at 5 p.m.)
Where: Along Boulder Creek, from 11th Street to 14th Street (west to east), and between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue (north and south).
Highlights: Hundreds of vendors (including tons of food options), nine event areas, three performance stages, live music, dancing, carnival rides, entertainment, a kids area and more.
Here’s how to have an amazing time at the Boulder Creek Fest on a budget, using Monday as an example.
Arrive on bike, where parking is free and easy. Use the fest’s VIP bike parking provided by Wish For Wheels, a local nonprofit that provides bicycles to underprivileged children. The bike valet will be located on the Sister City Plaza on the corner of Broadway and Canyon. Note: The creek fest doesn’t open until 11 a.m. on Monday, so you might need to be creative with your bike parking if you arrive earlier.
Waves start at 6:55-9:22 a.m.: If you’re out on Memorial Day, start your day on the sidelines of the BolderBoulder, the city’s most famous footrace that follows a 10K route from downtown to the University of Colorado campus. People often run in crazy costumes, and there’s always a ton of live music and performers on the sidelines of the track. While there is a fee to run, it’s free to watch. Wander along the sidelines, people-watching and enjoying the funky performers.
After you’re BolderBoulder-ed out, head to the nearby banks of Boulder Creek for the Creek Fest. Check out the map of the area here. There’s no charge to get into the creek fest. Browse the vendor booths, which include a Maker’s Market, Wellness World, businesses and more.
11 a.m.: Make your way to the Festival Stage, where you can see the winner of the teen singer/songwriter competition. Every concert at each of the three festival stages is free. Other performance highlights throughout the weekend include hip-hop dance, headliner Green Buddha, headliner Tierro with Bridget, Bonnie and the Clydes, Japanese drumming and the Dead Phish Orchestra, among many more performers.
Around lunchtime: Meander around the vendor booths and try free samples. In the past, you could enjoy free gluten-free bread, granola bars, wine, jams, jellies, salsas, yogurt, chocolate, peanut butter, energy drinks, veggie burgers, granola, rice, juice, energy drinks and rice chips. There’s definitely enough to act as a light lunch for free. Plus, you might discover your new favorite snack.
The fest also has a wide variety of healthy (and indulgent) food options and food trucks to choose from if you want a proper lunch.
After lunch: Spend some time checking out Boulder Futures, a new addition to the festival for 2019. This is a fun showcase of local ventures, businesses and start-ups. After seeing the creativity booming in Boulder’s backyard, you’re going to be inspired. The perfect outlet for your inspiration is at the Fine Arts Expo.
Don’t have money to shop but want some free, personalized art to take home? Visit the Beer and Craft Bazaar. A ticket ($28-30) to this craft market includes unlimited samples of beer and cider.
5-5:45 p.m.: The bazaar closes at 5 p.m. on Monday (it stays open until 10 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday). But that’s OK, because at this point, you’re going to be hungry. It’s time to grab an early dinner. The international options include tacos, so no need to look any farther. Return to the Community Stage for a dance performance by Kakes Studio from 5-5:45 p.m. that wraps up the day.
6 p.m.: The Creek Fest may be over, but downtown Boulder is nearby and stays open. Look for happy hour deals on Monday.