Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region is home to some of the most unique and unusual places and events that are held throughout the year in Colorado.
The John May Museum Center and May Natural History Museum, (719) 576-0450, is a museum of the tropics unlike any other on the continent. Here people can see giant insects and related creatures in the tropics of the world. The insects on display here are simply incredible, such as huge Brazillian butterflies, purple Tarantula spiders of Peru, and Colombian beetles so large that they can break street lights and knock a man down if they hit him while flying. They also feature a Museum of Space Exploration.
The Western Museum of Mining and Industry, (719) 488-0800, holds an event annually in June called the Pikes Peak Antique Machinery Days, displaying over 200 items that are approximately 100 years old. The Western Museum also coordinates Tea in the Garden, a traditional, turn-of-the-century tea with presentations on Iris gardening.
The Penrose Equestrian Center, (719) 520-6711, hosts many different events annually, including a benefit called the Old West Festival and Rocky Mountain Shootout, (719) 477-1802, featuring re-enactments, mountain men, an Indian village, fast draw contests, live cowboy music and more.
Old Colorado City Merchants Association, (719) 475-0955, annually hosts the Territory Days Street Festival on Memorial Day weekend, a three-day long, street festival with food, arts and crafts, specialty vendors, entertainment and music. This festival, typically signaling the beginning of the tourist season, is dedicated to rekindling pride in Old Colorado City as the first territorial capitol of Colorado in the early 1860s.
In Manitou Springs, (719) 685-5089, there are many unique events held annually, such as the Great Fruitcake Toss, held in January, where anyone not sure what to do with their uneaten fruitcake from the holidays can participate in a competition for the furthest-thrown fruitcake!
In June, the annual Clayfest and Mudball event in Manitou Springs starts off with a pottery-making competition for skilled clay artists and amateurs. Over 4000 pounds of clay is donated and 20 potters wheels are borrowed for events such as largest pot, speed throwing, blindfolded throwing, team relay throwing and more. Potters from all over the region compete for over $5,000 worth of prizes. The event is followed by an outdoor dance in the evening.
Every October in Manitou Springs is the Emma Crawford Festival and Memorial Coffin Race and Parade. Emma Crawford moved to Manitou Springs in the 1800s to help heal her tuberculosis. Sadly, she died of the disease shortly before she was to be married. One of her last wishes was to be buried on Red Mountain, a mountain she proudly ascended when alive. Her coffin was buried on this mountain until a group of prospectors decided to build a dance hall right on the land where she was buried. They relocated her coffin to a nearby area, but a violent storm afterwards saturated the ground so much that her coffin came out of the earth and landed in the streets of Manitou. Today, she is buried safely in Crystal Valley Cemetery in an unmarked grave. This event gives people the chance to construct their own coffins with wheels and compete with others to be the first one to the bottom of the streets in Manitou!
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, (719) 634-5581, ext. 323 annually coordinates the Holiday Lights Celebration, a display of light formations that represent cultures from around the world. Also the Gallery of Trees event is a 27-year tradition at the Museum, focusing on a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds and communities. Also at the Fine Arts Center are art markets and exhibitions, art auctions, family days events, senior salutes, classic film series, and continuing exhibits all year long.
The Japan America Society of Southern Colorado (719) 266-5625, annually sponsors the Mochitsuki, an event usually held New Year’s Day, signals and welcomes in the Japanese new year with such symbolic traditions as rice pounding using a heavy, wooden mallet.
Return to the age of wonder, adventure and song by attending the Colorado Renaissance Festival and Artisans Marketplace, (303) 688-6010, an event held in Larkspur, Colorado annually. Here, trumpets sound and armored knights battle on horseback in the tournament of champions, and you can stroll on wooded mountain paths while watching it all. People can enjoy authentically-prepared turkey drumsticks, buy floral wreaths for their hair, buy renaissance clothing, music and jewelry, listen to the sounds of strolling minstrels and watch jugglers in action!
For more information on these or other events, call (800) 888-4748, ext. 0 to reach the Visitor Information Center.