(Last Updated On: July 23, 2016)

Long gone are the days when Breckenridge was a sleepy summer town. These days, more events and recreation than you can fit into even the fullest summer schedule take place — and much of them are free, or very low cost. In addition, the completion of Breckenridge’s Arts District has launched an inspiring expansion of the arts and entertainment community.

Here are some of the best bets in Breckenridge’s summer arts and entertainment.

Arts District

Through the Breckenridge Arts District campus — a collection of renovated historic cabins and buildings — Breck Create offers classes for nearly every creative mind — from dance, textiles and writing to ceramics, metalsmithing, glasswork, jewelry making, print making, drawing, painting and more. Classes also cater to kids.


Breck Create brings out the artist in everyone with its variety of classes. Photo credit: Liam Doran

Breck Create brings out the artist in everyone with its variety of classes. Photo credit: Liam Doran

Breck Create houses its headquarters in a large, two-story dance and multipurpose studio: Old Masonic Hall on Main Street. In addition to showing current art, the renovated building allows for multimedia projects, adult dance (such as belly dance and hip-hop) and more.

Developed by the Town of Breckenridge, BreckCreate has transformed the Breckenridge arts scene by offering free community artistic gatherings and dialogues, late-night movies, music and workshops, and venues to showcase artwork from both local and national artists.

The nonprofit also attracts internationally renowned musicians, writers, filmmakers and other artists to the Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge’s main performance venue.

Finally, look for free festivals, like the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, which acts like an amusement park for your mind and senses, be it through aerial acts and dance to eclectic music, family entertainment and art installations.

Check out Breck Create’s brimming summer schedule, and plan a summer of creativity.

Speakeasy Theatre

At the end of 2014, the Speakeasy Theatre returned — bigger and better. The renovated, state-of-the-art movie theater seats 150 people in cushy seats and offers mainstream movies, but specializes in independent, award-winning and art house films.

The Speakeasy Theatre has come a long way since this antique projector, located in the Speakeasy's hallway. Photo credit: Kimberly Nicoletti

The Speakeasy Theatre has come a long way since this antique projector, located in the Speakeasy’s hallway. Photo credit: Kimberly Nicoletti

The Speakeasy is the highest theater in the nation, sitting at 9,604 feet, in Breckenridge’s community center — the restored and remodeled old Colorado Mountain College building.

Digital picture and sound draw you into multicolor worlds imagined by filmmakers who haven’t sold out to Hollywood’s formulaic same-old.

Check out the Speakeasy’s movies.

National Repertory Orchestra

The National Repertory Orchestra’s mission focuses on preparing young musicians for orchestral careers, but it’s way more than a “school” or practice arena.

Conductor Carl Topilow makes classical music accessible — and fun — for people who love the genre, as well as those who aren’t quite sure. Just check out his night at the movies, or other themed events, where he helps explain the essence of classical music — you know, what the big fuss over Beethoven and those other masters is all about.

The orchestra also hosts special children’s “concerts and petting zoos,” where kids get to play around with the instruments.

The National Repertory Orchestra draws the crème of the crop to Breckenridge, by auditioning approximately 900 college and graduate students (as well as those whom have completed their graduated degrees) each year, and choosing only about 80.

The young musicians spend eight weeks learning and professionally performing as many different pieces as a full-time orchestra would in a nine-month season. Now that’s impressive.

Stephen Tavani plays the violin at a National Repertory Orchestra concert.

Stephen Tavani plays the violin at a former National Repertory Orchestra concert.

Concerts are mostly held at the Riverwalk Center, though the orchestra plays various free concerts throughout town, as well as at the Dillon Amphitheatre. Check the schedule here.

Overall, the NRO’s mission is to change lives through music, and it’s not just the young musicians’ lives they’re changing during their summer program in Breckenridge.

Breckenridge Music Festival

The Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF) began with purely orchestral music, showcasing more than 40 professional musicians who come to Breckenridge from various corners of the world. But it has since added the Blue River Series, which offers rock, blues, jazz, country, and reggae, among other genres.

The BMF’s professional orchestra presents huge, inspiring concerts at the Riverwalk Center, but musicians also offer more intimate chamber concerts, with a weekday chamber series and a Sunday Champagne Series.

The Breckenridge Music Festival features about 40 professional musicians from across the globe.

The Breckenridge Music Festival features about 40 professional musicians from across the globe.

The Blue River Series brings in national bands and musicians; past summers have attracted The Nitty Gritty Band, Pat Green, Los Lonely Boys, Asleep at the Wheel and Robert Earl Keen.

See the lineup here.

Backstage Theatre

Every Labor Day weekend, The Backstage Theatre organizes a huge community production.

A community theater in nature, the Backstage also presents plenty of professional-grade actors and shows in its seasonal lineups. Depending upon which play you choose, you’ll find yourself laughing, crying or leaving the theater in deep thought (that said, artistic director Christopher Williard loves comedy, so expect plenty of chuckles and outright laughs at many of his plays).

Special champagne openings, catered by some of Breckenridge’s finest restaurants, make the evening at the theater even more bubbly. The theater often offers a specialty cocktail for various shows, making them full of whimsy and fun.

One of the many plays the Backstage offers is a show about the 10th Mountain Division.

One of the many plays the Backstage has offered was a show about the 10th Mountain Division.

It also caters to kids: KidsPlay Summer camps teach kids all about acting, and then allow them to show off their talents on stage.

Other weekend events

Highly competitive juried artists showcase their pieces annually at the Mountain Art Festival, which features innovative, juried artists in a variety of mediums.

The Breck Film Fest extends summer art activities into September. Ranked 18th for independent film festivals by USA Today, this festival brings the best indies, under categories including drama, short drama, documentary, spiritual, comedy, adventure and more.

When it comes to summer arts in Breckenridge, you can’t go wrong; every day presents a new opportunity, so jump into Breckenridge’s creative side!