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The Telluride Film Festival: Our Expert Visitor's Guide

Kelli G
8 min read

For any film lover, the Telluride Film Festival (TTF) is a must-visit event. This annual film festival is a celebration of cinema, showcasing a diverse selection of films from around the world. From Hollywood blockbusters to independent gems, the TTF has it all. But where is the Telluride Film Festival? And when does it take place? Planning a visit to this renowned festival? Worry not! In this guide, we will cover all the essential information you need to know. From insider tips to must-see attractions and everything in between, we've got you covered. So, keep reading this guide to learn more about the Telluride Film Festival and how to make the most out of your visit.

The Telluride Film Festival: What Makes It So Special

People are visiting old filmmaking places The Telluride Film Festival is more than just a place to watch movies. It is an experience like no other. From the moment you arrive in the picturesque town, you will feel swept up in the magic of this unique festival. Unlike other film festivals, Telluride is not about competition or award ceremonies. Instead, it is a celebration of the art and craft of filmmaking, past, present, and future. The Element of Surprise The first thing that sets the Telluride Film Festival apart is its element of surprise. Unlike most festivals, where the lineup is announced well, Telluride keeps its schedule a secret until the event begins. This element adds an extra layer of excitement to the festival, making it all the more special. Quality Above All Telluride is not about showcasing as many films as possible. Rather, it presents carefully selected, high-quality films from various genres. These films are chosen for their artistic merit, storytelling, and impact on the film industry. This allows for a more curated and meaningful viewing experience for attendees. A Community of Filmmakers and Film Lovers The festival also prides itself on its intimate and inclusive atmosphere. It brings filmmakers, critics, and film lovers from all around the world together. This creates a unique community where everyone can share their love for film and learn from each other's perspectives. Nurturing Emerging Talent While Telluride has been a launching pad for many big-budget films, it's also a platform that promotes emerging talent. Telluride has helped launch the careers of numerous independent filmmakers. The festival is known for its support of bold and experimental storytelling. This makes the carnival an exciting place to discover fresh voices and groundbreaking films.

Where is The Telluride Film Festival?

People gathered there for film festival Telluride Film Festival takes place in the small mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. This former mining town is located in the southwestern part of the state, nestled in a box canyon surrounded by towering mountains. It is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities. The town's total area is 5.76 square kilometers, with an elevation of 2,667 meters (You can read more about this town by clicking this link). The festival is held in different venues throughout the town. These venues include the historic Sheridan Opera House and other theaters. The main hub of activity during the festival is in Telluride's downtown area, which also hosts a variety of bars and shops.

The History of The Telluride Film Festival

A Historical view of film festival The Telluride Film Festival was first held on August 30, 1974, at the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, Colorado. It was founded by Bill and Stella Pence, Tom Luddy, and James Card from Eastman-Kodak Film Preserve. Throughout history, the TFF has featured various films, including feature-length films. The festival has also been known for premiering films that have gone on to win prestigious awards, such as the Academy Awards. Some notable films that premiered at Telluride include "Slumdog Millionaire," "Juno," and "Moonlight." In the festival's early years, it was primarily attended by locals and filmmakers from nearby areas. As word spread about Telluride's unique atmosphere and high-quality films, attendance grew significantly. Today, the festival attracts thousands of people who come to experience the magic of Telluride and its film festival.

Visiting The Telluride Film Festival Today

People visiting film festival in Telluride Going to the TFF in Colorado is an unforgettable experience that can't be described in words. If you're an avid moviegoer with a deep passion for cinema, then you don't want to miss this. From the charming mountain town to the breath-taking natural landscape, you can't help but fall in love with Telluride.

When to Visit The Telluride Film Festival

The Telluride Film Festival typically takes place over the Labor Day weekend, spanning four days from Friday to Monday. The weather in Telluride is pleasant during this time. The changing colors of the surrounding aspen trees add to the scenic beauty. It's best to plan your visit well in advance, as accommodations and festival passes tend to sell out quickly. By being ahead of the game, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience at the festival.

What You'll See When You Arrive at The Telluride Film Festival

When you arrive at the Telluride Film Festival, you will be immersed in a cinematic odyssey. The festival's central hub is located in the town's center. In this hub, you will find the historic Sheridan Opera House. The venues in the hub showcase films from around the world. The streets are bustling with moviegoers and filmmakers, giving the town a vibrant, lively atmosphere. The breathtaking mountain views and crisp air only add to the festival's magic. There are also outdoor screenings in the Town Park and on a giant screen in the middle of Main Street, allowing you to watch films under the open sky. Simply put, at TFF, you are surrounded by film lovers and the beauty of nature that makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

Staying Safe & Fitting In While Visiting The Telluride Film Festival

When attending the Telluride Film Festival, remember that it's a community event. The locals are welcoming and accepting; you will feel right at home. As with any public event, being aware of your surroundings and taking necessary safety precautions is crucial. Also, respect the environment by following the "leave no trace" policy. It's also important to note that Telluride has a high altitude of about 8,750 feet above sea level. This can cause altitude sickness, so staying hydrated and taking breaks if needed is crucial. For this reason, the festival provides complimentary water stations throughout the town. By taking care of yourself, you can fully enjoy everything the festival and the town offers.

The Telluride Film Festival Weather & Climate

A beautiful greenery view Telluride's weather during the festival season is generally pleasant. However, being situated in the mountains can also be unpredictable. It's best to come prepared for all types of weather conditions. During festivals, the temperature can range from the high 70s during the day to the low 40s at night. It's recommended to bring layers and a rain jacket in case of any sudden changes.

Getting To & Around The Telluride Film Festival

There are several ways to get to Telluride for the festival. The most common way is flying into one of the nearby airports and then taking a shuttle or rental car to Telluride. The closest airport is Montrose Regional Airport, which is about an hour and a half drive from Telluride. Other options include flying into Durango, Grand Junction, or Gunnison airports. If you prefer to drive, you can make a scenic trip through the mountains, which is an experience in itself. Once you're in Telluride, there are numerous ways to get around the town and between festival venues. The most convenient option is walking, as everything in the mountain town is within a short distance. However, there are also free shuttles that run throughout the day for those who prefer not to walk.

Our Favorite Tours & Excursions Near The Telluride Film Festival

While the festival is the main attraction, there are plenty of other things to do and see in Telluride. Here are our top recommendations that will make your visit to the TFF even more memorable:

1. Hike to Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls is one of the most iconic landmarks in Telluride, and it's just a short hike away from town. The trailhead is at the end of South Pine Street. The hike takes you through a beautiful canyon. It arrives at the stunning waterfall. This is a must-visit spot for any nature lover or outdoor enthusiast.

2. Take a Scenic Gondola Ride

For a bird's eye view of Telluride and its surrounding mountains, ride the free gondola between town and Mountain Village. This 13-minute scenic ride offers breathtaking views and is a great way to get an overview of the area. Plus, it's completely free!

3. Visit the Telluride Historical Museum

Learn about the rich history of Telluride at the town's historical museum. This museum is located in a former hospital building from the late 1800s. The museum has interactive exhibits and artifacts that display the town's mining history. It also highlights how the town became a popular ski destination.

4. Ski Resort

Telluride is among the best Colorado ski resorts, offering over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and stunning mountain views. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, there are slopes for every level of skier. And even if you're visiting in the summer, the resort offers a variety of activities, including hiking and mountain biking.

5. Explore Main Street

Take a stroll down historic Main Street and check out the charming shops, galleries, and restaurants. The street is pedestrian-friendly and lined with colorful Victorian buildings. It offers a unique shopping experience. There are many things to do near the Telluride Film Festival. Other outdoor activities include rafting, hot air balloon rides, and horseback riding. Make sure to attend the festival's special events and screenings. Don't forget to do this in between your adventures.


How can I get tickets to the Telluride Film Festival?

Tickets to the Telluride Film Festival are sold in the form of passes. Different types of passes are available, each with varying levels of access to the festival's events. Passes can be purchased online through the official Telluride Film Festival website.

Can anyone attend the Telluride Film Festival?

Yes, the Telluride Film Festival is open to the public. However, attendees must purchase a pass to gain access to the various screenings and events. It's worth noting that the festival is quite popular, so it's a good idea to buy your pass early.

Where should I stay when attending the Telluride Film Festival?

There are numerous lodging options available in Telluride and the surrounding areas. Many attendees stay in hotels, condos, or vacation rentals in Telluride or nearby Mountain Village. It's recommended to book accommodations well in advance due to the festival's popularity.

Are there any restrictions on filming or photography at the Telluride Film Festival?

Yes, attendees are prohibited from filming or taking photographs during any screenings. Photography may be allowed in certain designated areas, like photo calls. Press conferences with filmmakers and actors are also permitted.


The Telluride Film Festival is a paradise for film lovers. It also offers the chance to explore the beautiful mountain town. This festival has become a popular destination for movie buffs. It's no wonder, with stunning scenery and endless outdoor activities. Nature enthusiasts are drawn to it as well. From attending screenings of the latest films to hiking to waterfalls, there is something for everyone at the TFF. We hope this guide has given you a taste of what to expect and inspired you to plan your visit. We have shared everything you need to know to make the most out of your trip to Telluride for the film festival. Don't forget to check out our recommendations and enjoy all that this charming mountain town has to offer!

Kelli G
Kelli is no stranger to outdoor adventure travel. Born into a family with strong ski heritage, she committed her earlier years to ski racing and big mountain freeskiing competitions. After she graduated with a Finance degree at the University of Denver she moved to Telluride, Colorado and worked up the ranks in the family-owned ski business. During her tenure, she wore all hats of the retail business and became one of the few female ski hardgoods buyers in the industry. For over 10 years she was a ski tester for Ski Magazine and was involved in multiple product development projects for various ski manufacturers. During the pandemic, she traded her skis for sails and spent a few years traveling the world on a 35' sailboat. She enjoys connecting to nature through whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, sailing or globe trotting. She loves to share her passion for adventure and travel with others.

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