Outdoor Event Essentials

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Outdoor Event Essentials

Navigating weather and seasonal considerations in Colorado


By Beth Buehler


While Colorado has always been a place that people equate with the outdoors, the COVID pandemic put even more focus on destinations that provide plenty of fresh air and places for groups to enjoy nature. Hotels and all types of venues made it a priority to examine their properties to see how additional outdoor spaces could be introduced, and planning teams noticed.


It’s one of the positives that came out of very challenging times. Getting outside is energizing, provides a change of pace on an agenda that is mainly indoors, and gives attendees a taste of the place where they are gathering. While this blog focuses more on hosting an event outside, Colorado also is a great place to weave in group activities like yoga on a patio, a progressive cocktail party or dinner, horseback riding, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding and much more.


Resorts like Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, The Broadmoor and The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon, Vail Valley provide a variety of outdoor options as do standout county fairgrounds like Arapahoe County Fairgrounds and Event Center in Aurora and The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland. Estes Park Events Complex offers a similar setup whereas Infinity Park Event Center in Glendale is a world-class rugby stadium with plenty of indoor space as well as the field, a large terrace, Festival Plaza and Sports Plaza. Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland has a gazebo, about 180 sculptures, walking paths and grassy areas while Colorado Chautauqua in Boulder sits on numerous acres at the base of the beautiful Flatirons has a picnic pavilion, auditorium terrace and Chautauqua Green.

This bird's-eye view shows many of the outdoor venue options at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon, Vail Valley, courtesy The Westin Riverfront

Venues like these offer the ideal combination of outdoor and indoor spaces in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. It’s key to have a backup plan when hosting any kind of event. Destination Colorado Meetings touched base with Jennifer Hinton, strategic events manager for Canvas Credit Union, to gather handy tips such as this and to find out about other outdoor event essentials.


Destination Colorado Meetings: Why is Colorado a great place to incorporate outdoor spaces for meetings and events?

Jennifer Hinton: The gorgeous landscape, the endless outdoor activities and our (mostly) amazing weather. When you host a meeting in Colorado, you always want to try to incorporate some outdoor portion into your event.


DCM: Has hosting gatherings outdoors become more popular since the pandemic?

JH: Colorado has always lent itself to outdoor events, but we have all become more creative with what we can do outside.


DCM: When is it challenging to host gatherings outdoors in Colorado?

JH: It’s always challenging to host outdoors anywhere. You never know when a thunderstorm will blow in and flip your canopies upside down. It can be even harder to plan during the shoulder seasons when you don’t know if it will be sunny or snowy; so you have to plan for all options and have backup plans. One outdoor meeting we held at Red Rocks Amphitheatre included heaters in the morning and then shade umbrellas by lunchtime.


DCM: What are some of your top Colorado destinations and venues to host outdoor events?

JH: Some of our top destinations for outdoor events are Canvas Stadium (of course) in Fort Collins, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and our own home office parking lot. We’ve hosted events in our parking lot that include a pop-up drive-in movie, live music, carnival games and food trucks. We’ve also had memorable outdoor events with our resort partners including Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa in Tabernash, Gateway Canyons Resort in Gateway, and Garden of the Gods Resort & Club in Colorado Springs.

Toasting a successful event, courtesy Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa

DC: Share some examples of successful events you have held outdoors.

JH: Our outdoor dinner receptions have been amazing this past year with our guests sitting around a campfire in a comfy seat with a pillow and blanket, beverage in hand or s’more on a stick while listening to an amazing guitarist. We’ve had a live rock band playing at an amphitheatre with amazing food, boozy shakes and stargazing.


Our outdoor company party featured live music, great food trucks, lawn games, freshly made donuts and live T-shirt screen printing and throw in some stilt walkers, unicycle riders and roaming photo booths. A stationary bike that powers a margarita is a fun outside activity too.


DCM: What are some top outdoor event essentials?

JH: Be sure to have backup plans, including a communication plan. If the weather changes, have a preplanned location to move your guests and a way to let them know if you event has been moved or rescheduled. Your number one priority is the safety of your guests, so bring a first aid kit and be sure there is water, sunscreen, shade, bug spray and restrooms.


Also, determine what permits you need for the event, including special event permits, and be aware of fire inspections and noise ordinances. Will you need heaters, misters or shade?


DCM: Share a few tips about how to prepare clients and attendees for an outdoor event. 

JH: Send a “know before you go” when you plan an outdoor event so your guests can plan accordingly by dressing in layers and bringing hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and water. Watch the weather forecast, but don’t count on it as we know weather patterns can change in an instant.


You’ll still need AV support to make sure your guests can hear the presenters and music. Be careful when bringing out screens and make sure you take into account sun glare that might make it harder for your guests to see.

A Colorado sunset provides an amazing backdrop for outdoor gathering spaces, courtesy Garden of the Gods Resort & Club

The benefits of getting your group outside while gathering in Colorado far outweigh the challenges. Just keep in mind these outdoor event essentials and embrace the fresh air, beautiful views and smiles on attendees’ faces.


Top Photo: Benson Sculpture Park, courtesy Visit Loveland


Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 19 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and was on the team that introduced Southwest Meetings + Events. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.