Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest: A three-day celebration of a year-round music scene

PHOTO PROVIDED BY BOHEMIAN NIGHTS. 2017 Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

By: Meghan Pipe

There are a lot of numbers that represent the inner workings of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest. There’s 365: the number of individual paid festival artists – which is to say, every festival artist. 45: the number of golf carts zipping around, delivering ice (15,000 pounds of it!), water, supplies, and people. And 1,200: the number of hours volunteered to make this free community event happen.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY BOHEMIAN NIGHTS. 2017 Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

Why does Bohemian Nights do it?

To Tom Scharf, Bohemian’s Chief Music Officer, it’s about celebrating the music ecosystem in Fort Collins. “The festival is like a concentrated dose of the music scene that’s alive in our city year-round,” Scharf said. “Producing the festival’s live music each year is a way to celebrate and show appreciation for the artists who share their talents, as well as the community that comes out to support them.”

The festival is co-produced by the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association (DBA) and Bohemian Nights LLC. Bohemian coordinates and pays for the artists and music production, offering the music as a gift to the community. The DBA coordinates the beverages, concessions and vendor booths.  The festival is the DBA’s biggest fundraiser of the year, with proceeds from beverage sales and vendor fees going directly to support its mission to advance the vibrancy, vitality and prosperity of the downtown district.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY BOHEMIAN NIGHTS. 2016 Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

Bohemian Nights introduces the community to new and emerging Colorado artists playing across the festival’s six stages, as well as bringing established fan favorites to our hometown. When festivalgoers buy band merchandise, 100 percent of sales goes to the artists. Chris Daniels, who will play the festival with his band The Kings for the third time this summer, loves returning to Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest because of the audience. “They are being treated to the finest, most diverse music that Colorado has to offer,” Daniels said. “All they have to do is show up with an open heart, jump in and dance – and they do! That is what’s so cool about this festival.”

PHOTO PROVIDED BY BOHEMIAN NIGHTS. 2017 Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

Another aspect of the festival that reflects its celebration of the larger music ecosystem in Fort Collins is Kids’ Music Adventure, the “festival within a festival” geared toward children and families. Scharf notes that nurturing the next generation of musicians is a vital part of our developing music scene. At Kids’ Music Adventure, talented young musicians perform for live audiences on the Kids’ Music Adventure Stage; children are exposed to modern band instruments in the Instrument Petting Zoo; and new this year, young musicians and non-musicians alike will collaborate to rehearse and perform a song together with the new Build-a-Band activity.

Integral to the festival’s success is the group of volunteers that collectively donate more than a thousand hours of their time to bring this event to life. From festival runners to information booth attendants to accessibility escorts, volunteers make the festival happen. For David Atwood, who has volunteered for more than 13 years at the festival, it’s a way to participate in the Fort Collins music scene. “I keep coming back because it’s cool to be connected in this way,” Atwood said. “It’s really rewarding to consider how you are helping to bring this experience to the community.”

When you visit the festival in mid-August, look around you – at the artists performing onstage, at the volunteers in their purple T-shirts, and at your fellow festivalgoers, singing and dancing. Know that as you share in the gift of music, you’re an important part of this ecosystem too. Get out and enjoy it.



When: Aug. 10, 11, 12

Where: Downtown Fort Collins

For the full lineup of 80+ artists and bands and more festival information, download the Bohemian Nights mobile app or visit

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