Burning performances and fiery artwork will be on display at the fourth annual Telluride Fire Festival Dec. 7-9.
Throughout town and on the mountainside, the circuslike celebration features fire-wreathed dancers and acrobatic silk spinners, interactive fire art shows, an elaborate costumed Fire Ball, a sculpture-burning ceremony, free workshops and more.
Festival director Erin Ries said she was inspired to create the avant-garde fire festival after a trip to Burning Man, the famous, free-form artist pilgrimage held every year in the Nevada desert.
“We thought it would be fun to bring that to Telluride to fill one our slower periods,” she said. “So we have Burning Man artists here sharing their talents, and it created interest from other artists who have joined in.”
On Dec. 7 is Hot Time in the Old Time, a must-see event of fire performances and interactive fire-art installations held at the Historic Transfer Warehouse from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The show takes place again on Dec. 9.
Down the road at The Bob Theater on Dec. 7, Homestead Circus Productions will put on the Fireside Soirée, which will feature acrobatic performers, jugglers and dancers — many who play with fire.
Also on Dec. 8, there will be free fire-dancing performances at Reflection Plaza downtown from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Later that night, the extravagant Fire Ball with live entertainment will be from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Great Room-Gondola Station. Cost is $40.
“It’s an outrageous, over-the-top ball with 30-foot-high aerial performances, fire performances, music and fun surprises,” Ries said.
To kick off the evening, at 9:30 p.m., a series of outdoor sculptures will be set ablaze on the nearby slopes, including the word “Love” in letters 7 feet high. These larger-than-life sculptures by Keith D’Angelo, Michael Wright, Chris Turner, Meredith Miller and Niel Ringstad will be available for viewing for several days before they burn.
“It’s a symbolic ritual for artists to burn their creations,” Ries said, adding that it’s just $10 to view the Fire on the Mountain sculpture burning.
A series of free workshops is being offered at the Wilkinson Library during the festival, including for juggling, spinning, glass blowing, stained glass, Buugeng (a illusionist-style of performance using an S-shaped staff), hoop juggling and Poi spinning, a type of dance that includes swinging objects with effects, such as fire.
Art specific to the festival by local and national artists will be displayed at the Slate Gray Gallery and Telluride Gallery.
The event is overseen by the Telluride Fire Marshal, and necessary precautions are in place, Ries said. She added that the town’s laws had to be adjusted to allow for the festival.
“The festival is family-friendly, creative, kind of pagan. It’s different and very entertaining,” Ries said. “We work very closely with the fire marshal.”
For more information, go to the Telluride Fire Festival website.