Aspen Culture and Nightlife

Aspen Food & Wine Classic Nearly Sold Out

imagesTickets to this year’s 31st annual Aspen Food & Wine Classic will likely sell out in early April for the first time since the Great Recession hit.   Only a handful of tickets are left for this year’s event, which runs June 14-16, according to Lori Lefevre, a spokesperson for Food & Wine. Tickets originally went on sale Dec. 12. The festival is a three-day event hosted by Food & Wine magazine and it offers over 80 individual seminars including cooking demonstrations, wine lectures, panel discussions and tastings, in addition to daily grand tastings.

Food & Wine issues about 5,000 tickets annually falling under categories including general admission, trade group passes or press passes, Lefevre said. Organizers do not release the breakdown of how many tickets are issued in each category, she said.

Historically, the success of Food & Wine ticket sales directly correlates with the state of the economy and whether the country is in a recession, Lefevre said. During the event’s early years, tickets sold out in May, but in the late 2000s they began to sell out earlier, Lefevre said. In 2007 and 2008 Food & Wine had record-breaking seasons when the event sold out in February.  After the recession hit, ticket sales slowed and the event didn’t sell out until the week it occurred. In response, Food & Wine sold day passes ranging in price from $250 to $395 each. Sales have slowly picked up again with the event selling out in the third week of April last year, according to Lefevre.  Food & Wine anticipates the sellout will happen earlier this year due to the economy turning around, she said.

Bike-share System Pedals to the Fore

imagesBy June, Aspenites making a quick trip to the grocery store or heading to Smuggler Mountain for a lunchtime hike will have a new option to get there through a fledgling bike-share program, the Pitkin County commissioners were told Tuesday.

WE-cycle co-founder Mirte Mallory said 100 bikes placed at 12 stations in the city from Smuggler to Aspen Valley Hospital are expected to be ready by the end of May.

Residents will be able to rent a three-speed, 50-pound bike for various lengths of time, ranging from a 24-hour pass for $7 to $55 for a season pass.

The program is designed for short-duration trips around town, Mallory said. Passes will allow users 30 minutes on a bike at a time before prohibitive fees, designed to dissuade people from keeping the bikes for long periods, kick in. Those fees are still being established.

“Individuals seeking to ride bikes for longer trips will be encouraged to rent a bike at a local bike shop,” according to a memo to the commissioners. “WE-cycle will be reiterating that bike share is not bike rental on system materials, and bike-shop locations will be featured on the WE-cycle maps.

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Belly Up Aspen Is Top 20 in Nation

imagesBeing the best, winning awards and earning national recognition is something to which Aspen and Snowmass are quite accustomed. As the years roll on, Aspen and Snowmass, like fine red wine, just keep getting better. As a result, the awards and recognition keep rolling in. While awaiting the annual awards from this past winter ski and snowboard season, Aspenites and Snowmass Villagers can relish in the Rolling Stone’s ranking of their nightclub, Belly Up Aspen, in the top 20 nightclubs in America.

This exclusive nightclub took the 16th spot out of 20 in the recent ranking, and is hanging tough with clubs from Brooklyn like the Brooklyn Bowl and the Bowery Ballroom in New York along with a few Colorado favorites like the Bluebird Club in Denver at 14th and The Fox in Boulder in the fourth place.

The Rolling Stones produced this list as the first of a four part series featuring a number of remarkable music venues. Twenty-four insider and musicians made up the voters. From Miranda Lambert to Thomas Mars, these individuals scoured the best (and the worst) clubs to pick out the top 20.

Founded in 2005 by Michael Goldberg, Belly Up has hosted such bands as Jane’s Addiction, B.B. King, Jimmy Buffet, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and many others.  Belly Up is more than just a hot spot for some of the hottest bands in the world, it also makes a point to support, host and feature local singer/songwriters.

Goldberg, brother to famous wrestler, and long-time friend to Bill Clinton and Hunter S. Thompson, toyed with a number of names before he settled on the now timeless Belly Up. Among these names were such winners as: Orifice and Fat City. Thankfully for Belly Up and Aspen, he chose Belly Up in solidarity with his brother’s club in L.A.

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Top Ski Bars In Colorado’s High Country

imagesColorado’s high country is home to some of the most fun ski bars in the United States. After all, Colorado provides some of the most fantastic skiing in the world. Once you’ve hit the slopes for the day, it’s time to unwind with friends and family. Below are five of the best apres-ski watering holes to replenish. My favorite bar in Telluride is the historic Sheridan. Click here to read CBSDenvers favorite high country bars.

Secret Stash, Crested Butte, CO – Secret Stash has the best pizza, wings and beer in the Crested Butte area. The pub is a very popular hangout after a long day of skiing or snowboarding. It has been a staple in the area since 2002 and features a happy hour each weekday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  It’s a restaurant and a fun bar hangout all in one. 

Ajax Tavern,  Aspen, CO – Ajax Tavern is located in Aspen, at the base of Aspen Mountain. This is a fantastic restaurant during the day. One of its most popular entrees is the Ajax double cheeseburger with truffle fries. Once your day of skiing is done, you can kick back and relax with friends in the bar area. It’s a fun place to hang out with a great selection of the finest wines, as well as signature martinis and microbrews.

Cecilia’s Martini Bar, Breckenridge, CO-  Cecilia’s Martini Bar is located in Breckenridge. It provides an amazingly fun time to spend with friends and family after a great day on the slopes. Cecilia’s has a vast selection of spirits, including its signature martinis. There are nightly DJs, making it a prime spot to keep those ski legs loose with dancing.

Bowling Alley to Open in Snowmass

imagesIt’s been decades since the upper valley had a bowling alley but that’s about to change as a local man is in the midst of creating one in Snowmass.  Mark Reece recently signed a lease on a roughly 6,000-square-foot subterranean space below Venga Venga, situated along Fanny Hill, said commercial real estate agent Ruth Kruger, who brokered the deal.  “We’ve been working on [finding a space] for three years,” she said. “It’s hard to make financial sense in doing a bowling alley.”  But Reece and the owner of the building, Lance Hool, have reached a rent price that apparently will pencil out for the start-up business.   He said he’s been eyeing the space, and negotiating with Hool and his representatives, for almost three years.  “I was trying to capitalize on the right price for that space,” Reece said. “We couldn’t make ends meet. … We were willing to pay [a price] and they were willing to come down.”Reece said he has received zoning approvals from the town of Snowmass Village and will soon submit a building permit application. He said he hopes to be open by the summer.

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Colorado Ski Towns Face Off in Energy Challenge

imagesAspen, Crested Butte and Vail compete for skier days every winter. But this March, the towns and the counties they’re located in will go head-to-head for energy assessments in the Energy Smart Challenge.  In 2010, Eagle, Pitkin and Gunnison Counties all received Department of Energy grant funding to offer the Energy Smart Program. Now, in the third year of the program, it’s time for a little friendly competition.

The Energy Smart Challenge kicked off on Friday and will end on Earth Day, April 20. Every homeowner who signs up for an energy assessment during the Energy Smart Challenge will be entered into a raffle for a free pair of custom, locally-made skis. One lucky participant from the Aspen/Snowmass area, including Basalt, Redstone, Marble and unincorporated Pitkin and Eagle Counties within the Roaring Fork Valley, will win a pair of custom-made Double Barrel Meier skis from beetle-kill pine.

Besides good karma and bragging rights, the winning county will also receive recognition on the Energy Smart and Protect Our Winters websites and an Energy Smart Pizza Party for the community.

“Since the program began, we’ve facilitated 3,111 home energy assessments and 1,439 home energy improvements,” said Amelia Potvin, the Energy Smart Program Manager in Pitkin County. “The Energy Smart Challenge is a way to encourage more homeowners to take advantage of the program.”

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Elevation Outdoors Best Colorado Mountain Towns

EO_BestPartyTown_Logo-e1378226404172-150x125We thought it was too much to simply ask our readers to vote for the best single mountain town in the state. So we broke it down a bit into all the aspects that make living in the mountains so important. We put the poll up online and watched the winners slowly assert their dominance. And it ends up that we did find a single most popular mountain town, as Crested Butte took three out of the five categories. The only loss is the towns that didn’t win. Because just being in the mountains is best.


It’s sort of unfair to include Crested Butte in a “best bike town” poll. After all, this is one of two places in the world which claims to be the birthplace of the mountain bike (Marin County, Calif. the other) and the town’s whole identity seems to revolve around the famous 401 Trail. But, as the USA Pro Challenge continues to raise Colorado’s profile in the cycling universe and so many other towns in the state have made cycling a staple of their economy and identity, Crested Butte has still managed to lead the pack.

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Colorado’s Top 13 Family Vacation Ideas for Summer 2013

indexSummer is just around the corner and you don’t need to look far to have a world-class vacation with your family. From theater hikes to Outhouse Races to free events galore, we have the inside scoop on All Things Colorado.


It may be summertime but Snowmass has returned to the Ice Age with the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center that features the most significant Ice Age ecosystem find in Colorado history (and it’s free). Touch a mastodon tooth, marvel at a half-sized 6-foot Wooden Mammoth Skeleton, do a dig of your own or a daily Ice Age Discovery Hike by  Environment Studies.  Visit the Snowmass Rodeo on Wednesday nights (June 12- August 28) and sign up your kids for the Calf Scramble and Mutton Busting. Ride the Elk Camp Gondola up Snowmass Mountain where the Elk Camp Restaurant will open for activities including downhill biking, dinner, campfires, live music, movies, Stryder Park and Kid’s Playground on Friday evenings. Try your hand at some slopeside bowling at the new bowling alley below Venga Venga Cantina featuring eight full-sized lanes, a lounge area with full bar, wood-fired oven pizzas, upscale bar food and more. Then, get inspired at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a stellar place for kids of all ages to take workshops that include sculpture, photography, painting, beading, and mask-making.

Click here to read about all the other fun Colorado towns.

2013 Aspen Ideas Festival to Feature Marijuana Legalization Debate

indexThe Aspen Institute and The Atlantic are hosting their ninth annual Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26 through July 2, 2013. More than 300 insightful thinkers and leaders from around the country and beyond will gather in Aspen, CO to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas. The week’s programming will cover a variety of important issues, including the economy, the Middle East, energy, space, mobility, design – and marijuana legalization, among other topics. The public dialogue will engage, over seven days, a festival audience of more than 4,000 attendees between the campus at the Aspen Meadows and the town of Aspen, as well as those following the festival online throughout the world.

On Monday, July 1st  (10:20am-11:20am Mountain Time / 12:20-1:20 Eastern), Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will debate former DEA head and U.S. Congressman Asa Hutchinson on marijuana legalization. Nadelmann and Hutchinson have previously debated on a national stage, such as on CNN’s Crossfire.

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Aspen Ideas Festival Inspires, Engages, Promotes Debate

indexEvery summer, some of the most interesting thinkers, leaders and artists in the U.S. gather to share ideas in Aspen, Colorado.  It’s called the Aspen Ideas Festival.  It is an incubator of creativity which attracts the best and the brightest in many fields – from across the United States and around the world to the small western U.S. town of Aspen, known for its great natural beauty.

Xiao Xiao, pianist, technologist and doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, brought to Aspen her insights from piano-playing to human-computer interaction, designing experiences that bridge the digital and the physical.

“One day when I was practicing the piano I was looking at the really pretty reflection that’s in front of the keyboard of my hands, and I had this thought of wouldn’t it be really beautiful if instead of seeing my own hands there I could see somebody else’s hands,” Xiao Xiao said.  Dr. Joel Dudley is director of bioinformatics and assistant professor of genetics and genomic sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He shared at Aspen the great strides made in health care, specifically in the field of personal genomics.

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