Wednesday, July 30, 2014

About Aspen and Snowmass – Why I’m Grateful I Live Here

Aspen Art Galleries
Aspen Art Galleries (Photo credit: richpalpine)
I’m a little biased because I grew up here, but all of a sudden I find myself in the middle of the summer season in Aspen and I realize how truly grateful I am that I live here. First, a little background about Aspen and Snowmass:

Where is Aspen?

Aspen, Colorado is nestled in the Elk Mountain Range of the central Colorado Rockies, approximately 218 miles southwest of Denver. The town is known internationally as a high-end destination resort, luxurious vacation home locale and “Rocky Mountain playground for the rich and famous”.

The area is surrounded by breathtaking peaks and is home to renowned skiing and extreme sports. Famous for haute shopping, designer dining and celebrities on holiday, Aspen boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine annually. The local airport regularly receives direct flights from several major U.S. cities.

Originally home to the Ute Indians, the town prospered during the boom of the Colorado silver mining era and survived the bust of the subsequent “quiet years” before eventually establishing itself as an American skiing mecca and world-class destination resort.

Today, the wide variety of cultural and recreational opportunities available in Aspen and the nearby town of Snowmass Village, combined with the area’s spectacular natural beauty, attracts casual visitors, vacationers, corporate events and wedding celebrations year round.

Vacations and Resorts

Vacations and resorts definitely go together. The ski resorts of Aspen and Snowmass feature four mountains, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk. This “Power of Four” offers abundant skiing and snowboarding terrain for experts and beginners alike. Ski vacation packages and specials are readily available through the Aspen Skiing Company and several other sources online.

Although the majority of visitors to the area still come to ski or snowboard, they also enjoy many other recreational opportunities as well. Moreover, they often plan their vacations around some of the high-profile events that take place here.

The resorts regularly host outstanding annual music festivals, engaging cultural events and world-class sporting competitions. Numerous fine dining and upscale shopping options, a vibrant nightlife and a wide variety of family activities ensure that there is something for everyone.

Music Festivals

Listening to live music has long been a favorite activity for area visitors and locals alike. Top-notch music festivals are held annually by the Aspen Music Festival and School and Jazz Aspen Snowmass.

The Music Festival and School was founded in 1949, by Walter and Elizabeth Paepke, to develop young adult musicians and to provide classical music entertainment in an intimate, scenic setting. It has since grown into one of the premier classical music festivals in the nation. The festival currently holds more than 300 musical events per season and draws top musicians and students from around the world.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass holds a multi-day festival each summer in June and another over the Labor Day weekend. The June event features world-class jazz musicians at the Benedict Music Tent while the Labor Day Festival offers dance-oriented popular, R&B, rock, funk, blues, world and soul music outdoors in the Snowmass Town Park.

Food and Wine Festival

Speaking of festivals, every summer since the 1980’s, Aspen and Snowmass have also hosted the internationally acclaimed Aspen Food and Wine Classic.

This event, held annually in June by Food and Wine Magazine, essentially kicks off the Aspen summer season. It features celebrity chefs, food and wine tastings, vendor displays, cooking competitions – and numerous parties.

Snowmass hosts its own food and wine festival in September. It too showcases wines from around the world, and it offers live music, a live auction and cuisine from local chefs.

World-Class Sporting Events

From international ski races, to the ESPN Winter X Games, the area hosts some of the most prominent winter sports competitions in the world. The X Game competitions have been held at the Buttermilk ski area since 2002, and World Cup ski races have been run on Aspen Mountain for over forty years.

If skiing and snowboarding are the royalty of the winter sports scene, then bicycle racing has become the king of summer sporting events in the area. Since its inaugural year in 2011, the annual USA Pro Challenge bicycle race (formerly USA Pro Cycling Challenge) has held stages in Aspen, Snowmass and the surrounding valleys.

Nightlife and Bars

Along with its recognition for first-class skiing, numerous other recreational opportunities, and strong cultural and intellectual institutions, Aspen also enjoys a stellar reputation for its vibrant nighttime activities. National ski publications consistently rate Aspen among the top ski resorts for its après ski, nightlife and bars.

Those looking for live music will find nationally acclaimed acts at the Belly Up and world-class jazz downstairs at the Little Nell. One can also venture into other, more casual, venues to listen to everything from rock and roll or folk, to country or rhythm and blues.

From upscale establishments, to local favorites, the Aspen and Snowmass night scene offers something to fit everyone’s tastes.

Summer Activities and Events in Aspen and Snowmass

There is a lot to do in Aspen and Snowmass year round, but since it is still summer, check out this link at the Aspen Luxury Vacation Rentals website for some information about specific summer activities and events that make Aspen and Snowmass so exceptional. With free music concerts on the top of Aspen Mountain, unique historical and recreational opportunities available, and science-related and cultural activities and events that abound, there is something for everybody.


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