Vail planning for 2021 events, but cautiously |

Vail planning for 2021 events, but cautiously

Performers want to get out, but uncertainty remains

Vail has brought street performers to the resort villages to keep the town vibrant, but promoters are cautiously planning a return to more traditional events, depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jon Resnick, special to the Daily.

The Vail Valley’s slow return to some form of normal life includes events, and Vail is ready to cautiously bring back some entertainment.

In a Tuesday joint virtual meeting with the Vail Town Council, the Vail Commission on Special Events presented some ideas for keeping the resort lively.

Events came to a virtual halt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit full-force in March of 2020. In the months after the shutdown, Vail officials looked at ways to keep at least some entertainment in town.

That included strolling performers in the town’s resort villages and concerts in the lower bench of Ford Park with socially-distanced audiences. The annual Vail America Days Fourth of July parade was turned into static displays around town to keep people moving. The early-winter Magic of Lights display also allowed people to keep their distance from one another.


For the summer ahead, performers in the resort villages will likely be set up on small stages instead of wandering through town.

The town is expected to bring back the Ford Park stage this year, but that’s going to take some serious calendar math.

With the amphitheater expected to be more busy this year than last — it hosted only a limited number of events in 2020 — one of the challenges will be avoiding conflicts between the amphitheater and the small stage on the grassy area of the park.

Council member Jen Mason used to manage the amphitheater, which is operated by the Vail Valley Foundation. Mason noted there are events at the amphitheater virtually every day in the summer. Communication with the foundation will be essential to avoid conflicts.

Sean Kelly plays in front of a limited-capacity audience at the Gerald R Ford Amphitheater in Vail on August 11, 2020.
Chris Dillmann/

Commission member Doug Smith told council members that there’s a “tremendous amount of data sharing” between venues. Those resources can help planning.

Planning for entertainment is going to look a lot different this year, no matter the venue. Concerts traditionally are booked months in advance. Jeremy Gross of the Vail Economic Development Office noted that contract terms now include payment no sooner than 60 days before a performance date, with the ability to change or cancel a performance.

Even with that short window, Smith said performers are eager to get back on stage.

“There’s massive pent-up demand from performers,” Smith said, adding that helps promoters stay nimble in booking talent.

While there’s still a good bit of uncertainty about events even as restrictions start to ease, the council Tuesday evening agreed to spend money on several events, including:

  • The Vail Farmers Market and Art Show
  • Vail America Days
  • Vail Oktoberfest
  • Live music at the amphitheater
  • The Vail Jazz Festival
  • The GoPro Mountain Games
  • Bravo! Vail music festival

Vail Economic Development Director Mia Vlaar during the afternoon session said while there’s plenty of planning going on now, “there are still a lot of unknowns.”

Put this in pencil

If the virus allows, here’s what Vail officials and promoters are looking at for 2021:

• Summer entertainment in single locations in Vail Village and Lionshead

• The possible return of concerts to the lower bench of Ford Park — as long as there are no conflicts with performances at the Gerald Ford Amphitheater

• A possible large concert in December, if allowed by public health officials. This might be the most iffy

• A return of the Magic of Lights display in Ford Park.

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