New Year’s resolution: Don’t miss a thing in the Vail Valley in 2016 |

New Year’s resolution: Don’t miss a thing in the Vail Valley in 2016

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily
January: Make plans to attend at least one of the Vail Symposium’s winter offerings, such as "Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson," presented by Thompson's son, Juan Thompson, on Jan. 25.
Special to the Weekly |

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series about New Year’s resolutions, running daily through Tuesday.

Ending a year means taking stock of the previous 12 months while simultaneously looking toward the next 365 days. This can take the form of wishful thinking, calendar scanning and, perhaps, making resolutions. Approximately 45 percent of Americans will make resolutions for the new year, though only about 8 percent of those who make resolutions actually succeed, according to a government survey. However, what if one of your resolutions was easy to achieve?

This year, make it your goal to experience the best of Vail. From events to activities, we’ve compiled a month-by-month to-do list for educational seminars, music and sporting events, culinary adventures, outdoor activities and more.


most resolutions start in January: get healthier, manage your money better, learn something new. Make plans to attend at least one of the Vail Symposium’s winter offerings. From discussions about dying with dignity to tales of BASE jumping or biking Colorado’s 14ers, the Symposium’s lineup offers opportunities to not only learn about a wide range of topics, but also to interact with speakers.

“We have a ton going on in January, but it’s going to be a great season overall,” said Ashley Cawthorn, program and development manager for Vail Symposium. “Our mission is to provide thought-provoking, diverse and affordable programming to our valley.”

While Cawthorn had a hard time picking her favorite, she highly recommended the Unlimited Adventure Series.

“They’re free and really great nights with cheap beer,” Cawthorn said. “It’s a good opportunity to get out in your community and learn what’s going on.”

For a full description of the Vail Symposium’s lineup of events, go to

More in January

Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival (Jan. 7-9): Brewers from around the world celebrate high-octane brews at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa with seminars, brewers’ dinners, a home-brew competition and the popular commercial tasting. For more information, visit

Skadi Vail Women’s Ski Fest (Jan. 20-22): For the first year, Skadi Vail is uniting female skiers of all ages and abilities for VIP events, on-mountain instruction and events and ski demos. For more information or to register, visit

Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend (Jan. 21-24): Join renowned chefs Richard Blais, Jon Bonnell, Stephanie Izzard, George Mendes and Paul Riley for a weekend of incredible culinary events, both on and off the snow. Visit culinary for more information.


Lauded as a “boutique winter music and craft beer festival,” WinterWonderGrass Festival is one of the hottest events to take place in February. Featuring more than 20 bluegrass bands, 18 Colorado craft breweries, songwriter showcases, food trucks and more, WinterWonderGrass brings music to the mountains at Harry A. Nottingham Park in Avon Feb. 19- 21.

“It’s the only three-day music festival in February in the valley,” said Danita Dempsey, director of festivals and special events for the town of Avon. “It’s bluegrass, roots and acoustic music. Where else can you go for that?”

This year’s headliners include Greenksy Bluegrass, Leftover Salmon, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. A three-day festival pass is $139 and includes three days of music, beer tastings with 18 Colorado craft breweries each day and a festival mug. Prices will increase in the new year. To see the lineup or to buy tickets, visit

More in February

CarniVail (Feb. 6-9): Cajun flavors come to Vail for this Mardi Gras celebration on snow, featuring a crawfish boil, Fat Tuesday parade and festival, apres celebrations and a free concert by MarchFourth Marching Band. Visit for more information.

Skijoring in Minturn (Feb. 27-28): It’s like a rodeo on skis: Skiers grasp a rope and are towed by a racing horse down a snow-covered course, hurtling over jumps and lancing rings, thrilling spectators. Only three skijoring events take place in Colorado each year, and one is right in downtown Minturn. Go to for more details.

Beaver Creek Snowshoe Series (Sunday, Jan. 31 and Feb. 28): Novice or expert, these snowshoe races are fun for the entire family. Featuring 5K and 10K races, as well as a kids’ course, it’s a fun alternative to explore Beaver Creek mountain. Visit http://www.beaver for more information.


So, technically it starts in February (darn leap year), but the 34th annual Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships are a not-to-miss event in March. Taking place on Vail Mountain, snowboarding’s stars will compete at Golden Peak for titles in slopestyle and halfpipe.

From Feb. 29 to March 5, athletes will perform flips and spins in the crisp Vail air during the day, while some of music’s hottest acts heat up the evenings. Last year’s attending athletes included stars such as Danny Davis and Iouri Podladtchikov (aka iPod), Kelly Clark and Elena Hight; and musical acts included Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and GirlTalk. Not only is attending the Burton Open a chance to witness history in the making, but it’s also a free event.

More in March

Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Beaver Creek (March 26): Join the Easter Bunny in Beaver Creek and hunt for more than 4,000 eggs that are hidden at Creekside Park, and then stay for a photo opportunity with the long-eared favorite. For more information, visit

Start planning a spring getaway: While the snow is still thick on the ground in Vail, it’s time to start thinking about May. It’s the perfect time of year to sneak away, whether it’s to nearby Fruita for some mountain biking or further afield, such as Mexico, for some sun and sand after a long season. Making your plans early means that not only will you save on flights (if necessary), but you can also reserve prime campsites that fill up quickly once the snow starts to melt.


Imagine basking in the spring sunshine on Vail Mountain, munching on tasty tidbits from some of Vail’s most iconic restaurants. Nice, right? Well, that dream can be a reality with the Mountaintop Picnic during the annual Taste of Vail.

For more than 25 years, Taste of Vail has showcased the best of Vail’s culinary scene, with a variety of events ranging from the famous Lamb Cook-Off to the Grand Tasting and Auction. Beginning March 31 and continuing through April 2, the weekend is filled with seminars that allow visitors to learn a variety of topics, ranging from pairing cigars and spirits to sampling the season’s newest rose wines.

While some of the events attract several hundred guests, many of the seminars are kept small, allowing for more intimate interactions among attendees and presenters. Tickets are on sale now. To learn more about the lineup of events and seminars, visit

More in April

Vail Film Festival (April 7-10): Hollywood comes to Vail for the 13th annual Vail Film Festival, which screens more than 50 films during the weekend as well as offering panel discussions and Q&A sessions with the people that make the films possible. Go to for more information.

Spring Back to Vail (April 10): End the ski season in style with apres parties, an on-mountain luau, a live concert (performer to be announced) and, the piece de resistance, the World Pond Skimming Championships. Visit to get more details.


The slopes are closed, and summer is on its way — it’s the perfect time to take up a new hobby. Not only is the Vail Valley home to some of the best fly-fishing waters in the country, but it’s also a central location to experience rivers and lakes that are a bit further afield, such as the Blue River or the Frying Pan in the Roaring Fork Valley. Take May to get your cast on.

“It’s some of the best fishing of the year in April and May, before the runoff, for the reason that the days are getting longer, the water temperatures are becoming more optimal for insect hatches of larger insects and the fish are getting hungry,” said John Packer, owner of Fly Fishing Outfitters in Avon.

“It’s the perfect time for the beginner to get out there because in the spring you can catch the biggest fish in the river because they’re not as educated as they are come August, when they’ve seen people fishing for them. They’re more aggressive and more hungry.”

Packer encouraged beginners to sign up for a half-day wade trip with a guide. Not only will the guide be able to assist with technique, choose lures and take you to the best waters, but it’s also a small commitment to see if you enjoy the sport.

For more instruction, check out Fly Fishing Outfitter’s two-day Orvis Fly Fishing School at Cordillera on select dates from June through September. Go to for more information.

More in May

Blues, Brews & BBQ (May 28-29): The unofficial start to summer in the mountains, the annual Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival in Beaver Creek features live music, a massive microbrew tasting and plenty of mouthwatering barbecue. Visit for more details.

Vail Whitewater Race Series (May 10-June 7): Whether you’re a kayaker, stand-up paddleboarder or rafter, the Vail Whitewater Race Series offers different course challenges in a two-round format each Tuesday night, followed by an after party in Vail Village. Go to to learn more or register.


Bring your dog, pack your bike and dust off your running shoes: It’s time for the Mountain Games. Now in its 15th year, the GoPro Mountain Games are the country’s largest celebration of adventure sports, art and music. From June 9 to 12, professional and amateur athletes from around the world will take to the mountains and rivers of Vail to compete in nine different sports and 25 disciplines in the hopes of being awarded a portion of the more than $110,000 in prize money.

Events range from kayaking, slacklining and bouldering to DockDog competitions, and spectating is almost more fun than competing. More than 60,000 people make their way to Vail for the event and enjoy interactive demos and exhibitions, a film festival, live music in Vail Village and plenty of parties, in addition to watching the various events. Visit http://www.moutain for a full schedule and list of events.

More in June

King of the Mountain (June 17-19): One of Vail’s longest-running sporting events (2016 marks the 44th year), King of the Mountain is the oldest beach doubles volleyball tournament in Colorado played on sand and grass, attracting more than 500 teams each year. Go to for more information.

Hot Summer Nights (June-August): Taking place on Tuesday nights at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, this free summer concert series features live music from a wide variety of bands, ranging from bluegrass to big band. Visit for more information.

Coverstock (June 25-26): It’s like deja vu all over again in Avon: Coverstock is a unique music festival featuring world-famous tribute bands performing full sets from bands that attended Woodstock, including The Who, Santana, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and more. Fore more information, visit

Vail Farmers’ Market (June-October): Now in its 12th year, the Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show showcases more than 130 tents along Meadow Drive, with a wide variety of wares from fresh produce to art to gifts. Learn more at


Where can you see four of the world’s finest orchestras in a spectacular outdoor setting? In Vail, of course. Each summer, the mountains are alive with the sounds of music from the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra during Bravo! Vail Music Festival, which takes place June 23 through Aug. 6.

New for 2016, London’s Academy of St Martin in the Fields will be in residence for three performances, increasing the already expansive lineup. Musical performances range from classical works to more modern music such as jazz and pops — even programs that showcase music from the movies.

And while Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater plays host to a majority of the concerts, performances are scattered around Vail, including private residences, Donovan Pavilion and some of Vail’s best bars. Factor in the free concerts, programming for kids and cabaret-style evenings, and you have a sweet-sounding schedule of events for the summer. Visit to get all of the details.

More in July

XTerra Triathlon (July 18): Swim, mountain bike and trail run in this competitive triathlon in Avon; choose from the full-length course or the shorter sprint version, or simply come out to cheer on the competitors. Go to for more information or to register.

Sling some bags (Thursdays in July and August): There’s no better way to enjoy a summer day and make new friends than joining a sports league. The Vail Recreation District’s cornhole league requires no prior experience, other than a sense of humor, and runs for seven weeks in the summer. For more information, visit


For two weeks in Vail, there’s a good chance that you may feel like dancing, possibly in the streets. The Vail International Dance Festival, which takes place July 30 to Aug. 13, brings the world’s best dancers to Vail for two weeks of performances and community events.

The Vail International Dance Festival debuted in 1989 and has been attracting performers and companies from around the world in the 26 years since the Bolshoi Ballet Academy of Moscow took the stage. Artistic Director Damian Woetzel continues to expand the festival, adding elements such as the UpClose series, the NOW: Premiers and educational programs for Vail Valley students.

Offering free shows in addition to ticketed performances, the Vail International Dance Festival’s lineup continues to showcase the best of dance each summer, and it takes place in our own backyard. For descriptions of upcoming performances, visit

More in August

Kids’ Adventure Games (early August): Teams of kids ages 6 to 14 will bike, swing, climb, slide and more in this obstacle race that teaches teamwork while exploring Vail’s wild side. Go to for more information.

Eagle Mushroom & Wild Food Festival (mid-August): It’s a fungi-filled weekend in Eagle. The Eagle Mushroom & Wild Food Festival, now in its ninth year, combines forays to find mushrooms with seminars and plenty of tasting opportunities. For more details, visit http://www.eaglemushroom


Last year, riders of all ages and abilities descended upon Vail for the inaugural Outlier Offroad Festival. More than just competitions or a chance to demo new gear prior to Interbike in Vegas, Outlier Fest is a chance for mountain bikers who enjoy cross-country and enduro racing to commune with others in Vail, a location uniquely suited to the pursuit. Featuring a lift-served consumer demo showcasing all of next year’s bikes, a backside competitive cross-country event, a three-stage enduro and plenty of other entertainment, Outlier is an event that we’re happy to see returning to Vail this fall.

“What can you expect in 2016? More. Bigger. Amazing-er,” said Mike McCormack, Outlier Offroad Festival’s organizer. “Over 100 demo brands queued up already makes Outlier the largest demo opportunity in the Rockies. Fresh new courses await competitive athletes, and an expanded live music program across multiple venues promise to make 2016 a year to remember.”

More in September

Vail Jazz Party (Labor Day weekend): The culmination of a summer of spectacular jazz performances as part of the Vail Jazz Festival, the Vail Jazz Party is a weekend filled with performances by some of the jazz world’s most revered artists. Get a full lineup for the weekend at

Gourmet on Gore (Sept. 2-5): Celebrate Labor Day weekend in Vail with an open-air tasting from some of Vail’s best restaurants, along with world-class wine, beer and spirits. For more information, visit

Oktoberfest in Beaver Creek, Vail (Sept. 3-4, Sept. 9-12, Sept. 16-19): Dust off your dirndl and exercise your stein-hoisting muscles for three weekends of Oktoberfest celebrations in Beaver Creek, Vail Village and Lionshead. Full details can be found at and http://www.vail


there’s one time of year when it’s OK to let your alter ego run free: Halloween. However, unlike in other locations, Halloween in Vail doesn’t just happen one evening in October. Instead, opportunities to don a different face abound, ranging from the annual Alter-Ego Ball, a benefit for the Eagle Valley Child Care Association, to costume contests at Agave, the Minturn Saloon and Crazy Mountain Brewery, to name a few.

But it’s not just masks and mayhem during the Halloween season. Looking for something a bit more active? Sign up for the Trick or Treat Trot in Vail, which includes Halloween activities followed by trick-or-treating at local businesses. Looking to have your socks scared off? Visit the Haunted Barn in Eagle or the Haunted House at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. Events take place throughout the month, with most concentrated over Halloween weekend.

More in October

Man of the Cliff (Oct. 10-11): Flannel, facial hair and the fastest axes converge on Avon for this annual nonprofit event that combines elements of lumberjack competitions, strong-man events and the Highland games. Learn more at

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s annual Ski & Snowboard Swap (end of October): Find the best deals on ski gear, swap out your old stuff and support Ski & Snowboard Club Vail with this decades-old annual event. Visit


The mountains are calling and we must go. November means a return to the slopes, with both Vail and Beaver Creek opening this month. Start your season at Vail, where, depending on conditions, you can schuss down the slopes or try your hand in the terrain park. Visit for more information on Opening Day.

Beaver Creek traditionally opens the day before Thanksgiving, which means even more terrain for which to be thankful. Make your way to the plaza at noon to sample entries from the finalists of the World’s Best Chocolate Cookie Competition, but be on time — the cookies are usually gobbled up in 20 minutes. Visit for more details on the cookie competition and other Opening Day events.

More in November

Try some new Thanksgiving recipes: Vail is a culinary destination, and there is no excuse for your own kitchen to suffer by comparison. For professional instruction, sign up for a cooking class from one of the area’s best chefs: The Left Bank in Vail and Taste5 Catering both offer cooking classes; chef Allana Smith, of FOODSmith, will even come to your home to teach you.

Make some art: Head to Alpine Arts Center in Edwards and create your own masterpiece, either on canvas or with clay. Materials are included; beer, wine and snacks can be purchased throughout the evening. For dates and details, visit


The first weekend of December marks one of the biggest skiing events in North America, the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup ski races. Taking place Dec. 1-4 on the Birds of Prey racecourse on Beaver Creek Mountain, this is the only World Cup stop in men’s racing in the United States — and it’s considered one of the most difficult courses. For spectators, attending the race means a chance to see some of the world’s best skiers up close, ringing cowbells in the elevated spectator seating that was built for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

More than just racing (though that is exciting enough in and of itself), the weekend also includes the EverBank America’s Winter Opening, an event that premiered in 2015. Extending the action from the races on the slopes into Beaver Creek Village and beyond, race weekend features movie premiers, live music and Birds of Prey Way in the village. Go to or for more information and to get the entire lineup of events and offers.

More in December

Minturn Winter Market (mid-December): Enjoy shopping locally while experiencing the sights and sounds of Minturn as this summer favorite takes place for two weekends in December. Visit http://www.minturn for more information.

Vail Snow Daze (mid-December): Combining world-class skiing, an expo village and free concerts, Snow Daze is the biggest early-season mountain bash in North America. Go to to learn more about this year’s lineup.

New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31): Congratulations — you’ve enjoyed all that the Vail Valley has to offer this year, so blow it out and get ready for the new year with fireworks, torchlight parades and celebrations throughout the valley. Happy New Year!

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