Ski resorts around the globe pride themselves on being prime destinations for sports, fun and entertainment, and they don't just limit it to skiing and riding. Besides offering fine dining and amusements for the kids, hip resorts over the past 40 years have slowly realized that hosting a music festival is a great way to get people onto your property to have a good time in both the winter and summer seasons.
We've reviewed all of the offerings, sent our correspondents to as many of them as we can, and come back with the Top 5 Music Festivals at Ski Resorts:
Snowball just recently finished a long weekend of big-name music and debauchery near Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Vail Valley. They get a jump on the traditional festival season of summer by getting a stellar lineup of electronic and dance music acts together in the snow of late winter Colorado. This year's festival had a large outdoor stage and three stages under giant tents, along with one of the most exciting and diverse lineups anywhere: TV on the Radio and Ghostland Observatory represented the upper tiers of indie rock superstars, Snoop Dog and Big Boi, both rap royalty, brought their full entourages in giant puffy jackets, while Bassnectar, Rusko, Wolf + Lamb, and Major Lazer spun some of the most popular and innovative dubstep, house and electro out there today. (Note that Snowball is thrown by the same group that put on the popular SnowGlobe Music Festival at South Lake Tahoe, CA back on December 29-31, 2011. Here is some great video of the music and the crowds at the most recent SnowGlobe to give you a taste.)
Coming soon, in the heart of the Tyrolean Alps at Mayrhofen is the epic Snowbombing Festival, Europe's biggest music festival at a ski resort. British rap pioneer and this year's headliner Dizzee Rascal is quoted as saying: "It's like Ibiza in the snow." What makes Snowbombing so unique is some of the venues for the artists to perform: a party in the middle of the frozen forest transforms traditional warming huts into bars and sausage factories; the Arctic Disco is two dance floors inside a giant igloo carved out of ice and snow high above the town; and the Fatboy Slim street party takes over the entire main street of Mayrhofen with dancing mayhem. Besides the unbeatable surroundings, some of the best DJs and electronic acts in the world will be rocking your lederhosen all night long, from Seth Troxler and Damian Lazarus to DJ Shadow and Booka Shade. Every variety of dance music will be represented in the high Alps in April, so book your tickets fast.
Once the snow has melted and all of the European DJs have left the Alps and migrated south to the Mediterranean, the traditional summer musical festivals return. Probably one of the longest-running ski resort festivals in the world is the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, now in its 39th year. Held in June, the performers and the rustic, laid-back vibe are so popular with its "festivarians" that this year's event has already sold out completely, including all 1-day to 4-day tickets, so I hope you've got yours already! Otherwise you'll be missing a great lineup of bluegrass and roots music, with the underground cred and chops of Alison Kraus, k.d. lang and John Prine balanced out this year by big names like John Fogerty and Bruce Hornsby.
Also in early summer, but back on the East Coast, is the Mountain Jam at Hunter Mountain, NY with a set of bands big enough for even a non-ski resort summer fest: Steve Winwood, the Roots, James Murphy, Trombone Shorty and many other jam bands and roots revivalists. Co-headliner Gov't Mule's leader Warren Haynes helps put on this annual party in the Catskills with 50 bands on 4 stages. Nominated as music festival of the year in 2011 by Pollstar, the live music industry magazine, Mountain Jam is a great place to noodle away your warm summer nights while you dream of champagne snow.
For the free spirited, Wanderlust brings a unique twist to the ski resort music festival. They take their multi-pronged act on the road, setting up at four different resorts between June and August and they offer a lot more than just music. Their core mission is to "create community around mindful living" and they do this by including a well-rounded experience to their audiences, offering yoga from renowned teachers, food from top chefs, sessions from famous speakers, films, art installations, hikes and kid zones. While we definitely appreciate their green, healthy approach to festivals, they have a solid musical offering as well, with Ziggy Marley and Beats Antique headlining at Stratton, Copper Mountain and Squaw Valley, while Michael Franti & Spearhead and Thievery Corporation top the bill at Whistler. Get your chakras aligned and your breathing centered before next winter's snow season begins.
Let us know what music festivals you've checked out in the mountains, send us your reviews and tell us what gets you rocking out in your boots!