The FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen has been sold out for a while now (sorry, procrastinators), and let's be honest, the swanky festival's early-bird pricing of $1,350 is out of reach for many. But if you're just dying to see what the ultimate culinary event of the year looks like, don't fret. Curbed Ski has rounded up where you can still find lodging, which events you can get tickets to, and how you can still have a jam-packed weekend of gluttony and booze without those flashy festival badges. Behold, our guide to crashing this iconic sold-out event (including one insider tip on how you still may be able to score festival passes).
1. Find lodging: There are a million things happening during FOOD & WINE, so it's unlikely that you'll run out of things to do. But one problem you could have is lodging, especially reasonably priced lodging. Luckily, there are places in downtown Aspen that still have rooms. Our first pick is Aspen Meadows Resort. Set on 40 acres with easy access to trails, Aspen Meadows is a 15-minute walk or 5-minute shuttle into downtown Aspen, providing some respite from the crowds of the festival. If you act fast, the hotel is offering a special FOOD & WINE package that includes three nights of lodging and 3-day festival passes for two people. But beware, this offer is extremely limited and you must call 970-544-7847 to see if it's still available.
Even if you don't score the festival tickets, Aspen Meadows Resort is offering an exclusive deal to Curbed Ski readers for $399 per night. Take it from us, that's a steal, so head over here to book.
Other (albeit pricier) options include the much-loved Hotel Jerome, one of Curbed Ski's 38 Essential Ski Town Hotels, which still has rooms for $1,255 per night. The Gant, located on the east end of Aspen, also has rooms starting at $715 per night.
2. Look to Snowmass: If you can't find lodging in Aspen, don't be shy about checking out Snowmass. A quick 20-minute car or shuttle ride is all it takes to navigate the two resorts, and Snowmass doesn't lack for beauty. You'll also have easy access to the hiking and biking trails at the Snowmass ski area if you want to burn off some of those pesky festival calories. Our pick for a top-notch hotel is the Viceroy Snowmass, which still had plenty of rooms at press time. They also have one of the best slopeside pools in the Roaring Fork Valley if you want to add some R&R to your festival weekend.
3. FOOD & WINE Classic 5K Charity Race: One of the most beautiful foot races in ski country is back again this year, and you don't need festival passes to compete. The race starts at 7:00 am on Friday, June 19, but even with the bright and early wake up call, it was one of our favorite events from 2014. Hosted by celebrity chefs Richard Blais, Stephanie Izard, Tim Love, and Marcus Samuelsson, the race winds through the city streets and parks of Aspen while raising money for Wholesome Wave. Register, over here.
4. Aspen Art Museum: Okay, while the Aspen Art Museum isn't actually part of FOOD & WINE, you can't come to Aspen without a visit. The brand-new museum designed by renowned architect Shigeru Ban opened last summer and has a thrilling array of rotating exhibitions.
5. Heritage Fire: Brought to you by the same folks who host the Cochon 555 events, Heritage Fire is a wood-fired, meat-laden feast. Held at the Snowmass Base Village on Friday, June 19th, guests will partake in over 3000 pounds of responsibly-raised heritage breed animals prepared by 45 top chefs. Shuttles are available to and from Aspen, and your $105.95 ticket also includes all-you-can drink booze. Head this way for tickets.
6. Grand Cochon: On the evening of Saturday, June 20, the season finale of the nation-wide culinary tour Cochon 555 heads to the Grand Ballroom of the Viceroy Snowmass. Ten chefs from around the country will compete in a head-to-tail, winner-takes-all culinary showdown celebrating all things pork. Head over here for tickets.
7. John Butler Trio at Belly Up, Aspen: Plenty of FOOD & WINE's elite will be at this concert held Friday, June 19 at 9:00 pm at Aspen's iconic Belly Up. The Aussie rockers will feature songs from their latest album "Flesh & Blood," and while general admission tickets are sold out, there are still some reserved seats available.
8. Vintner's Dinners: A series of dinners are going down throughout town on Friday and Saturday night, and you don't need festival passes to attend. BB's Kitchen is hosting a 5-course meal cooked by AAA 5-Star Chef Yvon Goetz on Friday, June 19 at 8 pm. The Caribou Club still has tickets for their Saturday, June 20th wine dinner featuring Realm Cellars and one of Curbed Ski's favorite labels, Sea Smoke. Head over here for information on costs and how to book.
9. Go Big With a Dinner at Element 47's The Little Nell: The Little Nell always throws down for FOOD & WINE and this year is no exception. A few seats are still available for two absolutely epic dinners held at the hotel's iconic Element 47. On Friday, June 19, Master Sommelier, Jay Fletcher, joins Master Somm protégé and Little Nell Wine Director, Carlton McCoy, for a 4-Course Dinner paired to several legendary wines, including some dating back to 1929. Proceeds will benefit the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation and tickets are $2000 per person. Saturday night, guests will explore the wines of Northern Rhone with winemaker Rajat Parr. The dinner costs $1000 per person and the wines will be paired with a 4-course meal. Call 970-920-6330 to make reservations for either evening.
10. Bluegrass Sundays: Finish off your FOOD & WINE weekend with a trip to the top of Aspen Mountain. Aspen Snowmass hosts free, open-air concerts on Ajax's sundeck from noon to 3 pm on Sundays, and on June 21 guests can listen to the soulful tunes of Free the Honey.
So there you have it! From lodging to wine dinners, ten ways to still enjoy Aspen's FOOD & WINE Classic even if you don't have tickets. Cheers and enjoy the festival.
· FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen 2015 [Official Site]
· Aspen Snowmass [Official Site]
· Aspen Chamber [Official Site]
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