February 19-21, 2016
Avon, Colorado – Home, sweet home! I haven’t actually lived in Avon for a couple years now, but it still holds such a special place in my heart! WinterWonderGrass brings together some of the most magnificent people in the Vail Valley year after year, I couldn’t imagine not being a part of it! Avon is home to Beaver Creek, and very close to Vail, making it an ideal location to enjoy snow during the day and the festival all evening. It is just a couple hours west of Denver, making it a very easy trip to drive up for the weekend or even fly in! The mountains are gorgeous, the Eagle river is breathtaking, and Avon truly gives you a winter wonderland!
Nottingham Park: The venue is in such a great location! Is it a quick 10 minute walk from the parking lots of Beaver Creek, making it easy to shred all day and then walk right over to the festival! The late night bars are all within easy walking distance, as well as many hotel options. The gorgeous permanent main stage is amazing and makes it easy to keep your feet dry if you’re able to make it onto the stones. Past the stage area it did get quite muddy, but there was some effort to fix that with some hay, sand, and even wooden boards. There were two beer tents with smaller stages, as well as a new stage this year, the SoapBox Lounge.
WinterWonderGrass is super affordable and worth every penny for an epic weekend of bluegrass and beer tasting! You really can’t get a better deal, especially if you plan ahead and buy early:
- Limited Release (3-day) Pass: $119 + $16.07 in fees
- Early “Snowbird” (3-day) Pass: $129 + $18.37 in fees
- Tier 2 (3-day) “Fresh Tracks” Pass: $149 + 18.97 in fees
- Early “Snowbird” VIP (3-day) Pass: $249 + $21.97 in fees
- Tier 2 VIP (3-day) “Fresh Tracks” Pass: $299 + $23.47 in fees
- Limited Release “Gold Miner” Colorado & California Pass: $199 + $25.47 in fees
- “Snow King” Lodging & VIP Package (Westin Hotel + 2 VIP Passes): $1699 + $74.47 in fees
There is no camping, which is totally understandable considering the festival is in the high rockies in the middle of February. You need to get a hotel, or crash with fellow ski bums!
Transportation was more difficult this year than in the past. You used to be able to leave your car overnight in the Beaver Creek parking lots without an issue, but this year they were booting any festival cars. This eliminated most of the local parking, so your only option was to have a sober driver, Uber, use a shuttle, or stay close enough that you could walk. There were a few shuttle options. The local Turtle Bus was doing shuttle to/from Vail, Eagle Vail, Edwards, and Minturn for $8 per person for $30 for the weekend, and the ECO transit was doing its normal rounds in the Valley. There were no advertised options if flying in and needing a shuttle, but you can use the Colorado Mountain Express as normal Vail Valley visitors would use.
There was a quick bag check on your way through the gate, but other than that security was super relaxed. There was some Avon police around, but I believe it was once again a no-arrest-fest!
Ski bums from all over Colorado came out to enjoy winter wonderland, and even some people from further away! I LOVE the WWG community – the people bring me back year after year just as much as the music!
The weather was GORGEOUS! In the past WWG is surrounded by some snowstorms and colder temperatures, but this year the skies were clear and the days were warm and sunny! The Colorado sunsets were beautiful as always, and the nights were just cold enough to be warmed by some whiskey. Perfect 🙂
HANDLING OF THE WEATHER:
There really wasn’t much to handle except for the mud, which I do believe they could have done more about. Last year a lot of hay was thrown on the ground to make it less muddy, and this year I didn’t see much hay used at all. They did lay down some wooden boards and throw some sand, but more could have been done to keep our dancing feet dry. I heard they wanted to veer away from the hay because it gets stuck in the grass and ruins the field, but there should have been more done to eliminate the trench of mud that formed. Temperatures were never too cold but if you did get cold you could go into the beer tents, and there were heaters if you were VIP.
Bluegrass, bluegrass, and more bluegrass! What more could I ask more?!
Hailing from Boulder, CO, Leftover stars Vince Herman (vocals, acoustic guitar, washboard), Drew Emmitt (vocals, acoustic and electric mandolin, electric guitar, fiddle), Andy Thorn (vocals, acoustic and electric banjo), Greg Garrison (vocals, acoustic and electric bass), and Alwyn Robinson (drums). A jam band at heart, they blend bluegrass, rock, country, and Cajun/Zydeco into their self-proclaimed “Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass”.
Greensky Bluegrass – 2 nights!
These guys always amaze me. Featuring Anders Beck on dobro, Michael Arlen Bont on banjo, guitar player Dave Bruzza, Mike Devol strumming the upright bass and last but never least, Paul Hoffman on the mandolin, Greensky Bluegrass play acoustic instruments while putting on a full on rock show. Their lightshow is incredible, they continue to impress me with their improvisational jams, and they always surprise me with songs like Booty Ain’t Nothing But A Butt.
LATE NIGHT SHOWS:
The late nights do cost extra, but they are worth every penny! It gets cold at night so its great to go inside, but the venue is much more intimate. They are relatively cheap, between $10-$25 per show, and are at different bars throughout Avon and Vail, including Agave, Local Joe’s, Montana’s, and Vail Alehouse.
The Main Stage is gorgeous and features amazing sound as well as lighting. It was built just a couple of years ago and includes an amazing stone ground for people to boogie without getting their feet wet or muddy! There were two beer tents, Pickin’ Perch and Jamboree Tent, which had all of the booze, both for tastings and for purchase, as well as smaller stages for between main stage sets. They were filled to the brim, especially on Saturday night, but they gave you a much more intimate viewing if you were able to get close up. Finally, new this year, was the SoapBox Lounge, featuring coffees, teas, hot chocolate, soups, WinterWonderJuice and tasty treats with even more incredible music!
WWG supports local businesses and breweries while bringing out the entire Vail Valley community!
Acro yoga dancers, firethrowers and more highlighted the beautiful mountains and sunsets surrounding WWG!
Moe’s BBQ, Rocky Mountain Taco, and Green Elephant Juicery were just some of the amazing vendors there to support every craving!
There were no outside vendors, but the merch tent was loaded with amazing WWG merchandise!
HELP THE ENVIRONMENT:
The three day pass includes a FREE Klean Kanteen stainless steel WWG mug to help eliminate waste and emphasize Leave No Trace. I have always applauded WWG on their environmental efforts. As their website says:
WE TAKE PRIDE IN OUR SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS AT WINTERWONDERGRASS AND WE WORK VERY HARD TO WALK OUR WALK AND TALK OUR TALK. WE ADHERE TO THE LEAVE NO TRACE PRINCIPLE, ” SUSTAIN HEALTHY, VIBRANT NATURAL LANDS FOR ALL PEOPLE TO ENJOY, NOW AND INTO THE FUTURE”. WE ASK ALL OF OUR FANS, EACH OF YOU TO DO THE SAME. RESPECT THE BEAUTIFUL LAND, RECYCLE, MINIMIZE YOUR SINGLE USE PLASTICS, DISPOSE OF CIGARETTES IN THE PROPER PLACES AND LOVE MOTHER EARTH.
They even have this wonderful chart showing their Waste Diversion Metrics:
I love that WWG cares enough to try and eliminate waste. This year, unfortunately, I did see a considerable amount of waste in beer tasting cups. In the past they have utilized the stainless steel, sustainable festival mug that you receive with your 3-day pass purchase for the tastings, but this year they weren’t doing that. Organizers said it had to do with local laws regarding tastings. I personally refuse to use plastic, it creates too much waste, and most of the brewers were not even willing to pour the plastic cup into my stainless steel mug. I saw barrels filled every day with far too many plastic cups. This is just wrong, and goes against everything that I thought WWG and their organizers were about. Still – this is far more than most festivals do, so I will give them that. But there needs to be a way to eliminate the plastic cups completely! When theres a will, theres a way! We just must find the way 🙂
- FREE beer from 2:30pm-5:30pm everyday from 18 local breweries!