Each year, a few short weeks after the start of the ski season, Vail celebrates. It’s true, its doesn’t take much for Vail to find a reason to have a celebration as we love to cheer on winter and all of its glory. But this event is special, because it brings some of the finest and interesting talent in the music industry to our small town for one of the coolest outdoor music festivals in the mountains. This festival, Snow Daze, is a week – long event December 10-15 to ring in the snow season and the upcoming holidays with live music and parties under the snowy, starry Vail sky. And this year has an extra celebratory bent, Vail’s 50th Anniversary, a theme that will highlight the weekend’s events.


The week will gear up with several après-ski and after dark parties around town. It all leads up to the big weekend: a three-day concert series with big names that will truly knock your socks off. The concerts take place at Ford Park, a favorite Vail outdoor venue with lots of space for dancing and mingling with friends.

First up on Thursday 12/13 are Grammy-nominated indie rockers The Shins. This sophisticated band has a huge cult following and lots of alternative air time. Their sound is reminiscent of the catchy vintage summery vibe of the Beach Boys mixed with early 2000’s alt-rock with an edge. These elements plus lyrical complexity make their music not only catchy but also intelligent that brings about rockin’ live performances, capturing listeners for hours. Originating in Albequerque, New Mexico, their success began while on tour with Modest Mouse in 2000 and the subsequent release of their infamous single “New Slang” and the album Oh Inverted World. Since then the band has been on a steady path of building a loyal fan base and varied repertoire. Their Grammy nomination in 2008 and the steady release richly diverse albums including 2012’s Port of Morrow have earned The Shins a firm standing in the indie-pop charts. Opening for The Shins on Thursday is the newly formed super-group Divine Fits, a collaborative band with members of indie favorites Spoon and Wolf Parade.

Friday night, December 14 don’t miss the opportunity to see Michael Franti & Spearhead, the feel-good group that combines hip-hop, reggae and funk into a unique groove enjoyed by all ages. They are an all-time favorite of concert and festival – goers and have a loyal following from playing venues such as Jazz-Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, Belly Up Aspen, and Vail’s own Dobson Arena. Committed to environmentalism and spreading messages of peace in their worldly vibe, this band is all about happy, soul-pleasing dance-friendly groove. Franti formed the band Spearhead in 1994 and it immediately became recognized for their funk vibe carrying definitive strains of reggae and hip-hop. They are recognized across genres for big hits such as “Everyone Deserves Music”, “The Sound of Sunshine” and “What I Be”. Priming the pump for Franti & Spearhead – fun loving Southern groove from up-and-coming Nic Cowan & The Remedy.

For the grand finale of this off the charts concert weekend, come out to Ford Park once more on Saturday December 15 for alternative rock powerhouse Wilco with an intro performance by Nathaniel Rateliff. The evening begins with the gritty, flawless sound of Denver singer-songwriter Rateliff. A longtime darling of the Denver music scene, he has broken through to national notoriety with his acclaimed most recent album Memory of Loss. Next up is veteran concert favorite Wilco. With a style that runs the gamut from alternative country to indie rock to offbeat pop, this a live music giant that has been selling out shows since the mid 1990’s when they first came on the music scene with their unique eclectic sound. Wilco is an inspired band that thinks outside the box and tries to achieve something meaningful in their music through intelligent lyricism, thoughtful collaborations with legends like the Woody Guthrie legacy R.E.M. and Billy Bragg, as well as constant evolution in recording location and style. They are best know for radio hits “You and I”, “You Never Know” and “California Stars” among dozens of other amazingly crafted songs. General admission and Private Reserve tickets for all Snow Daze concert events are available here.

Parties and Films

In addition to this fabulous entertainment at Ford Park, Snow Daze will also serve as the official kick-off for Vail’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Visit the base area of the new Gondola One (formerly the Vista Bahn) on Friday and Saturday for Demo Daze, featuring brand expos and product samples from event sponsors.

On Friday December 15 Vail will unveil the Vail’s 50th Anniversary Film premier at the Vail Marriott resort. The film, which documents Vail’s rise to becoming such an iconic ski resort, is the brainchild of Roger Cotton Brown, Vail’s original filmmaker who helped put the resort on the map with his promotional work 50 years ago. Showtimes at 5:30pm, 7:30pm and 9:30 pm are free; tickets are required.

Before heading to the Wilco show, stop by the Mountain Plaza for Vail’s official 50th Birthday Party at 5:30pm on December 15, with special appearances by Vail founders and dignitaries, fireworks and lots of other surprises. Admission is free for this big birthday event – bring the family!

Simba Run is Vail’s Official Headquarters for Family Fun! To make your Vail, Colorado lodging reservation for Snow Daze and to get your third night free, please call Michele at 800-746-2278.