Aspen Untucked: This One’s for the Millennials |

Aspen Untucked: This One’s for the Millennials

by Barbara Platts

The 35th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is almost here. Wine reps are unpacking boxes in the Grand Tasting Tent. World-renowned chefs are prepping meals that will be talked about for months, or even years, after they’re devoured. And attendees, and potential ones, are prepping their bodies for what is sure to be a desperately indulgent weekend.

As much as I thoroughly enjoy Food & Wine weekend in Aspen, I’m not going to talk about it much this year. All eyes and most articles in town are focused on the upcoming foodie weekend. I figured I would skip forward a couple of weeks and talk about the valley’s next biggest happening: the Aspen Ideas Festival.

This event, created and hosted by the Aspen Institute, occurs every year at the end of June, bringing thousands of bright minds together for a 10-day festival filled with lectures, discussions and films. This year, for the very first time, the Aspen Institute is specifically engaging Generation Y, also known as 18 to 35 year olds, with the Millennial Pass. These passes, which cost only $99, are limited. The first batch were sold at the beginning of June. On June 16, the Aspen Institute is releasing another round of passes on a first-come, first-served basis.

Access to the festivals are thousands of dollars (and most are sold out), so this special pass is a surprisingly great deal. It doesn’t give the passholders access to all of the events, but it does make 80-plus public events more accessible, including morning and evening sessions at the St. Regis, Hotel Jerome and Limelight Hotel. Spotlight Health sessions in the McNulty Room and evening events on the Aspen Institute campus are also accessible from June 22 to July 1 with the Millennial Pass.

In typical Aspen Ideas Festival style, many of the speakers and events have yet to be announced. However, the pass does confirm a few “sample sessions” that will be available to pass holders. They include the following:

‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ film screening

The sequel to the 2006 award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” this film looks at Al Gore’s continued journey to fight climate change. It highlights the progress that has been made with investment in renewable energy and compromises that governmental leaders have made across the globe. But it also shows how much more we have to do in order to save our planet. Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, “An Inconvenient Sequel” is scheduled to come out in late July. Aspen Festival attendees will get a sneak peak of it over Ideas Fest. I just watched the preview for it this week and got goose bumps. This film, just like the first, is going to be impactful.

‘Pod Save America’ live podcast taping

Crooked Media’s popular political podcast will host a live taping of an episode at the Ideas Festival. Pod Save America began in January. It has four hosts, who all worked for the Obama administration in one form or another, including former director of speech writing Jon Favreau, speech writer Jon Lovett, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer and spokesperson Tommy Vietor. They post at least one episode per week, sometimes more. The exact date of the live recording in Aspen has not yet been published, but details are certain to come soon.

‘Trump Administration Report Card’ with Charlie Sykes, Arthur Brooks and Amy Walter

As with the other Ideas Festival events, precise details on this are still to come. However this discussion will most likely involve “grading” the Trump administration thus far. The three speakers of the session are all political commentators, of sorts. Charlie Sykes hosted a conservative talk show in Wisconsin for 23 years. He’s currently an analyst on MSNBC and is publishing the book “How the Right Lost Its Mind” in October of this year. Arthur Brooks is the president of conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute. He’s also known as a social scientists and musician. And Amy Walter is a political analyst currently heading the online newspaper The Cook Political Report. Before that she was the political director at ABC News. With this roster, the discussion is sure to be informative and well-rounded.

In conclusion, Food & Wine is almost here. Enjoy the weekend, have a bit of fun, but leave some brain cells intact as the Aspen Ideas Festival is sure to bring stimulating conversation and inventive thought.

If you’re a millennial — between 18 and 35 years of age — and are interested in the Aspen Institute’s pass, find out more about it at or

Barbara Platts is giddy with excitement about the Aspen Ideas Festival. Reach her at

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