Some peak week Aspen events going virtual
The end-of-December arts and culture calendar in Aspen is normally crammed with events, from small local traditions to world-class presentations.
In the last two weeks of the year, there would be the Aspen Historical Society cookie exchange and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings, the Theatre Aspen Cabaret Series and JAS Café concerts, a premier nightly lineup at Belly Up Aspen, galas and parties like the Aspen Art Museum’s “The Next” and the family-friendly happening of the 12 Days of Aspen. Not this year, as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues into 2021.
The Christmas-New Year’s Day peak week of 2020, of course, is different. While most events are canceled or replaced by socially distanced happenings, many are going virtual with creative new offerings.
Aspen Film on Saturday is presenting a Dinner & A Movie event, with the virtual events platform Mixn-Match. It will include an hour-long Zoom cooking class for Indian Biryani with Chef Biju Thomas, for which recipe and cocktail ingredients will be provided to participants, followed by a suggested streaming of the restaurant drama “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” Proceeds benefit the FilmEducates program.
Aspen Film is also this weekend hosting a free weekend-long online presentation of the ESPN Films documentary “Lance,” about cyclist Lance Armstrong, including a pre-recorded Q-and-A with Aspen Film’s Susan Wrubel, “Lance” director Marina Zenovich and Armstrong.
Chef Thomas, of Biju’s Little Curry Shop in Denver, is also one of the stars of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass “Home for the Holidays” event on Dec. 27. That concert and cooking demo, with Woody Creek Distillers cocktails, will benefit Jazz Aspen’s music education programs. The preparation of his butter chicken with jeweled rice and cucumber yogurt will be followed by performances by local Jazz Aspen students.
Chef Thomas led Jazz Aspen’s virtual Harvest Feast dinner fundraiser this fall, which Jazz Aspen senior vice president Andrea Beard hailed as a success and said led to this follow-up concert and class.
“At a time when we can’t get together in person for large dinners and events, this evening of virtual entertainment shared by friends and family is the perfect alternative,” she said.
Theatre Aspen’s “Holiday Cabaret” series is going virtual with two recorded performances from New York City on Dec. 23 and Dec. 27.
Directed by Broadway’s Lorin Latarro, the event will feature Aspen local and Tony nominee Beth Malone with Kate Baldwin (“Hello, Dolly!”) and stars of the coronavirus-suspended Broadway adaptation of “Mrs. Doubtfire” Charity Angél Dawson, Aaron Kaburick and J. Harrison Ghee along with former Theatre Aspen apprentice Emily Britt.
5Point Film, meanwhile, is hosting a live “Support the Stories” fundraiser and screening on Dec. 21. The 85-minute, three-film program will be followed by a conversation about adventure, exploration and trailblazing between filmmaker Taylor Rees and mountaineer Myrtle Simpson.
The Wheeler Opera House, which in recent years has hosted multiple comedy, music, and and theater events daily in late December, will present the virtual musical “Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish” on Dec. 27.
Announcing the online event Wednesday, interim Wheeler director Nancy Lesley said, “It’s a year of new traditions, so we are excited to offer an opportunity for families to get together and still experience that magical feeling you can only get watching a live performance.”
The Aspen Historical Society’s long-standing community tradition of holiday baking and sharing is also going online this week. With its cookie exchange and caroling event at the Wheeler-Stallard Museum canceled this year, the nonprofit is inviting people to send cookie recipes and background stories over the next two weeks, either by emailing email@example.com or by posting the recipe on Facebook or instagram and tagging @HistoryAspen.
The Historical Society will collect all of the submissions received by Dec. 31 and will share via a digital album.
On the family-friendly front, the Pitkin County Library is providing free salt dough ornament kits beginning Saturday morning, while the Hotel Jerome is giving out free cookie decorating kits beginning Saturday afternoon. The library’s giveaways continue with craft giveaways Dec. 20 and Dec. 29.
The 12 Days of Aspen series, produced by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, is also preserving some in-person elements including giveaways at its Cooper Ave. guest pavilion, mobile Santa Claus visits downtown and free skating at the Aspen Ice Garden on New Year’s Eve.
Aspen Historical Society Holiday Cookie Exchange, Dec. 17-31
@History Aspen on Facebook and Instagram
Aspen Film “Lance,” Dec. 18-20
Aspen Film Dinner & A Movie, Dec. 19
12 Days of Aspen, Dec. 19-31
5Point Film “Support the Stories,” Dec. 21
Theatre Aspen Holiday Cabaret, Dec. 23 & 27
Wheeler Opera House “Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish,” Dec. 27
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The Youth Art Expo will run Feb. 27 through March 14 at the Aspen Art Museum, showcasing work by young artists from Aspen to Rifle.