’Shift happens,’ Snowmass organizers adapt | AspenTimes.com

’Shift happens,’ Snowmass organizers adapt

Socially distanced activities on deck for peak holiday season

Construction on the lighting installments for the Snowmass Luminescence light festival in Snowmass Village on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello has a saying: “Shift happens.”

And in a year when nearly every aspect of tourism and mountain recreation has been altered in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, “shift continues to happen in Snowmass,” Abello said.

Amid changing health restrictions and an uncertain winter season, Snowmass Tourism took the lead on adapting winter programming to ensure that visitors and locals alike can still enjoy the off-mountain experience (this year, with masks on and extra distance between groups).

“How much could we shift to keep more options available, more fun, more activities rather than events?” Abello said. “It’s looking like we are going to be able to present quite a robust and entertaining calendar.”

Snowmass Tourism partnered with a number of local organizations — from the Aspen Skiing Co. to East West Partners to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies — to bring “DIY,” self-guided activities to the village this season.

“We are very mindful of how ever-changing our environment is,” Abello said. With COVID-19 safety in mind, these “pockets” of activity will be “engaging, but for snippets of time” to mitigate crowding.

The result is a full slate of free programming that begins in earnest this week, with some new offerings and other familiar ones modified from years past. For a complete calendar of events, visit gosnowmass.com.


The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies launched its first free guided nature treks from the Snowmass Mall on Dec. 14. Snowshoes and stabilizers are available at no cost to attendees; tours depart daily at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. from the ticket pavilion in the Snowmass Mall to explore the Nature and Sleighride trails.

The route is approximately 2 miles long on groomed and boot-packed trails; terrain is moderate but the treks will be at a relaxed pace.

This is the first year that ACES treks will be available at no cost to attendees on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations are required. Paid Snowshoe Tours at Elk Camp also will be available, and free ski tours will launch soon from the top of the Elk Camp chairlift; a lift ticket is required to participate in ski tours.


Local artist Thomas Barlow brings his chainsaw-wielding skills and eye for detail to the Snowmass Mall and Base Village beginning Wednesday with live ice sculpting demonstrations and sculptures that will evolve throughout the season.

Village regulars will recognize Barlow’s work from previous years, when he created installations for the Snowmass 50th anniversary celebration. The ongoing demonstrations are new this year, creating different shapes and designs as the ice melts.

Sculptures will include a full-size gondola cab, snowflakes primed for selfie-taking and ice animals; demonstrations occur on the Snowmass Mall every other Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m.


Snowmass Luminescence promises an immersive art experience this winter. The marquee event is the result of a collaboration among Aspen Skiing Co., Snowmass Tourism and a number of local organizations and international artists. Organizers will flip the switch at sunset Friday, activating a series of interactive light installations to create an illuminated walkway up Fanny Hill.

The walkway will function as an alternative to the SkyCab Gondola, connecting Base Village to the Snowmass Mall on the side of the hill closest to Wood Road. “Submergence,” an immersive light experience by the artist collective Squidsoup, also will debut Dec. 18, and Anderson Ranch Arts Center will display lights on its campus, as well. Another installation, “Prismatica” by Creos and Raw Design, joins the lineup in February.

Snowmass Luminescence will occur daily from sunset to 9 p.m. through Feb. 28.


Slow Groovin’ option from the Snowmass Mall.
Kaya Williams / Snowmass Sun

Snowmass S’mores are back in the Snowmass Mall and Base Village this year — with a few modifications from years past.

Snowmass Tourism has partnered with Slow Groovin’ Chophouse in the Snowmass Mall and mix6 in Base Village to create pre-packaged, single-serve s’mores available daily at 3:30 p.m. Slow Groovin’ presents the “S’mores Bar,” featuring a chocolate graham cracker crust with layers of rice crispy treat, toasted marshmallow and chocolate drizzle; mix6 will offer a “S’mores Cup” with chocolate ganache.

“I’m particularly pleased how we were able to do this,” Abello said. “We wanted to keep that tradition alive.”



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