This small town has a big-city vibe when it comes to the arts.
1. The Aspen Music Festival and School (aspenmusicfestival.com) is one of the country’s most respected classical music programs. The intensive eight-week summer season welcomes more than 400 performances from some of the biggest names in the genre, so purchase a ticket to see the greats shine in Harris Concert Hall—you’ll be close enough to witness the strings on their violin snap.
2. Ask about live music in Aspen and Belly Up (bellyupaspen.com) is always in the answer. The 450-person venue is known for bringing both legendary and emerging acts to its intimate setting, where the crowd can banter with musicians, dance under rock stars’ six- strings, and request reserved seating for a VIP experience, complete with dedicated waitstaff and direct stage views.
3. Some Broadway actors spend their summers with Theatre Aspen (theatreaspen.org), which brings big-city talent to a small-town tent. Musicals, dramas and even one-person plays come to life in Hurst Theatre, where sometimes the actors engage the audience itself.
4. From foreign dignitaries and presidential candidates to speakers breaking the internet with their TED talks, The Aspen Institute (aspeninstitute.org) brings global luminaries to town to let their guard down. Attention-grabbing quotes from these publicly hosted conversations often turn into national headlines, but you can see the complete talks in person.
5. Aspen Art Museum (aspenartmuseum.org) board members are a who’s who of the New York art world, and guess what? They spend their summers in Aspen. That means the noncollecting museum’s rotating exhibitions make good conversation fodder in even the most elite circles of arts and culture.
6. Pulitzer Prize winners, The New York Times bestselling authors and literary prize recipients are all part of the Aspen Words (aspenwords.org) speaker series. In Aspen, these writers offer intimate conversations about their experiences and process, often followed by a chance to meet them during a book signing.