As the last of the snow melts and mountain resorts spruce themselves up for what they hope will be an onslaught of summer visitors, concerts and musical festivals are increasingly finding their way onto the menu of warm-weather fun.
In other words, the hills are alive with the sound of music.
The idea, of course, is to draw visitors to the slopes off season, but also to boost revenue in local restaurants, hotels and other tourism venues.
One of the best known, the Deer Valley Music Festival, has been around for more than a decade, but according to Carey Cusimano, vice president of development for the Deer Valley Music Festival, “The festival has grown immensely since its inception and is a true reflection of the various facets of the organization — both symphony and opera sides.”
The majority of the performances are family-friendly, she said, which casts a wide net in terms of audience interest, and the classical chamber orchestra music and opera performances, which are featured at smaller venues, typically sell out.
Last summer the festival drew more than 38,500 visitors, more than a third over the number of attendees in 2007, according to Cusimano. Of those, about 70% are repeat visitors, and 30% stay overnight. The good news for Park City is that 82% of the visitors who come for the music festival also dine in local restaurants, 50% visit the historic Main Street and 58% went shopping. And because music and sports aren’t mutually exclusive, some 38% go hiking and 10% go mountain biking while attending the festival.
This year the event will kick off July 4 at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater with the Texas Tenors, and other performers slated to appear include Kenny Rogers, Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Broadway vocalists singing songs from Disney movies.
The festival runs through Aug. 9, and lodging packages that include discounts on accommodations and tickets are available at various properties. See www.deervalleymusicfestival.org and www.deervalley.com.
The Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, which is gearing up to host its 41st annual event July 19 to 22, is so popular that festival organizers say longtime repeat attendees are now bringing their children to the performances, which take place at venues throughout town.
And while plenty of visitors camp out during the festival, local hotels, include the toney Peaks, known for having the largest and most lavish spa in the state, and the posh Lumiere boutique hotel, are offering specials for festival attendees. Both properties are located in Mountain Village within steps from the gondola that links the mountain to downtown Telluride.
A newer entry into the festival scene is the second annual Made In Tahoe Festival, which returns to Squaw Valley this Memorial Day weekend. Nearly 4,000 visitors are expected to attend the festival, which will include live music from local acts along with art and culinary attractions.
“Tahoe is home to so many talented entrepreneurs, philanthropists and artists that bring endless enthusiasm and passion to our region,” said Sean Kristl, marketing manager for Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, two Tahoe resorts that recently joined under one ownership. “It’s exciting to host an event that celebrates our local businesses and talent, while also helping them expand their reach.”
The Made In Tahoe Festival officially kicks off the beginning of summer operations at Squaw Valley, including the opening of Squaw’s Aerial Tram, which will operate all summer season.
Resorts on the East Coast are also getting musical, according to Sarah Wojcik of Ski Vermont.
“Music events at resorts are a growing trend and are successful summer events,” she said.
“Some resorts in Vermont are investing in that success by developing performance spaces such as Stowe Performing Arts Center and Jay Peak's new amphitheater. Musical performances are also paired with larger festivals like Stratton's Wanderlust yoga festival,” Wojcik said, noting that the events are always held on a stage with a backdrop of the green mountains.
Of course, boosting revenue isn’t the only reason to bring music to the mountains, according to Andreas Bang of Tourism Whistler.
This year Whistler is poised to launch an inaugural Go Fest May 16 to 19 to kick off the summer season, featuring free concerts with local bands and DJs.
“Concerts and music festivals are valuable in bringing a diverse range of visitors to the resort — it depends on the artist as to the demographic — but at the same time they’re also an important part of the guest experience for those who are already here,” Bang said, adding: “It’s not just about bringing people. It’s also about entertaining them once they’re here, even if they didn’t know the concert was happening.”