Be A VIP At Jazz Aspen Snowmass

Get tickets to one of the most decadently opulent tent-and-patio areas existing.
Sting will be performing at JAS Aspen on August 31. Photo: Carter B Smith

By Steve Garbarino

With the Elk Mountain Range as its spectacular backdrop, the city of Aspen has for 32 years now hosted its annual Labor Day music festival. Over that time, the stages at Snowmass Town Park have seen the likes of Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Tony Bennett, The Black Eyed Peas, Steve Winwood, Stevie Nicks, Keith Urban and countless other iconic performers. This August 30 through September 1 at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) Labor Day Experience, Sting, Brandi Carlile and Tim McGraw join the ranks of those estimable headliners.

At left and center stage, as close as 30 feet from the mics, guests can indulge in one of the most decadently opulent VIP tent-and-patio areas existing. At the boutique-sized festival, 2,000 VIP ticket holders, among about 10,000 attendees annually, will get to indulge in five-star fest food, a bottomless supply of cocktails and up-close-and-personal views of their favorite musicians. 

A three-day pass costs $3,000 for silver level; gold ($3,500-$4,200) gets you seats “thisclose” to the stage. The latter consists of about 100 seat holders (though most are standing throughout). Cuisine, including a full-course dinner and dessert buffet, is served to the tables, with all-day rotating skewers and small plates. No lines: The fare lands with the drinks. Intermissions are often an hour or more for those to sup it in, hand-clap thereafter.

Last year, the three-day menus balanced easy-to-carry comfort yums (burgers, dogs, charcuterie and the like) with sit-down haute cuisine—the majority of which leaned toward regional farm-to-table green picks and meaty cuts. Down on the “farm,” VIP guests can select from items such as confit duck breast and Boulder Natural Chicken roulade. Despite its landlocked location, some of the standout fare comes from the sea: poached Gulf prawn, lobster crab cakes, pan-seared scallops. And back in the valley, the butchery cuts include Nieslanik Beef’s grass-fed hanger steak and chef-carved porchetta. Elk Camp rotisserie chicken and fire-roasted shrimp brochette are favorites for a white tablecloth dinner.

Among some of the tastiest JAS performance moments: During the Saturday night of the 2017 festival, according to festival founder Jim Horowitz, Keith Urban took the stage under darkening skies. “The mood was, shall we say, under the weather,” Horowitz says. “Keith played with his band for about 30 minutes, and then it started to lightly rain. Umbrellas and parkas came about, but nobody left. Suddenly, Keith turned to his band and said, ‘I don’t want any of you to get electrocuted, so just get off the stage and I will take over from here.’ And then he proceeded to play a one-hour solo set—each and every song had the word ‘rain’ in the title—and every version was as personal and memorable as you could imagine. He cast a spell over the crowd. It kept raining lightly, by the way, never stopped. I don’t think a single person left until the last note. It was sheer magic. He turned likely disappointment into a triumph. In the end, one of the best days at JAS, ever.”

Last year, the festival hosted Foo Fighters. “Speaking of evolving, they were a current band who routinely fill stadiums worldwide,” says Horowitz. “When you consider their average crowd is 50,000, you start to appreciate just what JAS has become, all happening in this pristine little valley.”

Horowitz, a former pianist, says that the nonprofit event, which raises money for music education, “evolves yearly. It’s a snowball effect, and just keeps growing.” The festival is so anticipated nationwide that 50 percent of the crowd is out-of-towners. Oh, and that VIP pass is largely tax deductible.

For more information and to purchase advance tickets, go to