An April shower of festivals in Vail |

An April shower of festivals in Vail

Vail offers a hefty dose of culture this month. The Vail Film Festival, the Taste of Vail and Spring Back to Vail run nearly back-to-back over a period of three-and-a-half weeks.Here’s the quick-and-dirty details so you can plan accordingly, and (bonus) sound educated when you talk to friends about the kick-butt end-of-season social scene …

The details: The party gets started with the Vail Film Festival, which started Thursday and is entirely based in Vail this year (movies will screen at Cinebistro and The Sebastian Hotel). Each April the festival, now in its eighth year, brings a buzz to Vail that’s as close as we’re ever going to get to Hollywood (thankfully). Don’t miss it.This year 67 films from around the world will be screened in six categories: features, documentaries, shorts, adventure, student and animated. In addition, the Olympus 48-hour Film Contest is back, and nine Hotel Cafe Musicians – Holly Conlan, Jay Nash, Cary Brothers and more – will return to serenade festival-goers who need a break from the theater.Hobnobbing: Three red carpet stars will be in town to receive awards: actress Kate Bosworth (“Blue Crush,” “Superman Returns,” and “Beyond the Sea”); actor/filmmaker Michael Imperioli (“Goodfellas,” “Law & Order,” etc. and most recently, a commercial for 1800 tequila we saw this week); and Josh Lucas (“The Lincoln Lawyer,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “American Psycho”).What we’re excited about: This year the festival is really getting back to its indie roots. According to the festival organizers, who we met with last week, the movies showing this year are much less about the stars in them, and more about the quality of the films. Amen! We’re especially excited about the opening night films, which include the Colorado premiere of “Super,” starring Rainn Wilson, Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler and Ellen Page. In this action-comedy flick, a wife (Liv Tyler) leaves her husband (Rainn Wilson) for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). When her husband decides he will win her back as Crimson Bolt, a costumed vigilante armed with a monkey wrench, his actions bring him an admirer: an overeager comic store clerk (Ellen Page) who wants to be his sidekick.New this year: The festival launched a new feature on its website this year, allowing pass holders to create their own custom festival schedule, as well as rate and comment in real time on films they have seen.The price tag: Film Fest passes are 20 percent off right now and start at $96. The festival will donate 5 percent of all pass sale proceeds to support relief efforts in Japan. Visit

The details: Taste of Vail, a standard foodie event for 21 years now, returns to Vail the second week in April. It’s an event that celebrates great food and wine and allows local participating chefs to showcase their skills in perfect, bite-sized increments.What we’re excited about: Along with the standard, signature events – the kick-off lamb tasting in Vail Village, the beautiful-and-boozey Mountaintop Picnic and the Grand Tasting finale – the festival has a handful of innovative seminars lined up this year. Vail restaurateur Kelly Liken will lead a seminar at Terra Bistro called “The Art of Cooking with Liquor,” using Belvedere vodka and Colorado lamb. On Friday, three master sommeliers will lead blind-tasting wine seminar called “Taste Like a Master Sommelier.” There’s also a port-and-cheese seminar and wine consultant and big personality Josh Wesson returns to talk about “Is the Price Right?” where attendees will blind taste top-rated wines priced from $10 to $100 and match the price to the bottle.New this year: It’s not entirely new, but there’s a chance you didn’t hear about it last year. The Taste of Vail on Snow is a ski event that allows festival attendees time to ski and spend one-on-one time with local chefs and participating Taste of Vail vintners. Ski instructors will lead the groups on a three-hour morning tour of Vail Mountain from 9 a.m. to noon each day of the event. The group meets at 9 a.m. in front of Arrabelle at Vail Square on the snow beach. Cost for the tour is $50 per person and does not include a lift ticket.Also, attendees should know Vail Cascade Resort will serve as festival central this year, rather than the Marriott.The price tag: Individual seminar tickets range from $35 to $50 per person. Unlimited all-you-can eat and drink lamb and wine tickets are $75 for the lamb cookoff. The Mountaintop Picnic is $125 and the Grand Tasting $175. The Festival Pass is $350 (includes a wrist band for the Colorado Lamb Cook Off/Apres Ski Tasting, and entry into The Mountain Top Picnic and Grand Tasting and Dinner Dance) or attendees may purchase the all-inclusive Festival Pass, which includes all the seminars and dinner for $495. Visit

The details: This year Spring Back to Vail will feature 12 bands in 10 days and of course, the spectacular spectacle that is The Pond Skimming World Championships, which is being held the last day the mountain is open, April 24, also Easter Sunday. This is by far the largest end-of-season celebration to date, according to event organizers.Believe us when we say this lineup is varied. It ranges from the headliner show Train to past Vail visitors Stephen Marley, The Greyboy Allstars and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars.New this year: The festival spans two weekends this year, as opposed to just one as in years past.What we’re excited about: Folksy-roots-rock-blues band Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, who will kick off the festival with a tax-day show. The indie band has been around since 2002, but in just the past three years or so they’re really picking up momentum after opening for bands including The Black Crowes and the Dave Matthews Band. With Potter’s sultry vocals and pointed lyrics reigning over everything, the band hits the bluesy, soulful rock sweet spot just right.Also, electronica project Shpongle will present its “Shpongletron Experience,” a DJ set that combines sampled eastern ethnic instruments mixed with western contemporary synthesizer-based psychedelic music.The price tag: Free, as always. Visit for the complete lineup.

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