The Food & Wine Classic is a food-centric festival presented by Food & Wine Magazine. It takes place in Aspen, Colorado every year and is considered the start of the Aspen summer season. The event has been held annually since 1986. The breathtaking setting acts as the perfect backdrop for all the food and wine-related proceedings.
Visitors travel to Aspen from all over the country and the world to enjoy cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, talks by culinary luminaries, panel discussions, and a world-renowned cooking competition. The event also features music concerts by well-known musicians and bands. All the festivities take place over a period of three or four days.
Guests get the chance to mingle with celebrity chefs, actors, athletes, and musicians. The food festival has close ties with the reality television series "Top Chef." The winner of the show is featured in Food & Wine Magazine, and also gets awarded a trip to Aspen for the event.
Celebrity chefs and winemakers like Bobby Flay, Andrew Zimmern, Carla Hall, Gail Simmons, Curtis Stone, Martha Stewart, Marcus Samuelsson, Ruth Reichl, Sheldon Simeon, Nina Compton, and Rick Bayless have been a part of the festival in the past. In 2012, the Food & Wine Classic celebrated its 30th anniversary.
There are various customer and trade packages available. The customer passes include access to five tastings in the Grand Tasting Pavilion, food, wine and spirit samples and the ability to pre-register for seminars. The customer and trade passes cost about $1600 if purchased in advance.
You also have the option of opting for a Platinum pass which will get you additional perks like invitations to exclusive events and private tastings. Tickets to individual events like collaboration dinners can be purchased separately. Take a look at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen for more information on passes and pricing.
Food and Wine Classic events take place in hotels and specially set up tents at the center of Aspen. Wagner Park is the location of the Grand Tasting Pavilion. The drive to Aspen is as beautiful as the town itself. If you’re driving in from Denver, you can get there via the scenic Independence Pass, which is accessible only during the warmer months. This route is easily enjoyed as it travels through the forest lands of Colorado, but keep in mind that it is all mountainous terrain, but it is paved.
Larger rigs may prefer to take I-70 to connect with I-82. Leave early and take your time enjoying the scenery as you make your way to Wagner Park. Always be prepared for surprise snowfall, even in the summer months. Keep an eye out for rockslides, especially if rain makes its way into your day.
Parking spots can be hard to find on the days of the event. Paid parking for cars will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis in lots close to the various venues where the events take place. Metered street parking is also an option, although it may be tricky to find an available spot. Cars can be parked on the street, but RVs cannot be accommodated per city guidelines. You'll need to find an RV friendly lot or simply park your rig at your campsite and head to the event using public transportation.
Aspen is small in size, which makes it easy to navigate on foot. Busses operated by the Roaring Fork Transit Agency (RTFA) run throughout the town. Additionally, free in-town shuttle services are available to visitors. The various taxi and ride-hailing services are also a convenient way to get around.
The Food and Wine Classic does not offer onsite camping options. Fortunately, there are a number of campgrounds and RV parks nearby where you enjoy a comfortable camping experience in Aspen.
Although Aspen can be a bit pricey, you’ll find RV parks and campgrounds for every budget in the area. A campsite that comes highly recommended by other RVers is the Little Mattie Campground in White River National Forest. It has beautiful, forested sites that are accessible with a large RV. Carbondale / Crystal River KOA also sits about 45 minutes to the northwest of Wagner Park, offering amenities and outdoor refreshment amongst the gorgeous view that make the region memorable.
The best way to get around is by walking from one venue to the next. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes since you’re likely to be on your feet all day. There are plenty of accessible pathways throughout the town. Patrons with disabilities will be able to use scooters and wheelchairs to get around the streets of Aspen and between locations for the Food and Wine Classic.
You can’t grow wrong with casual attire for the daytime like shorts, jeans, sundresses or shirts. The night time events tend to be dressier occasions, so evening dresses and trousers are ideal. Some of the venues have grass-covered areas, so flats may be a better option than heels. Wearing layers is recommended to stay warm through the cold nights.
Aspen is high up in the Rockies, so it’s important to go prepared for the altitude. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are essentials since the sun’s rays tend to be harsher. The nights can be chilly to be sure to carry a lightweight jacket, sweater or coat and store extra blankets in your RV.
You will tend to get dehydrated faster at a higher altitude, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. This is even more important if you plan on sampling some of the delicious wines and other alcoholic drinks on offer. Smoking is not allowed at any of the venues or events.
If you need a break from all the delicious food on offer, you can always whip up a quick meal in your RV. Make sure you have enough fuel and stock your fridge with your favorite produce before starting on your trip. If you plan on cooking meals over a campfire, check if a burn ban is in effect before lighting up. Remember to make your purchases prior to arriving in the area; you will find great delights in the area, but grocery options may be more limited along the mountainous pathways.
Whether you’re in the mood for a multi-course meal or a quick bite, there are plenty of bistros, restaurants, pubs, and cafes to choose from in Aspen. Be sure to indulge in some of the delicious classic French food. Visitors will also get the chance to explore other cuisines like Thai and Japanese.
Guests can enjoy some truly exquisite culinary treats at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. There will be tents filled with delectable food and drinks for you to sample. You can indulge in unique experiences like dining on top of a mountain or trying dishes cooked by top chefs at the cooking demonstrations.
Private security personnel, as well as public officers, will provide security for the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. Avoid carrying prohibited items like outside alcohol or firearms into the tents as these will be confiscated. Anyone who is overly intoxicated or disrupting the proceedings in any way will be escorted out of the venue.
The weather is often warm and sunny in Colorado in the summer. However, it can change quickly and drastically in the mountains. Go prepared for occasional afternoon showers and even sudden downpours. Be sure to check if any road or weather alerts have been issued in the Pitkin County area before starting on your trip.
If you have a medical emergency, you may be rushed to the nearest hospital, which is about two miles from Wagner Park. Patrons with special medical needs can write to the organizers in advance for information and requests. The event is only open to guests above the age of 21. Certified service animals will be allowed into the venues.