The Agenda: Week of December 26
It’s another great year in the books as we remember a fantastic December filled with powder days and the other good times of 2016. But now have to turn our attention to 2017 and the promise that the New Year brings.
As you’d expect, our little valley is going to be quite lively this week as almost every bar and restaurant in the area is hosting end-of-year parties and other celebrations, including some fabulous New Year’s Eve dinners. There’s too much to list in this week’s agenda, but some highlights stand out. Our picks for saying farewell to 2016:
On Wednesday (Dec. 28), join the local Jewish community for a Menorah lighting in Lionshead at 5 p.m., celebrating Chanukah, the winter festival of lights. This free event features the lighting as well as hot latkes, donuts and gelt. Free, 5 p.m., Lionshead Circle, Vail Village.
On Thursday (Dec. 29), the uniquely talented George Winston comes to the Vilar for a show that transcends boundaries. Winston grew up mainly in Montana, but also spent his later formative years in Mississippi and Florida. During this time, his favorite music was instrumental rock and instrumental R&B, including works by Floyd Cramer, the Ventures, Booker T & The MG’s, Jimmy Smith, and many more. Inspired by R&B, jazz, blues and rock (especially the Doors), Winston began playing organ in 1967. In 1971 he switched to acoustic piano after hearing recordings from the 1920s and the 1930s by the legendary stride pianists Thomas “Fats” Waller and the late Teddy Wilson. In addition to working on stride piano, he also developed his own signature style of melodic instrumental music, called folk piano. If we’re lucky, we’ll hear instrumental arrangements from December, an evocative holiday album that Winston released in 1982 and which remains one of his best works. $48, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 29. Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.
On Saturday (Dec. 31), spend the last day of the year outdoors with Paragon Guides’ Backcountry Ski Club. This full-day backcountry ski trip is the perfect way to sweat out the old and get inspired for an active, healthy 2017. The New Year's Eve tour is the “guide’s choice” but regardless of the destination, expect soft powder turns and magnificent views. If you don't have avalanche safety equipment or backcountry skiing equipment, don’t let that stop you. Paragon has both alpine touring and telemark ski rentals available through their demo center (with hot brands like Dynafit, Black Crows, and Blizzard) along with avalanche rescue gear available for rent (a pack, shovel, beacon, and probe setup runs $20). $99/person, locations and dates vary. Tours depart at 8 a.m., Paragon Guides, 210 Edwards Village Blvd., Suite B107, Edwards.
If you’re still on your feet after a day in the backcountry with Paragon (or not too beat from chasing your friends around Vail Mountain), bundle up and catch the fireworks and torchlight parades at both Beaver Creek and Vail. These fun and family-friendly New Year’s Eve traditions see skiers and snowboarders snake down the darkened mountain in an explosion of light, followed by spectacular fireworks shows. Free, 6:15 p.m., Dec. 31, Golden Peak, Vail Village; 6:30 p.m., Dec. 31, Beaver Creek Village.
After the fireworks, there’s little doubt that the valley will be hopping. Find your watering hole of choice and sit back and enjoy the mayhem. You really can’t go wrong, but we’ll be at the Vail Ale House, where the beer is cold and fresh and the Drunken Hearts play a free 9 p.m. show. This Colorado-based group is captivating audiences across the country by fearlessly serving up a tempestuous, yet honest brand of American music: spirited vocals are infused with electric and acoustic instruments and their well-crafted, thoughtful songs resonate with crowds everywhere. Expect to hear tunes from their newest release, Love & Thirst. Free. 9 p.m., Dec. 31, Vail Ale House, 2161 N. Frontage Rd., West Vail.