The fourth annual Ride Festival elevated the festival to its full potential. At the base of the mountains surrounding the valley of Telluride we jammed. The ski/recreational/quaintest-little-most-beautiful-town-you-will-ever-set-eyes-on is known to transform into an entirely different world during the multiple fests that call Telluride home, and Ride Fest certainly hammered that point home in the fullest sense. Rainbows during Panic’s set, a campground like the stories of Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street, and an afterhours setting that puts on a completely different mask once the sunlight is gone- Ride had it all, with a lot more.
The festival is held in the Telluride Town Park in the far end of the valley, which is the home base for almost every festival held in Telluride. The ski resort mountain sits as a monstrous backdrop to the main stage and provides the perfect getaway for most recreational sports. A ticket to the festival gets you in the park and the countless off-site venues around town, which hosts multiple after-hour shows.
Telluride isn’t necessarily the most accessible town in America, but that’s really the soul of the town- not the easiest to get to, no outside corporate business, and all local, baby! Festival attendees have the options of flying or driving to town, though major airports are few and far between. A vast majority arrived by car, plane, bike or even longboard, although car was the most notable. Shuttles and buses are also extremely common since there are countless hotels and resorts outside of the valley, and shuttles were a common sight throughout the weekend.
There are endless possibilities for accommodations in Telluride. Since the town is a major skiing hub, the range of hospitality is vast- and vaster than you would ever imagine. Anything from a hostel to high-class condos like The Ice House call Telluride home, and quality, comfort, and price fluctuate from place to place. The Ice House, if reserved in advance, is a great option for close proximity and comfort while the surrounding resorts, although they may require a small commute, offer similar amenities at a cheaper rate depending on the hotel. Advance booking is definitely the key to success here, and sites like Air BnB offer the best possibilities for advance booking, quality, and proximity.
The main stage in the Town Park is the main attraction. Feel free to call it Zeus, ground zero, or the almighty because it’s where you want to be when your favorite band takes the stage. The Sunset Plaza would be its younger, funkier, and more intimate brother. Fans can get down up close to the stage and practically boogie with bandmates on stage, and it provides a slight relief from the commotion of a large, single-stage attraction. Late-nights are the calling for the other venues like the famous Sheridan Opera House, Roma Bar, and the Sheridan Bar, but bands would grace their stages during the day as well. Imagine a town full of stages, full of musicians with music humming from every street corner. Sound cool? You bet it is.
Food & Drink:
Food and drinks were almost as much of an attraction as the music itself. There was plenty to choose from on the festival grounds in the park, and the town, well, Telluride has everything you can imagine. From bakeries like Baked in Telluride and the countless cafes and bars, the possibilities were truly endless. Beer was sold on site at the park along with cocktails at very reasonable prices, and the food vendors offered anything from down home cooking to multiple healthy options, all within reasonable prices.
If the town, setting, people, or food doesn’t get you, the music selection is a homerun. 2015 headliners included Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, North Mississippi Allstars, Moon Taxi, Johnny Lang, and Trigger Hippy. Can you say boogie?
And the nights only held a whole new beast. After-hour shows enlightened patrons with a different taste of the same dish: get down till the suns up, and the Opera House was my place of late-night worship.
Things To Do:
The activities around Telluride and in the surrounding valley were an open highway. There are trails you can take directly from town; you can hop on the gondola to see the other side of the ski mountain; and the mountain biking in the summer is not something to mess with. Outdoor activities is Telluride’s bread and butter, and with a massive ski resort right on the doorstep, you couldn’t find enough time or energy to experience all the fun. Did I mention there are waterfalls and a small river running straight through town? Late-night skinny dip in the freezing river anyone? And you aren’t alone- not in the slightest.
The Bottom Line:
At the end of the weekend, Ride 2015 was a revelation for all festival-goers. From the town to the band selection to the surrounding mountains, there was never a dull moment. And if there was a dull moment, you would turn a corner and there was band jamming out on the side walk right before you. Festival organizers brought the chill feel of the town they call home to fruition, and they truly practiced the mantra of Telluride’s beauty, fun-loving, and most importantly, music-loving environment. Long live Ride!
By: Nathan James