How to spend New Year’s Eve in Aspen on any budget
As one of the more unique places in which one may ever vacation — or for us lucky locals, live — Aspen truly offers a little something for everyone.
New Year’s Eve is no exception to this, whether your ideal night involves bottles of Champagne and a glittery gown, or synthetic skins, layers and a little sweat (or in many cases, both).
Says Aspen Chamber Resort Association director of marketing Eliza Voss, “The diversity of New Year’s Eve offerings mirrors the vast array of visitor and locals’ interests.”
From five figures to free, below are a handful of New Year’s happenings suited to all budgets.
THE LITTLE NELL
CLICQUOT CATS ($10,000 for 12 people)
At the intersection of snowcats, caviar and Veuve Clicquot is, of course, “Clicquot Cats.”
A party of 12 may rent a snowcat for $10,000++ via Aspen Skiing Co. and enjoy a short, blanketed ride up Ajax to watch the firework shows at 8 p.m. or midnight.
A server will pour Veuve Clicquot Jeroboam La Grande Dame by the magnum and present a raw seafood bar, caviar, truffle and brie grilled cheese and chocolate-covered strawberries.
The Little Nell’s signature hot chocolate also is available for the kiddos.
Skico’s posh Little Nell hotel launched this inimitable event in 2016, and it’s sold out every year since, says May Selby, the Nell’s director of public relations and social media for the Nell.
The Nell runs three snowcats, which can hold 12 people each, for both fireworks show.
DOM PARTY ($595++)
If $10,000 for a group of 12 seems a little steep for one night, also at our baller level is the Little Nell’s Dom Pérignon Party.
At $595++ per ticket, this swanky soiree is scattered throughout the hotel, with various musical acts across threes venues: The Manhattan Party Band in the Belvedere Lounge, DJ Cyn in the Dom Pérignon Lounge and The Flatirons Jazz Band in the Hennessy Lounge. Brazilian funk and freestyle dancers also will entertain.
Bottomless Dom Pérignon will be served, and food stations staged in the living room. Executive Chef Matt Zubrod crafted a street food themed menu complete with ceviche, sliders, chicken dim sum, pork belly fried rice, veggie pad thai and transmontanus caviar on fingerling chips. Sweet bites from pastry chef Amy Andrews include macaroons, chocolate truffles and fudge.
While “not inexpensive,” Selby admits, “It’s certainly great value considering all of the entertainment, fine wine, delicious food and more included.”
Since its 2015 inception, the event has grown each year, and “truly encapsulates everything about Aspen and the holidays,” says Selby, from the international crowd to the “infectious” nightlife.
Like Clicquot Cats, the Dom party also sells out each year.
“Best to book sooner than later when we can’t pull any strings,” notes Selby, adding that the party often reaches capacity in the week leading up to New Year’s Eve.
BELLY UP ($300)
D.A.N.C.E into the New Year with Justice at Belly Up’s first-ever masquerade ball.
Aspen’s premier music venue always delivers big names over the New Year holiday, drawing to town artists like the Flaming Lips, Chromeo, Jane’s Addiction (pictured here) and ZZ Top in years past.
This year’s New Year’s performance also marks Justice’s Aspen debut.
The show also will be chock-full of special production value, says Belly Up marketing manager Kailee Winslow, and the electronic duo will orchestrate a countdown from the stage as the clock nears midnight.
While tickets were still available by press time, Belly Up’s New Year’s Eve shows typically sell out, Winslow says.
Further, the intimate locale only holds up to 450 people.
Admission to the show is $300.
“Dress to impress in cocktail attire and don’t forget your mask,” says Winslow.
ASPEN 82 (LIMELIGHT) PARTY ($230)
Somewhere between the Dom Perignon Party and the Red Onion is Aspen 82’s New Year’s Eve party, quips Tim Sack, the television station’s director of development.
In its current iteration, the party started in 2015, first set at the Hotel Jerome, then Grey Lady, and over the past three years, at the Limelight Hotel.
However, the shindig truly began “as a party we used to throw for with our friends,” recalls Aspen 82 owner Spencer McKnight.
“We would rent a space and everyone would split the bill evenly. That was really popular and friends of friends of friends wanted in,” McKnight said, leading him to realize that Aspen lacked a true “locals” party at the time.
“After our first year, we knew this was something the local crowd wanted and we made it bigger and better with different DJ’s, new themes, different offerings and it worked every year.
“We set a really high bar for ourselves after each NYE event and it’s been a fun challenge to try to outdo ourselves.”
With an emphasis on the experience, this year’s theme is “Odyssey,” says McKnight, noting, “The space and interactions will create something more than just a big dance party.”
The Limelight Hotel lobby will be transformed into a winter wonderland, with features like palm and tarot card readings, an oxygen lounge, a photo booth, gourmet bites and a premium open bar as well as an ice bar outside mixing up espresso martini’s.
Tickets to the party as of press time were $230.
“It takes a certain amount of time to become a part of the fabric of the New Year’s Eve party scene,” Sack says, “and in our five years we have learned how to refine our product, customer expectations, and perfected the delicate balance between organization and chaos.”
SKI(N), WATCH FIREWORKS, PARTY IN THE PARK (FREE)
For the active visitor or local, create your own party on Aspen Mountain. Skin up the hill for a prime view of the fireworks at 8 p.m. or midnight.
Just remember to pack up anything you bring or break out.
If skinning isn’t for you, the city of Aspen hosts a free party, complete with a bonfire and DJ at Wagner Park beginning at 8 p.m. in conjunction with the first fireworks.
For those wondering, the 8 p.m. show is 12 to 15 minutes, while the midnight display lasts 5 to 7 minutes, says Kirsten Klein, the city’s special events permit coordinator.
The party at Wagner Park is going on more than 10 years strong, Klein says, adding that she is unsure exactly what year it began.
Traditionally, the party sees 300 to 500 people, she said.
Don’t forget to look up — the spectacular explosive spectacle costs Aspen nearly $30,000.