Whether you’re actually into snow sports or, like many X Games attendees, just want to catch the all-star music lineup in between sporting events, navigating the X Games can be a bit of a headache. This tends to be true especially for first-time attendees of the popular annual Aspen gathering. The “youth lifestyle festival” has been around for about 22 years, and in the past few its music programming has seen a slew of astronomical acts including Bassnectar, Anderson Paak & the Free Nationals, Dead Mau5, Nas, and Snoop Dogg, to name a few. This year, performances will include three nights of scheduling from Illenium, Alesso, Rae Sremmurd and Bazzi.
If you’re making the over three hour drive up to the mountains for the first time this week and you’re finding yourself in a bit of disarray trying to get organized, we’re here to help. Last winter, the X Games saw one of its highest rates of attendance in its history, capping out at 117,000 partygoers and fans— about 15 times its local population of around 7,000 people. If attendance this year comes even close to that record, you’re going to want to enter the week as prepared as you possibly can be. Here are a few of our pointers to get yourself ready for the X Games.
Get There Early & Stay Late
First and foremost, give yourself some extra time to enjoy the valley. If you can manage to take a few extra days off of your busy first few weeks of the decade, it’s definitely worth getting to the X Games as early as possible. Not only does getting up to the mountains before the crowd mean avoiding an extra few hours of traffic delay, it also means you’ll have time to acclimate and settle into the local environment. Give yourself an extra day on the front and back end of your trip to account for travel time and the 5,000 feet gain in altitude (not to mention your inevitable and equally sizeable hangover). You might even make friends with the locals, which brings us to our next tip.
Look Out For Smaller, Local Shows
While the Buttermilk stage steals the media spotlight, keep an eye out for local shows. Main stage headliners have already sold out smaller shows at the 450-person capacity venue and local favorite, the Belly Up. If you follow our first tip and arrive early, you might even be able to catch an extremely rare intimate performance by the international house music phenomenon Pete Tong. Tickets for his show have yet to sell out and won’t last long- snag yours and the Belly Up schedule for the rest of the week here.
Get To Know The Locals
They might bark, but we promise they don’t bite. Get into the local culture and spend some time at local bars and clubs, restaurants and galleries.
Schedule Your Weekend
Here is the listed schedule for all official X Games events. Even if you’re only attending for the music scheduling, you can still catch some world-class athletic events beforehand to keep your day running. Take a glance at the schedule and spend some time formulating a tangible plan for the weekend, whether you’re going on your own or with a group!
Schedule Your Transportation, Use RFTA!
If you’ve never visited Aspen, Snowmass, or any spot in the Valley, its helpful to get familiar with local public transportation. It is often most efficient to take RFTA rather than to drive, especially when so many people will be in town. Visit the RFTA website to view schedules, find your bus and even plan routes ahead of time. The bus is free and usually arrives and departs in 15-30 minute increments (depending on the route) during the day. You can find the Aspen schedule here, and the Snowmass schedule here.
Over-Prepare For The Elements
This goes without saying, but it is going to be very cold. And if you’re traveling from Denver or out of state, you’re going to need to adjust to the gain in altitude. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink more than enough water to offset this adjustment. Pack enough layers to stay warm. It may even be helpful to bring hand and toe warmers to prepare for the amount of time you’ll be spending outdoors.
Take Your Time & Enjoy the Scenery.
Aspen Valley may very well include some of the most recognizable alpine scenery in the country. During its colder months, it is nothing short of a winter wonderland. The drive into the Valley through Glenwood Canyon is often one of the most scenic aspects of the journey there. Take some time to enjoy the space around you and explore the beauty of Aspen Valley especially if it’s your first time visiting, and have a great week at X Games 2020.