The Check-In: Hitting the Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit, festival season in Las Vegas, and more

Get ready for some scenic drives and music galore

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.

JetBlue expanding service to Amsterdam

JetBlue is Amsterdam bound. The airline announced on Tuesday it is introducing a new route from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The move comes after a court blocked the Dutch government's plan to limit the number of flights at Schiphol. "This route is long overdue for some competition," JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told The Associated Press.

Red tulips

Tulips in Amsterdam.

Selman Aksunger/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

This is JetBlue's third foray into Europe — the airline is now flying to London, and will start service to Paris in June. The New York City to Amsterdam route will take off later in the summer, with JetBlue saying it also plans on adding flights from Boston to Amsterdam.

From EDM to emo, you'll hear it at these Las Vegas music festivals

Music has always been a huge part of Las Vegas' allure — in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, fans flocked to see stars like Frank Sinatra and Elvis on stage, and today, it's all about the residencies of Adele, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, and Usher.

But why see just one artist when you can see hundreds? This spring and summer, there are multiple music festivals taking place across Sin City, starting with the Electric Daisy Carnival, May 19-22 at the Las Vegas Motorway Speedway. This festival is massive — more than 500,000 revelers are set to attend, with 230 acts performing across nine stages. David Guetta, Chase & Status, and Tiësto are headlining, and between sets, attendees can check out the 3D art installations, glow-in-the-dark spaces, and carnival acts.

The stage at Life is Beautiful

Life Is Beautiful is celebrating 10 years in Las Vegas this September.

Courtesy of Visit Las Vegas

The Life is Beautiful Festival in Downtown Las Vegas will celebrate its 10th anniversary Sept. 22-24, with a who's who of artists from hometown heroes The Killers to Kendrick Lamar to Odesza playing on four stages. This festival is vast — it encompasses 18 city blocks — and isn't just about music; quintessential Las Vegas acts Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, and Magic Mike Live will also perform.

Miss those MySpace days? Party like it's 2005 at When We Were Young, Oct. 21 and 22 at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. The lineup is stacked with the emo and pop-punk bands that flooded the airwaves in the early 2000s, including Green Day, blink-182, Good Charlotte, All Time Low, Something Corporate, Rise Against, Sum 41, Simple Plan, and The Ataris.

Experience live performances in a whole new way on the Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit

The five venues on the Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit are in different mountain towns, but all share a rich cultural heritage dating back more than a century and the passion to preserve their legacies.

The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Central City Opera House in Central City, Sheridan Opera House in Telluride, Tabor Opera House in Leadville, and Wright Opera House in Ouray were built between 1878 and 1913. They were community gathering spots, where after a long day, prospectors and miners could settle in for a night of music.

The front of the Central City Opera House

The Central City Opera House in Central City.

Eric Chinn

"These are truly beautiful places," Maggie Stevens, PR and marketing director at the Sheridan Opera House, told The Week. "When all the opera houses were built, they were warm inviting places in a really harsh environment. We're almost 9,000 feet above sea level and snowy, and miners had a really rough life. It was supposed to be a relief when you walked in — and we want people to still have that feeling."

Opera houses once dotted the Colorado landscape, with 132 built between 1860 and 1920, but many no longer exist. The Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit, launched in June 2022 and funded by the Colorado Tourism Office through its 2022 Marketing Matching Grant, is a way to link and put the spotlight on the venues that are still thriving.

"A lot of people know about the opera house in one town, but don't realize there are others in the state. Some have never even heard of them," Donna Childress with Visit Leadville-Twin Lakes said. "It draws more attention by promoting them together."

"It made total sense for us to be involved with all these other opera houses," Stevens said. "It's such a special thing to be in a historic building, still doing what it was built to do."

The stage inside the Tabor Opera House

The Tabor Opera House in Leadville.

Craig Hensel

Step into any one of these opera houses, and it's "a snapshot of a certain time period," Childress said. All have had some repairs and rehabilitation over the years, but retain their elegant stateliness. The intimate theaters have no more than a few hundred seats, and offer a wide range of programming — there's still opera, but also concerts from well-known artists like Jewel, Smokey Robinson, and John Oates, dance performances, comedy sets, film festivals, and community theater.

"When you see a show at the Wheeler, you don't know who you're sitting next to," Nicole Levesque, marketing manager at the Wheeler Opera House, said. "Everyone comes through the doors the same and sits the same and enjoys the same experience, but are from different walks of life. It's a way to bring people together that's accessible. There aren't a lot of barriers in that it's open for everyone to enjoy, no exclusions."

The front of the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen

The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.

Jordan Curet

In the last decade, the Wheeler installed state-of-the-art technology to bring the building in line with new venues, another reminder that these opera houses are a bridge between the past, present, and future. "The circuit is an opportunity to experience the heritage of Colorado, through an artistic, architectural, and historic lens," Stevens said. "You can do all these amazing outdoor activities Colorado is really known for in the day, and then at night can go and see world-class entertainment. It's a fully realized and complete experience."

Tips for planning a Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit trip:

It's recommended to set aside at least seven days to drive the full circuit and explore the different towns. Colorado is known for its scenic byways (there are 26 in the state), and this is a journey you'll want to stretch out. Also, keep in mind the Central City and Tabor Opera Houses are open Memorial Day Weekend through September, while the Sheridan, Wheeler, and Wright Opera Houses operate year-round.

Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar

Speaking of Colorado, four of the state's most beloved festivals are celebrating major anniversaries this summer: The Telluride Bluegrass Festival (June 15-18), the Telluride Film Festival (August 31-Sept. 4), and Art in the Park in Steamboat (July 8-9) are all turning 50, while the Aspen Food and Wine Classic (June 16-18) is now in its 40th year.

The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is "one of the most prestigious epicurean events in the country that offers a stunning setting beneath Aspen Mountain, and marks the unofficial start of summer in the town," Tim Wolfe, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, told The Week. This event brings culinary icons and innovators to Aspen, where they give cooking demonstrations, sit for panel discussions, and lead wine tastings. 

Chefs at the 2018 Food & Wine Classic

Just some of the notable chefs at the 2018 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Food & Wine

Summer kicks off during the Food & Wine Classic, and it starts to wind down over Labor Day weekend's Telluride Film Festival. It's a "total cinematic immersion," Wolfe said, with the festival working "very hard to make sure that the event is not a competition between films, but rather a celebration of the best in film from the past, present, and looking ahead to the future." There are no paparazzi or red carpet premieres, and that laid-back atmosphere appeals to filmmakers, actors, and festival goers alike, who have to wait to find out what's on the schedule. "They do not reveal the festival program until a day or so before it kicks off, but yet the demand for tickets is always there because they know the program will be epic and provide an authentic mountain town experience in Telluride," Wolfe said.


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