The summer art scene in Vail is unique, as there is no need to leave the exquisite outdoors with perfect weather and vistas to enjoy music of all types and incredible outdoor art. For those who will compromise a little, there are inviting galleries to stroll and intimate indoor music venues. By Ann Zimmerman

Vail is an outdoorsy place, and a summer destination for outdoor enjoyment. But, most people who enjoy outdoor recreation and a scenic setting are also drawn to the cultural arts. So what about finding entertainment and enrichment outside? There’s plenty do, especially musical events, as true to song the sentimental song lyric, the hills do come alive with the sound of music.

This is the 25th season for Bravo! Vail Music Festival, and the six-week season extends from June 25th through August 4th. The festival began small with just chamber music, but now three major orchestras—the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic— participate along with chamber musicians, composers, and new ensembles. Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott celebrates her second year as director, and she will take the stage to perform numerous times during the festival. Highlights for the 25th anniversary season include Silver Medallion Concerts, the Silver Oak Series at Vail’s Donovan Pavilion, and Big Music for Little Bands, a return to the festival’s chamber music roots. The large venue for the symphonic events is the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, an outdoor concert hall with covered seating for 1,260 guests and additional space for 1,300 on a grassy hillside. Events over the six-week festival occur in other venues as well, including the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

The Vilar Performing Arts Center is a 530-seat theater that offers year-round performances that is owned and operated by the Vail Valley Foundation. True, this theater is indoors, but this summer the Foundation presents a screaming lineup at the theater that includes Al Green; the Dukes of September, a boomer super group comprised of Michael McDonald, Donald Fagen, and Boz Scaggs; Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band; k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang; Nanci Griffith; Creedence Clearwater Revisited; Diana Krall; and others, including Legally Blonde, The Musicalby VPAA. Saturday, September 8th wraps up the summer season with the Beaver Creek Music Experience Series Grand Concert featuring Soul Rebels, Great American Taxi, and the New Orleans legend, Dr. John. It is worth checking out the display of 17th and 18th century architectural watercolors in the Vilar’s lobby.

Not all the musical entertainment requires a ticket, and there are plenty of free outdoor events to choose from. Every Tuesday starting June 14th and extending through August 30th, the Bud Light Hot Summer Night concert series offers a show starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater with a variety of offerings; the local community calendars post the bands. The jazz is free at the Vail Farmers’ Market and Art Show on Sundays from noon to 3:00 p.m. from June 26th through August 28th. This year there is a tent at Solaris on Meadow Drive in Vail Village. Also, the Arrabelle Hotel at Vail Square hosts more free jazz concerts rain or shine on Thursday evenings between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays from July 7th through September 1st.

For serious jazz lovers, there is more. The Vail Jazz Foundation pulls together a full program with the 18th Annual Vail Jazz Festival Labor Day Weekend Party August 30th through September 3rd. Performances start early and run to late night jam sessions. Locations and start times vary, so check the schedule, which also details individual performers.

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater hosts EXPERIENCE The Love of Soul, the Vail Soul Music Fest over three days and two nights, Friday August 17th through Sunday August 19th, when it ends with a jazz and gospel brunch. Performances will range from rhythm & blues, conscious hip-hop, alternative rock,

Anyone care for dance? The 2012 Vail International Dance Festival opens Sunday July 29th and runs through Sunday, August 11th with performances at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail and Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek and additional community events held in streets and villages throughout the Vail Valley. It’s an opportunity to see the New York City Ballet MOVES (a select group of 25 performers that made its formal debut last year in Vail), the Martha Graham Dance Company, ballroom dancers, and a variety of dance superstars.

Vail’s neighbor Aspen doesn’t have a monopoly on discussing important ideas. ELEVATE, the Vail 2012 global symposium runs September 25th through 27th. The symposium is targeted to those committed to creating and sustaining special places, and it will gather an international faculty of noteworthy speakers and panelists at the Sebastian Hotel.

In Vail Valley, it is possible to see 35 outdoor art pieces in mediums ranging from bronze, steel, ceramic tile, found stone, concrete, glass, wood and others just by going on a treasure hunt for public art. Some locations are predictable like Vail Village and local parks, but to see them all download a directory and directions from www.artinvail.com, or join the hour-long Wednesday walking tour June 20th through August 29th (excluding July 4th). The tour meets up at the Vail Village Information Center on the top level of the parking structure. Every treasure hunt has gems, and this tour stops at a sculpture by husband and wife artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. A nearby Vail Village destination discussed during the tour is the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, which visitors consistently rank as a must-see.

Finally, the art of horticulture is often overlooked, but the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is a must-see. At an elevation of 8,200 feet, it is the highest public botanical garden display in North America, and a place to appreciate tranquility, views to the mountains, and the hearty plants that can survive such extremes. The gardens open at dawn and close at dusk, and are at their height from mid-June through August.

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