Tickets to this year’s 31st annual Aspen Food & Wine Classic will likely sell out in early April for the first time since the Great Recession hit.
Only a handful of tickets are left for this year’s event, which runs June 14-16, according to Lori Lefevre, a spokesperson for Food & Wine. Tickets originally went on sale Dec. 12. The festival is a three-day event hosted by Food & Wine magazine and it offers over 80 individual seminars including cooking demonstrations, wine lectures, panel discussions and tastings, in addition to daily grand tastings.
Food & Wine issues about 5,000 tickets annually falling under categories including general admission, trade group passes or press passes, Lefevre said. Organizers do not release the breakdown of how many tickets are issued in each category, she said.
Historically, the success of Food & Wine ticket sales directly correlates with the state of the economy and whether the country is in a recession, Lefevre said.
During the event’s early years, tickets sold out in May, but in the late 2000s they began to sell out earlier, Lefevre said. In 2007 and 2008 Food & Wine had record-breaking seasons when the event sold out in February.
After the recession hit, ticket sales slowed and the event didn’t sell out until the week it occurred. In response, Food & Wine sold day passes ranging in price from $250 to $395 each. Sales have slowly picked up again with the event selling out in the third week of April last year, according to Lefevre.
Food & Wine anticipates the sellout will happen earlier this year due to the economy turning around, she said.
“I feel like we’re confident that it’s a sign that the economy continues to improve,” Lefevre said of the uptick in early sales.
April is the ideal time of the year for the event to sell out, because that’s when Food & Wine regulars have already purchased their passes, Lefevre added. This year, full festival passes for the general public started at $1,150 per ticket. After March 14 that price increased to $1,250.
Volunteer positions are also filling fast, according to local coordinators.
The event has been capped at 5,000 attendees since the early ‘90s and every year organizers consider upping the number due to its popularity. Ultimately they decide that Food & Wine works best with 5,000 because it balances the number of people that the city can hold while maintaining a level of intimacy, Lefevre said.
“We have talked about it, but we think that 5,000 [attendees] is the magic number,” Lefevre said.
Some of the highlights at this year’s Food & Wine include a second annual 5k run, late-night dessert bash and the 25th annual Best New Chefs Party. Two percent of Food & Wine ticket revenue is donated to Grow for Good, benefiting the Wholesome Wave Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting local farms and encouraging sustainable agriculture.