Winter Wondergrass Colorado 2017 - Festy GoNuts!

Winter Wondergrass Colorado 2017

by Mar 1, 2017Adventure, Culture, Music, Reviews2 comments

Winter Wondergrass in Steamboat Springs Colorado

“Let’s throw a bluegrass music festival in Steamboat Springs, CO at the coldest time of the winter months.” – fake quote from the good people who put on Winter Wondergrass.

This quote might seem like Winter Wondergrass is just a crazy idea – and it is.  But this crazy idea is borderline genius.  (Aren’t they all?)

Winter Wondergrass has been bouncing around Colorado for 5 years, and this year it landed in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for the first time.  We were super happy to be back in Colorado this Winter so we could finally catch one of the most talked-about festivals of the year. 

We were not disappointed.  Winter Wondergrass 2017 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado perfectly showcased our 3 favorite elements of a music festival: the Music, Culture and Adventure.

The Music

Of course a music festival in Colorado is going to feature some of the best musical talent in the land – half of them live here.

We all knew we were in for a treat with the incredible headlining acts.  Everyone expects to see an amazing show every time Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth and the Infamous Stringdusters take the stage. Most of you are finally learning to expect the same (and more!) when Fruition comes to Colorado.

But how about getting high on some Pennsylvania Bluegrass?  Well, Cabinet fans know how that goes, and we’re sure there are plenty more of them in Colorado after those Winter Wondergrass sets! They followed up their killer Main Stage set with some super funky tent sets on the second day, and we sure as heck hope you didn’t miss them.

The Main Stage also featured Steep Canyon Rangers, Sam Bush Band, Brothers Comatose, Elephant Revival, Grant Farm, The California Honeydrops and The Lil’ Smokies.  Every single one of these acts kept our blood flowing and feet stomping as we got down in the cold and snow.

Between main stage acts, we had 30-minutes to warm up in one of the three stages in the tents surrounding the festival ground.  It was a great way to sample some new music while grabbing a beer and warming up for a bit.

Some of the best musical action of the festival took place in these hot little 30-minute tent sets, with high-energy music and lots of surprise guests.

We’re getting pretty used to seeing terrific music every time Gipsy Moon graces us with the stage, and Winter Wondergrass was no exception, as they kept the Soap Box tent warm into the chilly evening.

We were also blown away by the Kitchen Dwellers, whose fiddle player looks a lot like a banjo player we normally see with Leftover Salmon. (hint: rhymes with Dandy Corn)

Billy Strings was, well, Billy Strings!  If you haven’t had the chance to catch him yet, get on the train before it takes off.

We were really impressed by sets from Dead Horses (whose new album Cartoon Moon is a must listen!) from Milwaukee.   Dead Horses also had a familiar looking banjo player – Charlie Rose from Elephant Revival!

The Deer from Austin, TX brought their impressive style of “transcendental Texas folk,” as they call it, and captivated the crowds in the Soap Box tent.

With Rapidgrass, Pickin’ on The Dead, Missed the Boat, Old Salt Union and the Winter Wondergrass All-Stars, there was no end to the music throughout the duration of the festival.

These quick ‘tweener sets really helped set the tone for the festival – giving us a much needed chance to warm up while bouncing around checking out a ton of great music!

Still didn’t get enough?  If you had the energy to keep going, the town was full of late-night music.  You could head downtown and check out some of your beloved bands, or take the gondola up to the Thunderhead Lodge to catch even more jams in the middle of the mountain.

Just when you think it can’t get no better, then it does.

The Deer at Winter Wondergrass Steamboat Colorado 2017
Cabinet at Winter Wondergrass Steamboat Colorado 2017
Dead Horses at Winter Wondergrass Steamboat Colorado 2017

The Culture

Winter Wondergrass embraces everything that is Colorado – snow, sunshine, mountains, craft beer, and the best musicians in bluegrass.

It mixes all of the elements up, and challenges all of the festival-goers to enjoy them to the fullest.

Winter Wondergrass made the move to Steamboat Springs this year, and it seemed like a smooth transition.  Although the festival planners made apologies for hiccups they felt throughout Day 1, we weren’t picking up on any issues.  It seemed they had everything dialed-in and running smoothly from the get-go.

The staff, the locals and even the police seemed happy to host us hippies.

They spoiled us with short lines, warm tents and free beer. They even managed to limit waste at the festival by eliminating plastic, gifting all ticket holders a stainless-steel pint glass for their bevies, and ensuring the food vendors only used compostable serving ware.  Happy hippies all around.

So far this year, Colorado has experienced warmer-than-usual weather.  This weekend made up for that with low temperatures in the single digits and highs never passing freezing.  That being said, the temperature didn’t seem to hinder the good times.  The sprinkling of snow over the festival weekend made for some fun runs down the hill.  The happy hour (translated: free beer) every day from 2:00 – 5:00 would warm you up in the tents before the sun went down.  Throwing on a half-dozen layers of clothing was necessary to survival in the evening hours, but you could turn up the heat with the dancing masses at the Main Stage closing set every night.

Of course, all this bundling up had its side effects.  Everyone turns into bumper cars when they pull their fur-lined hoods around their faces, running into each other around every corner. Trying to use the port-o-pots becomes a bit more challenging when you realize it’s not so easy to strip out of those funky onesies ski-pants.  And if you want to wear the festy-fun-gear, you end up squeezing 3 pair of thermal leggings underneath your galaxy-tights to stay warm.

The culture of Winter Wondergrass was definitely a team spirit.  A “we-are-all-in-this-together”-ness that kept every one of us warm and dancing!

Winter Wondergrass Steamboat Colorado 2017

The Adventure

Oh what an adventure it was! 

And it started with the ride up for some of us, depending on when we left. 

Yup, the unseasonal warmth of the past month left just in time to put the “winter’ in Winter Wondergrass! 

As Leftover Salmon sang so appropriately, it was definitely a Powder Day! 

So we all embraced the shit out of it.

Honestly, what more could you ask for out of a festival if you’re looking for adventure?

Attendees at Winter Wondergrass got to enjoy a powder day on the mountain, with many out-of-towners taking the opportunity to explore more of what Colorado had to offer.  In fact, there were many visiting festy-goers down in Boulder on Wednesday for the kick-off party at the Fox Theater with Billy Strings, The Lil’ Smokies and Dead Horses

The nearby Strawberry Hot Springs added another twist to the adventure of this winter music festival.  Stripping down to your shorts and bikinis while soaking in the snow-surrounded springs of Strawberry was one adventure we’d be happy to undertake at any festy! (Althought the dip in the cold pool got the heart racing a bit!)

And how about a nice long gondola ride up the mountain for even more music?!  I mean, those things are just hanging by a thread.  That’s adventurous AF! 

Skiing, hot springs, music on the mountain.

A colorado adventure to the fullest!

Strawberry Hot Springs Winter Wondergrass Steamboat 2017

You may wonder if this festival would be better if they would just wait until the mountains warmed up.  You may skip this festival because the cold temperatures just seem too much too bear.

You would be making a grave mistake.

Embrace the snow and the cold, bundle up in funky ski pants, take some runs down the hill, dance to stay warm, throw on your whiskey blanket, and reward yourself with a soak in the hot springs when it’s all over.

Then look forward to doing it all over again next winter in Colorado!


Winter Wondergrass Steamboat 2017
Winter Wondergrass Steamboat 2017
Winter Wondergrass Steamboat 2017

About The Author


Festy GoNuts is the ultimate resource for enhancing your music festival experience: the Music, the Culture & the Adventure.


  1. Jon

    Nice article Jason!

    • Jason

      Thanks!! It was easy at such an awesome festy!

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