Hot Summer Nights is an event you hear mentioned all summer but not often explained. Hot Summer Nights it’s a summer concert series in Vail that happens every Tuesday night from June 12th, through the end of August at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
In reality, it doesn’t get that hot at night, temperature wise, in the mountains. You will always need a sweater or jacket when partaking in evening festivities. It’s the event that makes it “hot!”
Hot Summer Nights is also referred to by the locals as the Tuesday night concert. This is the signature summer event everyone looks forward to attending and the first one in June is always a “blowout.”
Locals, with their families and friends pack themselves into the seats, on the cool green grass and the social mezzanine area. It’s their opportunity to meet new people and catch up with friends who live down valley or have been out of town.
Faces, I have not seen since last summer or had the pleasure of skiing with last winter, trickle in from everywhere. In the winter, we tend to move in areas closer to home but summer is when that weather veil is lifted and people are on the move.
This event always feels like my 10 year high school reunion where 25 feet from the entrance is about as far as I progressed in two hours. There is a band every tuesday but sometimes its merely background music and what you hear is the buzzing of happy chatter.
For families, their kids can feel safe running around on the grass and zipping between the evergreens bordering the back of the amphitheater. When talking tires you out, stretch out on the cool grass for a snooze.
What to know before you go.
If you plan to sit on the lawn bring your own blanket or tarp. The Thermarest chairs are great because you can lean back. The lawn in on an incline so traditional chairs don’t work.
It loves to rain around here in the afternoon so always bring rain gear or at least a jacket. The seating area is covered by a roof but if you get stuck on the lawn it’s wide open.
Water bottles, they do serve water at the Amphitheater but if you plan on drinking more bring your own bottle and fill it up at the drinking fountains inside the facility.
Forget to bring cash? they do have a cash machine inside the facility and they have one line that takes credit cards but it’s always the longest line.
Bike Valet: They have set up an area just outside the main entrance where if you ride your bike to the amphitheater you can valet it there for free. They have a person in charge of the secured area.
Gerald R Ford Amphitheater Facility Details
Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is a facility owned by the town of Vail and run by Vail Valley Foundation. The facility has covered seating and a grassy “knoll” for people to lounge and relax with blankets and small lounger chairs. On Hot Summer Nights the seating is open but most people congregate by the bars and concession stands.
There are 2 entrances, one by the Ford Park Tennis courts and parking lot where you can park for a $10 fee. This is the East side of the amphitheater. The other entrance is south west of the Amphitheater and considered the main entrance. Here is a landscaped area when the box office is located.
Inside the facility are bathrooms, seats, 2 bars and a concession stand. The bars have an extensive and well chosen wine list. One of the amazing perks is the availability of high quality wines by the bottle for a reasonable price. If white wines and bubbly are your taste, ice buckets are available to keep your wine chilled.
You are able to take the wine to your seats or to the grass. If you don’t finish you can take the bottles with you. You are not able to bring your own wine into the amphitheater- this is against the law with the parameters of their liquor license. They do have bag searches at the door for this reason.
The bars are fully stocked with call and well liquors as well as domestic and specialty beers. On Hot Summer Nights, the beer selection is Bud, Bud light and Bud Light Lime. The reason is Bud sponsors the band, so free concert- drink bud.
Another one of the perks is the food! I’m telling you that the Amphitheater has the best burgers in town! It’s chopped steak and they are juicy and inexpensive. Last year it was $7 for a burger. They also have chicken sandwiches, chicken caesar salad, brats, portobella mushroom sandwiches.
The popcorn is awesome- you can’t miss it. They of course have all the sweet treats you can imagine but I recommend Colin’s Concoction Cookies. They are Delicious and different every time. He puts a variety of different ingredients in them that will delight your taste buds.
For Hot Summer nights concerts the doors open at 6:00 pm and the band, sponsored by Bud Light starts at 6:30.
The three places you can park are at the Ford Park tennis courts and softball fields. Head past the main Vail Parking structure about a quarter of a mile, look to your right and you will see the fields, take your first right past the fields and vere left. You will see the gated entrance and a parking attendant in orange. The fee to park here is $10. Once you park head to the southwest corner of the lot and walk down the paved hill to the East entrance of the Amphitheater.
The other place to park is the main Vail Parking Structure. I recommend this because the walk to the Amphitheater is gorgeous. The parking is free in the summer in the Vail Parking Structure. Once you park your car in the structure, exit the structure on the main Vail side, not the frontage road side.
Lastly, the rugby fields just past Gold Peak and Manor Vail on the right hand side. You can park there and then a short distance back toward Manor Vail is a path down to a bridge which crosses over Gore Creek to the main entrance of the amphitheater.
Once out of the parking structure- Note: there are three main exits from the structure. The west side, main and east. If you walk out and see the Austria House and Clock tower you are on the west side, go left. If you walk out and see the fountain, a bridge and a bus stand, you are at the main exit, go left. If you walk out and see a road, Terra Bistro and Vail Mountain Lodge you are on the east side.
If on west and main parts of the structure and you went left, go to the end of the structure, (which should be on your left) walk across the road, toward Vail Mountain Lodge, go about 50 yards- stop and cross the road. You will see the path that moves along the river. Follow this dirt path and when you come to the paved path take a right, onto the paved path.
Follow that along until you reach the entrance to the Amphitheater. As you walk you will see the playground on your left, an open field, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, Gore Creek, Betty Ford Children’s Garden.
Enjoy the walk.
Quick notes: they do have handicap accessibility parking as well as golf carts that will pick people up from the parking lot and from the paved path on both sides of the amphitheater.