How to save your place at the West's most popular events and destinations
Ever notice that the same year you resolve to eat better, someone in your house joins the Dessert of the Month Club? No wonder New Year's resolutions have a short shelf life - they're too easily sabotaged, or they're simply no fun. But here's a great resolution that the whole family will help you keep: plan now to make the scene at some of the coming year's hottest events and destinations.
We've put together a list of 1999's hottest tickets: nearly 20 festivals, sports events, performances, and destinations to remind you what's great about life in the West. Events included here fall into two categories: those with limited numbers of tickets and those limited because lodging fills up quickly. Both types call for planning as far in advance as possible.
If, like many of us, you can't plan far ahead, call anyway. When an event is sold out, you may still find tickets through travel agents or hotels offering special packages. And don't give up on lodging; even in the peak summer season, cancellations offer a surprising number of opportunities, especially if you're persistent and your travel dates and lodging preferences are flexible. Just be sure to get a confirmation number once you get that reservation.
* January 1. TOURNAMENT OF ROSES PARADE. Pasadena. Plan now for next year. Grandstand seating means you don't have to camp out on Colorado Boulevard and you get a parking space. 1999 prices are $27-$60; parking $15. (Tip: Midrange seats are just as good as the most expensive ones.) Ticket sales begin in February, good seats are gone by April; (626) 795-4171.
* January 21-31. SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. Park City, UT. Ten days of shorts, documentaries, and feature films by independent filmmakers from all over the world. Catch the seminars and parties, too. Single-show tickets are still available for this year, but festival packages are probably sold out. Tickets for regular screenings $8, premieres $10; event packages from $200. Call in September for a brochure. Ticket packages go on sale in November, general tickets in January; (801) 328-3456 or www.sundance.org.
* January 29-February 7. WINTER CARNIVAL. McCall, ID. You can still enjoy this year's Snowflake Ball, snowmobile and sled dog races, ice sculptures, and parades; the hard part will be finding a room. Reserve lodging 3 to 5 months ahead; (888) 844-3246 or www.inidaho.com.
* January 30-February 14. WORLD ALPINE SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS. Vail, CO. Rooms in Vail Valley are still available. See champion downhill, slalom, and super-G skiers, tackle the slopes yourself, or attend a street party, down-home rodeo, or classical concert. Most seats, even at the finish line, are free. Book lodging now; (800) 482-4599 or www.vail99.com. Event information; (888) 754-1999.
* February-October. OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL. Get thee to Ashland, Oregon, and quick. Eleven plays - four from the Bard, others from classic and contemporary playwrights - run February through October. Tickets $28-$39, off-season shows leave a little more gold in thy purse. Book weekend summer shows 4 to 5 months ahead, spring and fall shows 2 months ahead; (541) 482-4331 or www.orshakes.org.
* April-November. GEORGIA O'KEEFFE HOUSE AND STUDIO TOUR. Abiquiu, NM. See O'Keeffe's work at her namesake Santa Fe museum (505/995-0785), then visit the home where she lived and painted. Open Tue, Thu, and Fri; $20. Book spring and summer tours 4 to 5 months ahead, fall 2 to 3 months ahead; (505) 685-4539.
* April-December. RAMSEY CANYON PRESERVE. Hereford, AZ. The canyon is currently closed (except to overnight guests) for a major creek restoration, but will reopen this spring. Numerous birds and 14 species of hummingbirds migrate through here during April, May, and August. Lodging is available at Ramsey Canyon Inn (from $105) and two housekeeping duplexes …