Travel: Vermont's spring awakening
Just because the calendar promises spring is near, don't think a trip to Vermont is out of season. While summer hiking, fall foliage and winter skiing are all traditional draws to the Green Mountain State, Vermont offers many exciting events to welcome the arrival of spring.
For skiers and snowboarders, this time of year means milder conditions and longer daylight hours - and that's something to celebrate. It's also refreshing to leave a few layers at home, but don't forget the SPF, because the sun's reflection off the soft snow can be intense.
While snow lovers bask in the glory of spring skiing, resorts enhance the fun with festivals, competitions and more to mark the transition.
At Mount Snow, close your eyes and pretend you're in the Caribbean during the Bud Light Reggaefest (March 22-24), which features a lineup of noteworthy reggae bands. Also check out the pond skimming competition on March 23. A traditional spring event at many resorts, skimming entails skiers and snowboarders (often in costume) attempting to transverse a long, ice-cold pond without getting soaked. The fun continues on March 24 with a duct tape derby, where contestants are challenged to create something out of only cardboard, duct tape and zip ties.
If you're a beer fan, hit up the Winter Brewers Festival at Mount Snow (April 6). It features live music and a variety of beers to taste from more than 20 breweries.
Nicknamed the Beast of the East, Killington celebrates spring with five weeks of music, competitions and fun. Its Nor'Beaster event kicks off with a Shamrock Scavenger Hunt on St. Patrick's Day (March 17, which runs until its Cinco de Mayo party).
There are numerous events in between, with the annual Snoe.down (March 21-24) being a highlight. The all-ages music and sports festival, hosted by the jam band moe., features Brooklyn-based jazz/funk/pop quartet Tauk and experimental musician Marco Benevento this year.
Check out skivermont.com for individual ski resort web- sites to see what's happening for Easter (March 31). Many mountains are hosting sunrise services and egg hunts to make the day extra special.
March kicks off maple season in Vermont, when sap is harvested from trees and turned into syrup. With a name like Sugarbush (sugarbush.com), it only seems natural the ski resort would hold a Sugaring Time Festival (March 16). Participate in a maple syrup scavenger hunt, visit the Vermont mini farmer's market on-site or indulge in maple-inspired drinks and cuisine at the resort's bars and restaurants.
On March 23-24, take advantage of Maple Open House Weekend. Tour Vermont sugarhouses and restaurants to see how syrup is made. To find participating venues, visit vermontmaple.org. Maple season runs through roughly mid-April.