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Aspen, Without the Trust Fund

The Aspen Music Festival and School (970-925-9042, www.aspenmusicfestival.com) offers at least one free concert for most days of its duration (June 22-Aug. 22 this year). Also, the classical music festival never charges for sitting on the lawn outside Benedict Music Tent, a great place for a picnic. When they're not free, tickets start at $10.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass (970-920- 4996, www.jazzaspen.com) presents the Snowmass Summer of Free Music, which runs through Aug. 26 this year. Shows take place under a ski lift at Snowmass Village, a few miles west of Aspen, and feature many music styles. Concerts are normally on Thursdays but also take place some Saturdays and Wednesdays.

The gondola costs $17 to ride up Aspen Mountain but is gratis on the way down -- a good thing for hikers on a budget. (Aspen Chamber Resort Association)

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Free outdoor movies are shown at both Snowmass Village and Aspen Highlands (an offshoot of Aspen's primary resort, southwest of town). Aspen Highlands presents its films on Tuesdays through Aug. 31; Snowmass's shows are on Fridays, plus a few extra shows on other days. Details: www.stayaspensnowmass.com/p-summer-activities-movies.php.

The Aspen Art Museum (590 N. Mill St., 970-925-8050, www.aspenartmuseum.org) has free admission on Fridays -- otherwise it's $5 -- and free tours and refreshments most Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Downtown is also teeming with commercial art galleries with great window-shopping.

For aspiring fly fishermen, the Taylor Creek Fly Shop inside Aspen Sports (408 E. Cooper Ave., 970-920-1128, www.aspensports.com) has free casting lessons every day at noon in Aspen's Wagner Park, across the street from the store.

The Aspen Institute (1000 N. Third St., 970-925-7010, www.aspeninstitute.org) has free lectures by distinguished scholars, religious leaders, political commentators and others during its Summer Speaker Series, which runs through Aug. 19. Lectures normally take place on Tuesday evenings.

If you enjoy unraveling the mysteries of the universe, the Aspen Center for Physics (700 W. Gillespie St., 970-925- 2585, www.aspenphys.org) offers free lectures through Aug. 18. Topics include "Einstein in the Stars."

INFORMATION: Aspen Chamber Resort Association, 800-670-0792, www.aspenchamber.org.

-- Ben Brazil

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