The opportunity to step off the streets of Boston and be transported to a winter sports wonderland is what organizers hope is the allure of the Snowbound Festival, a reimagined version of the former Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo planned for Nov. 19-21 at the Hynes Convention Center.
Like its predecessor, Snowbound aims to be the unofficial kickoff to the winter sports and travel season in New England. A counterpart event in Denver will be held two weeks before the Boston show, although “Rockies” and “New England” have replaced city names in festival branding and descriptions.
Snowbound wants to build on the long history of the popular ski expo in Boston, which was managed by Bernie Weichsel’s BEWI Productions for 38 years before being sold to Snowsports Industries America in 2019. SIA is promising “multi-sensory, immersive experiences” designed to entertain, amaze, and induce spending.
“This seemed like an opportunity to take all of the goodwill that was built up [in Boston], and create something that could become much larger. We want this to be a destination type experience,” said Brian Stephenson, SIA’s director of Snowbound Festivals.
“Winter Starts Here,” is the marketing slogan, and the vision for the festivals is to begin paying off on that promise the moment visitors step inside. They’ll begin their journey in the “Lodge,” a lobby modeled after a ski resort lodge that will be the gateway to the festival.
Visitors can then proceed to the “Lift” area, just as a skier or snowboarder might after gearing up in a lodge, and find a stage, food options, and a hang-out area.
From there, guests can explore various groupings of festival exhibitors, each called a peak and representing a type or category of vendor. For example, Peak Performance features equipment-related concerns, while Peak Adventure is for resorts and winter travel destinations. In its previous version, the show floor was a wide-ranging mix of exhibits and vendors.
Stephenson explained that a driving force in the creative process was “can we build the experience around going to a winter resort?”
Stephenson, who has extensive experience in the production of consumer events such as Star Wars Celebration and Comic Con, said he is confident the Snowbound Festivals will be held, although final decisions on capacity have not yet been made because of the fluid nature of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everything is pointing in the right direction,” Stephenson said on a Zoom presentation for interested parties and winter sports and travel industry representatives this week. “We’re obviously working with all the venues and the local health authorities to make sure everything will be safe for everybody to come to the festivals and enjoy them with us this year.”
Stephenson hopes ticket sales can begin in August or September, and estimated a day ticket would be approximately $20. He thinks visitors will find it worth the price of admission.
“It’s their party, it’s their experience. We just want to build something they will like,” he said.