Online Aspen Ideas Festival Returns Summer 2021, With Additional Events Focused on the Economy, Health, & More

December 15, 2020

Thought-provoking series of events will explore the forces reshaping society, global recovery, and solutions to some of today’s most urgent global challenges

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute

Aspen, CO & Washington, DC, December 15, 2020
–The Aspen Institute today announced that its signature summer gathering, the Aspen Ideas Festival, will return as an online event in 2021 from June 27-July 1, 2021. The four-day festival will combine keynote conversations with world-renowned leaders and exciting emerging voices together with new interactive formats for audiences to engage with innovative and provocative ideas.

Organizers are also allowing for the possibility for a scaled back live element of a festival to take place on the Institute’s Campus in Aspen, Colorado, depending on progress on the vaccine rollout and public health guidelines.  Decisions regarding any in person festival sessions will likely be made in late February.

In addition to the summer digital festival, a series of online Aspen Ideas events throughout the year will focus on specific themes. Aspen Ideas: Re$et will take place February 22-23, and will explore how to rebuild a U.S. economy that provides opportunity for everyone in the aftermath of COVID-19 and deepening inequality. Aspen Ideas: Health returns April 27-29; the event will once again gather health’s most innovative leaders and advocates, in an all-new virtual format, to explore the science, strategy, and solutions needed to achieve a healthier future for all.

An additional Aspen Ideas event will take place in the fall of 2021 with a theme to be announced later in the year.

“Aspen Ideas in 2021 will be about recovery and renewal, as we look to build a world better than the one that existed before this devastating pandemic,” said Kitty Boone, Executive Director of the Aspen Ideas Festival. “We were able to bring the festival to more people than ever before in 2020 through digital programming, and we are so excited to put the experience we’ve gained towards a new year-round series of interactive virtual events. We are also leaving the door open for a physical festival later in the year, should we be able to do so safely. However you attend, we hope you’ll join us!”

The June festival will incorporate four nights of programming with new interactive sessions introduced during the day. The overarching theme will be “American Futures,” exploring issues ranging from democracy to science, the USA’s role on the world stage, and inequality. More details on format and speakers will be shared in the new year.

Among the realities of the pandemic-induced recession are the impacts on individuals and entities that have been hardest hit: People of color; small businesses; front line workers; women. Aspen Ideas: Re$et will give voice to a variety of ideas with positive and long-term consequences for the American economy in ways that will offer more robust opportunity in the job market, in business growth, and in growing resilience to future setbacks. Policy makers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and citizens on the ground will engage with these challenges in creative ways that will catalyze thinking about what should come next.

Aspen Ideas: Health will present leaders, experts, out-of-the-box thinkers, and journalists in conversation about today’s big ideas and big challenges in health, medicine, and science. The freely accessible event will feature several hours of programming each of the three days, including exclusive interviews, inspiring performances, and interactive workshops designed to offer audiences an experience similar to the Aspen Ideas: Health in-person program. Topics will range from planet-wide health crises to personalized medicine, ground-breaking discoveries, and inspiring stories from people on the front lines of care.

“We are excited to bring Aspen Ideas: Health to an expanded audience through digital programming again this year,” said Ruth Katz, co-director of Aspen Ideas: Health. “As always, Aspen Ideas: Health will feature the best in the business — those innovative and out-of-the-box thinkers and doers who are driving and re-shaping health and health care in the US and around the globe through their creative forces. We’ll have lots of special surprises and interactive sessions as well. This is an event not to be missed!”

Organizers will build upon lessons learned from successful programming in 2020, as the Aspen Institute pivoted from in-person to online events. The Aspen Ideas Festival went ahead as an online event last summer from June 28-July 2, with programming streaming in the evening. A new event, Aspen Ideas: Show Up, focused on civic engagement and took place October 20-21,  introducing interactive seminars and workshops. Meanwhile, Aspen Ideas Health 20/20 featured year-round conversations with leading health experts, innovators, and advocates.


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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