This indoor bluegrass festival is a really fun way to get a festival fix in the dead of winter. Presented by the Boston Bluegrass union, it is held at the Sheraton in Framingham, MA, Presidents day weekend. The next one is scheduled for Feb 15-18, 2008. Rooms at the Sheraton hotel sold out with a few hours, but there are still some available at nearby hotels, linked on the festival website . Months later, I don't even remember much about what transpired on the mainstage this year... But like most bluegrass festivals, the mainstage performances are only a part of the experience - there is a lot of off-stage and after hours jamming going on. It is quite a sight, when you ride the elevator and the doors open to a full-blown jam, then you go up or down another floor and there's another one - The entire hotel is taken over by hillbillies, spilling out of people's rooms and into conference rooms, around the clock.
Like any outdoor bluegrass festival, the Joe Val festival features headline performances in a large ballroom as the main stage, plus a few smaller, more intimate "workshop" stages, and bluegrass themed movies some of the other conference rooms. Food and drinks are available for purchase, plus many folks bring their own coolers and snacks for their rooms. Because it's in a hotel, it looks like a conference, but feels like a camping festival, only you don't have to contend with the elements and other hassles of camping outdoors. It is like the best of both worlds.