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Boomers are hitting the road to hear the music of their youth

The moon rises over the stage as music fans wait for Bob Dylan to perform at the Empire Polo Grounds on the second weekend of Desert Trip in Indio, Calif.

LUIS SINCO/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

By DONNA BALANCIA | TravelPulse | Published: August 24, 2017

When rock and roll music came on the scene in the 1960s, a generation of young people fell in love with the new sound. Fifty years later, they have not let go.

Baby boomers are digging into their pockets to see their favorite bands — wherever they may be.

Boomers — those born in the years 1946 to 1964 — want relaxation coupled with shared experiences. They are spending money on learning Thai cooking, hitting the world's beaches, music concerts and festivals.

They're traveling more than ever. Research shows that most boomers have taken at least one vacation in 2017 but may take up to five throughout the year, according to AARP. Those are happening in the summer and are booked with the purpose of connecting with friends and family.

Music is a big motivator to get boomers — many of whom are now in the retirement age demographic — on the plane, and they are almost always attending in pairs.

In addition to camaraderie, capturing the memories of youth is a big factor for the middle-aged trippers. After all, it's the boomers who put concert-going on the map. So, what's the reason for the surge in music travel for boomers?

They finally have the time and money now that the nest is empty.

Desert Trip in Indio, Calif., was held in October and brought out boomers from around the United States, mainly because of its tremendous lineup of Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. Tickets were hefty, with the most inexpensive starting around $300.

The festival was billed as "Oldchella," as it's promoted by the same company that produces Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each year in the same location.

Coachella tends to skew young, but Desert Trip hit the right note as it put boomer travel in the spotlight, enlightening the industry to the spending power the post-40 demographic possesses.

Desert Trip was followed up by The Classic East and The Classic West festivals — which featured Fleetwood Mac; Earth, Wind and Fire; The Eagles; and The Doobie Brothers — drawing big numbers of the over-40 crowd in both the New York and Los Angeles locations. Many of those attending traveled from more than one hour away, and hotels saw a good gain despite the events being held in the middle of the competitive summer season.

In addition to relaxation and communing with friends, there are other reasons the post-40 crowd wants to hit the road: They don't want the sedentary life of their parents.

"It's a matter of fear," says John Espinosa of Santa Monica, Calif.

Espinosa and his wife, Grace, travel around the U.S. if the concert is right.

"I love going to shows, and I will travel to see a festival," he said. "I love The Who, The Stones and a lot of other bands. But one thing is I think sometimes I keep moving because I don't want to be like my parents, who stayed home all the time. I think their health suffered for it."

The success of these concert events has set the travel industry in motion as plenty of new music festivals catering to the retirement crowd are being planned daily.

Hotel and festival ticket packages are sold for a variety of events throughout the country, with many featuring artists of genres other than rock music.

Essence Music Festival is held each year in New Orleans as a jazz-based event in one of America's jazziest cities. Country Music is represented heavily on the festival circuit as well: the Country Music Awards each year draws thousands of boomer-aged fans to Nashville, Tenn.

Music festivals also bring ancillary spending. Hotels see a sharp gain when music events are held over the course of two days or more. Destinations are able to reap the rewards when a fest stretches longer than two days as many boomer couples and groups of friends get the time to take a side trip, sightsee or have a meal outside of the arena or festival grounds.

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