A validation study using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Phase VI wind turbine is presented. The aerodynamics simulations are performed using the finite element arbitrary Lagrangian–Eulerian–variational multiscale formulation augmented with weakly enforced essential boundary conditions. In all cases, the rotor is assumed to be rigid and its rotation is prescribed. The rotor-only simulations are performed for a wide range of wind conditions, and the computational results compare favorably with the experimental findings in all cases. The sliding-interface method is adopted for the simulation of the full wind turbine configuration. The full-wind-turbine simulations capture the blade–tower interaction effect, and the results of these simulations are also in good agreement with the experimental data. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.