Salt Lake City is famous for its nearby ski resorts, outdoor recreation, Temple Square and more—but it’s also home to an incredibly diverse array of festivals, especially in the summer. From celebrating Utah’s unique heritage to the arts to world cultures, Salt Lake City goes all out for its many festivals.
Utah Arts Festival
The Utah Arts Festival is a fabulously large display of just about every artistic discipline. It’s held each June in downtown Salt Lake City. No matter what your taste in art, or even if you don’t usually think you like art, this festival is worth a visit. Why? Visual artists and their artworks, performing arts from dance to music to literary readings, and even culinary artists make sure there’s something for literally everyone — even kids. Bonus: the festival takes place in downtown Salt Lake City all around the Salt Lake City Library, which is a great attraction in its own right (with a great view from the roof) and close to most of the city’s top attractions and restaurants.
Days of ‘47
Photo by Edgar Zuniga Jr. CC BY
Utah is a state with a unique history that’s still celebrated with much more passion than most states give their histories. Days of ’47 is all about this history. In 1847, Brigham Young arrived in Utah with a band of pioneers as the Mormons sought a place where they could exercise freedom of religion. What followed were thousands more pioneers, often on foot, trudging their way across the country to Utah. Today, Utah honors Young and all the other pioneers who followed with this festival, which includes a number of facets—and don’t worry, it’s still fun even if you aren’t descended from the pioneers! The largest events of the festival are the Days of ’47 Parade and the Days of ’47 Rodeo. Depending on your taste, you might also want to check out the Pioneer Day Concert where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs.
Sundance Film Festival is one of Utah’s claims to fame and takes place in nearby (about a half hour away) Park City. If you’re in Salt Lake in late January, take the jaunt into the mountains to check out the full-length films, documentaries, short films and more that Sundance brings with it. Sundance is also known for launching films and indie filmmakers. Just a few of the big names who got their start there include Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, and movies include Napoleon Dynamite and The Blair Witch Project. Check out this festival and you never know what stars you might see, or whose career might launch the year you attend.
Utah Pride Festival
The Utah Pride Festival has grown into one of the largest LGBT pride festivals in the West. For three days each June, the Pride Festival takes to the streets of downtown Salt Lake City with a huge parade, Pride Day 5K, an interfaith service and more.
Salt Lake Greek Festival
You might associate Greek festivals with the neighborhood Greek Orthodox church in your town where maybe you get a slice of baklava after lunch, but no big whoop. Salt Lake Greek Festival, however, will turn that idea on its head as it’s the city’s largest ethnic festival, complete with amazing Greek food, music and dances, including dancers in traditional Greek dress. Mostly, this festival is one big party where you count on eating a lot of Greek food The festival is held the weekend after Labor Day each year at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. There is a small admission fee as well.
Lights on Temple Square
Not exactly a festival, but it might as well be. Lights on Temple Square is the place to visit if you are in Salt Lake City near Christmastime. Temple Square is the heart and soul of downtown Salt Lake and is a religious center for Mormons and a beautiful place to visit for everyone else. Starting after Thanksgiving, the entire Temple Square is decked out in lights from head to toe. Wander the square after dark, take a horse carriage ride around downtown, or peek into the buildings of the square that are open to the public.