Salt Lake City events range from big ticket concerts and professional basketball games to fun-filled festivals that highlight the city's history or arts scene. Regardless of the season, you can hope to add a Salt Lake City festival or special event to the itinerary. Many of the best festivals in Salt Lake City take place in the summer, though it always seems like something is going on, so it never hurts to consult the events calendar when planning your visit.
While summer is when many of the top Salt Lake City festivals take place, those who choose to visit during the winter instead will have the Temple Lights to enjoy. This holiday season event sees the famed Temple Square illuminated with thousands of lights for most of the holiday season, and the overall atmosphere is one of warmth and joy. The Lights On! Holiday Kick-Off celebration is held the day after Thanksgiving, and it is when the Temple Square lights are first turned on, as well as the lights that line Broadway Boulevard and those that adorn the Gallivan Center. In addition to seeing the lights go on for the first time, those who enjoy the Lights On! Holiday Kick-Off events at one of the three main lighting areas can enjoy seasonal shopping opportunities and fun family-oriented activities.
When people aren't skiing at the area resorts in Salt Lake City during the winter season, they might find themselves enjoying other holiday-related events, such as the Holiday Open House at Red Butte Gardens or the Festival of Trees at the South Towne Exposition Center. The former revolves around handicrafts from local artists, and visitors can buy various holiday gifts or even take a workshop and make their own gift. As for the Festival of Trees, it also features holiday crafts of various kinds, as well as live entertainment and numerous decorated trees to admire. The Festival of Trees deserves mention among the best festivals in Salt Lake City partly because of the fact that the bulk of the sizable proceeds go to the Primary Children's Medical Center.
Summer is a good time to try to catch a Salt Lake City festival, as there are a bunch of enticing ones to choose from. The Days of '47, the Salt Lake City Jazz Festival, and the Utah Arts Festival are just some of the summer festivals that can add some extra depth to a Salt Lake City visit. The Days of '47 celebrates the Mormon history of the city, with the arrival of Mormon pioneers to the area in 1847 inspiring the name. Held over the course of a few weeks in July, the festival employs various venues around the city and includes a parade, art shows, and a special family day where family-friendly activities of all kinds an be enjoyed.
The International Jazz Festival is also held in July, and for music fans, it is worth making note of when looking for fun Salt Lake City events. This three-day event features top Jazz artists, as well as plenty of food and drink concessions. It is held between Abravanel Hall and Washington Square on the southeast side of town. As for the Utah Arts Festival, late June is the time when this four-day arts extravaganza is held at the main Salt Lake City Library. Art exhibitions are at the heart of the downtown Utah Arts Festival, though the event also offers activities for kids to enjoy and live music.
When it comes to the best festivals in Salt Lake City, the Sundance Film Festival is not to be overlooked. While this famed film festival is mostly held between Park City and the Sundance Resort, both Salt Lake City and the city of Ogden also play host to some of its various events. Thanks to the fact that the Sundance Film Festival is held in January, it's often possible to spot celebrities on the ski slopes and at the local restaurants when things are in full swing.
There is a Salt Lake City festival to fit most tastes and preferences, and the same can be said about the city's numerous events. The NBA's Utah Jazz calls the city home, and from fall to late spring, professional basketball games figure among the best events for sports fans, while venues such as the historic Capitol Theater and Abravanel Hall host any number of performing arts events throughout the year. Big ticket concerts sweep through the city on a regular basis, only adding to the possibilities when it comes to Salt Lake City events, and for fans of state fairs, the Utah State Fair is held in the capital in September.
Image: Ellie Sargent