This year marks the 35th annual Utah Arts Festival. Started in 1977, the festival is a celebration of all things artistic, and a great place to enjoy Utah's true diversity. In 2010, Utah Arts Festival ranked 14th out of the nation's top 100 festivals, going up against heavy-hitters such as the Tournament of Roses parade. This is one of my personal summer highlights in Salt Lake City, and I've made a point to attend every year since I've moved here.
The festival celebrates all types of art, from paintings and sculptures to music, dance, and even fashion. There is always something happening on one of the five stages, from ethnic dance to poetry slams. There are screen-writing sessions and a workshop about making your own comic book. Fear No Film screens movies in the library's main auditorium. Along with performances, there are over 100 booths where artists display and sell their work. Jewelry, metal work, glass-blowing, it's all here. The festival aims to showcase all forms of artistic expression, and make us all ask the question, what exactly is art?
Although I love to see the performances and peruse the booths, my absolute favorite part of the festival is the food! Local favorites and high-end culinary artists set up booths to feed the ten of thousands of people that flock downtown for the Utah Arts Festival. Be aware that alcohol is served through the entire grounds. The Uinta Brewing Company has even crafted a special beer just for the event to celebrate the 35th anniversary!
The atmosphere is family friendly, with children's craft and music exploration areas. Even though children are welcome, there is high-quality (and expensive) art everywhere you turn, and evenings are quite literally packed. If you would like to take your kids to the festival, go during the day and leave by supper time to avoid navigating a stroller through shoulder-to-shoulder people.
The Utah Arts Festival website has tons of information on artists, performers, workshops, and more. Before you buy your tickets, make sure to peruse the event schedule to make sure you catch your favorites. Bring plenty of cash, as most food vendors don't take cards, and you'll need your I.D. If you plan on drinking alcohol.
Dates: Thursday, June 23 thru Sunday, June 26
Location: Library and Washington Square, approximately 200E 400S.
Transportation: UTA Trax stops right at the library. Parking is also available in the library's underground lot.
Blue Sky bike lot and free bike valet encourages participants to use emission-free transportation.
Admission: $10 for adults, children 12 and under free, seniors $5. 4-day passes are only $30
Ride your bike to the event and use the bike valet, and get $2 off admission!
Where to buy tickets: You can by tickets online or at the event at five box office locations. Smith's grocery stores usually offer discount tickets through SmithTix, which is where my friends and I usually buy our tickets.