City Guide 2024 | City Guide | Salt Lake City Weekly

City Guide 2024 

City Weekly's 19th annual celebration of all things SLC

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Pioneer Theatre Co.’s production of Sweeney Todd - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Pioneer Theatre Co.’s production of Sweeney Todd

Salt of the Earth
Salt Lake's vibrant arts community adds flavor to the capital city.
By Scott Renshaw

Saltiness is one of the defining features of Salt Lake City—whether it's the body of water that gives the city its name, or the stuff that covers our roads in the winter—so it's not surprising that saltiness is one of the characteristics of the local arts community as well. Many of the qualities that make this place so distinctive, including its religious and political majorities, can also lead to creative people to get a little frisky, a little edgy ... and yes, a little salty.

Whether the creative form is theater, dance, visual art, comedy, literature or even the symphony, you'll find some unique perspectives that come from being an artist in this particular place, at this particular time. Not every place or every work may be salty, but there's a flavor that's never under-seasoned.

Theater
When it comes to local theater with a little attitude, Salt Lake Acting Co. (168 W. 500 North, SLC, 801-363-7522, saltlakeactingcompany.org) feels like the logical place to start. Its 50-year-plus history has prominently included a summer show taking aim at the quirks and foibles of local life, at times with an edge in its voice, but always with a sense of humor. The company's season also typically includes challenging world and regional premieres, plus a family-friendly holiday production.

The Salt Lake County-operated Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (138 W. 300 South, SLC, 385-468-1010, tickets: 801-355-2787), is a home for numerous theater and dance companies, and stages their productions. Plan-B Theatre Co. (planbtheatre.org) occupies the Studio Theatre space, with a season of offerings that in recent years has focused on world premieres by local Utah playwrights, including unique specialties like an annual old-timey-style radio show simulcast on KUER 90.1 FM radio. In the Black Box Theatre, Pygmalion Productions (pygmalionproductions.org) carries out its mission statement focusing on "the human experience through the eyes of women" by presenting a season of shows centering female-identifying characters, from female-identifying creators. Another stalwart of the local scene, Wasatch Theatre Co. (wasatchtheatre.org), uses multiple venues around the city for its wide-ranging program of more intimate plays.

Salt Lake City's largest all-Equity company can be found at Pioneer Theatre Co. (University of Utah, 300 S. 1400 East, SLC, 801-581-6961, pioneertheatre.org), which brings large-scale production values to a wide range of offerings in a multi-show season, typically including a mix of new plays, vintage classics and beloved musicals; it even served as the regional try-out location for the recent Tony Award-winner Shucked, before it hit Broadway. Downstairs in the same venue is the Babcock Theatre (artstickets.utah.edu), which presents performances by the University of Utah Department of Theatre.

If you're looking for the best of Broadway's hit musicals in their touring incarnations, head over to the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater (131 S. Main, SLC, 385-468-1010, saltlakecountyarts.org/venues/eccles-theater). On its stage, Broadway at the Eccles (saltlakecity.broadway.com) produces favorites like Hamilton and Wicked, as well as upcoming offerings like Annie, Girl from the North Country and & Juliet. The Eccles also hosts some of the world's most popular touring comedians (see "Comedy").

Outside of SLC proper, your options are almost too many to name, from Sandy's popular and long-lived Hale Center Theatre (9900 S. Monroe St., Sandy, 801-984-9000, hct.org) to the West Valley Performing Arts Center (3333 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, 801-965-5140, wvcarts.org).

Dance
The local dance scene is thriving, built on nationally respected programs at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. Ballet West (801-869-6900, balletwest.org), which performs at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre (50 W. 200 South, SLC, 385-468-1010, saltlakecountyarts.org/venues/capitol-theatre), is one of America's leading ballet companies, staging the great classical ballets, including one of the country's first and longest-running versions of The Nutcracker, as well as revivals of historical masterpieces and new creations by innovative choreographers.

For those with more of a taste for modern dance, the Rose Wagner Center (see "Theater" above) is home to two wonderful companies: Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company (ririewoodbury.com), showcasing amazing works of modern dance, including new works by local choreographers; and Repertory Dance Theatre (rdtutah.org), dedicated to the creation, performance and perpetuation of modern dance works, including an extensive repertoire of classic dance treasures.

Classical Music & Opera
As we head into the heart of downtown, you'll spot the wonderful architectural and acoustic marvel that is Abravanel Hall (123 W. South Temple). It's the home of the Utah Symphony (801-533-6683, utahsymphony.org), which plays a full season of classical masterworks, pops performances with special guests, symphonic accompaniment to classic films and more.

The Capitol Theatre (see "Dance" above) hosts performances by Utah Opera (801-533-5626), which has delighted Utahns for more than 45 years with canonical classics from Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and more, plus occasional presentations of newer works, accompanied by the music of the Utah Symphony. For classical music on a slightly smaller scale, the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation (bachauer.com) presents an annual piano competition and showcase performances for great pianists at the Rose Wagner Center. And at Libby Gardner Concert Hall (University of Utah, 1375 E. Presidents Circle, SLC, 801-581-6762, music.utah.edu) on the University of Utah campus, you can experience classical performances by student performers and more.

Comedy
On the west side of downtown, we find The Gateway (400 W. 200 South, SLC, atthegateway.com), an outdoor mall which offers even more than retail shopping and great dining options. It's also the home of one of three Utah Wiseguys Comedy locations (801-532-5233, wiseguyscomedy.com), which host both the best of the local comedy scene, including open mic nights and national touring comedians. Kingsbury Hall (University of Utah, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, SLC, 801-581-7100, kingsburyhall.org) also plays host to touring comedians like Heather McMahan, as well as touring dance productions and fascinating speakers; you can also find big comedy names coming to the Eccles Theater (see "Theater," live-at-the-eccles.com).

Film
Utah's film community is a vital one, no doubt fueled in large part by its role as host for the annual Sundance Film Festival (festival.sundance.org), the nationally celebrated January showcase of independent film from American and international filmmakers. While Park City serves as the primary location for festival events, venues in SLC proper also host festival screenings, including the Rose Wagner Center, Megaplex Theatres (megaplextheatres.com) and the Broadway Centre Cinemas (111 E. 300 South, SLC, 801-321-0310, slfs.org). The latter is the home-base for the Salt Lake Film Society, a non-profit dedicated to the finest in film, including documentary and international features plus special programming throughout the year including opportunities to see classics on the big screen.

For a little salty slice of Utah moviegoing history, visit Brewvies Cinema Pub (677 S. 200 West, SLC, 801-355-5500, brewvies.com), which fought the good fight over censorship a few years back in a challenge to Utah liquor laws. Now, you can see new theatrical releases plus special screenings, including new work by local filmmakers.

click to enlarge Utah Museum of Fine Arts - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Visual Arts
Right next door to Abravanel Hall is the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (20 S. West Temple, SLC, 801-328-4201, utahmoca.org), with multiple gallery spaces offering a chance to experience local, regional and national artists exploring daring themes across every possible medium. On the University of Utah campus, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (University of Utah, 410 Campus Center Drive, SLC, 801-581-7332, umfa.utah.edu) boasts a permanent collection of nearly 20,000 objects and showcases terrific touring exhibitions. Many of Salt Lake City's other art galleries participate in a monthly Gallery Stroll (gallerystroll.org), allowing a chance to see new exhibits and meet the artists.

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Kris Vardanega
  • Kris Vardanega

Can I Get a Word In?
A visual artist I'm excited about: Kris Vardanega
By Cat Palmer

Kris Vardanega initially caught my attention with a striking poster created for the conservation of the Great Salt Lake. Subsequently, during a conversation with the marketing director of HK Brewing, the topic of beloved queer artists arose, with Vardanega being mentioned.

Intrigued, I decided to follow their artistic journey on Instagram. I found Vardanega admires female artists such as Hilma af Klint and Frida Kahlo. Their bio describes Vardanega as "an avid birdwatcher, outdoors-person, she has a deep reverence for wild places and is continuously inspired by scientific illustration, tarot cards, printmaking, bugs, textiles and ornate cowboy boots."

I am inspired by Vardanega's resilience as a cancer survivor and someone managing chronic illness, all while spreading beauty and positivity. To witness an artist like Vardanega venture into new creative territories, such as ceramics, only enhances my admiration for their work. While they do love pizza, egg is their favorite food. And her favorite best girl (feline) is Norah.
IG @littletinyegg, littletinyegg.com

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Living Traditions Festival - is set for May 17-19 - in Salt Lake City - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Living Traditions Festival is set for May 17-19 in Salt Lake City

Worth Their Salt
Mark your calendar for summer fun and community gatherings you simply shouldn't miss.
Compiled by City Weekly staff

Arts Festivals
May 25-26: Moab Arts Fest
Start the summer off right with a trek to Moab's Swanny City Park on Memorial Day weekend, and a free-admission jubilee of pottery, glass, jewelry, fine art and more, with plenty of activities for kids and adult refreshments for the grown-ups.
moabartsfestival.org

June 28-30: Utah Arts Festival
The state's biggest and most varied arts festival returns to the City & County Building and Library Square (200 East & 400 South, SLC). Immerse yourself in creativity and take in the artist booths, kids' activities, culinary arts, urban arts, performances by local dance groups and the Fear No Film short film festival. Plus, you can always count on great music from around the country and around the world.
uaf.org

Aug. 2-4: Park City Kimball Arts Festival
You really shouldn't need an excuse to head into the mountains during the summertime, with temperatures 10-15 degrees cooler than the ones that are baking the Wasatch Front. But in case you've been dragging your feet, the delights of Park City's historic Main Street being turned into an open-air showplace for visual art and music should give you the necessary nudge.
kimballartcenter.org

Aug. 9-11: Craft Lake City DIY Festival
The DIY spirit has always been plentiful in Utah, and the Craft Lake City DIY Festival celebrates the "maker" spirit offering a space to display and sell handcrafted wares. You'll find vendors for visual arts, clothing, textiles, food, personal care products and much more at the Utah State Fairpark (155 N. 1000 West, SLC).
craftlakecity.com/diy-festival

Also, don't miss: July 12-13: Utah Foster Care Chalk Art Festival at Thanksgiving Point; July 13-14: Mill Creek Festival; July 27-28: Urban Arts Festival at the Gateway

Historical & Cultural Festivals
May 17-19: Living Traditions Festival
Presented by the Salt Lake City Arts Council, this three-day free festival takes place at Washington Square/Library Square (200 East & 400 South, SLC). Celebrate the city's diversity with more than 90 different cultures and events that promote connection through folk art. livingtraditionsfestival.com

June 1-2: Utah Pride Festival
Party with the state's LGBTQ community and their allies at Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City. You can expect a full roster of events, along with food trucks and exhibitor booths, plus the grand parade on Sunday morning. utahpridecenter.org/festival

June 8: Utah Asian Festival
For the 47th annual event, cultures from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and many more locales gather at the Utah State Fairpark (155 N. 1000 West, SLC) for a huge showcase of dance, martial arts, crafts, food and more. utahasianfestival.org

July 18-24: Days of '47 Celebration
Utahns of Latter-day Saints ancestry—and even those who aren't—celebrate the pioneers' arrival in Utah with a rodeo, First Encampment hike, young woman's royalty pageant, pops concert at Abravanel Hall and the big Days of '47 Parade on July 24, for which people camp out overnight along the route from South Temple and State Street to Liberty Park. daysof47.com

July 24: Uniting Communities Powwow 2024
Formerly the Native American Celebration in the Park, this event kicks off at Liberty Park immediately following the Days of '47 Parade, celebrating those who were here first with an intertribal contest powwow; booths for food, arts & crafts and businesses; entertainment; a children's play area; and more. utncoc.com

July 30-Aug. 3: Springville World Folkfest
Performing groups from 10 countries gather at Spring Acres Arts Park (620 S. 1350 East in Springville) to bring the color and excitement of traditional folk dance and music. Enjoy food from cultural food trucks. worldfolkfest.org

Aug. 3: Pacific Island Heritage Month Kick-Off
Utah's thriving Samoan, Tongan, Fijian and Native Hawai'ian communities begin a month-long celebration of their cultures at Lodestone Park (6252 W. 6200 South, Kearns) that traditionally includes food, small businesses, community organizations, cultural booths, and performers. facebook.com/utpihm

Aug. 2-4: Ogden Pride
LGBTQ Pride activities around the country tend to take place in the month of June in recognition of the Stonewall uprising, but Ogden has always marched to its own drummer. In honor of events being planned for its 10th anniversary, Ogden Prides hopes to expand to a three-day festival at the Ogden Amphitheater (343 E. 25th St., Ogden). ogdenpride.org

Sept. 6-8: Salt Lake Greek Festival
The grounds of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (279 S. 300 West, SLC) again host a weekend of live performances, vendors and, most importantly, plenty of amazing food. saltlakecitygreekfestival.com

Sept. 5-15: Utah State Fair
The Utah State Fairpark (155 N. 1000 West, SLC) hosts all of the traditional attractions: midway games, rides, animals, food and plenty of live entertainment, including John Fogerty and Dustin Lynch. utahstatefair.com

Also, don't miss: June 14-16: Utah Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival in Ogden; Aug. 30-31: Midway Swiss Days; Sept.14-15: Festa Italiana SLC at The Gateway

Theater/Film Festivals
Jan. 23, 2025-Feb. 2, 2025: Sundance Film Festival
A 10-day celebration of independent American film with film screenings in Park City and Salt Lake, giving locals an opportunity to view world-class films, sit in on film discussions and hobnob with celebrities in bars and at events. festival.sundance.org

June 20-Oct. 5: Utah Shakespeare Festival
The award-winning theater showcase in Cedar City presents a repertory of Shakespearean and contemporary plays, many in an outdoor theater. For a full list of the season's plays and schedule, visit bard.org

July 5-Aug. 3: Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theater
Epic operas and favorites of the Broadway stage are once again on tap on Logan's picturesque Main Street, this year including a back-to-back showing of Gianni Schicchi and Buoso's Ghost. utahfestival.org

July 26-Aug. 4: Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival
The annual showcase of experimental theater, dance, music and art gives local residents a chance to see work with an edge that might not be expected on Utah stages. greatsaltlakefringe.org

Pop Culture Convention
Sept. 26-28: FanX Salt Lake
The state's biggest gathering of nerds, enthusiasts and other lovers of pop culture returns to the Salt Palace Convention Center (100 S. West Temple, SLC) for three days of guest stars, panel presentations and vendors. fanxsaltlake.com

Beer Festival (Our Own!)
Aug. 17-18: City Weekly 14th annual Utah Beer Festival
City Weekly's Utah Beer Festival returns to Granary Live and Granary Square (742 S. 500 West, SLC) from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug. 18. Celebrate the art of brew-making and sample from among 250 local, regional, national and international beers and hard ciders. Live music and food vendors add to the festival vibes. See p. 49 for more information. utahbeerfestival.com

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Can We Get a Word In?
A festival that should not be missed:
City Weekly's 14th Annual Utah Beer Festival
By Pete Saltas & Benjamin Wood

Utah is known for its hot, hot summers, and nothing cools a parched throat like a chilled sample at the Utah Beer Festival! And yes, we may be partial because it's our own. Scheduled Aug. 17-18 from 2 p.m.-8 p.m. at Granary Live (742 S. 500 West, SLC), Utah's hoppin'est party will spread out over two city blocks in one of Salt Lake City's hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Before we dive into the details, first, a little history: It was a bit of a gamble when City Weekly launched its first Utah Beer Festival in 2010. We knew Utah had plenty of beer drinkers and that breweries were popping up all over the region. We also knew that beer festivals were very successful outside of Utah, but given Utah's strict alcohol rules, we weren't sure if we could make one work in the Beehive State.

It turns out that Utah had more beer drinkers than we ever imagined: We're now hosting as many as 10,000 attendees over two days. We quickly learned how to navigate Utah's byzantine alcohol regulations and have now grown the event from 10 vendors pouring 50 beers to over 70 vendors and more than 250 beers (and hard cider).

Beer brewing might have been a relatively new industry in 2010, but it's become one of the increasingly vital segments of the Utah economy, not just from selling beer, but also in terms of creating local brewing jobs and hospitality jobs. It also supports Utah farmers who supply the industry.

We're returning for a second year at Granary Live and Granary Square. This Granary district itself was in disrepair 10 years ago. With massive redevelopment and new construction, it now promises to be a residential, commercial and entertainment center for years to come. It is no surprise to us that among the businesses that helped revitalize the Granary district were three pioneering breweries—TF Brewing, Kiitos and Fisher.

The hosts at Granary Live and Utah Beer Festival are working together to bring a post-event concert to the Utah Beer Festival attendees this year. So, stay tuned to our Instagram, @utahbeerfest, and our website, utahbeerfestival.com, for more updates!

So read on to learn how to make it a brew-tiful weekend:

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Get Your Passport in Advance
Find tickets to the Utah Beer Festival online at utahbeerfestival.com or at the door for day-of prices. Weekend passes and single-day entrance tickets are available, with guests able to pre-purchase their drinking passports or refill their punch passes on the premises.

Whether drinking or not, the event is restricted to guests who are age 21 or older. Beer festival passports are required for sampling, and no package sales of alcohol are permitted.

Doors open at 1 p.m. each day for VIP and Early Beer ticket holders, and at 2 p.m. for general admission. The event ends at 8 p.m. both days.

Get to the Venue
Granary Live is located at 742 S. 500 West. Transit is a convenient option, with the Trax Red, Blue and Green lines stopping less than 1 mile away on 200 West between 800 South and 900 South. The regional FrontRunner train also stops within 1 mile of Granary Live at Salt Lake Central Station.

Free bike valet service will also be available near the Utah Beer Festival entrance on 500 West (tips appreciated). Both 700 South and 800 South are striped with cycling lanes, while the 9-Line multi-use trail is located two blocks south of the event on 900 South.

For those who choose to drive, street and garage parking is available in the surrounding Granary district and adjacent neighborhoods, but 500 West will be blocked off from direct vehicle access and guests are reminded to travel responsibly. The area is also close to downtown and served by Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services.

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Get Drinkin'
The 2024 Utah Beer Festival will feature more than 250 different beers, ciders and seltzers from more than 70 breweries, with non-alcoholic beverages also available. More than two dozen Utah brewers will be participating, representing roughly three-fourths of the local beer industry.

Get Dancin'
Granary Live's concert stage will host several live performances during the festival, with music by popular local bands. Other entertainment includes daily trivia and events to benefit a local charity.

Pair With Mighty Fine Vittles
Enjoy tasty bites to go with your beer samples that will be available from a variety of food trucks and the Woodbine Food Hall.

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