New to Boise? Here are 5 annual events to know and love like a local

If you’re a Boise transplant or just looking to expand your horizons, it’s easy to get carried away in the cool cultural events that seem to happen every other week in the Treasure Valley. Here are 5 major annual events worth checking out.

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If you like giant glowing puppets, Treefort Music Fest is for you. Boise’s Colossal Collective helps give the five-day event its cool festival vibe. Idaho Statesman file

No. 1: Treefort Music Fest

If you love music, Treefort is for you. If you love reading and poetry, Treefort is for you. If you like beer, food, film, yoga or more, there is a fort for you. Treefort Music Fest brings more than 400 local, regional, national and international bands and musicians to Boise venues and clubs, as well as speakers, indie films and culinary delights you couldn’t find all in one place otherwise. Meet people from around the country — and from around your neighborhood — at the fort of your choice. The five-day event takes place each March in Downtown Boise.

Now that you’re here, you can go like a local. Sales for passes roll out in September —before any bands are announced — with a limited number of super cheap early bird tickets. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Then you’ll get a chance to snag a “Locals Only Pass” for special price at a two-day sale. The catch? You have to buy them in person at The Record Exchange.

Treefort 2020 is March 25-29.

No. 2. Idaho Potato Drop

Ring in the new year the way you will celebrate much of the rest of the year: with potatoes. In the way some communities celebrate the New Year by dropping a ball, Boise drops a very large (and artificial) potato. Lit from inside, it’s actually called a GlowTato!

The city’s party starts early and goes through the night, making it an event to check out no matter when you plan to go to bed.

The potato itself drops outside the Idaho State Capitol Building in Cecil D. Andrus Park at the witching hour, but the festivities around the drop — a concert stage, VIP tent, snow-and skate-boarding demos, bubble soccer and more — start in the afternoon and happen on several nearby blocks.

And of course, there are fireworks!

One of the most endearing events of Boise Music Week is school night, when dozens of Boise School District bands and choirs perform at Taco Bell Arena. Koju Kimura

No. 3: Boise Music Week

More than one hundred years after it first began, Boise Music Week continues to bring tunes of all types to attendees. The community festival happens each May and includes jazz performances, concerts for Boise school bands and choirs, Church Night, for church choirs, and showcases for dance and other styles of music. The centerpiece is a full-on community theater production of a Broadway musical at the Morrison Center. In 2019, it produced “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Boise Music Week has a century of proud history behind it. Events take place around the city, including at Jump Center, Julia Davis Park, area churches and high schools and Taco Bell Arena. All the events of Boise Music Week are free.

4. Idaho Shakespeare Festival

Even those who didn’t love reading “Hamlet” in high school can enjoy this annual festival. Idaho Shakespeare Festival runs from late May through September each year and produces five plays — from Shakespeare’s cannon and other classical theater and to golden age and contemporary musical theater.

It started in 1977 when a group of actors and theater artists started rehearsals in a horse pasture for “A Midsusmmer Night’s Dream,” a play they would produced in the courtyard of One Capital Center at 9th and Main streets in Downtown Boise. From there, the plucky company had different outdoor venues around the area, including at the Plantation Golf Course and ParkCenter Pond, before opening its multimillion dollar amphitheater and nature park at Barber Pond off Warm Springs Avenue in 1998.

Today, ISF is regarded as one of the finest outdoor theater festivals in the region. Under Producing Artistic Director Charlie Fee, it also co-produces and shares productions with Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater and the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.

Check out Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s 2019 season lineup.

No. 5: Art in the Park

Described as “one of the premier cultural events in the Northwest,” Art in the Park, is the largest fundraiser for the Boise Art Museum. Held on the weekend after Labor Day, the three-day event draws artists from around the Treasure Valley, the Northwest and the nation. There is food, live entertainment and performances, hands-on activities for children and of course, lots of art, jewelry, sculpture, photography and ceramics to be enjoyed and purchased. Living up to its name, Art in the Park takes place in Julia Davis Park, 700 S. Capitol Blvd. , in Downtown Boise. This year’s event happens Sept. 6-9. It’s free to attend.

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.