It’s finally cool enough to step outdoors during the day, and you’re looking for something to do. “Are there any fall activities near me?” you ask. You bet there are. We’ve curated a list of art festivals all across the state, for wherever your autumn adventures take you.
There are outdoor concerts, and then there are Moab Music Festival outdoor concerts. We’re talking chamber music played live on a boat. Jazz among towering red mesas. Sonatas in a secluded grotto — which you discover on a guided hike. “Winds in the canyon” takes on a whole new meaning. Swoon.
When: Mid-August to mid-September
Where: Moab and surrounding areas
Admission: Prices vary, from $35
The Spring City Plein Air Competition is the place to score a landscape painting that’s guaranteed fresh. Artists bring a canvas and paint, then spend a week in the “plain open air” to capture a scene around Spring City.
Bring your lawn chair and some popcorn to sit uncomfortably close to them while they paint. Feel free to boo and hiss when they paint an unhappy little tree. Just kidding, don’t do that. Bob would not approve. Please do, however, spectate the art during the exhibition.
You don’t think watching paint dry is exciting? Watch the competition get real on Saturday morning, when selected artists have a paint off. More cheering! Those compositions will be sold at an auction at 4 p.m. that afternoon.
When: Last week of August
Where: Spring City Arts Gallery, 79 S Main Street, Spring City
Admission: Exhibition and auction are free
Touted as the best and largest indie art event in Utah, the Urban Arts Festival celebrates all the disciplines — drawing, ceramics, photography, jewelry, etc. Talk to the artists, watch street performers, listen to music and dance, dance, dance. This is a great opportunity to observe and participate in Salt Lake’s vibrant urban art scene.
When: First weekend in September; Saturday noon to 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: The Gateway (entrances at 200 S, 50 N and 100 S), Salt Lake City
If you love laughing, weeping or being silently awed in public, you’ll feel at home at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Award-winning, professional storytellers pull out all the stops — there are magicians, puppeteers and musicians, making this one of the most entertaining family fall activities.
Most entertainment is for kids age 8 and older, but the Bedtime Stories event is for families of all ages. Shivers in the Night is recommended for ages 12 and above. Can’t make it? Get an online ticket so you can listen to the tales whenever you want.
When: Second weekend in September
Where: Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point, Lehi
Admission: Full event $45-$75; single day, $35-$55; online $75
Located in Salt Lake’s largest historic district, the Avenues Street Fair began as house tours and antique sales in the 1970s. Today, it’s an official street fair, complete with vendors, an art gallery and music by local bands. The fair officially kicks off with a children’s parade at 9 a.m. Anyone who wants to walk the five-block route is invited: kids, grandparents, leashed pets. Surrounded by turn of the century houses and almost as old trees, the fair still has the relaxed neighborhood vibe that started it all.
When: Second Saturday in September
Where: Held on a different street each year
Nearly 200 artists and artisans show off their skills at Draper City’s annual International Arts & Crafts Festival. There’s fine art, ceramics, jewelry and handmade clothing. While you’re there, you may as well eat and take in a live show. Tired kids will be miraculously revitalized when you hit the children’s activity area for a puppet show and craft time.
When: Third Saturday in September
Where: 12500 S 1300 E, Draper
We know you don’t need another excuse to visit southern Utah, but here’s one just in case: the Escalante Canyon Arts Festival, right in the heart of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. This festival has plein air and studio art competitions for the artists, and an arts and crafts fair and exhibit for the appreciators. There’ll be live music, too — from blues to rock to western ballads. Jump start your own art abilities at one of the art workshops, demonstrations or lectures. It’s a pretty inspiring setting.
When: Third week of September
Where: Escalante and surrounding areas
Admission: Free events, class prices vary
The Springville Art Festival is all about immersing you in art. Take part in artist demonstrations, a plein air painting contest and a community art project. Or make a film submission. Any Utahn can enter a documentary/stop motion/music video — or whatever else they’ve made — providing it’s family friendly. If you’ve been dying to show off your skills, this is the place. If not, just go to cheer others on, nodding knowingly. Yes, that’s exactly what you would have done.
When: Third Saturday in September
Where: 110 S Main Street, Springville
The Utah Shakespearean Festival, the most excellent place to see all things Shakespeare in Utah, is still going strong in September and October. See a play written by the Bard himself, or one in modern English. The free Greenshow, a delightful pre-play performance, will be entertaining children and adults alike until mid-September. Purchase a treat from Ellen’s Sweet Shoppe to enjoy while you contemplate why there is so much ado about nothing.
When: June to October
Where: 195 W Center Street, Cedar City
Need some funky art for your home? Of course you do. Find it at the fall Utah Art Market. There will be the expected fine art prints and jewelry, as well as unique items such as stationery and pillows. Much of it is seasonally themed. You’ll be an art patron without even trying.
When: Second weekend in October and November
Where: 1400 S Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City
Close proximity to the Navajo Nation is only one reason why the Bluff Arts Festival is an extraordinary experience. More reasons: You can learn a new craft in an artist-led workshop. You’ll be entertained and gain an understanding of regional issues at the film festival. You’ll support artists from around the Four Corners at the local market. All reasonable fall activities.
When: Third weekend in October
Where: 3rd E and Mulberry, Bluff
Admission: Free, prices for workshops vary
One-of-a-kind, show-stopping rugs woven by elders on the Navajo Reservation are available for sale during the annual online Rug Show. In preparation, artists are given specific colors to create a piece that celebrates the year’s theme. Those rugs, along with handmade jewelry, are sold as a fundraiser for the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program. Weavers set their own prices; all proceeds go directly to them.
When: Second Friday in November
Art can be inspiring — if only to get you out of the house. But probably much more than that. Discover other family friendly fall activities going on around the state on Utah.com.