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Salt Lake's Festivals
The scale is nothing like New Orleans and Mardi Gras or New York City's massive parades, but Salt Lake City enlivens its calendar frequently with special events, festivals, and parades that are well-worth a few hours if you're in town.
The festival season kicks off every spring with a St. Patrick's Day Parade (www.irishinutah.org), held the Saturday closest to March 17, which turns the streets green with colorful floats, bands, and good humor; followed by numerous Cinco de Mayo festivals in early May.
Each year on the third weekend in May, Salt Lake City celebrates its constantly growing cultural diversity with the Living Traditions Festival (www.slc.gov/arts/livingtraditions). The Utah Humanities Council started the festival to spotlight traditional folk arts, to offer ethnic minorities a public opportunity to express pride in their heritages, and to educate the public about the richness of the city's many cultures.
In the heart of the city, at Washington Square, nonprofit community organizations showcase national foods, dance, music and art. Money raised goes toward funding each group's activities throughout the year. Past festivals have showcased performing arts from Brazil, Tahiti, Bosnia, Japan, and Norway. Artisans conduct demonstrations under tents and answer questions about their work on everything from Hopi katsina dolls and Tibetan rugs to Tongan mats and Japanese origami. One tent is set up as a crafts market.
The Utah Arts Festival (www.uaf.org) is one of the nation's 50 largest, and the four-day party (also at Washington Square) in late June includes music, food, crafts, a kid's zone, and art that you can purchase, contribute to, and/or enjoy on a huge scale. One year featured performance artists scaling the glass walls of the city's ultramodern library.
Pioneer Park is the hub for Pioneer Day (www.daysof47.com) activities. Celebrate the settling of the valley by Mormons in 1847 with a marathon, a mile-long parade with handmade floats, and an intertribal powwow. There's also a major rodeo at one of the city's arenas. Mark your calendar for July 24 each year.
The second week of September sees a Greek Festival (www.saltlakegreekfestival.com), with food, dancing, and music.
September is also time for the Utah State Fair (www.utah-state-fair.com), which might surprise you with the extent of the state's agriculture and ranching industries. The 10-day calorie-fest has food for every taste, plus carnival rides, concerts, rodeos, and car shows.
Spend New Year's Eve at the city's First Night (www.firstnightslc.org) activities downtown. Dress warm: most events are outside.
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