Summer in Sun Valley means gloriously long days spent playing outdoors. And one of the great outdoor experiences to be had is enjoying fine music in stunning settings. For those who like to dance on the grass or those who just take it all in, here is a survival guide for some great music events happening throughout the region.
July 1 – Aug. 15 | Jackson, WY
World-class musicians gather at the Grand Teton Music Festival to create “top-notch music, equal to the highest level of music making anywhere in the world,” said Susan Scarlata, director of marketing and sales for the festival. Kicking off on July 1, the festival runs for seven weeks, offering eight full-symphony orchestra concerts and 15 additional small ensemble groups.
Insider’s Tip: Be spontaneous—this year the festival is offering $15 “Day-Of” tickets for all concerts.
Don’t Forget: The GTMF Program Book, so you can navigate the broad offerings; a cowboy hat, to make sure you fit in with the locals; and some sleep—the Grand Teton Music Festival is a marathon, not a sprint.
July 17 – 19; Aug. 7 – 9
Grand Targhee Resort | Alta, WY
The Targhee Music Fest is entering its 11th year this July. This festival boasts an eclectic roster, featuring everyone from blues artist Taj Mahal, to the southern rockers Gov’t Mule, and alternative songbird Brandi Carlile.
For those who enjoy their banjo front and center, there is nothing better than the Targhee Bluegrass Festival. Featuring bluegrass darlings like the Two Bit Franks, Donna and the Buffalo, and Elephant Revival, this festival is well worth the drive.
Insider’s Tip: To the kids out there, explore the trees. According to Jennie White, marketing and social media manager at Grand Targhee, kids often build their own forts in there.
Don’t Forget: A jacket, for when the sun ducks behind the mountains; a bike, to get some rides in before or between sets; and an instrument, so you can partake in the jam sessions that often spring up in the campground.
In Focus Series: July 26 – 31; Orchestra Concerts: Aug. 4 – 19 | Sun Valley, ID
Each year, aficionados and dilettantes alike flock to the Sun Valley Pavilion to enjoy the world-class orchestra. The best part is, it’s all free.
If you’re a more serious classical music enthusiast, you can opt for one of the 1,600 seats inside the Pavilion. For those who hope to enjoy the sunshine and social scene as much as the music, the lawn behind sits 4,000 and even comes equipped with a 14-by-25-foot “big screen.”
Insider’s Tip: Intimidated by classical music? Take in the family concert. While it may be geared toward kids, anyone who is a child at heart will be delighted.
Don’t Forget: Your corkscrew, a block of Brie and a low-backed chair.
July 31 – Aug. 1
Hop Porter Park | Hailey, ID
Thirty-eight years of folk and rock have solidified this festival as a Sun Valley summer staple. The Northern Rockies Music Festival feels like a neighborhood block party, which just happens to feature some of the top names in music. This year’s festival features Honey Island Swamp Band, a rock band hailing from New Orleans, and Carolyn Wonderland, who Dana Dugan, the NRMF director, described as “a wonder—a major guitar-shredding talent.”
Insider’s Tip: The stage backs right up on the Big Wood River, so bring your suit and cool off between sets.
Don’t Forget: Your kids, to ensure another generation of music-lovers keeps this festival going; your bike, because it would be a waste to drive to a festival right in Hailey’s backyard; and some good stories, as you are guaranteed to be catching up with more than a few neighbors.
Aug. 6 – 8 | Challis, ID
Pack your cut-offs and your cooler, and head north to enjoy this family-grown festival. Started by the Braun Brothers in Stanley in 1980, the festival has since moved to Challis, losing none of its originality. It feels like a backyard barbeque with your nearest and dearest.
The love of “red dirt” country cuts across generations and geography, according to Muzzie Braun, one of the titular Braun Brothers. Attendees are generally anywhere from their late 20s to their 60s, and “people come from all areas of the country…all united for the sole purpose of hearing this great music,” Braun said.
Insider’s Tip: Most artists stay to enjoy the festival, so this is your chance to meet the men (and women) behind the music.
Don’t Forget: Your cowboy hat to get you in the mood for some red dirt country; a fleece, for those chilly Challis nights; and your pickup, so you can crash in at least some kind of bed at the end of a long day.
July 31 – Aug. 2
20 miles west of Fairfield, ID
Country music fans have a treat awaiting them at the end of July. The biggest names in country music will be taking the stage in the foothills just west of Fairfield. Headliners include Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line, Sara Evans and Clare Dunn.
Insider’s Tip: Nashville has nothing on the Mountain Home Festival with its spectacular backdrop and star-studded lineup.
Don’t Forget: This festival provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy some great camping while listening to the biggest names in country music.