Sun Valley, Idaho, is known for perfectly groomed ski runs, hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails, and a small-town vibe that's both welcoming and authentic. One of Sun Valley’s best-kept secrets, though, is its incredible arts and culture scene.
I know what you may be thinking: arts and culture in a mountain town in Idaho? But trust me, between shows by world-class musicians, lectures that make you re-think the world around you, live performances of dance, theater, and comedy, and thriving art galleries, you may find yourself wondering how you’ll fit it all in.
Catch a Performance at the Argyros Performing Arts Center
When the Argyros Performing Arts Center opened in Ketchum in November 2018, it created a splash in the cultural world of the Pacific Northwest. The $14.5 million state-of-the-art performance complex features a 462-seat theater with mountain views, a sprung floor stage, and a Meyer Constellation Sound System—one of the most advanced acoustic setups in the world and the only one installed in the western United States.
At heart a performing arts center built for the community, the Argyros is used by local arts organizations to host theater, music, dance, comedy, and lectures. A jam-packed event schedule includes shows by Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Wilson, Isabella Boylston (of the American Ballet Theatre) & Friends, Sun Valley Opera’s “The King and I,” and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s Winter Festival.
Dive in at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts
The Sun Valley Center for the Arts is Idaho’s largest art organization, and their mission is to “enrich our community through transformative arts and educational experiences.” The Center, as it’s known, organizes performance and film events (including the “Company of Fools,” a professional theatre group); hosts classes, lectures, and workshops; runs a well-known juried arts festival; puts together both a winter and summer performing arts series with bands such as St. Paul & the Broken Bones and The Head and the Heart; and runs a museum and workshop focused on visual arts.
If that sounds like a lot, it is! There is always something going on at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. Check out their event schedule to find out what is on during your visit.
Stretch Your Mind at the Community Library
Ketchum’s Community Library is one of the few privately-funded, public libraries in the United States. Founded by 17 pioneering women in 1955, the library’s independent, community spirit welcomes locals and visitors alike. In fact, residency is not a requirement to acquire a library card—borrowing a book is open to anyone, regardless of where they live.
The Community Library hosts over 100 programs each year and brings in some of the brightest minds of the day for lectures, presentations, and film screenings. Past speakers include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr, statesman John Kerry, and documentary filmmaker Anthony Geffen. In addition, the Community Library hosts an annual Ernest Hemingway seminar each September. Ernest Hemingway, a regular visitor to Sun Valley, completed For Whom the Bell Tolls in the Sun Valley Lodge and is buried at the Ketchum Cemetery.
Festivals for Every Season
No matter what the season, there is a festival happening in Sun Valley. Whether you're interested in experiencing thousands of sheep running down Main Street or would like to rub elbows with famous filmmakers and authors, there’s a festival for that. Here are a few of my favorites.
Trailing of the Sheep Festival (October): The Trailing of the Sheep Festival is a celebration of traditional sheep-herding cultures in the Sun Valley area. Named one of the “Top 10 Fall Festivals in the World” by MSN, the five-day festival cumulates with a band of sheep—fresh from a summer in the Idaho mountains—“trailing” down Main Street in Ketchum.
Sun Valley Writers’ Conference (July): Writers, readers, and thinkers come together in this always-sold-out festival that celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019. Called a “literary house party,” the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference hosts some of the finest writers in the world for lectures, workshops, and events.
Sun Valley Summer Symphony (July-August): The Sun Valley Summer Symphony is the largest privately funded free-admission symphony in the United States. The Symphony takes place at the spectacular Sun Valley Pavilion for three weeks each summer under the direction of Maestro Alasdair Neale. Distinguished musicians from some of the world’s best orchestras join together to play works from historic and modern composers. Grab a space on the lawn and bring your finest picnic spread or sit under the pavilion for the best sound.
With so many arts and culture opportunities in Sun Valley, you may want to extend your stay! Book a property with The Lodging Company and enjoy the convenience of having your own home base in Sun Valley.