July 24th is a big deal in Utah. The date commemorates the day Brigham Young first set foot in the Salt Lake Valley and declared to his fellow Mormon pioneers: “This is the right place.” But July 24th, better known as “Pioneer Day,” isn’t just an LDS holiday—it’s a celebration of everyone who emigrated to Utah during the pioneer era, and a chance for all of us to reflect on and revel in the pioneering spirit. Whether it’s your first pioneer day or your 50th, these are some of the best ways to celebrate the 24th this year.
Pioneer Day Fireworks at Liberty Park
This time-honored tradition draws families and pyrotechnic lovers from all over the valley to Liberty Park, a 110-acre oasis once owned by Brother Brigham himself. The sparkly spectacle is free and open to the public; pack a picnic and arrive around 8 p.m., as parking and space can quickly become scarce. The show starts at 10.
The Days of '47 Parade
This beloved procession of floats, horses, clowns, bands, and entertainers begins at South Temple and State Street, runs east to 200 East, turns south to 900 South, and then heads east to Liberty Park. May people will camp out along the parade route in order to secure a prime spot, but you can also view the parade from The Leonardo, which just so happens to be right on the route and offers a great view of the fun (as well as interactive art and science exhibits to spark young imaginations).
Native American Celebrations
While we remember the trekking adventurers who arrived in Salt Lake in 1847, we’d be remiss not to honor the people who were here long before them: Utah’s Native Americans. The 25th Annual Native American Celebration, Powwow, & Festival runs all day long in Liberty Park and features food, arts and crafts, and entertainment. A similar event featuring drum and dance contests happens in South Jordan City Park.
Float Preview Party
Can’t wait ‘til parade day to see the floats? Come to the Float Preview Party at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy to get an up close look at the floats and meet their technicians and designers.
The Days of ‘47 Rodeo
If you’re looking for something a little more gritty and adrenaline-fueled to celebrate the pioneer spirit and Utah’s western heritage, then get your tickets to the Days of ‘47 Rodeo. National competitors in bareback riding, steer wrestling, roping, bronc riding, bull riding, and more will have you yee-hawing on the edge of your seat. Prior to the rodeo, your family can enjoy pony rides, a mechanical bull, a carnival, and cultural exhibits.
This Is the Place Heritage Park Pioneer Day
What better place to celebrate Pioneer Day than a family park dedicated to commemorating the pioneers and early Utahns year round? In addition to all the regular fun the park provides, there will be a candy cannon covering the street in old-fashioned taffy, a fantastic bird show, a special Native American dance performance, a watermelon-eating contest, and games galore.
Antelope Island Pioneer Day
In the spirit of the pioneers, venture off the beaten path this year and head out to Antelope Island. Garr Fielding Ranch is hosting games, activities, and crafts, and the island is the perfect place to go for a hike and admire sweeping views of the Great Salt Lake.
Deseret News Marathon
The Deseret News Marathon is the oldest road race in Utah (and the 4th oldest marathon west of the continental divide). The race follows the path the Utah pioneers traveled when they first entered the valley: from Big Mountain Summit down Emigration Canyon, finishing on the Days of ‘47 Parade route. Run the full, half, 10k, or 5k, or just cheer on the racers at the finish line!
Beer Bar Pie & Beer Day
“Literally the nation’s largest assemblage of pie and beer,” Beer Bar’s Pie & Beer Day is quickly becoming a favorite annual July 24th tradition. Dozens of local bakeries and restaurants provide the homemade pies, which are paired with dozens of local craft beers between 2 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds go to support KUAA Radio, a local alternative station.
Tinwell Pie & Beer Day
This year, Tinwell cocktail lounge is hosting a savory version of the “Pie and Beer” Pioneer Day event. The pie is pizza, the beer is... beer, and there’ll be house music courtesy of Brazilian DJ duo Flow & Zeo.