Pioneer Day is a big deal in Utah. July 24th is the date that commemorates the day in 1847 that Brigham Young first set foot in the Salt Lake Valley and declared to his fellow Mormon pioneers: “This is the right place.” Although the 24th is the official day, many of the events this year will be held on Saturday the 23rd. 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.
The Days of '47 Parade
The Days of '47 Parade is one of the oldest community parades in the United State, and is a long standing Salt Lake tradition. 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. It is a popular event, and many people will camp out along the parade route in order to secure a prime spot, so come early to find a good place to watch.
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 28th Annual Native American Celebration in the Park runs all day long on the 23rd in Liberty Park and features the Annual Intertribal Powwow, food, arts and crafts, a laser light show, children's activities, and entertainment.
The Days of ‘47 Cowboy Games & 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 Cowboy Games & 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, live music, 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, for the This Is the Place Heritage Park Pioneer Day celebrations there will be a candy cannon covering the street in old-fashioned taffy, panning for gold, pony and train rides, and games galore.
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!
Pie and Beer Day and Gays of '47
On the less traditional side of things, many people have decided to celebrate this unique Utah holiday sans the history and religious aspects via Pie and Beer Day. Instructions: surround yourself with friends, beer, whatever pie you like best (traditional fruit pies, meat pies, and pizza pies are often sought after), and have a really good time. The Gateway is hosting the main event this year, touting it as the "World's Largest Assemblage of Pie and Beer." Many local breweries, bars, and restaurants team up for this version of the celebration.
Also of note, Twist Bar & Bistro, the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, and Equality Utah are again celebrating the Gays of '47. Touted as the "second pride" of the summer, this three-day celebration will have food, drinking, dancing, drag performances, and fun.