History Of This Great Event
The festival began in May 1986 at This is The Place State Monument as a part of national touring art installation called the “Prairie Ship Liberty.” At each stop of the “ship,” local community artists put together an ethnic festival to celebrate America’s diversity. Salt Lake City was chosen as one of the locations for the exhibit to stop and there was the beginnings of the inaugural Living Traditions Festival. It has since been a staple event in Salt Lake City. In 1990, the Living Traditions Festival moved to its current location at the City & County Building and Library Square.
This annual Salt Lake City event has grown tremendously over the years, showcasing the diversity and cultural significance of Utah’s immigrant heritage. The Festival highlights performing artists on four stages, dozens of craft artists presenting their traditional art forms, workshops and panel discussions with artists, and a culinary trip around the world at the food market.
In 2018, over 90 different cultures were represented at the Festival. 2018 also saw the expansion of Living Traditions around Salt Lake City as an initiative of Mayor Jackie Biskupski to make arts accessible to everyone across the City. The Salt Lake City Arts Council partnered with the Utah Division of Arts & Museums to present Mondays in the Park, a summer weekly concert series at the Chase Home Museum inside Liberty Park. The Living Traditions Fall Garden Party was held in late September at the International Peace Gardens in Jordan Park. This ‘mini-festival’ features music and dance, ethnic food trucks, and craft artists who have gone through the International Rescue Committee’s Microenterprise Fund.
A Cultural Tradition in Salt Lake City
From its beginning, the Living Traditions Festival has been an event by Salt Lake, for Salt Lake. The Living Traditions Festival has a more than 30 year of history of welcoming Spring to our vibrant state with events in for everyone. Produced annually by the Salt Lake Arts Council at the beautiful City and County Buildings and Library Square, the Living Traditions Festival is a can’t miss event for both Salt Lake natives and visitors. With music, arts and crafts, dance performance, food vendors and more, the Living Traditions Festival has always showcased the rich tapestry of cultures that make Salt Lake City the great city it is. Living Traditions welcomes one and all to join in the free festivities taking place and learn something new.
The Living Traditions Festival
Produced by the Salt Lake City Arts Council, the Living Traditions Festival is a three-day multicultural festival celebrating the traditional music, dance, crafts and foods of Salt Lake City’s contemporary ethnic communities. Admission is free for all event attendees, which brings together over 90 cultures that have made Salt Lake City their home.
For over 30 years, this annual event has shared the richness of our cultural traditions in a festive, educational, and respectful manner. Local ethnic artists, craftspeople, dancers, musicians and chefs provide the framework for the Festival. They teach attendees about the traditions, techniques, styles, and materials used in the respective art forms, many of which are centuries old, that have been passed down generation to generation. Sharing cultural traditions within families and communities then sharing these traditions with the public is the essence of the Living Traditions Festival.
By preserving the cultural traditions of their community, Living Traditions artists make a great contribution to our sense of place and help demonstrate Salt Lake City as a diverse and vibrant place to live. With over 90 cultures represented, we hope that each festival attendee will gain pride and identity for the community as a whole.