Sounds of the Season 

Music fills the Wood River Valley in free and low-cost concerts

Sun Valley isn't just a playground for the athletically inclined. In the summer, the valley is also host to an incredible line up of concerts featuring artists from all around the world. The best part is that most concerts are affordable and, sometimes, free.

Sun Valley Center for the Arts is always raising the bar, and this summer is no exception. The center began its annual concert series in June, and continues in July with Salsa Celtica, a unique Scottish group blending salsa music with traditional Scottish sounds.

Salsa Celtica boasts 11 musicians from across the globe--Venezuela, Ireland, Cuba and Scotland--and uses a mixture of instruments, including fiddles and congas. The concert takes place at Hop Porter Park in Hailey at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 18. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for kids.

The summer concert series concludes with Donavon Frankenreiter and Mishka on Saturday, Aug. 15, at Atkinson Park in Ketchum. Mishka grew up in Bermuda and performs mostly reggae music while Frankenreiter incorporates his passion for surfing and fatherhood into his tunes. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for kids. Doors open at 5 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sunvalleycenter.org.

Summer in Sun Valley is also when the Northern Rockies Folk Festival comes to town. This family friendly two-day event takes place Friday, July 31, and Saturday, Aug. 1, and it will have everyone jamming. In its 32nd year, the festival will feature performances by Sun Valley locals like The Damphools and Kim Stocking Band, as well as national groups like The Blasters and The Gourds. The festival takes place at Hop Porter Park in Hailey, a family friendly location where picnic baskets, wine bottles and young ones are welcome. Tickets are $10 for Friday, $18 for Saturday or $25 for a two-day pass. For more information, visit nrff.net.

Fortunately, not every event costs money. In fact, many concerts in Sun Valley are free during the summer. Starting Tuesday, June 30, and running through Friday, Aug. 25, is Ketch'em Alive, a weekly concert series that takes place every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Ketchum's Forest Ranger Park on First Avenue. The music is eclectic, and watching the locals dance is an absolute must. There is also Jazz in the Park on Sundays, featuring local and not-so-local performers. The concerts take place at Rotary Park across from the Wood River YMCA every Sunday from June 21 through July 26.

A local favorite is the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, a series of free outdoor concerts featuring classical music, opera and some musicals. The symphony is celebrating its 25th anniversary and its second year at the state-of-the-art Sun Valley Pavilion. There is nothing quite like ending the day by listening to Brahms and Mozart while taking in unbelievable views of Bald Mountain, especially with a nice glass of pinot grigio. Concerts take place Monday, July 27, through Tuesday, Aug. 18.

And last, but not least, is a new event this year. Elkhorn Village is rekindling its own concert series with a lineup that's sure to impress. The series kicks off on Thursday, July 16, with G. Love and Special Sauce, followed by the Drive-By Truckers on Thursday, Aug. 13. Finally, Big Head Todd and the Monsters will finish things off on Thursday, Sept. 3. All concerts begin at 6 p.m. in the parking lot next to the Elkhorn golf club.

Tickets cost $37.50 plus tax, or $100 for the whole series, and are available at Atkinsons' Market in Ketchum or the Market at Elkhorn.

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