Annual Manual 2018: Best in Show 

Boise's performing arts festivals are places to watch impressive people do impressive things

As Boise's art and music scenes have matured, the City of Trees has become a Mecca for creative types and home to plenty of events showcasing their work to local devotees. Whether that work is music, dance, visual arts or comedy, Boise has a festival to celebrate it. Here are some of the most exciting options gracing the continually growing cultural landscape:

click to enlarge JASON JACOBSEN
  • Jason Jacobsen

208 Comedy Fest

Boise's ascendant comedy festival is celebrating its second birthday, and the lineup is impressive. Famed goofballs like Kyle Kinane and Rhea Butcher will roll into town and perform alongside local jokesters, and although the Boise comedy scene is currently limited to a few clubs, they all offer some seriously amusing stage acts.

September, multiple venues in downtown Boise, 208comedyfest.com.

Gene Harris Jazz Festival

Named after the famed Boise musician who guided local jazz to greater heights, the Gene Harris Jazz Festival pumps this original American art form into venues across downtown Boise. The annual concerts, educational experiences and appearances by notable artists ensure that jazz will thrive in the Gem State for years to come.

April, Boise State University, geneharris.boisestate.edu.

Goddess Fest

Few places to nourish the spirit remain in this fast-paced world. Goddess Fest intends to fix that, gathering people from all walks of life to celebrate the divine feminine spirit through workshops, educational displays, prayer, meditation, belly dancing, laughter yoga, wisdom, love, merriment and acceptance.

July, Julia Davis Park, goddessfest.org.

Hermit Music Festival

Idaho's self-described premier folk festival sets up camp on the verdant grounds of the Indian Creek Winery west of Kuna in late summer. Pitch a tent and spend a long weekend listening to some of the best folk artists around. Set against the lovely backdrop of Southern Idaho, the festival also highlights some fine tastings from the winery.

August, Indian Creek Winery, hermitmusicfestival.com.

Hyde Park Street Fair

This annual celebration in the heart of Boise's North End boasts unique vendors, a fleet of food trucks and plenty of live music. This is the place to realign chakras, find an emotionally significant necklace or purchase some hand-knitted socks to compliment a pair of Chacos. The best part—proceeds from this event support the North End community.

September, Camel's Back Park, northendboise.org/hyde-park-street-fair-2018.

click to enlarge - McCall Winter Carnival. -  - KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes
  • McCall Winter Carnival.

McCall Winter Carnival

Have you ever wanted to see a gigantic shark made of snow? It's entirely possible when you check out the ice sculptures at the McCall Winter Carnival. Each season, the fusion snowman making and chain saw operation have created some jaw-dropping artistry. The icy masterpieces are accompanied by two parades, live music, snow bike races and comedy shows that bring more than 60,000 people to McCall each year. For many, it's the highlight of the winter season.

Late January-Early February, McCall, Idaho, mccallchamber.org/winter-carnival/.

National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest and Festival

Weiser's world-famous competition is known as the "National Finals of Fiddling." Once you've fully appreciated some top-notch fiddling in the Weiser High School auditorium, dash outside to partake in a lively celebration. There's a carnival, a parade, an outdoor stage, a beer garden, and you never know when a jam session might break out.

June, Memorial Park in Weiser, weiserfestival.com.

San Inazio Basque Festival

Jaialdi happens only once every five years, but thankfully the San Inazio Festival is a way to survive the interim. This annual weekend-long celebration features local musicians, dancing, traditional sports and tours of sheep wagons on the Basque block. And like any proper celebration of Boise's Basque culture, there will be plenty to eat and drink.

July, The Basque Block, basquecenter.com/san-inazio.

Stanley Winterfest

Winter is tough when you live in the Sawtooths. Every February, the Stanley-Sawtooth Winterfest restores precious sanity to the frozen residents of Stanley, Idaho. There's plenty of traditional festival fun, including a pub crawl, an icebound beach party, live bands and a concert for kids. But other attractions, such as the outhouse race, the howlin' wolf raft ride and chicken bingo, sound suspiciously like homespun cures for cabin fever.

February, Stanley, Idaho, stanleywinterfest.com.

click to enlarge - Treefort Music Fest. -  - BRIAN MILLAR
  • Brian Millar
  • Treefort Music Fest.

Treefort Music Fest

There is a 'fort' for everything. Like readings? Welcome to Storyfort. Love tech? Dash to Hackfort. Enjoy stretching? Hello, Yogafort. With five days of fun encompassing everything from legendary musicians—still the main calling card of the festival, which featured more than 400 musical acts last year—to avant garde tartines, Treefort is a shining star in the Boise festival landscape and an emerging player in the national scene.

March, multiple venues in downtown Boise, treefortmusicfest.com.

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