How To: Red Butte Outdoor Concerts

Step one on thriving at the Red Butte Outdoor Concerts? Get the Tommy Bahama chair.

You’ve survived your first Utah winter. That thing with UtahisRad83 fizzled, but at least you had a snuggle buddy. Time to get out into the Utah summer, which, duh is all about the shows at Red Butte. Red Butte Garden’s Outdoor Concert Series kicked off in May and you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Here’s our guide to Red Butte with pizzazz.  

Red Butte Concerts

What is it? 

An expensive way to drink in the park with 3,000 of your close, personal friends. Plus, a live band!

How do I get tickets? 

It’s a simple 25-step process. Buy a membership to Red Butte Garden (wait, you didn’t do that?). This will allow you to wander the gardens any time you want. You will never do this. But it’s nice to think about. “No Mom. I have to buy the membership to get my Pat Benatar tickets before everyone else. I can go to the garden whenever I want—and it’s SO pretty there. Can I get Dad’s credit card?” 

But really, how do I get tickets? 

Painstakingly review the season announcement. Then, membership card in hand, log in and keep hitting refresh. Be advised: Red Butte people are the same ones who get up at 3 a.m. to go to Alta on a powder day. 

How much? 

A lot. First. There’s that membership to the garden you won’t use to get in line for early ticket sales with every old head from 1995. Then, well who knows? $70+ a show? Oh, also, your wine-cracker-hummus-olive-cheese-and-wine budget is blown.

So what happens there? 

The people-watching at Red Butte is très magnifique. You’ve got the Botox set dancing like no one’s watching and their silverback venture capitalist man friends in fedoras and Tommy Bahama gear, pretending they like to dance. Then there’s you. Just drink your Barefoot Merlot, dear, and wonder why you didn’t major in finance or whatever it is these people do.

What about the line?

Yeah, that’s a thing. There are all these people ostensibly without jobs who show up at like 10 a.m. to just kick it. By the time you take your dog out to pee after your barista shift, you’ll be way, way back. When the gates open and line snakes down, you’ll emerge into the amphitheater to find a sea of giant space-hogging blankets. Stand there forlornly with your massive cooler, Costco chair and chickpea dip and just wade in.

How drunk are these people?

Larry is a little wobbly and isn’t respecting the sovereign nation of YOUR BLANKET. Yeah, he’s going to stumble into your cheese plate. 

What’s the band? 

Who cares? Red Butte shows become a blur of cheap wine and hummus.

But for real. Red Butte Garden Shows are a mainstay of summer in Salt Lake. To find out what you’re missing visit

Top Shows to See

July 11 — Blues Traveler. A throwback to your Hacky Sack playing years. Leftover Salmon completes the nostalgia.

July 12 — Nickel Creek. One of the best touring bands around. A standout on the calendar that is not to be missed.

Aug. 8 — Trombone Shorty. If you have never seen Shorty, Red Butte is the spot.

See more stories like this and all of our culture and community coverage. And while you’re here, why not subscribe and get six annual issues of Salt Lake magazine’s curated guide to the best of life in Utah. 

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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