With the warm weather comes the event season. There are varied events from music, to shows, to roller skating and more happening in Downtown Reno.
As the gateway to Burning Man, Reno draws creatives from all over the world. More than 68,000 people pass through the city each year headed to the Black Rock Desert. And they leave their mark on the town. A stroll through the bustling River Walk District and Brewery District reveals cityscapes awash in masterpieces. Burning Man-inspired art decorates plazas, riverside walks, parks, and more. And the City of Reno Arts & Culture Commission grants hundreds of thousands annually to fund inspired public works.
The results are apparent. Upwards of 185 pieces of outdoor public art. The trend continues at City Hall, which maintains a permanent collection of 65 works. The “Biggest Little City” (BLC) is also home to diverse arts and culture organizations with big plans for spring and summer 2023. Keep reading for our breakdown of not-to-be-missed things to do in downtown Reno.
Delight in Reno During Downtown Tuesdays
Partnership Plaza (40 E. 4th Street) is where you want to be every second Tuesday for Downtown Tuesdays (5:00-9:00 pm). These intimate events feature rocking local music and delectable food truck options. You’ll also find drink trucks and yard games, designed to offer a mid-week respite. We promise it’ll help you recharge for “Hump Day.”
While away the evening beneath a picturesque canopy of trees covered in sparkling lights. Savor the sounds of Nevada-based musical artists like Rachael McElhiney (5/9, Sponsored by Pacific Development), Josiah Knight (6/13), Spike McGuire (7/12), Cliff Porter (8/8), and Kat Heart (9/12). And all while you get plugged into the creative community and its boundless potential. Best of all, admission is free. Get the lowdown on these monthly events and ink them on your calendar!
Get Cultured at the Nevada Museum of Art
Inspiring events abound at the Nevada Museum of Art. These include Sunday Music Brunches (10:30 am – 2:30 pm), with delish breakfast and lunch dishes provided by the Café to the tunes of local musical groups. Chef Colin Smith’s menu pairs divinely with coffee, orange juice, mimosas, and champagne. So, you decide how long you want to linger. Due to the event’s popularity, book in advance, especially for parties of five or more.
Next, walk off your meal while exploring the museum’s traveling and permanent exhibitions. Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity explores one of America’s most innovative mid-century artists. Showcasing roughly 120 of Kent’s works, they span the early to the mid-20th century. Timely themes range from figuration to abstraction. The exhibition runs through September 10th, 2023.
Other fascinating exhibitions include Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II and Ellsworth Kelly: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. Both will remain through July 23, 2023.
Let the Music Move You at the Reno Philharmonic
Northern Nevada’s premier professional orchestra, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, wraps up its 2023 Classix Series on April 15th and 16th (4:00 – 6:00 pm). The season ends with two sumptuous performances of Georges Bizet’s celebrated opera Carmen. The Reno Phil notes, “This fiery and tragic love story has become a classic and features some of the music’s best-known operatic arias like ‘Habanera’ and ‘Toreador Song.’” Performances will feature guest artists, dancers, and a full orchestra.
For family-friendly fun, grab tickets to Disney in Concert, with two shows on June 24th (2:00 pm and 7:00 pm). The Reno Philharmonic and four nationally recognized vocalists will perform iconic Disney songs. From Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin to Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Frozen.
The orchestra’s pop season continues with Patriotic Pops at the Field on July 3rd (7:00 – 10:00 pm). Head to Greater Nevada Field to celebrate the nation’s birthday in style. Enjoy a tour of America’s rich musical heritage and toe-tapping favorites. The event culminates with a sparkling firework display. So, grab your lawn chairs and blankets and head to Reno’s ballpark!
Discover Adventure at the Banff Mountain Film Festival
On Sunday, April 16th, the Reno Ballroom is where you want to be. Scope out the Banff Mountain Film Festival, premiering the best mountain filmmakers of the year. Drawing a crowd of 1,200 to celebrate the great outdoors, it sells out fast. Purchase your tickets sooner than later to secure a spot.
During the event, watch adventurers of all ages and skill levels. Get inspired as they make their mark on the world against pristine wilderness backdrops. Proceeds from the event support the Nevada Land Trust. This organization preserves and protects the state’s wild places for the public and future generations.
Get Intimate With the Reno Chamber Orchestra
Are you looking for an intimate classical music experience? Maybe one that’s heavy on Baroque? If so, mark your calendar for April 29th (7:30 pm) and 30th (3:00 pm).
That’s when the Reno Chamber Orchestra returns to Reno’s historic Trinity Episcopal Church. Performing masterworks by Vivaldi, Bach, and Telemann, the Reno Chamber Orchestra boasts some of the most gifted musicians in the region. The Sunday show is already sold out. So, buy your tickets ASAP to reserve Saturday night seats.
Explore Movement at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts will host the A.V.A. Ballet Theatre’s Frozen on April 22nd and 23rd. Alexander Van Alstyne choreographed this visual arts spectacle. It retells the classic story of Hans Christian Andersen. Along the way, get regaled by musical numbers featuring nationally acclaimed ballet dancers. Accompanied by the Reno Philharmonic under the direction of Maestro Jason Altieri, you’re in for a cultural treat.
Artown presents ALICE on May 9th. A MOMIX-style performance, it’s inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic tale Alice in Wonderland. But expect an off-the-rails performance infused with imagination and whimsy. ALICE’s creator, Moses Pendleton explains, “I don’t intend to retell the whole Alice story, but to use it as a taking off point for invention.” Savor this visual feast as you dive headlong into the magical, mysterious, and eclectic journey of one of the West’s favorite heroines.
Join the Fiesta at The Glow Plaza
Join the fiesta at The Glow Plaza on May 5th. That’s when the BLC’s newest outdoor festival grounds welcome the area’s largest annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration, Cinco de Mayo. Festivities start at 4:00 pm and run through 10:00 pm. They continue May 6th and 7th (12:00 pm to 8 pm).
Top international Mexican Music bands will serenade crowds on the outdoor stage. And various dancers and performers will entertain on a second stage. Besides music, explore more than 100 vendors selling diverse arts, crafts, food, and more. From live Latin music to Mexican Dancing Horses, and regional and national entertainment groups galore, there’s no better place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2023!
Channel Your Inner 1970s Roller Skating Superstar
On June 9th (6:00-9:00 pm), head to Locomotion Plaza (under the Reno Arch) for Roll’n Reno. Channel your inner, mid-century superstar while skating to the wicked sounds of one of Reno’s top DJs. Once you’ve sparked an appetite, tuck into eats and sweets provided by some of the area’s best food trucks as you watch locals and visitors alike test their balance. (We promise it’s WAY more fun than mere pedestrian people-watching!)
Presented by the Downtown Reno Partnership in conjunction with Church of 8 Wheels and J Resort, you won’t want to miss out on this groovy event. (Bell bottoms and big hair optional!) Locomotion Plaza boasts a whopping 18,000 square feet of concrete, so you’ll have plenty of room to practice those 360-Degree Spins and Heel-Toes. A $5 admission charge includes skate rental.
Discover the Heart of the BLC at the Reno River Festival
Downtown Reno’s Wingfield Park comes to life for the Reno River Festival from June 9th through 11th. The perfect combo of music festival, food festival, and outdoor adventure park, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy a craft beer and seltzer experience, savory and sweet street eats, and the vendor village full of retail delights.
Listen to 28 different bands — 14 local, eight regional, and six national — with styles ranging from rock to country and pop. Headliners include Old Dominion, Jimmie Allen, Priscilla Block, Lindsey Ell, Brooke Eden, and Drake White.
As for outdoor adventures? Think yoga in the park, whitewater rafting, the RRF Cornhole Championships, the Great Reno River Rally, the Reno-Tahoe Adventure Park, and more. There’s no end to fun in the sun, enveloped in the music of gifted local and national performers.
Go Soulful at the BBQ, Brews, & Blues Festival
What are some other fun things to do in Reno? Put the 26th Annual BBQ, Brews, & Blues Festival at the top of your list. A weekend-long event, it’s chock full of mouthwatering BBQ, bubbly beverages, and free music. From slow-smoked brisket to seasoned grilled chicken, sausages, ribs, wings, and more, finger-looking good options prove plentiful.
As for those bubbly beverages, the event will showcase the golden, brown, and black fruits of 50 microbreweries’ labor. You’ll find local favorites (e.g., Pigeon Head Brewery, Lead Dog Brewing, and The Depot Reno) and offerings from sea to shining sea. Tying this street party together is a fantastic lineup of Blues performers. Concerts are free, and the action takes place along The ROW (345 N. Virginia Street) in front of the Eldorado, Circus Circus, and Silver Legacy resorts on June 16th and 17th (3:00 pm to 10:00 pm daily).
Creative Things to Do in Downtown Reno
There’s no end to inspired things to do in downtown Reno. Whether you’re after pops concerts at the ball field, dance and ballet extravaganzas, local art gatherings, or BBQ- and brews-drenched Blues. The Biggest Little City in the World is a first-rate artistic hangout, thanks to the Burning Man Festival and enthusiastic community support. A stroll through the downtown corridor reveals public art projects and murals galore. And the performing arts scene adds a dramatic presence.
The Downtown Reno Partnership remains committed to making the BLC one of the nation’s most vibrant and welcoming metropolitan areas. Believing in Reno is more than a mantra. It’s the transformative energy that has and will continue to revitalize and reshape our fantastic civic center. Find out more about what we do and why Reno is where it’s at.
Engrid Barnett is an award-winning freelance writer based in Reno-Tahoe. Recognized by the Nevada Press Association in 2019, you can find her work in Nevada Magazine, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Rova, American Trails, Northern Nevada Business Weekly, Tahoe South, and more.
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