Tahoe’s Expansion into Art, Theater, Music, and More

Lake Tahoe festivals

YOU’LL MOUNTAIN-BIKE THE Flume Trail, hike to the highest peaks and dine at your favorite eateries, but how about exploring beyond the run-of-the-mill this summer? Discover the arts in Tahoe and see that a culture fix is possible in this Sierra hamlet.


The diversity of high-caliber music on the North Shore and in Truckee alone is staggering. There is something for every taste plus free outdoor concerts nearly every day.

Tahoe City

Tahoe City is the place to be on Sunday afternoons. Hear funk, pop, rock and more during the 12-week music series. Bring beach chairs, blankets and a picnic or support the beer, wine, ice cream, sushi, barbecue and salad vendors during Concerts at Commons Beach. Children love the playground. June 21– September 6. 

Daily Dose

On Tuesdays kick back for Bluesdays in the Village at Squaw Valley (June 23–September 8); on Wednesdays head to the Truckee Regional Park, where children boogie in front of local and regional bands; and on Friday evenings enjoy Music on the Beach in Kings Beach (June 19– August 7).

South Shore

If you’re on the South Shore, hear Brad Paisely (June 11), Aerosmith (July 3), Elton John (August 8), Sammy Hagar (September 5), Dave Matthews Band (September 9) and others at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena.

Get Classical

While bluegrass, blues, country and rock are profuse in the area, classical music enthusiasts will not be disappointed. The Orchestra and Community Choral Artists of the Tahoe Area present Baroque Summer Solstice Serenade, a weekly series featuring the music of Vivaldi, Mozart, Fasch, Telemann and Haydn (June and July). Summer Fest in Incline Village showcases pianist Joseph Kalichstein, Emerson Quartet cellist Paul Watkins and acclaimed classical guitarist Ana Vidovic (July 31–August 16).


From established venues to new hot spots, there is no shortage of breathtaking performances in equally stunning settings. Secure tickets in advance and be wowed by the onstage performances.

Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema

The renovated movie theater has become a hub of activity since operating under new ownership. With beers on tap, an inviting popcorn spice bar, baked goods and lattes and cappuccinos, everyone will find a delectable snack. In addition to live shows, independent films and popular movies, Tahoe Art Haus shows memorable shorts and documentaries during the Reno Tahoe International Film Festival (June 5–7).

Tahoe summer

The Bard

For a spectacular show against a stunning backdrop, see Romeo and Juliet at Sand Harbor. Bring a picnic or choose among gourmet salads, tacos, sandwiches and burgers. Insider’s tip: avoid lines by opting for premium seats (with table service) or preorder dinner online. July 10–August 23. 

Dance Festival

The Lake Tahoe Dance Festival, a mix of classical, modern and contemporary, includes performers from prestigious companies like Erick Hawkins Dance, Cross Connection Ballet and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. Expect exceptional choreography, site-specific installations and opportunities to meet the artists. “Being able to bring world-class performers here while exposing visitors to yet another element of Lake Tahoe really just seemed natural,” says festival producer Christin Hanna. July 22–24. 


With festivals, art months, walks and even a new museum exhibit, Tahoe has much to offer visitors seeking a little culture.

Festival of the Arts

The 34th annual Valhalla Arts, Theatre and Music Festival, a summer-long celebration of the arts, is held at the Tallac Historic Site and features performances of On Golden Pond, comedy shows by the Tahoe Improv Players, traditional and contemporary Mexican dance, even a Great Gatsby Murder Mystery Dinner. All productions take place in the Boathouse Theatre, originally built in the 1800s. June 17–August 26. 

Reno in July

Take the scenic drive over the Mount Rose Highway for Artown, which includes more than 500 events, 60 percent of which are free. The festival includes concerts, workshops, multicultural celebrations, fashion shows, visual and performing arts and tours. July 1– August 1. 

North Tahoe in September

September is North Lake Tahoe’s official art month. Be sure to check out ARTour, a self-guided excursion to dozens of studios that connects art aficionados with professional artists. See the creative process in action as you visit glassblowers, painters, sculptors, wood carvers and other artisans. September 4–6, 11–1

Walk With Art

There is nothing like the annual Trails and Vistas Art Hike. The guided walk among the Aspens at Spooner Lake features acclaimed dancers, musicians, poets and storytellers. Pacific Mambo Orchestra, the Grammy winning band known for modern twists on salsa, mambo and Latin jazz, is one of the highlights during this summer’s hike. September 12. 

Museum Takeover

The new Tahoe exhibit opening at the Nevada Museum of Art takes over the 60,000-square foot museum with more than 200 works including the largest collection of Washoe baskets ever shown, striking photography, architecture and contemporary art. “In short, it will be the most comprehensive art exhibition on Tahoe any organization, anywhere, has ever done,” says Amanda Horn, the museum’s director of communications. August 22–January 10, 2016. 


This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Mountain High.”