MONDAY, JULY 24: On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and the first wave of Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley and Young declared, “This is the right place,” based on a vision that had guided him since his followers were forced to migrate West. For more than 170 years, starting as early as 1849, that moment has marked a major celebration in what is today the state of Utah.
However, if you hope to catch some of the best events, this month, search online for Pioneer Day themed events that start weeks before the main day of celebration.
The biggest and longest Pioneer Day observance on record was 1947, the centennial of the arrival, when the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving issued a special stamp to celebrate the milestone. That year, Utah hosted an entire “year of pageantry, dedication, and entertainment, all uniquely Utahn,” according to the Deseret News. The newspaper’s editorial board bragged: “We are having the kind of celebration in which Brigham Young himself would rejoice.”
So, there is a long-standing tradition of Pioneer Day events that are scheduled on dates other than the actual holiday.
For Utahns, the Days of ’47 festival now commemorates the entire region’s culture and history—not just those of the Mormon pioneers. (The pioneer era is considered to have ended in 1869 with the arrival of the transcontinental railroad.) Significant settlers in Utah’s pioneer history are celebrated, a festival of Native peoples will be included again this year and parades, fireworks and rodeos fill the streets and grounds of Salt Lake in the days surrounding July 24.
One place to check out events is the official Days of ’47 website.
One of the biggest draws, especially for those traveling through Utah, is the Gold Medal Rodeo, which will be held July 19-24 this year with a day off on July 23, which is a Sunday.
Also, the popular Mormon Tabernacle Summer Concert 2023 will be held July 14 and 15 this year.