Artown is on (with a few adjustments) 

9 things to know before you attend Reno's month-long festival

The Hot Sardines from NYC open Artown on July 1 at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, where the 2021 main stage will be.

Representatives from Artown, Reno’s month-long summer arts festival, announced detailed event plans this week. For festival regulars, some things will be just like you remember them, and some things are new for 2021. Here’s what you should know before you go:

The main stage has moved

In most years, Artown’s main stage is in downtown Reno’s Wingfield Park, adjacent to the Truckee River, where concertgoers squeeze in with picnic blankets and beach chairs. This year, the main musical events will take place at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, where a 40×40 stage will be installed and social distancing measures will be in place. (Additional venues around town include the lawn at McKinley Arts + Culture Center, the plaza in front of the Pioneer Center, and the Robert Z Hawkins Amphitheater at Bartley Ranch.)

You’ll need to book tickets

Audiences are used to a month of free headliners in Wingfield Park most years, but for 2021, as performing arts presenters adapt to changing health-and-safety guidelines, crowd management will work differently. For most 2021 shows, you’ll need to book tickets in advance. For $15, you’ll get entry for up to four people, and each group will be assigned a designated space on the lawn.

COVID safety measures will be in place

In addition to sticking to your pod’s designated spot on the grass, organizers will expect you to wear a mask and make use of the hand sanitizer and handwashing stations.

Major out-of-town acts will still headline

Buffy Sainte Marie plays July 31.

The Hot Sardines, a swinging jazz band from New York City, open the festival on July 1. Buffy Sainte Marie—the Canadian-American folk singer and activist who made her mark in the 1960s and was the first Indigenous person to ever win an Oscar—closes it on July 31. In between, Berkeley-based classical/jazz fusionmasters Kronos Quartet perform July 15, blues/Americana king Keb’ Mo’ takes the stage July 22, and ukelele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro plays July 27. (The full concert schedule is here

There’s still a long list of locals on the bill, too

You’ll be able to see shows by Eric Andersen, the Sextones, Tim Snider, the Reno Phil, Whitney Myer, and The Note-Ables. American Idol finalist Grace Hayes will host a singalong at McKinley July 19.

There’s a new Spanish live stream

“One in four voters in Nevada are Latino,” said Artown Marketing Director Oliver X during a press conference this week, so the festival wants to reach more Spanish speakers this year. Loaded TV, a local broadcast and streaming company, will live stream Artown events in Spanish two days a week throughout July. (Info here.)   

Artown is still a good way to discover a new genre

If you spend a little time searching the calendar, you’ll find performances and hands-on, how-to sessions for kids and adults in genres like Chinese dance, hip-hop, hula, opera, ballet, Shakespeare, taiko, rodeo, improv, and poetry. 

There will still be movies in the park

The Cordillera International Film Festival will still screen Friday night family movies. They’ll still be in Wingfield Park, and they’ll still be free. But there are a couple of adjustment this year. Capacity will be capped, and advance reservations are encouraged. Men In Black screens July 2, and you can catch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off July 9 and Princess Bride July 16.

Check your BYO list

At the Rancho San Rafael shows, there won’t be food vendors, so BYO picnic. Seating will not be installed, so BYO chairs or blankets. There will be beverage vendors, and you’re also allowed to BYO drinks. No glass though. And no pets.


Artown runs from July 1-31 at various venues. Concerts are generally ticketed. Many events are free, but we recommend checking the calendar in advance for information about reservations and social distancing protocols. You can find detailed information on Artown’s website