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What’s the culture like in Boise?

Downtown BoiseYou’ve decided to move to Boise, and you’ve purchased your new Boise home.  If you’ve never visited or lived in Boise before, you’re probably wondering – what’s the culture like in Boise?

The culture in Boise is dynamic and appeals to a large variety of people.  Boise is home to the renowned Idaho Shakespeare Festival, as well as the Discovery Center of Idaho and the historic Old Idaho State Penitentiary.  Every year, Boise also hosts the Western Idaho Fair.

The mission of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival is "to produce great theater, entertain, and educate."  The Festival provides quality educational theater for the state of Idaho and its neighboring regions. Each year the festival performs five plays, which consist of a combination of plays by Shakespeare as well as others, both contemporary and classical.

The Festival’s outdoor amphitheater seats 770, and is surrounded by a beautiful habitat reserve home to several plant and animal species such as water birds, deer, hereon, ducks, geese and an occasional fox.  In order to maintain this natural habitat, the Festival operates under an agreement with the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.  A typical season at the outdoor amphitheatre consists of five to six main stage productions from June through September, as well as several performances by the Festival's drama camps and apprentice program.  The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is listed as a Major Festival in the book Shakespeare Festivals Around the World.

The Discovery Center of Idaho or DCI is an interactive science museum located at 131 Myrtle Street in Boise.  The Discovery Center of Idaho's mission is to inspire lifelong interest and learning in science, technology, engineering and math.  The museum's exhibition floor is filled with nearly 200 exhibits, including the Centripetal wheel, the Dune Machine, the Turbulent Orb, the Tornado, the Bernoulli Blower, and the Bubble Wall.

Old Idaho PenitentiaryAnother wonderfully rich historical site in Idaho is the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, located at the Old Idaho Penitentiary State History Site. It was first known as the Idaho Territorial Prison and was built in 1870. The prison is located east of Boise, and was built before the Territory of Idaho was even ten years old. The penitentiary began as a single cell house and then grew into several buildings, which were surrounded by a high sandstone wall – the stone actually quarried by resident convicts at the prison. Those same convicts also completed the rest of the construction of the prison. The Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Currently, the Site houses several museums and an arboretum. It makes an educational and historically rich field trip or touring spot.

The Western Idaho Fair is the annual de facto state fair of Idaho. It has been held in the capital city of Boise virtually every late summer/early fall since 1897, and annually in the contiguous city of Garden City on the grounds of the Expo Idaho since 1967. The Western Idaho Fair is a great place to enjoy delicious food and fun activities for all.

Boise has a constantly growing abundance of cultural places, events and activities including: the second largest Basque community in the United States, The Basque Festival, Boise is a regional hub for Jazz and theatre, Boise Art Museum, Idaho Historical Museum, Idaho Black History Museum, Idaho International Film Festival, The Boise Philharmonic, Opera Idaho, The Morrison Knudsen Nature Center, 2009 Special Olympics Winter Games, an amazing array of sports facilities and events and much more. Surrounding communities of Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, Kuna and Caldwell add many more possibilities to the area's huge diversity of cultural offerings.

Kevin Hughes

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