Exploring Sacramento: The Fall 2022 Arts and Culture Edition

PUBLISHED OCT 13, 2022 11:24 A.M.
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Upcoming shows at the 19,000-seat Golden 1 Center include the Who (Oct. 26), Greta Van Fleet (Nov. 12), and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dec. 2).

Upcoming shows at the 19,000-seat Golden 1 Center include the Who (Oct. 26), Greta Van Fleet (Nov. 12), and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dec. 2).   Kit Leong   Shutterstock

With fall underway, Sacramento’s art and culture scene is in full swing. From concerts and Broadway productions to unique museum exhibits and family-friendly festivals, there’s a bounty of offerings to choose from. To help you plan the perfect Sacramento excursion, below is an overview of some of the city’s top not-to-miss attractions and events.

1. Sacramento: The City of Festivals

With a celebrated tradition of hosting music festivals, Sacramento is adding a new one to its repertoire with the GoldenSky Music Festival (Oct. 15-16). Held at Discovery Park, the inaugural two-day concert features headliners Tim McGraw and Sam Hunt, along with other country acts including Brothers Osborne, Midland, Carly Pearce and Parmalee. Attendees can also enjoy a dancehall saloon, craft beer festival, farm-to-fork food offerings and goods from local artisans.

Other notable Sacramento music festivals include Aftershock, a multi-day hard-rock event that was launched in 2012 and attracted about 145,000 fans last year. And the city’s annual Farm-to-Fork Festival, which celebrates the region’s food and agriculture, features dozens of regional and national music acts.

2. The Venue That Rebooted Downtown Sacramento

When the Golden 1 Center opened in 2016—the venue’s first concert was none other than Paul McCartney—it ushered in a whole new level of entertainment for Sacramento. The $558 million downtown arena hosts some of music’s biggest acts—and is also home to the NBA’S Sacramento Kings.

Upcoming shows at the 19,000-seat venue include rock legends The Who (Oct. 26) as well as Greta Van Fleet, a quartet from Michigan that’s often compared to Led Zeppelin (Nov. 12). And to help put you in the Christmas spirit, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays Dec. 2.

If you’re looking to make a big night out of it, Golden 1 Center is just steps away from the luxury 16-story, 250-room Kimpton Sawyer Hotel.

Other notable venues that host live music include the historic Crest Theatre, located just blocks from the State Capitol, as well as nightclubs such as Harlow’s on J Street, in the heart of Midtown, and the Ace of Spades, situated along the R Street corridor—a historic industrial warehouse district that’s now bustling with a mix of bars, restaurants and shops.

3. A Night at the Theater

If you’re looking to take in a top-notch musical theater performance, look no further than Broadway Sacramento, the largest nonprofit arts organization in California.

Three performers on stage stand out in white clothes on a colorful background
Sam Nackman, Berlande and Sam McLellan in
The Book of Mormon.
Julieta Cervantes/Broadway Sacramento

The group, known originally as the Sacramento Light Opera Association and California Musical Theatre, formed in 1951 with its summer stock theater Music Circus, which performed under an open-air, circus-style big top. Today, Broadway at Music Circus productions are held at the UC Davis Health Pavilion, an in-the-round performance space that can accommodate 2,200 guests.

Broadway Sacramento also produces the Broadway On Tour series at the recently expanded and renovated SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center. Between Broadway At Music Circus and Broadway On Tour, Broadway Sacramento entertains over 250,000 patrons annually. Upcoming Broadway Sacramento shows include the Tony Award–winning musical comedy The Book of Mormon (Nov. 2–13) and the family favorite Frozen (Jan. 4–15).

Another notable venue that hosts professional theater performances is the Sofia, Home of B Street Theatre. The Sofia opened in 2018 and the 48,000-square-foot performing arts center has two theaters, one with 365 seats and another with 250 seats. Hosting theater and musical performances, upcoming shows include The Lost Claus (Nov. 16–Dec. 24) and Supertrouper, an ABBA tribute band. For the kiddos, there’s ’Tis The Season: A Celebration of Holiday Stories (Dec. 3–24).

Capital Stage, founded as the Delta King Theatre in 1999, presents seven full-length live theater productions each year, as well as various concerts and special events. For more than a decade, the company staged performances at the small theater inside the Delta King, a riverboat docked at the Old Sacramento Waterfront. As the theater company grew and garnered rave reviews, it moved in 2011 to the historical Old Armory, repurposed as a 125-seat theater space on J Street. Known for its cutting-edge and thought-provoking plays, the company is presenting the Sacramento premiere of the satire Gloria (Oct. 12–Nov. 14), about a group of Manhattan editorial assistants desperate to make it as successful writers.

Other options include the 572-seat Colonial Theatre, which is hosting a number of spooky plays and musicals throughout October, as well as the historic Crest Theatre, which first opened in 1912. While the theater is best known for showing documentaries, independent films and cult classics, it also hosts concerts and comedians, including former U.S. senator and Saturday Night Live writer/performer Al Franken (Dec. 9).

4. Song and Dance: Opera and Ballet

Kicking off its 68th season this year, Sacramento Ballet delivers renowned ballet and dance productions. With a mission to include and inspire diverse audiences, the organization attracts approximately 80,000 people to performances annually. Sacramento Ballet’s season-opening show, Beer & Ballet—with every ticket purchase, attendees receive one draft beer or glass of wine—runs through Oct. 16. That’s followed by two classics: Nutcracker (Dec. 10–24) and Swan Lake (Feb. 17–19).

After financial setbacks and struggling through the pandemic, the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera—which was founded in 1948 and went through various iterations—has a new executive director and renewed role as a leading performing arts organization. The SP&O hosts concerts, operas, and community programs at the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center. For the opening night of its 2022–2023 season, the company presents The Firebird by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (Oct. 22), followed by Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor (Nov. 19) and Ludwig van Beethoven’s celebrated Symphony No. 3 (Jan. 21).

5. The Capital of Museums

Sacramento has nearly 30 museums, which explore everything from history and art to design and transportation.

You can learn about all aspects of life in the Golden State at the California Museum. Located in the heart of downtown, the museum, established in 1998, delves into the history, arts, diversity and personalities that make California such an influential and unique state. In addition to signature exhibits that highlight everything from California Indians and the Gold Rush to a Hall of Fame that honors legendary people who embody California’s spirit, there are a number upcoming short-term exhibits you don’t want to miss. These include “California is in the Heart” (Oct. 29-April 9), which highlights stories, events, and towns that represent the Filipino Californian spirit, as well as “Mujeres Inspiradoras: Día de Los Muertos” (Oct. 14-Nov. 5), a look at the Mexican cultural tradition of honoring deceased loved ones.

The Crocker Art Museum is another one to add to your not-to-miss list. Partially housed in a beautiful Victorian home that Judge Edwin B. Crocker purchased and renovated in the mid-1800s, the museum boasts work from noted California impressionists, ancient art from around the globe and one of the world’s largest collections of European drawings. An accompanying 125,000-square-foot pavilion that opened in 2010 more than tripled the museum's size, with dedicated gallery spaces for all collecting areas. The museum also offers a host of events and programs, such as films and concerts, and the Victorian home’s first floor is a dedicated education center, with studios, space for student and community exhibitions and a library.

Old-fashioned trail with a worker clinging to the side
Learn about the history of train travel in Sacramento.
Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

Located at the Old Sacramento Waterfront, the California State Railroad Museum tells the story of the Transcontinental Railroad through some 225,000 square-feet of interactive exhibits and beautifully restored railroad cars and locomotives. The exhibits illustrate railroad history in California and the West, during the heyday of rail travel. Exhibits explore everything from the often-brutal experiences of Chinese railroad workers during the 1800s to the world of toy trains, with some 1,000 vintage toy trains, six interactive displays and an operating model railroad. And one of the more popular holiday activities in Sacramento is the museum’s Polar Express Train Ride, an hourlong adventure complete with hot chocolate, sweet treats and even Santa himself.

The Aerospace Museum of California, located at the former McClellan Air Force Base, is a must-see for anyone who is fascinated by flight and technology. The museum boasts some 40 aircraft, including notable fighters like the F-80 Shooting Star, the country’s first operational jet fighter and first capable of exceeding 500 mph in level flight. Exhibits include the world’s largest rigid wing kite, a professional 30-minute flight simulator experience, as well as a theater space that shows a video about what the first manned mission to Mars might look like. There are also models of the Mars Habitat Pod, complete with storage and control panels.


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