Downtown News and Blog

Come One, Come All! Salt Lake Unity Fest is coming to town

December 9, 2019 Written by

Published in Downtown News and Blog

Screen Shot 2019 12 09 at 10.25.49 AM

Twinkling lights at Temple Square, shopping at City Creek and Ballet West’s Nutcracker performances aren’t the only things happening downtown this holiday season. Lace-up your skates, grab your pickleball paddle and dust off your dodgeball...Salt Lake Unity Fest is coming to town!

What is Salt Lake Unity Fest?

The Salt Lake Unity Fest is a multi-day festival uniting the LGBTQ+ community and our allies through sports and exclusive nightly events. Proceeds from various events will benefit local LGBTQ+ organizations. This annual festival, held in downtown’s Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center (100 S. West Temple) on December 12-15, 2019, features sports competitions and fun nightly events that showcase the best of downtown’s urban amenities. At the inaugural event, roller derby, volleyball, pickleball, dodgeball, swimming, bowling, futsal and trivia will debut. Summit Local Organization Committee (LOC) based in Salt Lake City is hosting the festival, along with Visit Salt Lake, the presenting sponsor.

“We’re thrilled to help bring the first-ever Unity Fest to Salt Lake,” said Mark White, Senior Vice President Sales & Services of Visit Salt Lake. “This four-day festival and multi-sport athletic event will showcase some of our top athletic venues and facilities. It will also further unite the LGBTQ+ community with the greater Salt Lake area and with those traveling from out-of-state to participate.”

Screen Shot 2019 12 09 at 10.25.35 AM

The Salt Lake Unity Fest began as a collaborative conversation between Summit LOC and Visit Salt Lake. According to Kyle Manwaring, the Marketing Director at Summit LOC, the festival has evolved from a sports-focused festival to a sports and celebration festival, bringing the local community together regardless of their lifestyle.

“Salt Lake sometimes gets a bad rap for not being as diverse or exciting as other cities. The Unity Fest came from wanting to combat that. There are cool things here and we want to fight against any stereotypes,” Manwaring says. “People should care and be interested because the Salt Lake Unity Fest is here to help the LGBTQ+ community and the whole community. All the proceeds benefit life-saving services and organizations that care about the LGBTQ+ community and Salt Lake as a whole.”

Now that you know the basics, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. 

Want to play?

This festival is open to anyone and everyone and provides a welcoming space to compete, play and feel comfortable while doing so. Competition is open to anyone age 18 or older. Participants may register as an individual or as a team for any of the eight sporting events. Sports are divided into three divisions: male, female and open. Open divisions are open to anyone (regardless of gender identification) to compete. All registered participants have access to the festival area and all nightly events. Registration starts at just $50. Click here to sign up! 

Come and watch...stay and party!

Spectators are welcome and encouraged to join in the fun. Events are FREE to watch, so bring the whole family down to cheer on the athletes. Who doesn’t enjoy a good roller derby match?

When the sun goes down, the parties get started! The festival’s Opening Kickoff Party starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 12, with a welcome by Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski and a concert featuring Foreign Figures. The next evening’s FREE family game night includes a visit with Santa, obstacle course, giveaways, arts and crafts, photo booth, games, roller derby free skate, drag show and ugly sweater competition, starting at 8 p.m. Adult-aged festival-goers looking to keep the party going can hop on the bar bus and make stops at Twist, The Sun Trapp, Club Try-Angles and Bottoms Up that evening. Saturday night brings down the house with a DJ dance night, featuring Salt Lake’s own DJ Pauly at 8 p.m. Tickets for these exclusive nightly events start at just $5 and can be purchased here.

Screen Shot 2019 12 09 at 10.25.14 AM

These nightly events do more than just give an excuse to party. Money raised at the events benefits local LGBTQ+ organizations, including Encircle, the Utah Pride Center, Stonewall Sports SLC and Queer Spectra Arts.

Whether you play or just want to be part of the party, everyone is welcome at Salt Lake Unity Fest!