Treefort is for everyone. Nice sentiment, right? That’s the welcoming vibe this music, art, and creative fest — held from March 20-24 in Boise, Idaho — creates. It’s also the exact welcoming mood we want to ride straight into spring, the mantra of a festival that gives folks of all stripes a good reason to come together for an event that feels good, exudes positive energy, and inspires great swells of creativity.
This is a festival that fits perfectly in its state (Idaho) and season (spring). Summer is whispering in our ears. The cold will break, the snow will melt, and the sky will clear. With warmer weather comes another feeling. The need for living with reckless abandon, for nights under the starry sky, for cold drinks and dancing. For those living in the Pacific Northwest, Treefort Music Festival is the first sign of spring. Like an early tulip, predicting that the season will soon shift, that color will come back to the forest, that there are endless outdoor adventures soon to be had.
The five-day music and arts festival is an SXSW-style event in which music is held in shops, bars, and restaurants across town. In addition to being able to wander into pretty much any venue and hear live music every night, there is also a slew of other “forts” and lineups that give the music a run for its money. Comedyfort, Filmfort, Storyfort, Foodfort, Kidsfort, Hackfort, and the much celebrated and always sold out Yogafort are all hits in their own right.
Here’s our guide to keeping track of it all and having an awesome Treefort Fest!
PART I: BEFORE THE FESTIVAL:
Get your tickets
They’re on sale for $220 right now and you can also get day-of passes at the event. There are two different levels — a classic festival pass and the zip line pass. The zip line pass puts you in a fast track line at crowded venues, you can bypass the waiting and get into to see those shows that might otherwise fill up before you get in. However, the classic pass is more than enough as one of the great parts of this festival is setting yourself on cruise control and discovering the lesser known artists of the festival.
You can also buy a separate pass to specific forts if, say, you only want to do yoga all weekend.
Download the app
The Treefort app makes for seamless festival-ing. Prior to arrival, you can listen to their playlists — which feature all artists the who will be performing. As soon as you hear something you like you can add it to your schedule. The app designs a schedule for you based on what you want to attend and maps out your day for you. You can add events from any of the forts for five days filled to the brim.
Combine your schedule and share it with your friends making it easier to link up through the weekend.
Book Travel Plans
Whether you walk, fly, or drive your music-loving art-seeking self to Boise, just get there. If you’re going to fly book a flight in BOI, downtown is super close to the airport and everything at Treefort is within walking distance, so you don’t need to rent a car. If your spot is a bit outside of downtown you can Uber into the festival because parking is… not so fun.
If you’re planning on driving then get on this big internet of ours and find people to carpool with. The more the merrier! Make those plans and make ’em now — you know you’ve got that wild friend who is down to jump in the car and drive to something they’ve never even heard of, hit her up!
Find a place to stay
Strapped for cash? Check out couch surfing, because people in Boise are ultra-generous. Airbnb is a hot item. If you want a whole house in a cute neighborhood near the festival, check out the North End. Want something a little cheaper? Get a spot up on the bench. There’s a great hostel called Tony’s Place that’s a 5 minute Uber to downtown. When it comes to hotels, there are plenty of new, funky options.
Boise is the fastest growing city in the country and the landscape of downtown shows it. Our personal fave is the lowbrow Safari Inn for it’s proximity to the main stage.
ONCE THE FEST STARTS:
Pick Your Must-See Acts
Not a big shocker here, but pick a few shows that are a must-see for you and stake out the venue a little early. Maybe hit the show beforehand too so you don’t end up in line outside during the set. On our radar this year are Toro Y Moi, who no doubt will rock the hell out of the main stage, Jeff Crosby & The Refugees are a band from Boise sure to draw a stellar hometown crowd and give us all the feels, The Blank Tapes create a damn good time every time out, Rubblebucket is the best pick to dance the night away, and Liz Phair is on hand to make all our 90’s hype girl dreams come true.
Dress For Anything
The weather in Boise in late March is about as creative as the festival itself, so be prepared for pretty much anything. You can soak up some sun wearing a sundress at the mainstage one day and wake up to a blanket of snow, sure to melt by lunch, the next (true story). Pack your dancing shoes and a good coat because you’re going to need both. If you find yourself in need of some new duds while in town, pop into Maven — a stellar vintage store in the heart of the festival. Alternately, wander into the North End and check out Virgo Darling (when you reach the super adorable pink cottage you’ll know you’re in the right place.)
Also… leave the cool kid act at home, no one cares what you wear or how you look. Treefort is for everyone, remember?
The food trucks near the mainstage are all worth a hit. But if you’re looking to take five and eat a meal seated at a table check out MADRE — a quick jaunt over the bridge with a few rad breweries nearby and the best tacos in town. Also, Juniper on 8th st. is good any time of day, although it tends to be pretty packed for dinner.
Quick locals tip: On the corner of 10th and Main on the weekends, late night pop up restaurant GravEyard opens a window featuring biscuits & gravy in all sorts of combinations that will blow your mind. Basically, schedule yourself a lot of eating time.
Oh, one more! A new Mezcal bar opened on the corner of 8th & Idaho called Diablo&Sons, we haven’t been yet but we hear great thing through the Boise grapevine.
Get Your Smarts On At Story Fort
No secret here but we love writers, writing, reading, and generally nerding out with the likes. Story Fort hosts a variety of readings, panels, talks, cocktails stories and creative spaces for you to get your smarts on. This year’s line up includes a reading and talk with Tommy Orange, author of New York Times best-selling novel, There, There.
Pop up events throughout town will keep you busy so be sure to check the schedule. And yours truly will be doing a reading Thursday Evening at Ming Studios.
More Quick Tips
- Brunch at Red Feather or Bittercreek. Both will set you straight and nurse you back to health. Bloody Mary’s flow until the cup runneth over here.
- Try something unexpected. Go to a comedy show, nosh hors-d’oeuvres at food fort, drink local ale, and make new friends.
- Hit the main stage and get drink tokens and a reusable cup. You’ll find no plastic in that zone.
- Atlas Bar, find it love it, and pop in for a pick me up shot now and then. Be sure to tip your bartenders.
- Recharge at The District. It’s a cozy coffee shop near the festival hub that makes the best cardamon latte in town. They’ve got couch space, good vibes, and usually a mellow acoustic act for you to enjoy.
- Poetry & Mimosas Sunday morning with Story Fort is a must.
- Make it to a yoga class at Yoga Fort. Teachers come from all over, everyone is lovely. It is held at the new JUMP Center overlooking all of the city. Take time to center your chi and you’ll thank yourself afterward.
- Kids are welcome! There are tons of little ones rocking around the clock. And there is even a KidFort to keep them busy.
Have fun, say yes, and follow us on Instagram for a live story all weekend long!
A Final Note
One last note, with all this planning… don’t plan too much. One of the greatest ways to enjoy Treefort is the no plan-plan — which means you and your friends just wander around and pop into small bars and catch whatever band is on stage. We’ve found some incredible up-and-coming musicians just by being in the right place at an unexpected time. So, if you’re keen… throw all this advice out the window and just show up, open yourself up to the unknown, and have a Happy Treefort!