Boise’s Treefort Music Fest is indeed a music festival, but it’s also so much more. Treefort is a celebration of the city, the community and the thrill of discovery.
Every year for five days in March, Treefort brings hundreds of bands, artists, creators and fans to Boise to explore music, art, food, beer, film, yoga and more. The fest takes place all over downtown Boise, transforming parking lots, bars, coffee shops and bookstores into venues.
Come to Treefort and you’ll see why it’s become known as one of the coolest festivals in the country. Here’s everything you need to know about Treefort Music Fest:
What is Treefort Music Fest?
Treefort started somewhat serendipitously in 2012 by a group of locals who had a dream of creating a community music festival that would introduce Boise to touring artists who maybe wouldn’t have stopped in Boise for a show and, likewise, expose Boise artists and music fans to touring acts they haven’t yet heard.
Treefort is a festival of discovery. It’s designed for people of all ages and interests to easily explore music, art, culture, community and the city of Boise.
The main part of Treefort is music. The lineup has 400+ artists hailing from Idaho, the Pacific Northwest and all over the world. You’ve probably never heard of most of the artists, but that’s actually one of the main points of the fest: for you to discover something new. Treefort has hosted many artists before they “blow up” and become super famous, like Run the Jewels, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Of Montreal, Lizzo, Thee Oh Sees, Charles Bradley, Liz Phair and many more.
In a nutshell, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t know who is on the lineup. The fun is in finding out.
The other part of Treefort is the forts. There are 11 forts and they all function like mini festivals within the larger event. The forts are a reflection of communities that have formed in Boise over the last decade, including:
Alefort – A celebration of beer, wine, cider and seltzer from Boise and beyond
Artfort – A combination of installations, live performances and visual arts
Comedyfort – Standup comedians from across the country
Dragfort – Drag queens and kings grace the stages, plus talks on inclusivity and more
Filmfort – Celebrating independent and local film
Foodfort – All things local and seasonal food, both eating it and talking about it
Hackfort – Workshops, demos and discussions with creative people doing cool things in tech
Kidfort – The place for tiny Treeforters
Skatefort – Open skateboarding and roller skating, plus live music
Storyfort – Discussions, readings, workshops and more
Yogafort – A wide variety of yoga and dance classes taught to live music
Music Talks – Discussions about the music industry
How to Treefort
With so many events happening in multiple places over five days, Treefort can feel a little overwhelming and intimidating, but the beauty is there is no right or wrong way to Treefort. There are a few different approaches, though.
The Treefort toe-dip
One of the best things about Treefort is that you can check it out in a very noncommittal way. Most people call this “freeforting” because indeed, there is a lot of free stuff.
If this is your move, here’s what to do. Go to 12th & Grove and wander around. Or, download the app and check out the schedule. You can go to the following forts without a festival pass: Alefort (have to buy beer tokens and a reusable cup), Artfort, Comedyfort, Dragfort ($10 at the door), Foodfort Talks, Food Tastes (ticketed dinner), Kidfort, Storyfort, Skatefort and Music Talks. Kids under 12 can go to all of these for free (except Alefort and some Dragfort events).
You can also go see some shows for free at “second chance shows” which are held at Radioland, Rhodes Skate Park, Hops & Bottles and other local businesses.
You can also buy a Main Stage pass, which is $50 and allows you to see all the artists on the Main Stage for a whole day. Likewise, you could buy a Single Day Pass for $100 and go to anything and everything for that day.
The show hopper
If you want to check out the fest for more than one day, you need a five-day pass. The price of a festival pass varies depending on when you purchase and will grant you access to all the shows you could possibly imagine, all of the forts, and the freedom to bounce around the fest as you please.
The line skipper
If you do not want to wait in a lines, you need a ZIPLINE pass. This pass is pricier than a regular festival pass but allows you to zip to the front of any line, anywhere in the festival and walk right in. This is especially nice if you want to bounce between shows or just simply don’t want to wait.
Volunteering at Treefort is fun. You can do things like pour beer at Alefort, check wristbands at a music venue, work a merch table or keep the fest clean with the Green Team. Once you sign up to volunteer, you’ll pay $30 for your ticket, and a $150 deposit that is refunded after you complete your shifts. Volunteers work three shifts (15 hours) and get to choose their preferred job and shift. https://www.treefortmusicfest.com/volunteer/
The tiny Treeforter
Treefort is free for festival-goers age 12 and under accompanied by an adult. Kiddos can go to all of the all-ages venues and most forts like Kidfort, Skatefort, Yogafort, Music Talks and Artfort. To find suitable events for kids, check the app schedule for events labeled with Kidfort or all-ages. The Main Stage is usually a good bet for family-friendly shows, too.
What to Know Before You Go
Book your lodging in advance.
Treefort brings music-lovers from all over to Boise to experience a weekend full of entertainment and energy. That being said, if you want to stay in a hotel close to the downtown experience, it’s a good idea to book a room as soon as you’ve committed to a festival pass.
Use the Treefort app.
It’s essential during the fest so you can see what events are happening at that moment. You can also build your own schedule and see friends’ schedules, check lines at the venues, and get directions to forts and venues.
Don’t be afraid to wander.
Walk around with your ears open and be sure to make space in your schedule for the weird, random and wonderful things you are bound to stumble upon.
Bring a jacket.
Treefort is in March and it can rain, snow and shine all in one day.
If possible, opt for a fanny pack or small purse instead of a backpack. You will get through lines faster.
Bring your steel cup and/or water bottle. Treefort is plastic free at the Main Stage and Alefort, which both use steel cups for beverages. Water stations are located throughout the fest.
Talk to strangers.
You are more than likely to leave Treefort with a new friend.
Ride, walk, uber or carpool.
The fest truly takes over downtown Boise and has stages and events in multiple parking lots and streets. Plus, there are a lot of people walking around between events. Consider how best to commute.
Treefort is for everyone!
It sounds like a marketing tagline but it’s true. All are welcome at Treefort and there is something for everyone to enjoy.