Salt Lake City  offers a wide variety of high-quality arts and cultural institutions; classical and religious music venues are particularly noteworthy. Jazz, blues, and alternative music clubs and dance bars are also numerous. In short, there’s a lot more going on here than you might think.
Local publications are the best places to check for information on what’s happening. The City Weekly is the largest and most comprehensive free newspaper, with lots of arts and entertainment coverage. The daily papers, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, both have listings in their Friday Weekend and Sunday Art and Entertainment sections. The Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau website (www.visitsaltlake.com ) also has a lengthy listing of events and entertainment options.
Most of Salt Lake City’s top-flight music and arts performances take place in a handful of venues, themselves world-class facilities worthy of a visit. When you know the dates of your visit, contact the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts (801/355-2787 or 888/451-2787, www.arttix.org ), which handles ticketing for most of the city’s arts offerings, to find out what’s going on while you’re here.
The city’s main performance space is the Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South, 801/534-6364), a glittering vaudeville house from the turn of the 20th century that’s been refurbished into an elegant concert hall. Abravanel Hall  (between the Salt Palace and Temple Square at 123 W. South Temple St., 801/533-5626) has fantastic acoustics and is home to the Utah Symphony and other classical music performances.
The Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (138 West 300 South, 801/323-6800) has three performance spaces and is home to several local dance and theater troupes.
Pioneer Theatre Company (801/581-6961, www.pioneertheatre.org ), one of Salt Lake City ’s premier theater troupes, offers a seven-show season running September–May. The company performs a mix of contemporary plays, classics, and musicals. Although the company operates from the University of Utah ’s Pioneer Memorial Theatre (300 South and University St.), it is not part of the university itself. The Pioneer Memorial Theatre is also the site of University of Utah student productions and the Young People’s Theatre, which produces plays for children.
The city’s cutting-edge theater group is the Salt Lake Acting Company (168 West 500 North, 801/363-7522, www.saltlakeactingcompany.org ). This well-established troupe doesn’t shy away from controversy: Its excellent production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America raised eyebrows and stirred strong reactions. Besides presenting new works from around the world, the company is also committed to staging plays by local playwrights; there are performances year-round.
The Grand Theatre (1575 S. State St., 801/957-3459 or 801/957-3263, www.the-grand.org ), on the Salt Lake City Community College campus, is home to a year-round program of theatrical performances (mostly musicals) by both student and semiprofessional troupes.
For something spoofier, the Off Broadway Theatre (272 S. Main St., 801/355-4628, www.theobt.com ) is the place for improv competitions, Broadway comedies, and topical farces. At the Desert Star Playhouse (4861 S. State, 801/266-7600, www.desertstar.biz ), you'll find musical comedy revues and cabaret-style comedy skits, such as My Big Fat Utah Wedding or Hunk-Ules: I'm Too Sexy for my Toga.
From its modest beginnings in 1940, the Utah Symphony (www.utahsymphony.org ) has grown to be one of the best-regarded orchestras in the country. Each season, the symphony performs in the glittering Abravanel Hall (123 W. South Temple St., 801/533-NOTE for tickets) in Salt Lake City  and travels to Snowbird , Deer Valley , Ogden, Provo, Logan, and other cities.
The Utah Opera Company (www.utahopera.org ), founded in 1978, stages four operas during its October–May season. The Utah Opera and the Utah Symphony now share administrative offices and contact information (see above).
Another center for classical music and performance is the University of Utah  (801/581-6772, www.utah.edu/home/artsculture ). The university’s symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, jazz ensembles, opera, bands, and ballet, dance, and choral groups present regular concerts and performances on and off campus; the season runs September–May.
Ballet West (801/323-6900, www.balletwest.org ) began in Salt Lake City in 1963 as the Utah Civic Ballet, but as the group gained fame and began traveling widely it chose its present name to reflect its regional status. This versatile group’s repertoire includes classical and contemporary works. Most Utah performances take place at the downtown Capitol Theatre, September–May.
The professional Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company (801/323-6801, www.ririewoodbury.com ) has one of the most active dance programs outside New York City. The varied repertoire includes mixed media, eye-catching choreography, and humor. The group also shares its expertise by teaching production and dance skills to students and professionals.
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is based at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, as is the Repertory Dance Theatre (801/534-1000, www.rdtutah.org ), a professional company focusing on classical American and contemporary dance.
First-run multiplexes are spread around downtown Salt Lake City ; check the daily newspapers for listings. The city is lucky to have the Salt Lake Film Society, which sponsors a “year-round film festival” with art and foreign films at the Broadway Centre (111 East 300 South, 801/321-0310), and the Tower Theatre (876 East 900 South, 801/328-1645).
The Utah Film and Video Center (20 S. West Temple St., 801/534-1158), in the Salt Lake Art Center , also screens independent documentaries, animation, and experimental films.
Brewvies (677 South 200 West, 801/355-5500) is a brewpub/cinema combo where you can buy an ale and a burger and watch a first-run or cult favorite film.
For a selection of major release first-run movies, check out the following multiplexes in the downtown area: Megaplex 12 at The Gateway (165 S. Rio Grande St., 801/325-7500) and Trolley Corners Theatre (515 South 700 East, 801/364-6183).