How to take part in Salt Lake City’s NBA All-Star Weekend on any budget

The marquee events come with hefty price tags, but there are more affordable ways to enjoy the annual basketball showcase.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The NBA Ice Buckets installation on the south side of Trolley Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

NBA All-Star Weekend will bring the stars — basketball and otherwise — to Utah.

And for some events, that means five-star prices, too. To get tickets to events like All-Star Saturday, featuring the Dunk Contest, or Sunday’s main event on Feb. 19, you’re looking at a four-digit outlay. (More details on that below.)

But there will still be plenty to do the weekend of Feb. 17-19 at much more reasonable price points, all the way down to free.

Here’s how to enjoy the NBA’s All-Star Weekend on any budget.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Free activities and events

Grit Rail Jam at the Olympic Legacy Plaza in The Gateway: Two snowboarding competitions will take place at Gateway’s Olympic Plaza, as athletes show off their rail tricks to an open audience. First, amateurs will compete on Friday, Feb. 17 from 2-5 p.m., then professional snowboarders will compete on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 3-6 p.m. Winners will receive medals and cash prizes. Grit Rail Jam is free and open to the public.

Entertainment on TRAX: The Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake City, and UTA have contracted with nearly 50 singers, comedians, musicians, and magicians who will perform inside train cars during All-Star Weekend. Performances will take place from the Gateway to the Gallivan stops downtown. Hosts who work with each performer will act as guides, answering visitor questions and providing directions.

UTA will have free fare days for all of Feb. 12-21. For the entirety of February, any person with a day-of-travel airline ticket can ride free on UTA’s system.

The Shop Salt Lake City at The Gateway: The subject of a recent Tribune profile, fashion expert Calyann Barnett is curating two pop-up retail stores at The Gateway. Brands with collections inside include Cactus Jack, MRKT, StockX, The Webster Miami, CounterPoint, and Mitchell & Ness featuring Slam & Thrifthood. The stores are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Feb. 16-18, and open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 19.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The NBA Ice Buckets installation on the south side of Trolley Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

CENTRAL at Gallivan Plaza: An art and music demonstration just off Main Street. A total of 25 musicians will perform above upcycled shipping containers; inside those containers will display artwork from local artists. A generative A.I. film will be projected onto the Gallivan stage. Various sculptures, including one created for the event, will be displayed on the city block’s grounds. CENTRAL will be free and open to all ages from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., Feb. 17-19.

NBA Ice Buckets at Trolley Square: A free-to-play basketball shooting game. Like a huge, tricked-out version of Pop-a-Shot, players can compete by themselves or against others as they shoot on five different baskets at different heights. Winners can get prizes such as tickets to All-Star 2023 events, merchandise and more. Open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from now until the end of All-Star Weekend.

Events $20 or under

Utah Jazz Catapult at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum: Opening Jan. 30, the catapult is a new permanent exhibit at the museum that shoots basketballs at a hoop to teach kids about force, momentum, gravity, and turning potential energy into kinetic energy. Kids can stomp on a foot level to experiment with the force needed to make a shot.

Entry to the museum is $13.50 per adult, $12.50 per child.

NBA HBCU Classic at the Huntsman Center: Southwestern Athletic Conference teams Grambling State University and Southern University will compete in the annual showcase of historically black colleges and universities. The game is at 2 p.m. on Feb. 18.

Lower bowl tickets are $10 on the end lines, $20 for sideline tickets.

NBA G League Next Up Game at the Huntsman Center: The best players in the G-League will play an All-Star-style game at the Huntsman Center on Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. It’s the first time this contest has been held. Of particular interest: Scoot Henderson, the presumptive No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA draft, should play in this game.

Tickets are $15, seating is general admission.

Events $50 or under

NBA All-Star Practice: Fans can watch NBA All-Stars practice for the game. As you can imagine, not as strenuous as a real NBA practice, but both rosters will do various shooting drills, run through a play or two, and generally get to know one another. The practice is on Feb. 18, at 11 a.m.

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo signs an autograph during practice at the NBA All-Star basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

Upper bowl tickets are $50, lower bowl end-line tickets are $125, and lower bowl sideline tickets are $150. Within those sections, tickets are general admission.

NBA Crossover at the Salt Palace Convention Center: A big NBA-themed fan convention. As they put it, “NBA Crossover will engage fans in its largest footprint to date, with immersive experiences, brand activations, live performances, NBA and WNBA appearances, limited edition merchandise and collectibles, art and memorabilia, apparel customization and more.” Crossover will be open Feb. 17-19 from 11 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Tickets are $40 for adults, $20 for children under 12.

All-Star Celebrity Game at the Huntsman Center: The annual exhibition basketball game between two teams of celebrities, of whom actual basketball skill widely varies. Jazz owners Ryan Smith and Dwyane Wade will act as captains of the two squads. Celebrity rosters have yet to be announced.

Tickets started at $35, but those tickets have sold out. Limited tickets are still available in the Huntsman Center’s upper bowl for $45.

NBA Rising Stars at Vivint Arena: The NBA’s annual Rookie-Sophomore game has a new format: they’ll be separated into four teams, who will play a tournament of three games played to a total final score. The game is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 17 at Vivint Arena.

Cheapest tickets began at $40, but only a couple of spots remain. A few $50 seats remain as well. There’s a higher quantity of $60 tickets in Vivint Arena’s upper bowl. Lower bowl tickets begin at $200.

The expensive events

NBA All-Star Saturday Night: The dunk contest, the 3-point contest, and the skills challenge all take place on this night at Vivint Arena, along with a quick concert or two in this made-for-TV event. Ceremonies start at 6 p.m. on Feb. 18.

Miami Heat's Derrick Jones Jr. heads to the basket during the NBA All-Star slam dunk contest in Chicago, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Single-game tickets aren’t sold — instead, those who want to attend must buy an NBA Experiences package with other amenities. For All-Star Saturday, those packages start at $999.

NBA All-Star Game: The showcase event features the Eastern Conference and Western Conference All-Stars, on two teams selected by the captains. New this year: the captains will pick teams immediately preceding the game at 5:30 p.m on Feb. 19.

Single-game tickets aren’t sold — instead, those who want to attend the game must buy an NBA Experiences package with other amenities. For Sunday’s game, those packages start at $1399.