Old Idaho Penitentiary Events
Photo Credit: Kelly Knopp
The Old Idaho Penitentiary features several signature events throughout the year that appeal to a wide range of audiences. Events are engaging, fun, educational, and focus on a variety of topics.
2nd Fridays Series
On the 2nd Friday of each month, May through September, the Old Penitentiary will be open late. See below for details about each special event!
Friday the 13th
Anytime throughout the year the 13th falls on a Friday, the Old Pen will be open late. The only Friday the 13th in 2016 is in May!
Friday May 13th, 6pm – 10pm (8:30pm last admission). Come celebrate redheads and red fun at the Old Idaho Penitentiary on Friday the 13th! Show off your red hair or just celebrate ginger fun with friends. Enjoy family friendly games like “Bowling for Inmates”, “Cherry Pit Spit”, “Big Red Races”, and more. Random participation prizes will be given out all night and there will be special “Best Ginger” contests for adults and kids (details on the Old Pen Facebook page and Brown Paper Tickets). Food trucks, red (and non-red) beverages, beer, and wine will all be available for purchase. Food trucks, ice cream, red beverages, beer, and wine will also be available for purchase. Tickets available April 11 at Brown Paper Tickets $6 adults, $3 kids (3-12), early bird family discount available until Monday, May 9th two adults (13+) & two children (3-12yrs) for $15!
Behind the Scenes Tour
Friday, June 10th, 6pm – 10pm (9pm last admission). Ever wonder what it looks like in those “off-limits” areas of the Old Idaho Penitentiary? This is your chance! Visitors will be allowed to explore some buildings and cells that are normally closed to the public. Stationary guides will be on hand in each area to answer questions and ensure the preservation of the site is maintained. This is not a handicap accessible tour, as most of these areas require walking up and down stairs. Only a limited number of people can be in each area at one time, so lines may form. Take this once-a-year opportunity to see “forbidden” areas.This event is 13 and up ONLY. Tickets will be available at Brown Paper Tickets on May 10th $10 each; early bird discount available until Monday, June 6th two for $15!
Friday, June 17th, 9:30pm-2am, join the International Paranormal Reporting Group as they use their unique equipment and knowledge to attempt to connect with inmates and guards of the past. Participants are welcome to bring their own cameras. Individual tickets are $30, two or more tickets are $25 each. NOTE: Participants must be at least 18 years old. Tickets will go on sale at Brown Paper Tickets on Tuesday, May 17th.
Friends and Family Scavenger Hunt
Friday, July 8th, 6pm – 10pm (9pm last admission). The Old Idaho Penitentiary is hosting a scavenger hunt and lock up. Gather your team and explore our site to find the clues about our history, inmates, and buildings. Be entered to win a private tour and an Old Pen prize pack. We will have photo opportunities and a chance to lock up the guilty and the innocent. This is an all ages event $6 for adults, $3 for children, tickets at the door.
Friday, July 29th, 9:30pm-2am, join the International Paranormal Reporting Group as they use their unique equipment and knowledge to attempt to connect with inmates and guards of the past. Participants are welcome to bring their own cameras. Individual tickets are $30, two or more tickets are $25 each. NOTE: Participants must be at least 18 years old.Tickets will go on sale at Brown Paper Tickets on Wednesday, June 29th.
Bars & Ballads
Friday, August 12th, 6pm – 10pm (9pm last admission). The Old Idaho Penitentiary invites you to bring a picnic and don't forget your blanket as local bands play inside the walls. The yard and buildings will be open for self-guided tours. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children, Event is strongly recommended +10.
Friday, September 9th, 6pm – 10pm (9pm last admission). Join us for the last Second Friday Series installment of the summer! Come enjoy delicious adult beverages from local breweries while learning about the Idaho’s sordid history with alcohol. This event highlights Prohibition crimes, Boise brew history, and that notorious “squawky.” Each visitor will receive a commemorative “SquawkyFest” mug and a punch card good for one free sample from each brewery at the event (supplies may be limited, arrive early). Food trucks, trivia, music, giveaways, and self-guided tours included. 21+ only (ID required for entry). Tickets available August 1st at Brown Paper Tickets 2 for $20 specials (if purchased by Sept. 2nd) or $15 each and at the door.
Squawky was a potent, and illegal, alcohol dubbed made by inmates from various ingredients like rotting fruit, sugar, bread, potato peels and more. Don’t worry, you don’t have to drink it, just learn about it.
Felons & Fords
Saturday, September 17th the Old Idaho Penitentiary is hosting the second annual car show, presented by the Gem State Early Ford V-8 Club. Come see decades of Ford automobiles in the historic prison. There will be photo ops, raffle drawings, food trucks, car awards and more! The event is from 12-5pm (last admission 4:15). All ages welcome; $6 for adults and $3 for children (6-12). There will be no guided tours on this day, the site will be open for self-guided tours only.
Friday, October 28th (Family Night) and Saturday, October 29th (Adult Night). In 2016, our 8th annual Frightened Felons invites you to tour the site at night and dare to enter the only haunted cell house in Boise. With special performances of the Zombie "Thriller" Dance,costume contests with cash prizes, interact with actors portraying inmates of the past, visit our undertaker at the historic hearse, food trucks, coffee & hot cocoa, beer & wine. Tickets will be available on September 1st at Brown Paper Tickets (keywords: Frightened Felons).
November Friday Night Tours
Fridays: November 4th, 11th, and 13th, 6-10pm (last admission 9pm). Old Pen staff and volunteers will be giving historical site tours at 6:30/7:00/7:30/8:00/8:30 (limited capacity/first come first served). Or you are welcome to do a self-guided tour and explore the Old Pen on your own! Bring a flashlight and dress for the weather! Tickets will be available on October 1st at Brown Paper Tickets (keywords: Night Tours), 2-for-1 special if you purchase online, otherwise it is $10 per person at the door. All ages, but recommended for 10 and up.
December 14th is the Old Pen's Birthday as a historic site. Come celebrate with us, for just $1! We are open from 12-5pm (last admission is at 4:15pm).
Romancing the Pen
February 14th, 12-8pm (last admission 7pm). Looking for something other than roses or chocolates this Valentine's Day? The Old Idaho Penitentiary is offering a unique alternative to this hum-drum day devoted to love. Stroll through the site and snuggle up with your Valentine or find the true meaning of “ball and chain.” Visitors can read through our special exhibits “Romancing the Pen: ‘Love’ Stories from the Penitentiary” and "In the Name of Love." Admission fees are 2-for-1 all day!
April 2017 (date TBD). Experience a unique tour of the prison and the rarely seen cemetery. Unlock the mysteries of the dead with us as guides explore where inmates died, what their final moments were like, and where they are eternally laid to rest. Also, discover why more than half the cemetery is riddled with Unknown markers or no markers at all, and why some names cannot be found in any prison register. Your Cemetery Tour ticket also entitles you to a self-guided tour of the prison the day of your visit and the information booklet Buried Secrets: Inmates of the Idaho State Penitentiary Cemetery. $15 each, 13+ only, some content may not be suitable for children.