Downtown Napa culture and entertainment

Inside the historic Napa Valley Opera House

Napa Valley isn’t just about food and wine, it’s also about the arts.  In Downtown Napa, one can have it all, and without a car.  Napa’s music and arts history is not new either, it began in 1880 with the opening of the Napa Opera House on Main Street, which still stands today as an historic landmark and as a performance venue.  In Downtown Napa, one can enjoy music at several classic venues as well as enjoy art from the street or the gallery.

The Music Scene

The art deco Uptown Theatre on Third and Franklin Streets, originally a movie theater, was restored by George Altamura to attract the best live acts and audiences in the Bay Area, enlarging the stage by three-fold, installing a state-of-the-art Myers sound system and reducing the number of seats by more than a third to widen them from 17” to 23” – and it’s working.  According to Altamura, 80% of their business comes from the broader Bay Area and artists like Boz Scaggs have returned three times in a year because they like the spectacular acoustics.   The diversity of acts from B.B. King to Clint Black to Tears for Fears to Seth Myers shows Altamura’s philosophy that “the theater is for everyone.”

In the Main Street environs, the historic Napa Valley Opera House with just 450 seats books more intimate acts such as jazz, singer-songwriter and classic music performances.  At the Historic Napa Mill, Silo’s Jazz Club is a small, intimate venue which features jazz, blues, reggae and some rock performances, at reasonable prices.

One of the best ways to appreciate music in the Napa Valley is outdoors and Downtown Napa has great street festivals  during the summer and fall – such as Blues, Brews & BBQ – featuring mostly blues and jazz and plenty of street food, wine and beer.  The Napa Chefs Market on Thursday evenings in the summer also feature live music. Check out the Downtown Napa events page for the latest schedule.

The Arts Scene

Downtown Napa is a walking town, so why not take in the public art works while you stroll about.  The Napa ARTwalk features 10 sculptures by Bay Area artists.   For the online brochure with map and QR codes that link you to an audio tour, check the Arts Council Napa Valley website.  The number of sculptures will double by 2013.

The Arts Council also sponsors 20 Bay Area artists for Art on First, a project bringing select storefronts on First Street to life with creative installations.  For more information on the artists, check out the website.

Downtown Napa’s First Street and West End also includes private art galleries, including the the Gordon Huether gallery on First Street in the Napa Square.  Huether’s body of work includes over 200 public and private commissions from around the country, but his artistic influences are local – his father dressed windows at the old Carither’s Department store in Downtown Napa with the bold and dynamic style that defines Huether’s works today.


Uptown Theatre is located at Third and Franklin Streets.  Prices vary according to act.  Uptown teams up with local hotels and restaurants for a ‘mix and match’ luxury package for two that includes VIP tickets,  dinner and overnight accomodations.  Participating restaurants are The French Laundry, La Toque, Morimoto, Bistro Don Giovanni and in Yountville, Michael Chiarello’s Bottega.