Boise occupies a large area 64 sq mi (170 km2) according to the United States Census Bureau. Like all major cities, it is composed of several neighborhoods. These include the Bench, the North End, West Boise and Downtown, among others. In January 2014 the Boise Police Department partnered with the folksonomic neighborhood blogging site Nextdoor, the first city in the Northwest and the 137th city in the U.S. to do so. Since the app, which enables the city's police, fire, and parks departments to post to self-selected, highly localized areas, first became available in October 2011, 101 neighborhoods and sections of neighborhoods have joined.
Boise is a regional hub for jazz, theater, and indie music. The Gene Harris Jazz Festival is hosted in Boise each spring. Several theater groups operate in the city, including the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Little Theatre, Boise Contemporary Theater, and Prairie Dog Productions, among others. The Treefort Music Fest in late March features emerging bands. The renovated Egyptian Theatre hosts national and regional music acts, comedians, and special film screenings .
Idaho's ethnic Basque community is one of the largest in the United States, on the order of nearly 7,000 people in 2000, many of whom live in Boise. A large Basque festival known as Jaialdi is held once every five years (next in 2020). Downtown Boise features a vibrant section known as the "Basque Block". Boise's mayor, David H. Bieter, is of Basque descent. Boise is also a sister region of the Basque communities.
Boise is home to several museums, including the Boise Art Museum, Idaho Historical Museum, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Idaho Black History Museum, Boise WaterShed and the Discovery Center of Idaho. On the first Thursday of each month, a gallery stroll known as First Thursday is hosted in the city's core business district by the Downtown Boise Association.
Boise also has a thriving performing arts community. The Boise Philharmonic, now in its 49th season, under the leadership of Music Director and Conductor Robert Franz continues to grow musically, and introduces excellent guest artists and composers year after year. The dance community is represented by the resurgent Ballet Idaho under artistic director Peter Anastos, and the nationally known and critically acclaimed Trey McIntyre Project also make their home in Boise. All of these perform at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, on the Boise State University campus. The Morrison Center also hosts local and national fine arts performances. Rounding out the classical performing arts is Opera Idaho, under the direction of Mark Junkert, which brings grand Opera to various venues throughout the Treasure Valley.
The Boise City Department of Arts and History was created in 2008 with the goal of promoting the arts, culture, and history of the city among its residents and visitors. Since 1978 Boise City had a public arts commission like many cities to promote public art and education. The Arts Commission provided expert advice on public art installations to the city and private groups, as well as to develop many educational programs within the city promoting the arts. In 2008 the city and the Arts Commission made the decision to introduce history into the scope of the art commission and rename this new commission the Boise City Department of Arts and History.
The Boise City Department of Arts and History oversees several ongoing projects and programs related to art, culture, and history, and a number of short-term projects at any given time. Some ongoing projects include: Maintenance of a public art collection valued at over $3 million, Creation and maintenance of city historical and art walks and tours, Maintenance of a city historical research collection, Artists in Residence, and the Fettuccine Forum.
In 2013, Boise celebrated its sesquicentennial, the commemoration was also known as the Boise 150. The commemoration was led by the City of Boise's Department of Arts & History. The Department of Arts & History focused the commemoration around the themes of Enterprise, Community, and Environment. For the sesquicentennial year, the Department of Arts and History inhabited a storefront at 1008 Main St. This Boise 150 headquarters, also known as the Sesqui-Shop operated as a store, exhibit space, and event venue. Local merchants produced authentic local products as part of the sesquicentennial. Sesquicentennial events included, Thinking 150, Anniversary Weekend, Re-Art Children's Program, Sesqui-Speaks, and Walk 150. Legacy pieces of the sesquicentennial included the Share Your Story Program, a Commemorative book featuring local writers, and a commemorative CD featuring local musicians. As part of the sesquicentennial, the Department of Arts & History also awarded a Legacy Grant to the Shoshone-Bannock Culture Committee, as well as 36 smaller community grants.
According to a 2012 study performed by Americans for the Arts, arts, both public and private, in Boise is a forty-eight million dollar per year industry. The same study also cited the arts in and around Boise as a supplier of jobs for about 1600 people and producer of roughly $4.4 million in revenue to state and local government.
The Boise Centre on the Grove is an 85,000-square-foot (7,900 m2) convention center that hosts a variety of events, including international, national, and regional conventions, conferences, banquets, and consumer shows. It is located in the heart of downtown Boise and borders the Grove Plaza, which hosts numerous outdoor functions throughout the year including the New Year's Eve celebration, the Idaho Potato Drop hosted by the Idaho New Year's Commission.
The Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center offers water features and wildlife experiences just east of downtown. It is located adjacent to Municipal Park. It features live fish and wildlife exhibits, viewing areas into the water, bird and butterfly gardens, waterfalls and a free visitor's center.
Boise has diverse and vibrant religious communities. The Jewish community's Ahavath Beth Israel Temple, completed 1896, is the nation's oldest continually used temple west of the Mississippi. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated a temple there in 1984 and the Boise Hare Krishna Temple opened in August 1999.
Boise (along with Valley and Boise Counties) hosted the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. More than 2,500 athletes from over 85 countries participated.
In 1972, John Waters set the final scene of his low-budget film Pink Flamingos in Boise.