Baby, It's Bright Outside: Fiesta of Light; Ahwatukee-Foothills Festival of Lights; ZooLights; "Wild Winter Nights": The City of Phoenix's free Fiesta continues nightly, through Thursday, January 1, in the area surrounding Symphony Hall Terrace, Second Street and Adams (534-3378). Ahwatukee's white-lights-only bonanza can be viewed from 5:30 to 11 each evening, through January 1. The fest is centered on Chandler Boulevard about three and a half miles west of I-10 (460-6169). The Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, is garbed in a Technicolor dreamcoat of lights during its sixth annual ZooLights display. It continues from 6 to 10 nightly, through Sunday, January 11. Special admission is $4.50, free for kids age 2 and under (273-1341, extension 7810). Wildlife World Zoo's "Wild Winter Nights" features thousands of lights placed strategically around the grounds of the west-side menagerie, 165th Avenue and Northern in Litchfield Park, plus a special exhibit of black-footed penguins from South Africa. The "WWN" display continues from 5:30 to 9 each evening, through Sunday, January 4; admission is $5, free for kids 2 and under (935-9453).
"Africa! A Sense of Wonder": The exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central, promises "new ways of looking at the art of Africa" and includes about 80 sub-Saharan objects that date from the 16th to early 20th centuries and range from the sociocultural to the fanciful. Drawn from the extensive collection of Valley resident Richard Faletti and family, "Africa!" was co-curated by Mary Nooter Roberts and Allen F. Roberts; it continues through Sunday, February 8, in the Steele Gallery. Various related in-gallery presentations and performances are scheduled. This week: "Something we lost . . . 1230 A.C.E.," a presentation of various tribal dance styles by the Barbea Williams Performing Company, at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 28; and "A Kwanzaa Celebration," featuring storyteller and writer Fatimah Halim, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, December 30. The museum is closed Christmas; regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Admission is $6, $4 for students and seniors, $2 for children ages 6 to 18, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all on Thursdays. 257-1880, 257-1222.
The Nutcracker: Ballet Arizona's annual staging of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker has a different vibe this year, with new sets (by Thomas Munn of the San Francisco Opera), costumes and choreography. The Phoenix Symphony--conducted by its former music director, James Sedares--provides the accompaniment. Final performances are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 26; and 2 p.m. Saturday, December 27. Tickets range from $9 to $36, available via the ballet or Dillard's (381-1096, 503-5555).
Fred Stonehouse/Steve Gompf: Stonehouse is a Milwaukee-born painter who operates in his own fever-pitched realm of imagination; says Fred of the startlingly original pieces in his exhibit "Thirteen Devils & El Libro de los Suenos": "I break the rules of symbolism internationally. . . . I don't have any qualms about it." Valley-based Gompf is a multimedia junkie who transforms his passion for old junk--and faded visuals--into glorious pseudohistory via sometimes disturbing, nickelodeon-style loops "broadcast" on lovingly rehabilitated, oddly threatening machines named televisors. His installation is titled "Steve Gompf & Eadweard Muybridge: Persistent Visions: Televisors and Early Motion-Picture Technologies." The dual exhibits are closed Christmas and New Year's Day, but are up through Saturday, January 3, at the Lisa Sette Gallery, 4142 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Viewing is free; regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays (and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays), noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. 990-7342.
Fiesta Bowling: The 27th time around for the football classic is the pretext for the usual slate of fun stuff around the Valley. Examples: Downtown Scottsdale's Fiesta Bowl Art Walk offers a free cultural alternative to non-pigskin-heads. The downtown streets will be closed to motor traffic but open for pedestrians to enjoy artist receptions, exhibits, music, a hot-air-balloon glow and kids' art activities from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, December 27 (350-3939). Sun Devil Stadium, College Avenue and Stadium Drive in Tempe, will host the 20th annual Blue Cross and Blue Shield National Band Championship, in which 10 of the country's best high school marching bands, among them the Valley's own Tempe High School, will lip off at each other, at 12:30 p.m. Monday, December 29. Tickets are $7 and $10, available from the Fiesta Bowl ticket office (350-0911). The MicroAge Fiesta Bowl Parade, presided over by baseball great Ryne Sandberg, gets on the hoof down Central Avenue at 11 a.m. Tuesday, December 30. Tickets for chair seating are $8; riser seats are $12 and $18. They're available from the Fiesta Bowl ticket office or Dillard's (350-0911, 503-5555). On game day, Old Town Tempe will host the Tempe Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Block Party, featuring six stages full of such national acts as the B-52's, Kansas, Rome, and Joe Diffie. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday, December 31, and continue until midnight, with the "Tostitos Chip Drop." Advance tickets are $10, available at Fry's Food and Drug Stores Valleywide, the Fiesta Bowl ticket office or Dillard's (350-0911, 503-5555). Oh, yeah, and the game itself: Kansas State and Syracuse will face off at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sun Devil Stadium (350-0911).