Lovebirds and party animals alike will relish the opportunity to start celebrating V-Day a little bit early at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's Valentine's Eve SMoCA Nights event, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday, February 13. Skyy Vodka SMoCAtinis and screenings of short films presented by the Phoenix Film Festival are the evening's big attractions, along with the usual favorites: live DJ music, food by chef Troy Thivierge of Next, and a fashion show presented by Red Velvet. Of course, revelers also can check out the museum's latest exhibits, featuring Lesley Dill, Howard Werner and Ansel Adams. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 on the day of the event at the museum, 7374 East Second Street in Scottsdale. For details call 480-994-ARTS (2787).
Friday, February 14
This year, Valentine's Day in the Valley means more than just chocolates, flowers and sappy greeting cards; sophisticated cinema is the buzz word on Friday, February 14, when the 7th Annual Out Far! Phoenix International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival ushers in a full weekend of flicks for cinephiles of all sexual identities. The Opening Night Gay-La and Party at the AMC Arizona Center 24 starts off at 7 p.m. with a musical performance by Arizona Women in Tune, followed by the Arizona première of the lesbian romantic comedy Family Affair. Guests will enjoy libations and sweets during intermission, then at 9:45 p.m. they'll be treated to another Arizona première, the humorous gay gangster movie Friends and Family. Through Sunday, February 16, there's a full schedule of domestic and foreign feature films, plus two series of shorts – one geared to guys and another made for the ladies. Tickets to the Gay-La are $25; individual screenings are $9 to $12; passes are $50 to $95. Purchase discounted advance tickets by 5 p.m. Thursday, February 13, from www.outfar.org. Passes and opening-night tickets are available at Movies on Central, 4700 North Central. Single tickets can be purchased during the festival at the AMC Arizona Center 24, 565 North Third Street.
Saturday, February 15
Celebrity bluegrass trio The Whites, who recorded "Keep on the Sunny Side" for the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, headlines the Pioneer Days Bluegrass Festival, Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16. Bring lawn chairs and blankets to relax and watch the concert; Bluegrass Etc., The Flint Hill Special Band, Raw Deal, Arizona Tradition, Mazatzal, and Crucial County are also in the lineup. Other highlights include open mike jams on Friday and Saturday nights, music workshops, special kids' activities and food. Admission is $15 for adults and $6 for children ages 6 to 16. Gates will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum, located 20 minutes north of downtown, just off I-17 exit 225. For details visit www.pioneerbluegrass.com or call 480-966-8494.
Sunday, February 16
Experiencing the best of Greek culture has everything to do with the food: amazing gyros from a vendor on the Plaka, moussaka at a family-run restaurant near ancient temple ruins, or spanakopita at an open-air cafe next to the shores of the Mediterranean. A ticket to the old country might be out of your price range at the moment, but for an easy jaunt down to Chandler and $2 admission to the Chandler Greek Festival, you can feast on homemade Greek cuisine and stock up on Kalamata olives and other imported foods, all without the jet lag. As if the food doesn't make it enough of a destination, there will also be music, dancing and children's carnival rides. Festivities run from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, February 14; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 15; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, February 16, at St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, 125 East Commonwealth in Chandler. Call 480-899-3330 for details.
Monday, February 17
Revel in all things equine at the 48th Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and Shopping Expo, one of the largest horse shows in the world. Not surprisingly, the enormous event will be held at the WestWorld Equestrian Facility, where two arenas will feature competition in more than a dozen categories by more than 2,000 of these elite horses. Nearby, in a pair of big-top tents, more than 250 vendors will offer everything from riding apparel to horse-themed gifts. Visitors will enjoy nonstop equestrian (and shopping) action starting at 8 a.m. daily, from Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 23. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, free for kids 12 and under, and can be purchased through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. WestWorld is located at 16601 North Pima Road in Scottsdale.
Tuesday, February 18
ASU West teams up with Harkins Theatres starting Tuesday, February 18, for the "Learning to Read Films" series – a taste of film school without all those pesky exams and grades. At 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday through April 29 (except March 18), catch films in a wide range of genres from all around the world, then join professor Richard Morris for insightful discussions on cinematic topics. Boesman and Lena, based on the play by Athol Fugard, is the first presentation. Free tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 6 p.m. at Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18, 16406 North Arrowhead Fountain Center Drive in Peoria. For more information, call 602-543-5301.
Wednesday, February 19
Nearly 30 years after it swept the country, disco is still "Stayin' Alive," thanks to Saturday Night Fever, the Broadway musical based on the movie that sent John Travolta's acting career into the stratosphere. Performances at the Dodge Theatre, 400 West Washington, run through Sunday, February 23. Tickets, $33 to $58, are available from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444.