There's nothing sadder than a Star Wars stormtrooper melting inside his armor. Phoenix Comicon unveils its newest event, Fan Fest, this Friday, December 12, during cosplay-friendly weather.
In addition to cooler temps, Fan Fest is a boon for comic book and pop culture geeks who can't wait for Comicon in May. Celebrity appearances include Linda Blair of The Exorcist, Tom Skerrit (Alien, Top Gun, Picket Fences), and David Ramsey of Arrow. Fans will be kept busy with all of the comic talent in attendance, including the Arizona-based team behind Widow's Web, Raven Gregory and Autumn Ivy, and programming like the latest edition of the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown.
Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive in Glendale, and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Single-day admission ranges from $15 to $35, while an all-fest pass is $45. Visit www.phoenixcomicon.com for more details. Jose Gonzalez
They grow up so fast. The Phoenix Center for the Arts is already bringing back the Phoenix Festival of the Arts for its third year. For one weekend, culture seekers of all ages can enjoy art exhibitions, food trucks, more than 75 vendors selling everything from ceramic works to visual art, plus live shows on two stages including poetry readings and slams, musical and dance performances, open mics, and film screenings. The creative shenanigans will set up at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 North Third Street. Festival hours of operation are noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 12, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 13, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 14. Admission is free. For details, visit phoenixfestivalofthearts.org.
Energetic, experimental Orange Theatre emerges from a relatively quiet period to host an evening of unscripted fun Saturday, December 13, in its space at 1711 West Culver Street. First come drinks and snacks, mingling, and a preview screening of Inside Orange Theatre, a short documentary about the group by Goodman Creative Minds Media. Live music follows from Grace Rolland (Run Boy Run), Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, and more.
Tickets are $20 and include one free drink ticket. Admission also raises funds for a wood floor for Orange's space, to prevent actor breakage on the former body shop's concrete. The way these people sling one another around in pursuit of artistic truth, they need those planks sooner than later. Visit www.orangetheatre.org or call 602-456-0684. Julie Peterson
Phoenix may not have the bright lights, big city feel of iceskating in Rockefeller Center, but the Southwestern holiday game is strong, especially at the Desert Botanical Garden during Las Noches de las Luminarias. During the annual event, you can wander paths lit by over 8,000 luminaria bags while sipping hot cider or cocoa and enjoying the majestic beauty of the Sonoran desert after dark.
Las Noches de las Luminarias takes over the Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, on Fridays and Saturdays through December 30 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $12.50 for children ages 3 to 12 (children under 3 are admitted for free). Special pricing is available for members. For more information call 480-941-1225 or visit www.dbg.org. Katrina Montgomery
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In the 122 years since Pyotr Tchaikovsky's now-holiday classic, The Nutcracker, first debuted at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia, there have been numerous adaptations and interpretations (even a disco version). Yet, performances with the greatest appeal rarely wander far from the core work. Ballet Arizona has updated this classic with technological magic, luscious backdrops, and settings that only enhance the mostly traditional experience. And with a story as compelling as young Clara's illustrious Christmas Eve dream -- filled with worldly dancers, dolls, a Sugar Plum Fairy, toy soldiers and mouse kings -- there's no need to "reinvent" this masterpiece.
Editor's note: This post previously included a lecture at Phoenix Art Museum with Greg Chait. However, that event has been canceled. We replaced that weekend pick with Las Noches de Las Luminarias.