Nerd Culture

21 Spring Festivals in Metro Phoenix

These ladies met at Pride three years ago. Both were leaving the festival, and the girl on the right tapped the other lady on the shoulder to say she was hot. The rest was history.
These ladies met at Pride three years ago. Both were leaving the festival, and the girl on the right tapped the other lady on the shoulder to say she was hot. The rest was history. Melissa Fossum
Yes, spring means Ren Fest. - MELISSA FOSSUM
Yes, spring means Ren Fest.
Melissa Fossum
Ah, spring — the season when Phoenicians find themselves outdoors and having loads of airy fun. This time of year, there are festivals aplenty to keep your calendar filled to the brim until summer. We rounded up a list to help you start your planning.

Arizona Renaissance Festival
Through April 2
Gold Canyon
$13 to $23 for general admission; season passes available

This is quite possibly the only fair that has a massive turkey leg as its unofficial symbol. Feast on one of those bad boys, or dig your teeth into the equally decadent steak-on-a-stake at this festival, where hearty portions abound. When you’re not eating and drinking, you might be testing your sporting abilities at games like target shooting with a crossbow, or lobbing a tomato at an annoying peasant in the Vegetable Justice area. Maybe you want to ride the Piccolo Pony – the world’s largest rocking horse – or toss a battle ax. Old-timey games and rides are at every turn. The marketplace features artisanal goods from leather items to lotions and potions. Find details at the Arizona Renaissance Festival website.

click to enlarge Hotrods and classics from days gone by - COURTESY OF GOODGUYS ROD AND CUSTOM ASSOCIATION
Hotrods and classics from days gone by
Courtesy of Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Goodguys 8th Spring Nationals
March 10 to 12
WestWorld of Scottsdale
$6 to $20; free for ages 6 and younger


Car lovers, don’t even think about missing this. See more than 2,500 1972 and older hotrods, customs, trucks, and muscle cars spread throughout WestWorld. You can buy a car, too. There’s a Swap Meet and Cars 4 Sale Corral that connects you to vintage parts and vehicles. Plenty of vendors are onsite for shopping. Other car-centric fun includes auto demonstrations, and a Nitro Thunderfest Dragster Exhibition. The kids' zone offers arts and crafts activities, games, and prizes. See details at the Goodguys website.


Ostrich Festival
March 10 to 12
Tumbleweed Park
$7 to $10 for general admission; VIP passes available

This annual event that shines a spotlight on the gawky bird is back. You’ll see plenty of the ostriches, along with pigs, camels, and ponies. Some you get to ride, others you can get cuddly with at the petting zoo. From big spinning wheels to a spinning coaster, there are plenty of ways to shriek and scream, including a zombie fun house. The ostriches will race, and you can enjoy games, food, and entertainment at this bird-oriented fun fair. Visit the Ostrich Festival website for details.

Scottsdale Arts Festival
March 10 to 12
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Civic Center Park
$10 to $15

This scenic park is filled with tents featuring the work of 175 jury-selected artists from around the world, working in media including painting, photography, glass, sculpture, jewelry, and ceramics. Stroll the grounds to take in all the artwork, as well as live musical performances. This year, New Orleans-based soul singer Nikki Hill performs the headlining concert on Saturday. Other musical acts include the Blood Feud Family Singers, Jovert, and Moonlight Magic. There’s plenty to eat, too. And yes – the Maine Lobster Lady is among the many food trucks. There’s also Press Italian, Satay Hut, and Paletas Betty. Beer, wine, and beverages will be available to help you wash it all down. Making your own mimosas or Bloody Marys is also an option. The Community Art Studio offers hands-on activities for guests of all ages. Another highlight includes a performance by speed painter Randall Hedden. Visit the Scottsdale Arts Festival website for more.

click to enlarge Convert your druids at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Faire. - ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE & FAIRE
Convert your druids at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Faire.
St. Patrick's Day Parade & Faire
Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Faire
March 11
Margaret T. Hance Park
$8 to $10 for general admission

Watch the parade that celebrates Irish culture with floats, marching bands, and bagpipes galore. It starts at 10 a.m., and when that lively march is done, Hance Park is the hub for more celebratory activities. Three stages for entertainment present dancers and musicians, and there’s also loads of food and drinks, an area for kids to play, and a marketplace with Irish goods and crafts. Genealogy groups and Irish clubs will also be on hand. See the St. Patrick's Day Phoenix website for more.

Arizona Aloha Festival
March 11 to 12
Tempe Beach Park
Admission is free

Hawaii is always a dream away. But that dream gets a little more real with this annual family-friendly event that happens at Tempe Beach Park. Get swept away as you’re surrounded by Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures with traditional music, dance, and food. For details, visit the Arizona Aloha Festival website.

Tucson Festival of Books
March 11 to 12
University of Arizona
Admission is free

Book lovers should rush to this event. In addition to featuring numerous book vendors, it also features two days of multi-genre author presentations. The author lineup is more than 100 deep, and includes writers of both adult and kids’ books. It’s also a charitable affair, raising money annually for literature-focused organizations. The Science City tent is an opportunity for attendees of all ages to see diverse science experiments, tour University of Arizona laboratories, and meet science writers and researchers. There’s also food, music, and dance performances to enjoy at this literary extravaganza. For details and a complete schedule, see the Tucson Festival of Books website.

click to enlarge Art Detour patrons enjoying the visuals. - ALEXANDRA GASPAR
Art Detour patrons enjoying the visuals.
Alexandra Gaspar
Art Detour
March 16 to 19
Downtown Phoenix
Admission is free

If you haven’t been to or heard about Phoenix’s First Fridays art walk, you might need to crawl out from under that rock. Art Detour, now in its 29th year, is the event that started that monthly occurrence. This art-filled weekend is a self-guided tour of galleries, studios, one-time-exhibits, and installations throughout the downtown neighborhoods. Much of the work exhibited is created by talented locals. A shuttle service is provided to let you get to different areas. For a guide to all the happenings, see Art Detour's website.

Read on for more arts, comedy, and cultural festivals in metro Phoenix this spring.
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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young