We don't want to hear anyone say that Phoenix doesn't have any culture ever again, and we've got a list of 23 festivals to prove it. This spring will be anything but uncultured in the metro Phoenix area.
Phoenix has everything from a modern dance festival and celebrations of Spanish, Brazilian, and Polish cultures to film and multiple bike (both bicycle and motorcycle) festivals. It's going to be a busy spring. Prepare to mark your calendars.
Arizona Renaissance Festival Now through March 29 Gold Canyon, AZ
When you're looking for old timey hats, jesters, and two men riding horses toward each other with pointy sticks, look no further (and possibly nowhere else) than the Arizona Renaissance Festival. Wander around the 27th version of this Arizona staple on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets for adults can be purchased at Fry's Food Stores for $20, online for $21, or at the box office for $22. For more information, visit royalfaires.com/Arizona.
Arizona SciTech Festival Now through March Various locations throughout the Valley
We bet that if you attended every single Arizona SciTech Festival event, you would walk away at the end of March with the equivalent of some kind of college degree. This Valley-wide festival offers talks, workshops, and events that cover everything from archaeology to the Verde Valley to social insects. For a full list of the remaining festivals and events associated with Arizona SciTech Festival, view the full calendar at azscitech.com.
The 2015 version of Spark! Mesa's Festival of Creativity features both local Arizona and international artists' creative, innovative, and engaging performances, visual art, and activities that focus on the elements -- fire, earth, water, and air. During this free four-day festival, Mesa Arts Center welcomes guests to design cityscapes, walk through a migrating flock of birds, and play music using sculpted sea creatures. For more information on locations and times of events, visit mesaartscenter.com/spark.
Admittedly, modern dance is not for everyone. It takes an open mind and a certain level of patience to truly appreciate it. But that's not saying that people shouldn't be eager to experience it. Give modern dance a chance with some of the best in the state with CONDER/dance's Breaking Ground 2015. Before the main performances, guests are welcome to view ten tiny dances pre-show once again in the public spaces of Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, starting at 7:30 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at conderdance.com.
Sonoran Festival of Art March 20 through 22 Carefree, AZ
Stroll on down to Easy Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the weekend of March 20 for the 14th annual Sonoran Festival of Art where you can expect to find pieces of work in a range of styles and mediums. Both local and national artists will be showing what they've got along with Sonoran Arts League artists. This year's festival will also feature a wine and craft beer garden as well as a concert on Sunday afternoon to help wrap up the free-to-attend event. Visit sonoranartsleague.org for more information.
There's no business like show business. There's also no business as difficult to break into. Thankfully, there are things like the Hormel Festival, which shine a light on and give a stage to new pieces of theatrical work. Out of 150 submissions, five scripts have been chosen and will be performed throughout the festival in addition to An Evening of Short Plays, The Composer/Lyricist Cabaret, and the 24 Hour Theatre Project. Tickets range from $40 for a weekly pass to $60 for a Producer pass, which gives access to the five fully-staged readings. For more info, visit phoenixtheatre.com/festival.
If you're like us, you're still mourning the fact that you couldn't make it down to Brazil for the World Cup last year. But on Saturday, March 21, Brazil is coming to you in the form of the sixth annual Carnaval do Brazil at The Pressroom, 441 West Madison Street. Lose yourself in all things Brazil as Samba dancers shake it to Brazilian bands and people don Brazilian costumes while sipping on Brazil's national drink, the Caipirinha. The festivities start at 8 p.m. Presale tickets were $15. Admission is $20 the day of the event. Visit carnavaldobrazil.com for more info.
Come celebrate all things Spanish at Phoenix Festival de España with live performances, Spanish culture presentations, art exhibits, food, and workshops. Local and national Spanish historians will lecture about Spanish history and culture and Flamenco Por La Vida will offer flamenco workshops throughout the day. The night will end with "Noche de Flamenco" featuring nationally acclaimed flamenco artists from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Third Street Theater. Tickets for "Noche de Flamenco" are $15 or pay what you can, but the rest of the festival is free to attend. Visit phoenixcenterforthearts.org/events/phoenix-festival-de-espana/ for more information.
Okay, so Arizona Bike Week may not actually be an entire week, but there is enough going on in those five days to fill at least any sane person's whole week. You'll find everything from straight up hotrod appreciation to concerts to a special appearance by Bobby (Mark Boone Jr.) and Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) from Sons of Anarchy. Plus, several of the events benefit charities, which makes us thinks these biking badasses may be a little softer than they appear, and we dig that. For a full schedule of events, visit azbikeweek.com.
If you're a biker, getting your nickname is basically a right of passage, and there's always a story behind it. We can't think of a better place to tell that story or even get yourself a new nickname than Phoenix Bikefest 2015. With demos, vendors, and rides, we imagine there will be plenty for Harley and hotrod lovers to tell for at least the next year. Demo hours are Thursday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and venue hours include those plus Friday, March 27, and Saturday, March 28, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For a schedule of events and more, visit phoenixbikefest.com.
Sure, the Oscars are over, but that doesn't mean exciting things aren't still happening in the film world, specifically Phoenix's film world. Phoenix Film Festival will screen over 150 films over eight days, so even the pickiest of cinephiles are sure to find something they will like. And if you find you have some downtime between films, check out some of the festival's workshops or parties. Tickets range from $13 for individual screenings to $300 for a platinum pass. To purchase tickets and for a complete schedule, visit phoenixfilmfestival.com.
Year after year, Tempe Festival of the Arts is one of the largest and most anticipated celebrations of arts and the people who create them in Arizona. With close to 400 artist booths and hundreds of thousands of attendees, it's easy to see why. Find everything you're looking for during this three-day festival from photography to jewelry to ceramics. Guests are welcome to roam the booths from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on all three days during this free-to-attend event. For more information, visit tempefestivalofthearts.com.
Last year, thousands attended as imaginative inventors, multidisciplinary artists, and makers of all kinds gathered to teach, learn, and appreciate the creativity of the southwest. This year, prepare for Southwest Maker Fest 2.0 with exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, and more aiming to spark creativity in each visitor on Saturday, March 28, from noon to 8 p.m. along Main Street between Robson and Center Street in downtown Mesa. For more information, visit southwestmakerfest.com.
First of all, yes. Dragon Boat racing does involve a team of people racing in a boat with a decorative dragon head and tail attached and someone keeping the rowing rhythm by beating on a drum. We know, awesome. Catch an entire two days of these races starting at 8 a.m. on both Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29, at the SRP Marina at Tempe Town Lake. For race times, activities, and more information, visit azdba.com/festival/.
This three-day fest has enough bike-related activities to entertain everyone from the casual Sunday rider to Lance Armstrong, you know, if he was in Mesa. With several races including El Tour Criterium on Friday, April 10, and then El Tour de Mesa Saturday, April 11, a BMX Freestyle show, bicycle rodeo, and custom bicycle competition, downtown Mesa will be the hot spot for any bike lover in Arizona. For hours, location, and more, check out cyclomesa.com.
The Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, 3711 West Deer Valley Road, is turning 20 this year and, in celebration of that, is presenting Native Now. This festival aims to teach about the history and culture of Arizona's indigenous cultures through contemporary art, performances, film, and food. Native Now will also feature fine art painting and music by artists like Ryan Dennison and Shining Soul. The festival is free to attend and goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit asuevents.asu.edu/native-now-0 for more information.
After over 30 years, we hardly think Phoenix Pride needs an introduction. This festival is meant to bring Phoenix's LGBTQ community together while educating the public of the community's history and goals for the future. And, of course, it's full of entertainment and activities as well. With four stages, beer and wine tasting, KidSpace, an arts expo, and Erotic World, there will be plenty to keep guests of all ages to do and see. Single day tickets are $20 and alcohol tickets are $6 each. For tickets and more info, visit phoenixpride.org/events/pride-festival/.
Come together to celebrate, appreciate, and learn about cultures from all over the world during the Gilbert Global Village Festival. Community members, non-profits, service organizations, and schools are invited to join the 11th version of this event and experience dance, music, arts, and food from cultures around the world. The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11. Visit gilbertaz.gov for more info.
While all types of comedy feature their own challenges, we can't help but think that improvisational comedy is the most challenging. Come see what we mean at the 14th Phoenix Improv Festival when performers will take the stage at Herberger Theater Center to perform 27 unscripted theatrical pieces for the first and last time. Tickets range from $10 to $20, depending on which day and time you choose. Also, be warned that some content, although hilarious, may be PG-13. To view the full schedule and purchase tickets, visit herbergertheater.org.
We just have one question for you. Can you polka? If the answer is yes, you better sign up for the "Can you Polka" dance competition during the Polish Festival at Our Lady of Częstochowa Parish, 2828 W. Country Gables Dr. And if the answer is no, you better be watching that competition very carefully in hopes of picking up some moves. This festival will also feature plenty of Polish music, a folk fashion show, and several pierogi-eating challenges. For a full schedule of events, visit polishfestivalaz.org.
The Herberger Institiute for Design and the Arts' School of Film, Dance, and Theatre and the Arizona Filmmakers Association are teaming up to present the 10th Annual Student Film Festival. Students of the Herberger Institute will be putting their best foot, er, film forward during an evening of short student films chosen through both a juried and non-juried submission process. The festival will take place at Harkins Valley Art Theatre, 509 South Mill Avenue in Tempe, starting at 7 p.m. on both nights. Visit asuevents.asu.edu for more information.
Arizona's sunsets are some of the most beautiful sights we've ever seen. Add in giant, colorful hot air balloons, and we imagine it would be simply breathtaking. See if we're right on Saturday, May 23, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. during the sixth annual Cave Creek Balloon Festival. View the balloons, sip on some local Four Peaks brews, and enjoy the sunset and evening. General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and under. To purchase tickets and to learn more, visit cavecreekfestivals.com.
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We don't know if you know or not, but Phoenix Comicon is kind of a big deal now. In it's 15th year, this convention is bigger and more popular than ever, and dare we say it's even becoming a place to see and be seen? And see you will. As usual, Phoenix Comicon is boasting some big names on their schedule, including a mini Buffy the Vampire Slayer reunion with Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof appearing together and Charisma Carpenter making additional appearances. Check out phoenixcomicon.com for a full schedule of guests and activities.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.