February looks like a great month for nerds of all shapes and sizes. Like cosplaying? Check. Science? Sure enough. Knights and kings? A few opportunities for that, actually. Zombies? Oh, you best believe we have zombies. Here are nine nerdy things to do in the Valley throughout the month.
Arizona Renaissance Festival
Every year, the Arizona Renaissance Festival delivers comedy, action, rides, magic shows, food, and unique handcrafted merchandise, all in the traditional fashion of the Renaissance era. It's a great way to spend a weekend with family and friends alike, not to mention the best people-watching. The festival runs every Saturday and Sunday from February 6 through March 27,10 a.m. to 6 p.m at 12601 East Highway 60 in Gold Canyon. Daily passes cost $23 for adults and $11 for children. For more information and to buy passes, visit the website or call 520-463-2600.
AZ Scitech Lecture Series: From the Coast to the Desert
Throughout the month of February, Pueblo Grande Museum will be hosting a series of free lectures every weekend exploring the theme "From the Coast to the Desert: The Relationship Between Environment and Culture." The lectures will cover a variety of topics within that framework, from the science behind this year's powerful weather-warping El Niño to complex canal systems built in Arizona as far back as A.D. 450 and the survival strategies of ancient Hohokam Native Americans. Find the full details of the lectures at the museum's blog.
In what appears to be one of the most elaborate, high-tech exhibits in the Arizona Science Center's history, "POPnology" explores the relationship between pop culture and technology and looks to the future of both. On the tech side, the Science Center allows kids to interact with a range of cutting-edge devices, from the Oculus Rift to 3D printers to virtually projected video games. And as for pop culture, the exhibit showcases the likes of Marty McFly's hoverboard, HAL 9000, R2D2, and many more iconic movie gadgets. Watch out - you might find yourself having more fun than your kid. "POPnology" launches Sunday, February 7, and costs $12 for adult non-members in addition to $18 general admission. Find the full list of features and purchase tickets on the museum's website.
Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous
It's crazy to imagine that we're still finding new dinosaurs to this day, let alone that we only just recently completed the skeleton for a sub-aquatic predatory beast even larger than a T-Rex. That's the Spinosaurus, initially discovered half a century ago but lost to World War II bombings in Germany. A team of contemporary scientists, including paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, have reassembled the creature at long last, and Ibrahim will be visiting the Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday, February 10, at 7:30 to tell the story of how it happened. Tickets start at $24 and can be purchased at the event's page on National Geographic.
Amazing Arizona Comic Con
Phoenix Comicon might have the larger crowds and the bigger guests, but for certain fans, that makes Amazing Arizona Comic Con all the better. If you're serious about comics and cosplaying, it offers a more intimate experience and programming much better catered to niche interests. This year's guests include Rob Liefeld, the creator of Cable and Deadpool, and Chris Claremont, a longtime X-Men writer behind legendary arcs like "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past." The con takes place Friday, February 12, through Sunday, February 14, at the Phoenix Convention Center South Building, and full three-day admission costs $60. For full details and to purchase tickets, head over to http://www.amazingarizonacomiccon.com.
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Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis' classic novel may already have a lackluster Hollywood version, but you're likely to find a lot more to enjoy in the stage adaptation. Arizona Broadway Theatre's rendition of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe premiered on Friday, January 29, and it will continue to run every Tuesday through Friday at 10 a.m. until the final performance on Friday, February 12. Expect high-quality production values and great performances, but do note that this show is intended primarily for children. General admission tickets cost $18.50 for adults and $15.50 for children. For dates and tickets, check out the theater's website or call 623-776-8400.
5K Run Dead Zombie Run
Have a hard time gathering the energy and determination for distance running? Well, a few zombies on your tail should help you find the motivation. The 5K Run Dead Zombie Run works a little differently from most races: participants wear flags to represent their health, which zombies attempt to steal. Finish the race with at least one flag attached or become one of the walking dead yourself. The run takes place Saturday, February 20, at Victory Lane Sports Park, and you can register online now; all proceeds from the event go to scientific research on cancer and Alzheimer's Disease.
Estrella War XXXII
If you're a hardcore medieval history nut, the Renaissance Festival might feel a little, well, plebeian. For you, there's Estrella War, a full-blown reenactment festival where you can camp onsite for a solid week, Here, there are no paid entertainers or spectators, only participants. Come dressed in era-appropriate clothing and enjoy a myriad of middle ages activities including archery, armored combat, interactive arts and sciences demonstrations, and plenty of special events. Estrella War takes place Tuesday, February 23, through Monday, February 29, at Schnepf Farms. You can register for the full week now for $70, or come just for a day trip for $20. Find more information and register at estrellawar.org.
The Arizona Matsuri is an annual festival celebrating Japanese culture and history, offering four stages of live entertainment, arts and crafts, children's activities, an extensive bonsai display, and of course plenty of delicious Japanese cuisine, including a beer and sake garden. Oh, and it's absolutely free. Visit the Heritage & Science Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 27, and Sunday, February 28, to enjoy the festivities. For more information, go to www.azmatsuri.org.