To ensure we start the year on the best (and nerdiest) possible course, January kicks off convention season here in Phoenix. Seriously — there's Taiyou Con, the Tempe Public Library Comic Con, and of course, Ace Comic Con.
That’s in addition to author readings, Stranger Things-themed dance parties, the music of Harry Potter performed at Symphony Hall, and a number of informative presentations. Educate yourself in 2018’s first calendar month with these 10 events across the Valley.
Billed as Arizona’s ultimate anime experience, the 2018 Taiyou Con will offer over 400 hours of programming and things to do at the Mesa Convention Center. We’re talking about cosplay, 18 panels, Q&A's with guests like Shino Kakinuma, Toshio Furukawa, and Robbie Daymond, and an Artist Alley. All that (and a ton more) will happen from January 5 through 7. Admission is $30 for a single-day pass and $45 for a weekend badge. See the Taiyou Con website for tickets and more information.
Linger Things – An Upside Down Theme Party
Don't put away your Casios, tube socks, and saved Eggs boxes. Stranger Things is never going away. See for yourself at Linger Things – An Upside Down Theme Party hosted by Dinosaur Rockstars from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, January 6, at Linger Longer Lounge. Costumes are strongly encouraged (come on — don’t be Nancy), and cash prizes will go to the best dressed attendee and a runner-up. Tickets are $5 at the door, and special Demogorgon shots are $1.50 when DJ Adrian throws on the theme song. You can use the Facebook event page to invite friends instead of your walkie-talkie.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert
When the Phoenix Symphony is performing a John Williams’ score, you know things are gonna get geeky. For this performance, they'll screen the complete film of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in its entirety, projected on the big screen above the orchestra. Make way for Symphony Hall from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on January 5, 6, or 7 for a night at Hogwarts as an early classman. Tickets range from $45 to $99. See the Phoenix Symphony website for tickets and further details.
Chandler International Film Festival
Attention film buffs: With more than 150 films from over 25 countries, the Chandler International Film Festival is a four-day event offering everything from world premieres, audience choice awards, a film auction and market, Q&As, and after-parties. Held at venues include ranging from Crowne Plaza Resort Phoenix to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the fest will run from January 12 through 15. Admission ranges from $35 for a single Friday pass to $330 for an all-access VIP pass. See the CIFF website for more.
Whether or not you miss him (you do), President Barack Obama was pretty damn photogenic. No one understands this better than Pete Souza, the former Chief Official White House Photographer who’ll stop by Mesa Arts Center from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 13. Hosted by Changing Hands Bookstore, Souza’s talk will primarily focus on his new book Obama: An Intimate Portrait, and include slideshow presentation and audience Q&A session. Tickets are $60 to $65. See the Changing Hands website for tickets and details.
2018 Ace Comic Con
This is the big one, guys. The 2018 Ace Comic Con is bringing people like Chris Evans, Tom Holland, and Stan Lee – “The name amongst names!” – to Gila River Arena from January 13 to 15 to kick off the New Year right. Other guests include Hayley Atwell, Anthony Mackie, and Hulk freaking Hogan, while other activities include an exhibitor hall, 30 hours of programming, and plenty of photo ops and chances to dress up. Tickets range from $45 for a single-day Monday pass to $95 for a three-day weekend pass, plus additional packages for photos ops and meet-and-greets. See the Ace Universe website for more information.
Poet and author Maggie Smith will visit the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, January 19. This free-to-attend evening with Smith – whose work "Good Bones" was recently honored as the Official Poem of 2016 by Public Radio International – will include a reading, Q&A, and book signing. See the Piper Writers House website for details and to RSVP.
"Seven Things I've Learned: An Evening with Ira Glass"
We assume a sea of bespectacled public radio fans will descend upon downtown Phoenix when Ira Glass – creator, producer, and host of This American Life – hits the stage at the Orpheum. Hosted by the Orpheum Theatre and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, the talk "Seven Things I've Learned: An Evening with Ira Glass" runs from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, January 20. Tickets range from $29 to $69. See the SMoCA website for details and to purchase tickets.
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Kristina Wong: The Wong Street Journal
If you’ve ever needed someone to explain super complex topics like global poverty, privilege, and economic theory with colorful charts, silly slideshows, and hashtag wars, Kristina Wong is your girl. The Wong Street Journal starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 20, at ASU Gammage. Tickets start at $20. See the ASU Gammage website for additional information and tickets.
Tempe Public Library Comic Con
Free and family friendly isn't always Tempe’s style, but the Tempe Public Library Comic Con is special. Hosted by Jeff Pina Writes and Draws Stuff, the fourth Annual Tempe Public Library Comicon will feature artists, authors, exhibitors, a costume contest hosted by Blue Ribbon Army, and activities for “fans of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Wholocks, and Trekkies.” The Tempe Public Library Comic Con runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 27. See the Library Comicon website for additional details.