Phoenix, your weekend plans have arrived. And here's what you should know: Some of these stellar things to do in the Valley this weekend are totally, 100 percent free — and many cost just a little more than President Donald Trump wants to spend on the arts. How fancy. Whether you're looking to pre-game for ZapCon or drool over houses in one of Phoenix's best neighborhoods, we've found seven ways to have fun without spending more than $20.
In case you haven’t made it to the Zs on your nerdy bucket list yet, ZapCon is known formally as ZapCon Arcade and Pinball Convention, and it’s held in April at the Mesa Convention Center. As a follow-up, ZapCon Nights act as warmup sessions for local pinball wizards at The Grid: Games and Growlers, 525 South Gilbert Road, A-7, in Mesa.
This ZapCon Night will be the last one before the actual ZapCon, and goes from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, March 24. At 7 p.m., an IFPA-sanctioned pinball tournament is open to the first 32 people. Admission is free. Wear a ZapCon shirt or badge and get free tokens, which also goes for the pinball machines. Call 480-621-8088 or see the Facebook event page. Lauren Cusimano
Frankenstein Panel Discussion
When Mary Shelley penned the legendary novel Frankenstein about 200 years ago, her premise was unequivocally fantastical. A couple of centuries later, reanimation isn’t so far-fetched. And as advancements in science and technology bring us nearer the precipice, ethical questions need to be addressed. More than a bicentennial celebration of Shelley’s masterpiece, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s Frankenstein Panel Discussion aims to do just that. Three Valley-based experts, each with their own unique background and perspectives, will be on hand to address the very real possibility of Frankensteins in our future. Saunter down to the SMoCA Lounge, 7374 East Second Street, doing your best Boris Karloff impersonation, at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 24, and join the free conversation. Visit SMoCA's website or call 480-874-4666 for details. Rob Kroehler
Sherlock Holmes Film Festival
Let’s measure Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most iconic character, by the numbers. Sherlock Holmes is at the center of 56 short stories and four novels by Doyle, at least four non-canonical comic books, three or so TV shows, countless pastiches, and more than 30 films (though that might be a conservative estimation). You’ll be happy to know that the folks behind Herberger Theater Center’s Sherlock Holmes Film Festival have been choosy in their selections, spotlighting everyone’s favorite violinist/brainiac/opioid addict.
Just five movies are featured, but their range spans decades and countries of origin. The festivities get rolling with a VIP reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 24. A screening of the 1916 silent film Sherlock Holmes follows at 7:30 p.m. and features live musical accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin.
The festival concludes on Saturday, March 25, with a showing of Bill Condon’s 2015 flick Mr. Holmes at 222 East Monroe Street. Tickets range from $5 to $25 per screening. So if you’re looking to catch a few of the fest’s offerings, it’s probably worth springing for a $40 VIP pass, which grants access to all the films, discussions, and other programming. For details, visit Herberger Theater's website or call the box office at 602-252-8497. Becky Bartkowski
The Comedy Affair 2
Do you like to feel fancy while laughing at stand-up comedy acts? The Comedy Affair 2 encourages “classy attire” for its outdoor show that includes several comedians, along with some local music acts. The night is hosted by Erick Biez, and features headliner Brandt Tobler, who gained popularity a few years back when he started the Backyard Comedy Show in Las Vegas. The event also welcomes back Danielle Arce, an LA-based comic, for her first Phoenix show in two years. Laugh it up from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday, March 24, at The Outer Space, 1015 North First Street. Admission is $5. Visit the Facebook event page for more. Amy Young
Men on Boats
The Powell Grand Canyon expedition of 1869 probably evokes images of a certain type of explorer. The ASU School of Film, Dance, and Theatre’s production of Jaclyn Backhaus’ Men on Boats delves into and turns on its head the idea of white masculinity and privilege by casting a diverse group of actresses in roles normally reserved for men, including a military veteran, a hunter, an adventure seeker, and a one-armed captain. Told through chronological scenes, the 10-person show engages in a unique form of storytelling blending historical themes, the writings of explorer John Wesley Powell, and contemporary language and humor.
The production opens at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 24, and runs through Sunday, April 2, at the Paul V. Galvin Playhouse, 51 East 10th Street, on the ASU Tempe Campus. Admission is $16 for the general public, $12 for ASU faculty members and staff and senior citizens, and $8 for students. Visit ASU's events website. Laura Latzko
Most Hated Grand Opening Ride
Come fall in love with Most Hated Bicycle and Parts’ impressive custom cruiser bikes and creations during their grand opening celebration. To commemorate the store’s arrival on Grand Avenue, Most Hated will be having a family-friendly bike ride starting from ThirdSpace. Enjoy drink specials and raffle items as you peruse all things shiny and chrome. Nearby Novel Ice Cream will be offering 15 percent off your delicious purchase when you mention Most Hated.
Most Hated Bicycle and Parts Grand Opening Ride is on Saturday, March 25, at ThirdSpace, 1028 Grand Avenue. The ride is free. Meetup for the ride is 1 p.m., with kickstands up at 2 p.m. Visit Most Hated Bicycles on Facebook or call 623-293-7438. Jason Keil
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Encanto-Palmcroft Historic Home Tour and Street Fair
Your two years is up, and the 2017 Encanto-Palmcroft Historic Home Tour and Street Fair is all set to show off one of the most historic neighborhoods in Arizona.
Here’s how it works: Park in the Encanto neighborhood somewhere, or walk/bike to the area. Tickets may be purchased at 12th Avenue and Holly Lane for $20 (or $18 in advance online), where there will be a street fair, food vendors, and a beer garden.
An old-fashioned trolley will cart you around on a tour of the Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood. A booklet and tour guide will provide information on pre-World War II homes, plus tidbits on famous residents, architectural features, and more.
The tour, fair, and trolley runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 26. See Encanto Palmcroft's website. Lauren Cusimano