Phoenix New Times' Most Read Arts and Culture Stories of 2018 | Phoenix New Times

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The Most Popular Phoenix Arts Stories of 2018

Phoenix New Times' readers' favorite stories of 2018, including an interview with Christopher Lloyd, guides to free events in Phoenix, and more.
The love-it-or-hate it art installation at Downtown Civic Space Park, Her Secret is Patience.
The love-it-or-hate it art installation at Downtown Civic Space Park, Her Secret is Patience. David Ho/Flickr Creative Commons
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At last, 2018 is about to give way to a possibly even worse (or better!) 2019. We at Phoenix New Times are ready to help you navigate the next 12 months of art, events, and seasonal fun, but first, let's take a look at your favorite stories of the last 12 months.

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The Birkett family’s annual display in Scottsdale.
Benjamin Leatherman
1. The 25 Best Holiday Light Displays in Phoenix in 2018

Lighting up the night in festive fashion is a big part of the holidays, and everyone wants to get in on the fun, including the folks across the Valley who create enormously colorful displays lighting up their homes. Some folks will keep things relatively simple with a few strings of lights. Others, such as renowned holiday decorators like Chris Birkett of Scottsdale or David Chuchla of Phoenix, channel the spirit of Clark W. Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and cover their entire property in enough lights, inflatables, and motorized attractions to make the hearts of even the grinchiest of grinches grow three sizes.
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Around the table at Crescent Ballroom, the conversation is lively.
Janessa Hilliard
2. 50 Free Things to Do in Metro Phoenix Any Time in 2018

Phoenix is rife with no-cost events worth freeing your schedule for, including trivia nights, open mics, parks, bike rides, and a good deal of art walks. Because saving money is always in season, here are 50 free things you can do all year round.
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Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett L. Brown in Back to the Future.
Courtesy of Mills Entertainment
3. Christopher Lloyd Would Love Being in Back to the Future 4 or on Rick and Morty

New Times: If you could time travel, what would you change in history?
Christopher Lloyd: Hmm ... what would I change? I would certainly want us to pay a lot of attention to the causes of climate change and things related to that. With climate change and the way it's predicted [to unfold], it's going to have unlimited consequences for the planet, for civilization, for survival, you know. I would like to see the world at large really get into that issue.

There's already been the increase in flooding and the rising sea levels, droughts, and the quality of life diminishing in certain areas of the world. It's happening. It's not fiction anymore. So I'd like to see a universal concentration on that issue.
Looking for a place to take that special someone?
4. 40 First Date Ideas in Metro Phoenix

Dating doesn't have to mean expensive menus and awkward conversation. After all, first dates aren't necessarily about being formal. They're about making (and getting) a good first impression. From the indoors to the outdoors, uptown to downtown, here are 40 ways to make your move.
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The talking, marmalade-obsessed bear from “darkest Peru” who is now one of the U.K.’s most enduring symbols, is back for Paddington 2.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
5. The 10 Best Movies of 2018 — So Far

There is a reason this movie (which was released in the U.S. on January 12) is still at 100 percent on review site Rotten Tomatoes. It's an amazing sequel to an equally great film released in 2014. This movie will also make you cry and wonder why people aren't nicer to one another. If a marmalade-loving bear can come to the realization not to judge someone on looks, why can't humans?
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Fireworks over Chase Field in 2016.
Rachael Keating/Arizona Diamondbacks
6. The 20 Best Places to Watch Fourth of July Fireworks in Phoenix

Enormous pyrotechnic explosions will bloom overhead at locations across the metro Phoenix area over the next few nights as Fourth of July fireworks displays fill the air with light, color, and plenty of “oohs” and “ahs.” Cannonades of skyrockets will be unleashed at parks and other local outdoor venues on Tuesday, July 3, and Wednesday, July 4, during festivals and other events celebrating America’s 242nd birthday.
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Pole watching can be an art form in metro Phoenix.
Courtesy of Scores Gentlemen's Club
7. 10 Favorite Strip Clubs in Metro Phoenix (NSFW)

Bottle service, VIP rooms, body glitter, Thirsty Thursdays – the perks of visiting the many strip clubs across the Valley don’t seem to dry up. There are dozens of topless and full nude clubs across metro Phoenix ready to receive patrons ranging from a group of rowdy bachelors – or bachelorettes – to somewhat composed business types to those just looking to unwind with a beer and a chance at the buffet.
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A row of Nintendo coin-op classics at StarFighters Arcade in Mesa.
Benjamin Leatherman
8. 10 Best Arcades in Metro Phoenix

The games that your parents dropped tons of quarters into back in the ‘80s are trendy again and have been since the dawn of the decade. Since 2010, everything involving old-school arcades has surged in popularity, whether it’s the hullabaloo that ensued after the Internet Archive made hundreds of retro quarter-muncher titles available for play online in 2014 or the rise of game bars across the country like Eighty Two in Los Angeles or the Emporium in Chicago. And while it may have taken a while, the trend eventually reached the Valley. 
The nonthreatening McElroys of My Brother, My Brother and Me.
Courtesy of Creative Artists Agency
9. Podcaster Justin McElroy on My Brother, My Brother and Me and Their First Phoenix Show

MBMBAM was created in April 2010 more for self-entertainment, says McElroy. “I think the thing that worked for us is that MBMBAM is really just a version of what we have been doing around our dining room table like, since Griffin could talk,” McElroy says, explaining how their dad (radio host Clint McElroy and frequent contributor to McElroy shows) was heavily into comedy, and from that example, the brothers grew up regularly goofing on each other.

“We would just constantly be giving each other a hard time,” McElroy says, “And [MBMBAM] was really just a permutation of that. It almost felt like cheating.”
Pinnacle Peak Trail
10. 5 Easy Hikes for Beginners in Metro Phoenix

For either those not quite ready for the butt-kicking that some mountains around the Valley provide or others who simply want to try a new thing, there are plenty of easy hikes in Phoenix for the novice hiker. With proper hiking shoes, a good amount of water, and comfortable clothes, these five hikes (listed from easiest to most challenging) are feasible for any beginner looking to explore the desert trails in metro Phoenix.
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