Things to Do

The Best Free Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Spreading holiday cheer during last year's Santarchy.
Spreading holiday cheer during last year's Santarchy. Benjamin Leatherman
Fun is always better when it’s free. This week, you can put your knowledge to the test during Home Alone Trivia, enjoy a fun assortment of visual and performance art at Phoenix Festival of the Arts, or get schooled on bike safety during CycloMesa Winter Fest. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

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Add a little poetry to your life.
Rinky Dink Press

Rinky Dink Press

Rinky Dink Press is celebrating its third birthday this month with the launch of 10 new micro-collections. Each one has a different author whose work you can fit inside your pocket, so you’re never far from poetic inspiration. The launch happens at Trans Am Café, 1506 Grand Avenue, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, December 9.

The evening includes readings by six poets, plus select alumni writers from prior collections. The party is free, but you’ll need $1 for every tiny collection you want to take home. Feel free to wear your party hat. But fair warning: PBS will be filming the event. Lynn Trimble

Home Alone Trivia

Perhaps you’ve been fooled by the festive decorations or the touching finale, but Home Alone is more of a horror flick than a holiday classic. Not because poor Kevin McCallister is left all alone to fend for himself against nasty burglars. No, it’s because of how utterly prepared he is to thwart Harry and Marv in the most violent means possible. That little bugger is a demon who should’ve been abandoned far sooner.

Could this analysis help with this week’s Home Alone trivia? Guess you’ll find out starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 10, at Growler USA, 5415 East High Street. Register your team, or Old Man Marley will eat your fingers or something. Chris Coplan

Preparing Caesar's Salad at the Caesar's Hotel restaurant.
Julio Cesar Morales

Writing About Family and Food

Writing experts often recommend writing what you know. For most people, food is right up there. It’s a fraught topic for some this time of year, as picky eaters gather around holiday dinner tables and doting cooks insist that everyone take a second helping. For others, family gatherings around food bring moments of discovery or joy.

Whatever your relationship with family and food, writing is one way to explore your thoughts and feelings a bit deeper this time of year. Duane Roen is teaching a workshop called Writing About Family and Food from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11. It’s taking place inside Library Room B at Tempe Public Library, 3500 South Rural Road in Tempe. The workshop is free, and no registration is required. Lynn Trimble

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Detail of Fiamma Montezemolo's work at ASU Art Museum.
Lynn Trimble

‘Begin at the End’

Some people say print is nearing the end times. But ASU Art Museum, 51 East 10th Street in Tempe, is keeping text-based artworks top of mind with an exhibit called “Begin at the End.” The free art show includes works by 14 contemporary artists, including Annie Lopez, a key figure in the development of the Phoenix arts landscape. The exhibit also includes work by Robert Indiana, best-known to locals for his LOVE sculpture in Scottsdale. The lineup also includes Enríque Chagoya, an artist represented by Lisa Sette Gallery in Phoenix. These artists work in diverse mediums, from neon to cyanotype photography. One artist used cigarettes, and another an umbrella. Get a good look on Thursday, December 12, when museum hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. Lynn Trimble

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Strolling through Phoenix Festival of the Arts.
Patrick Rapps

Phoenix Festival of the Arts

For three days, Phoenix Center for the Arts will transform part of Hance Park, 1202 North Third Street, into a giant arts venue complete with a fun assortment of visual and performance art. Experience the Phoenix Festival of the Arts on opening day, Friday, December 13, when festival hours are noon to 5 p.m. You’ll find artists live painting murals, onstage entertainment, food trucks, and plenty of artists selling paintings, ceramics, jewelry, and more.

Head to the entertainment pavilion at 1 p.m. to see Diana Calderon demonstrate printmaking, or 2 p.m. to see a performance featuring guitars made at the Roberto-Venn Luthiery based in the Grand Avenue arts district. Sule Greg Wilson performs at noon, and the Arizona School for the Arts jazz ensemble will round it all out at 4 p.m. The festival is free, but you’ll need money for eats and shopping. Lynn Trimble

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A rendition of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Hector Echevarria

Drawn to Comics

There’s a ton of great artistic talent across the Valley, and that holds true for the mediums of pop culture and comic books. Drawn to Comics is taking the time to highlight some of these folks through its annual artist spotlight event, Brightest Saturdays. On Friday, December 13, the store will host Ken Schwab, who creates nerdy accessories with his Ken’s Buttons line. Then, on Saturday, December 14, Hector Echevarria, who works primarily with digital art and acrylics, will swing by the shop.

Both events are free and run from 6 to 10 p.m. at Drawn to Comics, 5801 West Glendale Avenue in Glendale. Chris Coplan

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Dressed for success.
Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Santarchy

Santa Claus has a sizable posse, and we’re not just referring to his cabal of elves, herds of reindeer, or even Mrs. Claus. During the Arizona Cacophony Society’s annual Phoenix Santarchy bar crawl, Kris Kringle’s crew will include such cohorts as Darth Santa, Cowboy Claus, Christmas Ghostbusters, or various other festive characters.

Each year, hundreds of participants dress in a multitude of merry costumes inspired by the holidays as they drink their way across downtown Phoenix. It’s one of the most infamous events of the holiday season in the Valley.

This year’s bar crawl takes place on Saturday, December 14, and will hit up the bars of the Roosevelt Row area starting at 7 p.m. It’s free to participate. Benjamin Leatherman

CycloMesa Winter Fest

Can bicycle safety fun be fun? Yes, but only by having it snow in Mesa. The city’s bicycle and pedestrian program is hoping to educate folks on helmet safety and concussion awareness by bringing in 20 tons of snow for its CycloMesa Winter Fest. If all that frolicking weren’t enough, there will also be a bounce house, mechanical snowboard, food trucks, and reindeer games.

The free fest is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, at Alta Mesa Park, 1910 North Alta Drive in Mesa. Attendees can stick around for a neighborhood ride starting at 5:30 p.m. Chris Coplan

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Look for Vessel at Mesa Arts Center.
Slaven Gujic


Vessel Project is returning to Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street in Mesa, with its atmospheric performance called Mystic. It’s happening during the Mesa Arts Festival, a free two-day event that opens on Saturday, December 14. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can check out more than 80 vendors, listen to live music, enjoy hands-on activities, add your wish to a community holiday cactus, and play lawn games.

It’s a chance to shop for original art, then get it wrapped at on-site gift wrapping stations. Also look for artist Kyllan Maney, who’ll be making holiday bows with a creative twist, and pop into the artist collective gift shop. Lynn Trimble

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Celebrate Hanukkah with family story time.
Lynn Trimble

Hanukkah Storytime

Everyone is welcome as Temple Emanuel of Tempe presents a Hanukkah Storytime at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. The free event happens at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 15. Expect a lively gathering that includes reading stories, singing songs, and spinning the dreidel.

For those who don’t celebrate Hanukkah, it’s a fun way to learn more about Jewish traditions and celebrate the diversity of local communities with other families. Of course, you can also shop for related books, with 15 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Tempe synagogue, which operates a school, children’s center, Judaica shop, and more. Lynn Trimble
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble