The Best Free Things to Do in Phoenix This Week

Dressed for success.EXPAND
Dressed for success.
Benjamin Leatherman
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Everything is better when it's free. This week, you can get cultured at the Chinese Culture and Cuisine Festival, enjoy some colorfully modified shopping carts at Phoenix Idiotarod, or show your support at the D-backs Fan Fest. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

Maybe leave the spurs outside.EXPAND
Maybe leave the spurs outside.
Courtesy of Wilde Meyer Gallery

There’s plenty of new art on view in Old Town Scottsdale, where you can explore contemporary art while embracing a bit of western spirit. The city’s Thursday night ArtWalk is getting a Wild West twist on Thursday, February 7, when you can stroll streets decked out with zigzag swags of little white lights signaling the arts district. It’s centered around Marshall Way and Main Street near the intersection of Indian School and Scottsdale roads. Head over between 6:30 and 9 p.m. to enjoy gallery exhibitions, sidewalk performances, and conversations with local artists about their work. The event is free. Visit experiencescottsdale.com. Lynn Trimble

Checking out last year's festival.EXPAND
Checking out last year's festival.
Lynn Trimble

Chinese Culture and Cuisine Festival
Celebrate the Year of the Boar as community members converge on Hance Park, 1202 North Third Street, for the Chinese Culture and Cuisine Festival. The three-day festival kicks off on Friday, February 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday’s lineup includes exhibits, performances, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for children. While you’re there, check out koi fish and dragon boat displays, the city’s giant panda sculpture, and a lovely tea garden. Or try your hand at the chopstick challenge. The festival continues through Sunday, February 10. It’s free, but bring money if you want to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine while you’re there. Visit phoenixchineseweek.org. Lynn Trimble

All smiles at last year's Phoenix Idiotarod.EXPAND
All smiles at last year's Phoenix Idiotarod.
Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Idiotarod
Supermarket managers of the Valley, don’t be surprised if a shopping cart or two has gone missing from your store recently. There’s a chance they’ve been, um, borrowed by the racers of this year’s Phoenix Idiotarod. Don’t worry, though, they won’t be destroyed, just redecorated and put to good use during one of the Valley’s more gonzo outdoor events.

The Phoenix Idiotarod is an urban shopping cart race that’s equal parts bar crawl, cosplay fest, and countercultural event (with a bit of Cannonball Run and Jackass thrown into the mix). Teams of costumed pranksters will pilot colorfully modified shopping carts around the downtown Phoenix area, hitting up several bars and pit stops along the way. Each five-person squad features a different theme riffing on pop culture and there are plenty of shenanigans involved during the race.

This year’s Phoenix Idiotarod happens on Saturday, February 9, and will start off at Trans Am Cafe, 1506 Grand Avenue, with 20-plus teams participating, including some inspired by Bird Box, David Bowie, and GLOW. Check-in is at 11 a.m. and the race kicks off at noon. It’s $50 per team to participate or free to spectate. See azcacophony.org/idiotarod to sign up or for more info. Benjamin Leatherman

The cactus is always greener...EXPAND
The cactus is always greener...
Courtesy of McDowell Mountain Preserve

Nature as Therapy
People have mixed feelings about green, especially when it comes to kale, shower tiles, and ugly Christmas sweaters. But nearly everyone appreciates the chance to get outdoors to experience the calming effect of nature. Head to the Gateway Trailhead at the Sonoran Mountain Preserve to see for yourself at a 90-minute Nature as Therapy walk is happening from 1:45 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 9. You’ll cover about 1.5 miles, surrounded by fellow nature lovers who’ve also decided to forgo screen time for sunshine. The free walk starts at 18333 North Thompson Peak Parkway in Scottsdale. Visit mcdowellsonoran.org. Lynn Trimble

D-backs Fan Fest
It hasn’t been easy being an Arizona Diamondbacks fan lately. The team finished last season at 82-80. Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock are both gone. And, for all intents and purposes, it looks like the D-backs are headed into a rebuilding period.

All that said, there’s reason to be excited about this year. Players like Zach Greinke, Eduardo Escobar, and David Peralta are all coming back, so there’s always the possibility the team could have a great year.

The D-backs faithful can get hyped for the upcoming season on Saturday, February 9, at Salt River Fields, 7555 North Pima Road in Scottsdale, during this year’s D-backs Fan Fest. The afternoon-long event, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., will offer the chance to hobknob with players, coaches, and team personnel, as well as get autographs and photos with them. Baseball activities, batting cages, face painting, and an Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation yard sale are also planned.

Admission to the event is free. Call 602-462-3378 or see dbacks.com/fanfest for more details. Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Volunteer Fair
Despite living in the sunniest state, the shorter days can cause seasonal affective disorder in Arizonans, symptoms of which include fatigue and depression. To those feeling the gloomy effects, doctors recommend getting lost in charitable work. The Phoenix Volunteer Fair is one way to get matched up with the local causes you care about. Over 100 nonprofit organizations will be there, including the American Humane Society, Phoenix Center for the Arts, and the American Red Cross.

You can find your next charitable opportunity from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 10, at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street. This is a free event. For more information, visit dtphx.org. Jason Keil

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