Things to Do

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Betty Blackheart and Self.Destrukt.
Betty Blackheart and Self.Destrukt. Michelle Sasonov
Your plans have arrived. This week, enjoy an evening under stars during Full Moon Hike, dance it out at Music Box Christmas Skanker, or explore the Orpheum Theatre during the Free Public Tour. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

Bar Flies
Bar Flies returns with more true stories and drinks, minus the scads of distant relatives who bring tall tales to kitchen islands and easy chairs this time of year. For A Holiday Special: Eating Christmas, local creatives will share their holiday food memories, traditions, and curiosities, while you get to sit back and relax free from oven mitts, gift wrap, and shopping lists. It’s happening at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street. All ages are welcome, but the 12-and-under set needs a grown-up to attend.

Amy Silverman and Katie Bravo are curating, and Deborah Sussman will DJ that night. Expect belly laughs and wistful tears as readers including Angelica Lindsey-Al, Jennifer Longdon, Laurie Notaro, Robrt L. Pela, Jason P. Woodbury, Kim Porter, and Kathy Cano-Murillo bring their inner sage to the stage. Tickets are $10 in advance, $13 at the door. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Happy trails are here again. - COURTESY OF REI
Happy trails are here again.
Courtesy of REI
Full Moon Hike
The full moon has long inspired folklore connecting its occurrence with everything from fertility to madness. But sometimes seeing a full moon is simply a refreshing reminder of nature’s vast expanse beyond the digital realm that saturates daily life. If you’ve got some hiking experience, and you’re up for a guided night hike, check out REI’s Full Moon Hike, happening from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 21, at the Pima Canyon Trailhead at South Mountain Park, 10919 South Central Avenue. Hikers need to be at least 14 years old, and the event costs $30 ($20 for REI members). Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Feeling the shopping local love. - COURTESY OF DOWNTOWN MESA ASSOCIATION
Feeling the shopping local love.
Courtesy of Downtown Mesa Association
Mesa Christmas Market
Inspired by Christmas markets around the world, Mesa is presenting a Mesa Christmas Market that brings together local artisans, live performance, traditional and nontraditional food fare, and plenty of Christmas decorations. It’s happening street fair-style, on the north side of Main Street and MacDonald in Mesa, along a street lined with white lights that’s also home to a long stretch of light rail. Check it out between 5 and 9 p.m. on Friday, December 21. The market is free, but don’t forget money for eats and last-minute shopping. While you’re in the area, enjoy all the sculptures and light rail art along Main Street. Visit Lynn Trimble

7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe
It only takes a second to enjoy a kiss beneath the mistletoe. But where’s the fun in that, when you can spend your late-night hours watching oddball holiday-inspired performance? Head to Space 55, 1524 North 18th Avenue, at 10 p.m. on Friday, December 21. That’s where the holidays get the theater company’s no-holds-barred twist, during a variety show called 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe. Performers get seven minutes on stage and encouragement to do “whatever the hell they want.” Tickets are $10 for the adults-only affair, where offerings could include anything from burlesque performed with giant candy canes to poetry by scantily clad elves. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge The Nuke Brothers. - COURTESY OF FALLOUT.SHELTER
The Nuke Brothers.
Courtesy of Fallout.Shelter
As it turns out, Bible-thumpers aren’t the only ones fetishizing Armageddon. The folks behind the annual Wasteland Weekend and similar post-apocalyptic-themed celebrations, for instance, have turned “end of the world” schtick into a cottage industry. And then there’s the Fallout.Shelter dance parties put on by local DJ power couple Self.Destrukt and Betty Blackheart, which features a nuclear doomsday aesthetic and offers a soundtrack of industrial, techno, darkwave, and EBM.

The latest Fallout.Shelter takes place on Saturday, December 22, at The Rogue Bar, 423 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, and will include sets by Self.Destrukt, Blackheart, local “experimental grinder art” group Xylogrind, and L.A.-based costumed DJ duo the Nuke Brothers. Have a blast starting at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. See for details. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Go brass or go home. - COURTESY OF MUSICA NOVA
Go brass or go home.
Courtesy of Musica Nova

MusicaNova's Brass Quintet
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when desert rats can send holiday photos filled with cactus and palm trees to friends and family living in colder parts. Bring your camera along on Saturday, December 22, when you can enjoy snow-free photo backdrops and live music during the Canal Concert happening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the Soleri Bridge & Plaza, 4420 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. The free concert features MusicaNova’s Brass Quintet, performing holiday songs along the Arizona Canal, where you’ll also find a giant Christmas tree and public artworks that just happen to make beautiful backgrounds for holiday snapshots. Visit Lynn Trimble

Fifth Annual Luminaria Ride
Imagine you and your Willo neighborhood homies dressed in holiday attire, bicycles adorned with colorful lights, rolling at what an organizer calls a “leisurely pace” past lines of luminarias. And yes, there will be hot chocolate. Enjoy two days of fun: The Fifth Annual Luminaria Ride on Saturday meets at Amp Island in Encanto park at 5:30 pm. for a 7 p.m. departure. (BYOB for an exchange at the end). The Sunday ride, new this year, meets at Walton Park at Third Avenue and Holly for a 6:30 p.m. rollout. A coffee truck will be available from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. See for more details. Ray Stern

The Most Offensive Christmas Concert Ever
If you’re bored by the usual Christmas specials on TV and their hackneyed messages of “peace and love,” head out to The Listening Room, 4614 North 7th Street, for a dose of yuletide disaster. The Most Offensive Christmas Concert Ever returns for a second year of merry mayhem, presenting songs from South Park, comedian Bo Burnham, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more, all hosted by Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo. Laugh it up at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 22, and don’t forget, it’s BYOB. Tickets start at $15 presale and $20 at the door. Visit Douglas Markowitz

South Mountain Aglow
Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, will soon be upon us. It’s the perfect time to head outdoors, to explore lights in the night sky and luminaria-lit pathways. The South Mountain Environmental Education Center is presenting South Mountain Aglow, a luminaria walk along a festive sidewalk trail, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 22. The free event starts at the center, 10409 South Central Avenue, and also includes entertainment, youth artworks, food trucks, and a holiday market for last-minute types who like to shop local. It’s a chance to relax for a few hours, beyond the holiday stress fueled by big crowds and bad traffic. Visit Lynn Trimble

“Awkward Family Photo”
“My outfit and hair style seemed so normal then, but now we just look back and laugh about it.” That’s how Lizzie Olson describes seeing her fourth grade class photo shown with the “Awkward Family Photo” exhibit at the new Chandler Museum, 300 South Chandler Village Drive in Chandler. It’s a traveling show with more than 200 photos capturing awkward moments, which the museum has coupled with images shared by locals. Check it out on Sunday, December 23, when museum hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Especially during the holidays, it’s nice to know other families have awkward moments too. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Santa does Sixth Street. - COURTESY OF DOWNTOWN TEMPE
Santa does Sixth Street.
Courtesy of Downtown Tempe
6th Street Market
Walk away from the television, and all that talk of politicos “taking the fifth.” There’s a delightful bit of escapism over in Tempe, where the 6th Street Market can help you refocus on priorities like family and friends. They’ve got plenty of gift options created by local artisans and makers, along with live music, and an easygoing environment where you can make new friends or enjoy some time with visiting family itching to get out of the house for a while. Santa will be there, ready to take selfies with his fans. The free event happens Sunday, December 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 24 East Sixth Street. Visit Lynn Trimble

Music Box Christmas Skanker
If you think that this town’s nightlife scene goes completely dark on Christmas Eve, DJ Petty Things would like to have a word with you. While the rest of the Valley is decking the halls on Monday, December 24, he’ll be filling the Rose Room at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue, with an ecclectic mix of sounds during the Music Box Christmas Skanker. For one evening only, he’ll become DJ Jingle Things and will serve up one of his signature all-cassette set, which will include “both old-school and modern cuts” from his vast collection of tapes. The music goes from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. and admission to the 21-and-over event is free. Call 602-368-3121 or see for more info. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Giving The Beatles a laser twist. - ARIZONA SCIENCE CENTER
Giving The Beatles a laser twist.
Arizona Science Center
Beatles Laser Show
In a perfect world, we could all go underseas aboard a yellow submarine. That’s not likely, but there’s a fun alternative at the Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington Street, where you can see a Beatles Laser Show complete with yellow submarine and other Beatles-inspired imagery at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, December 24. Tickets to the planetarium show, which is set to Beatles tunes, are $9 for adults. You’ll need a general admission ticket ($18 for adults) as well, so leave extra time to explore other offerings at the Arizona Science Center, including the gift shop where you can pick up a few more holiday goodies. Visit Lynn Trimble

It's A Wonderful Life
Even after all these years, people still gather round the screen for a yearly viewing of the 1946 Frank Capra film It’s A Wonderful Life, the Christmas classic wherein Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, on the verge of suicide, is saved by a guardian angel who shows him the difference he’s made in the lives of others. That may sound incredibly maudlin and sentimental in 2018, but if you happen to be cynical, you can always distract yourself by booing and hissing at Mr. Potter, the no-good, thieving, rotten bastard banker who wants to buy George’s business and put him out on the street. Finance wankers ruining the lives of ordinary people? That’s 2018 as hell.

It’s a Wonderful Life will screen at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 24, at Alamo Drafthouse Tempe, 1140 East Baseline Road, Tempe. Tickets are $7. Visit Douglas Markowitz

Crescent Christmas Tamale + Trivia Party
Ah, Christmas. The presents beneath the tree, the stockings hung with care over the yule log, and on the table, a plate of piping hot tamales. Yes, you read that right, tamales. Not everyone carves a roast beast on December 25, so be a little open minded. Anyway, if you’re looking for an unconventional yuletide treat on Jesus’ birthday, head over to Crescent Ballroom, 308 North 2nd Avenue, on Tuesday for their free Crescent Christmas Tamale + Trivia Party. There’ll be plenty of tamales to go around – with vegetarian options – trivia hosted by Amy and Ashley of Prizefighting Kangaroo, and holiday movies playing on the wall if you need some clues. The fun starts at 8 p.m. Visit Douglas Markowitz

Trail Running
Trail running is one of those things your mother would probably warn you not to do. Yeah, it’s more risky than jogging on a sidewalk, but more rewarding. The uneven steps of rocks, gravel, and cactus limbs waiting to grab you all add value to the workout. Learn the benefits of trail running, how best to accomplish it, and how to avoid injury at Just Roughin’ It’s free one-hour class from 6-7 p.m. on December 26, taught by a certified fitness instructor at 8658 East Shea Boulevard, Suite 175 Scottsdale. Call 480-857-2477 or visit for more info. Ray Stern

click to enlarge Tour time. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Tour time.
Lynn Trimble

Free Public Tour
Perhaps you’ve looked up at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams Street, and wondered about all its architectural detail. It’s a feast for the eyes, both inside and out. And it’s filled with stories. Learn all about the Orpheum Theatre, which opened in 1929, during a free tour happening at noon and 1 p.m. on Wednesday, December 26. Just show up under the marquee, then follow along as a docent shares details about its history, including renovations undertaken during the mid-1990s. You’ll marvel at the venue’s architectural elements, while you explore decades of Phoenix history that will help you appreciate the value of historic buildings during a day and age consumed by all things fresh and new. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Going backstage, botanical garden-style. - COURTESY OF DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN
Going backstage, botanical garden-style.
Courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden
Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Ever strolled through winding pathways at the Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, and been blown away by the sheer number of cactus and succulents you encountered? They’ve got even more plants, and other intriguing sights, tucked away in other parts of the garden. See for yourself on Wednesday, December 26, when you can take a behind-the-scenes tour from 10 to 10:45 a.m. The tour is included with general admission, which is $24.95 for adults. Tour highlights include a 5,300-square-foot greenhouse and horticulture learning lab. Leave extra time after your tour to explore the “Untamed: Wild Compositions by Frank Gonzales” exhibit in the garden’s gallery. Visit Lynn Trimble
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Douglas Markowitz was born and raised in Broward County, Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before graduating with honors from the University of North Florida with a bachelor's degree in communications. He began writing for Miami New Times while in college and served as their music and arts editorial intern in 2017.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble