Prepare yourselves for a fun week. This week, you can get into the holiday spirit at Holidays at the Heard, paint your heart out during Van Gogh Vino, or enjoy a family-friendly circus performance at Zoppé Italian Family Circus. For more things to do, visit
Hip-Hop Spelling Bee
How do you take a spelling bee and make it cool? If your first thought was some Hunger Games-style revamp, you haven’t considered the wonder that is a hip-hop spelling bee. This fresh competition is divided into three rounds: hip-hop and music industry terms, artist names, and slang (likely from jiggy to sus). If there’s a round four — and praise be to the rap gods, we hope there is — contests will have to spell out words while dropping some actual bars. Good time. G-o-o-d, t-i-m-e. Good time.
The free competition takes place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 26, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Chris Coplan
Holidays at the Heard
The Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue, is launching its annual Holidays at the Heard event on Thursday, December 26, exactly 90 years after the museum first opened in 1929. Celebrate Native arts and culture from both the present and the past, as the museum presents a mix of visual art, performance, and artist demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free with museum admission, which is $25 for adults. Current exhibits feature works by Maria Hupfield and David Hockney.
Thursday’s lineup includes pop-up iPad painting tutorials with Diné artist Damian Jim and pottery demonstrations by Hopi artist Lucille Maho, plus hoop dancing by Derrick Davis (Hopi/Choctaw) and live music in the museum by Randy Kemp (Choctaw/Muscogee-Creek/Euchee). Arizona’s 2019 youth poet laureate Sareya Taylor will be on hand to lead a bookmark-making activity. Lynn Trimble
A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage
Everybody’s heart melts at least a little bit when the Peanuts gang gathers around their humble Christmas tree, buoyed by the idea that friends are the greatest gifts this time of year. It’s a compelling counterpoint to narratives that elevate consumerism during the holiday season. Now, a touring production of A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage is coming to Arizona Federal Theatre, 400 West Washington Street, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 26.
The show features Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy producing their own Christmas play and performing several traditional Christmas carols. Snoopy’s happy dance is just the icing on the cake. Ticket prices vary. Lynn Trimble
Jump off the holiday hamster wheel for a while at Shemer Art Center, 5005 East Camelback Road. It’s a relaxing way to explore works by local artists, both within the charming house filled with galleries and on the surrounding grounds dotted with sculptures. Shemer Art Center hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 26. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
The center’s “Collected Treasures” exhibit features mixed-media work by more than three dozen artists using diverse materials, including bark, beads, crystals, chrome, dirt, fiber, ink, paint, wax, and more. The “Wonders of It All” exhibit showcases bronze sculpture by Prescott artist Bill Nebeker. It’s a great way to explore artists you might not encounter during First Friday art shows in downtown Phoenix. Lynn Trimble
Drag Bingo and Cats
In the past, La Gattara Cat Lounge and Boutique has held special events to cater to a variety of feline aficionados, like its evenings of D&D and yoga. But here’s an outing that trumps almost everything: Drag Bingo and Cats. The event itself seems self-explanatory (playing bingo with cats and drag queens, including Freddy Prinze Charming and Felicia Minor). The real magic, then, is in how it all plays out. Quaint and adorable? Likely. Delightfully chaotic? Always a possibility. At least it beats an evening of tax accountant chess with wolf spiders.
The games begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 27, at 1301 East University Drive in Tempe. Tickets are $25. Chris Coplan
Are you tired of hearing visiting relatives regurgitate their tales of holidays past? Hear some fresh narratives, told during The Storyline’s next event at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road. It’s a story slam hosted by Dan Hoen Hull and Joy Young to foster a spirit of fun in the community. Ten people will have six minutes each to share their best story related to this theme: The End? And five audience members will get to judge their storytelling prowess.
The winner takes home a $30 prize. Everybody else gets the satisfaction of knowing they’re not alone. Imagine the many ways this theme could go. That nasty break-up. A near-death experience. A recurring nightmare about forgetting to end your sentences with a period during grade school. There’s no telling what might come up here, which might be half the fun. You be the judge. Lynn Trimble
Year in Review Trivia Night
Homelessness is anything but trivial. Even so, trivia buffs can test their trivia prowess while benefiting Central Arizona Shelter Services during its annual Year in Review Trivia Night at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. It’s happening from 6 p.m. on Friday, December 27 (doors open at 5:30 p.m.).
Teams will compete to answer 20 questions on topics such as pop culture, politics, sports, music, business, film, and newsmakers. You need to be at least 21 to attend. Tickets are $35, with all proceeds benefiting CASS, which operates adult and family emergency shelters. Winning teams get prizes. Lynn Trimble
Not Your Mom’s Bloody Mary Mix
If you’ve got 30 minutes and a hankering for some post-holiday Bloody Mary time, sign up for a Not Your Mom’s Bloody Mary Mix class at Southwest Gardener, 300 West Camelback Road. Tanya Chakravarty will be sharing her Bloody Mary recipes and tips on Saturday, December 28. Classes start at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.
These are no tomato juice plus generic mix Bloody Marys. Chakravarty makes her cocktails with fresh vegetables and a tomato base. She’ll even show you how to whip up a green Bloody Mary, and send you on your merry way with a quart-size jar of Bloody Mary mix — plus recipes. The class costs $35. Lynn Trimble
Van Gogh Vino
By now you’re surely tired of seeing all things Christmas around every turn. Try changing the view over at Carrie Curran Art Studios, 8300 North Hayden Road, Suite A100 in Scottsdale. You can paint your little heart out while you sip wine, then go home with an original work of art that has nothing to do with snowmen or flying reindeer.
The theme for Van Gogh Vino on Saturday, December 28, is Illuminated Desert. Bring your own wine, then get step-by-step instructions to create your own desert-themed painting. The $45 class fee includes a canvas and paint. The studio will lend wine glasses and corkscrews, plus aprons to keep everyone from going home covered in paint. The class runs from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Lynn Trimble
Creative Writing Workshop
There’s never a wrong time to exercise your writing muscles. Unless, perhaps, you’re spilling all those juicy family secrets that came out over the beef brisket or tamales this holiday season. Maybe now is the time to dive into writing, with all that fresh resolve that comes with the prospect of a new year.
You can give it a go at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, 1056 South Country Club Drive in Mesa. They’re holding a free creative writing workshop for writers of all experience levels from 4 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 29. It’s also a fun way to give a few writing exercises a whirl. The words that spill forth might surprise you. Lynn Trimble
Stand Up Science
Want to take part in an experiment without the risk of chemical burns? Then be sure to hit up Stand Up Science, in which a “mad scientist” (Shane Mauss of the Here We Are podcast) combines comedy and scientific exploration. Expect an evening of stand-up routines featuring “cerebral material” split between presentations by local scientists. It’s like a TED Talk by Jerry Seinfeld, or if Albert Einstein put together a tight 15 minutes.
The show is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 29, at Stir Crazy Comedy Club, 6751 North Sunset Boulevard in Glendale. Tickets are $19. Chris Coplan
Zoppé Italian Family Circus
Gather round the one-ring circus coming to Chandler if you want to see performers celebrate the tradition of women in circus arts. The Zoppé Italian Family Circus is doing a series of performances under the 500-seat big top on the west lawn of Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue in Chandler. The new production is called La Nonna!, which references the Italian word for grandmother.
It’s designed to showcase an international cast of all-female performers, with everything from acrobatics to equestrian performance. Featured performers include the Santos Family, a group of female-only flyers who’ll be doing a new perch pole act. The show kicks off at 7 p.m. on Monday, December 30. Tickets are $24 to $45 for adults and $15 to $40 for kids. Lynn Trimble
Contemporary Watercolor Artists of Arizona
You expect to see fabulous Broadway shows at ASU Gammage, 1200 South Forest Avenue in Tempe. But the performing arts venue can color your world beyond musicals like The Color Purple, thanks to rotating exhibitions of artworks by Arizona creatives. Artworks line several walls inside the theater’s lobby, and you don’t have to see a show to explore them.
Currently, they’re featuring works by artists in a group called Contemporary Watercolor Artists of Arizona, which was founded 50 years ago. The exhibit includes both realist and abstract works. Expect landscapes, portraits, and other artworks created with transparent watercolor paint, acrylics, gouache, and colored inks. See the exhibit between 1 and 4 p.m. on Monday, December 30. Lynn Trimble
Labyrinth Masquerade Ball
Not every ball is worth attending. The one from Beauty and the Beast, for instance, seemed a little too focused on Belle to be any fun. If you’re looking for an evening with a little more promise, you can’t go wrong with the Labyrinth Masquerade Ball. What better way to ring in the New Year than dancing with people and monsters from that beloved 1986 David Bowie vehicle? Plus, there’ll be live bands and entertainment, stilt walkers, “oceans of bubbles,” and surprises galore. Talk about some real dance magic.
The ball begins at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, at Thunderbird Lounge, 710 West Montecito Avenue. If you weren’t among the first 900 folks to register for free, it’s still just $10 to secure your spot. Chris Coplan
Here’s a theory involving just a touch of metaphysical gobbledygook: How you spend the end of one year may very well color your experiences in the next. So why not laugh it up on New Year’s Eve by seeing comedian Brian Regan? Over his 20-plus-year career, Regan has delighted audiences with a unique blend of observational humor and straight-up wacky faces. If nothing else, it sure beats spending NYE eating a sleeve of Oreos over a kitchen sink.
The show is set for 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, at Arizona Federal Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. Tickets range from $45-99. Chris Coplan
Self-Guided Walking Tours
Walk off a few holiday pounds while you learn more about the local arts scene by hitting the streets of Tempe on Wednesday, January 1. The city publishes online maps for two different self-guided walking tours of art in public spaces, which means you can head out any time you like in search of unique artworks from sculptures to painted utility boxes.
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One map will guide you through the art offerings around Tempe Town Lake, which include poetry by Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Rios. Another will guide you through downtown streets, where creatives are making their mark in diverse ways. You’ll spot the works of Andy Brown, Danielle Foushée, John Randall Nelson, Lucretia Torva, and Frank Ybarra. Lynn Trimble
Woodworking Design Studio
Santa’s elves are hanging up their tools for a while, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun in the workshop. Ring in the New Year at the Create maker space for Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington Street. They’re holding a woodworking design studio from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 1.
It’s a chance to design and craft your own candy dispenser using professional woodworking tools you might not have hanging around at home. Just remember to use your new skills for good, not evil. Nobody wants to see your candy dispenser flying around the neighborhood attached to a drone. Lynn Trimble