Things to Do

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Looking great at the Arizona Matsuri Festival.
Looking great at the Arizona Matsuri Festival. Michelle Sasonov

Hey Phoenix, we've planned your week. You can surround yourself in all things vegan at PHX Vegan Food Festival, dance as quietly as you can at Silent Disco, or enjoy a beer and literary discussion at First Draft Book Club. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

Cactus Leauge
According to the calendar, springtime in Arizona doesn’t officially begin for another month or so. That’s not stopping the folks behind Major League Baseball from getting spring training going here in the Valley.

Players and prospects from 15 different MLB teams will hit the field at 10 different stadiums across the metro Phoenix area, from Surprise to Scottsdale, over the next five weeks as the Cactus League season commences. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s will have the honor of starting things off when they meet during opening day on Thursday, February 21, at Hohokam Stadium, 1235 North Center Street in Mesa.

First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $39. See Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Bring on the Red Vines. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Bring on the Red Vines.
Lynn Trimble
Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival
This year’s Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival explores Jewish culture and gives you the chance to catch some great films you won’t see elsewhere. You’ll have three films to choose from on Thursday, February 21. Fractures explores the aftermath of sexual misconduct allegations. Scandal in Ivansk follows a photographer in search of Jewish headstones. The Last Suit involves a tailor leaving behind the life he’s made in Argentina. They’re playing at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at various Harkins Theatres located in Peoria, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Tickets are $11 per film. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Let's play. - EDUARDO ROBLES
Let's play.
Eduardo Robles
Light Rail Plays
Waiting for the light rail to arrive can be a tedious experience, so you pop in some earbuds and crank up the volume on your smartphone, right? This weekend, leave your headphones in your pocket and enjoy some real culture while riding public transportation. The Light Rail Plays, a series of five-minute performances written and performed by members of Rising Youth Theatre, will focus on the college town of Tempe.

The metaphorical curtain rises at 6:30 and 8 p.m. on Friday, February 22, at Tempe Transit Center, 200 East Fifth Street in Tempe, with other performances scheduled until Sunday, February 24. This is a free event, but the audience is encouraged to reserve tickets in advance. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Brian Pulido
Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons.jpg
Coffin Comics Fiend Festival
Brian Pulido has an affinity for all things twisted, spooky, and scary. Throughout his 28-year career, the artist, comic creator, and Valley resident has created hordes of freaky, fantastical, and fiendish characters like Evil Ernie, Lady Death, and Purgatori, much to the delight of comics fans everywhere.

Those same folks will flock to the Delta Hotels by Marriott Phoenix Mesa, 200 North Centennial Way in Mesa, for this weekend’s Coffin Comics Fiend Festival. The event, which runs from Friday, February 22, to Sunday, February 24, is being put on by Pulido’s indie comic book company, Coffin Comics. There will be three days of panels, programming, artists, and activities, all of which are connected to Coffin Comics and its characters. Creator guests include Joel Gomez, Monte Moore, Mike DeBalfo, Jason Jensen, Jesse Wichmann, and Dan Mendoza.

Hours are from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $40 per person. See for more info. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Feeling the lit love. - PIPER CENTER FOR CREATIVE WRITING
Feeling the lit love.
Piper Center for Creative Writing
Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conderence
There’s good news for lovers of all things literary. The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference on ASU’s Tempe campus includes a two-day literary fair that’s free and open to the public. Head to Old Main, 400 East Tyler Mall, to explore the first day’s offerings between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The lineup includes readings, talks by literary professionals, and vendor displays. You’ll see some familiar faces there, from Wasted Ink Zine Distro to Phoenix Art Museum, but you’ll also encounter fresh voices to expand your literary landscape. Get there by 11:30 a.m. to hear readings by graduate students in ASU’s creative writing program. RSVPs are requested, but not required. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Hanif Abdurraqib - KATE SWEENEY
Hanif Abdurraqib
Kate Sweeney
Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest
There is a band that changed your life. For writer Hanif Abdurraqib, that group was A Tribe Called Quest. For the poet and essayist’s third book, titled Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, he delves into how the hip-hop collective fits into the larger societal picture of music, fandom, and our nation as a whole, as well as how their work affected him on a personal level through his own stories and keen cultural observations.

Abdurraqib will be visiting Phoenix to discuss and sign copies of his latest work. The reading begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 22, at Changing Hands Phoenix, 300 West Camelback Road. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Coronado High School has notched a few claims to fame during its 58 years of existence. Its original building were designed by famed architect Ralph Haver. Major league catcher Lou Marson, Gin Blossoms guitarist Jesse Valenzuela, and soap opera actress Beth Maitland are all Coronado alumni. And scenes from the 1999 CBS telefilm And Baby Will Fall will filmed there.

Oh, yeah, it was also famously used in a little movie called Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, an accomplishment that will forever be etched in local lore. The 1989 film, which was largely filmed in the Valley, was transformed into San Dimas High School and became the stomping grounds of the sci-fi comedy’s titular slackers.

Coronado High will celebrate its inclusion in cinematic history on Friday, February 22, with a 30th anniversary outdoor screening of the movie on its football field, which is located at 7501 East Virginia Avenue in Scottsdale. The film starts at 7 p.m. and both admission and popcorn will be free. In case of rain, the screening may be moved to the school's auditorium. Call 480-484-6800. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge Fun times with friends. - MICHELLE SASONOV
Fun times with friends.
Michelle Sasonov
Arizona Matsuri Festival
Pay a visit to Historic Heritage Square, 115 North Sixth Street, in downtown Phoenix on Saturday, February 23, or Sunday, February 24, during this year’s Arizona Matsuri Festival. Anything and everything related to Japanese culture will fill the square and its surrounding area, including Japan-inspired displays, games, and traditional art work. There will also be live entertainment ranging from taiko drumming to martial arts demonstrations on four stages, an Arizona-inspired haiku competition, a cosplay contest, and more than 60 vendors. Patrons can also enjoy a repast of Japanese eats (including ramen, yakitori, and takoyaki) and a beer and sake garden.

Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Admission is free. Visit for complete details. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge All in for vegan food. - PHOENIX VEGAN FOOD FESTIVAL
All in for vegan food.
Phoenix Vegan Food Festival
PHX Vegan Food Festival
There’s more to life than kale, you know. Surround yourself with eclectic vegan food during this year’s two-day PHX Vegan Food Festival, happening at Hance Park, 1202 North Third Street. It kicks off on Saturday, February 23, with a day of live entertainment on three stages, cooking demonstrations and presentations, children’s activities, and more than 100 vendors sharing the vegan love. Tickets are $25 for one-day general admission. Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you want to get in earlier, or enjoy both days, consider VIP or two-day tickets. Either way, you’ll get to sample tasty vegan bites, then head home inspired to create your own vegan fare. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Walking through open gallery doors at ASU School of Art. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Walking through open gallery doors at ASU School of Art.
Lynn Trimble
ASU Open Door
Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes at the ASU campus in Tempe? Get a glimpse during ASU Open Door, taking place from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 23. It’s a free event for community members, who can check out everything from science to art. Head over if you want to explore campus art, dance, or theater spaces. Other highlights will include mural-painting, zine-making, face-painting, screen-printing, music-making, improvisation, and other creative pursuits with ASU faculty, alumni, and students. There’s also an art exhibit, featuring works in diverse media by graduate art students. Visit Lynn Trimble

Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories
American Indian boarding schools were established with the intention of assimilating indigenous students into American culture. Children were forcibly removed from their families, given American names, and taught a curriculum intended to replace their way of life with Christianity. The Heard Museum is reinstalling its compelling exhibit about these tragic institutions, along with presenting a symposium titled Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories. Presenters and educators will discuss what was learned from this shameful chapter of American history.

The presentation is from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, at 2301 North Central Avenue. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge Patton Oswalt - COURTESY OF SUB-POP RECORDS
Patton Oswalt
Courtesy of Sub-Pop Records
Patton Oswalt
As the followers of his feed already know, Patton Oswalt is great at Twitter. Several weeks ago, the comedian showed he’s also mastered the art of being a human being. According to, an internet troll who served in Vietnam poked fun at the Young Adult star for an anti-Trump tweet. Thirty minutes later, Oswalt then rallied his fans to donate to the veteran’s GoFundMe page to assist with some pricey medical bills and contributed $2,000 himself. If you like some feels with your funny, then catch Oswalt when he visits Phoenix.
The show begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, at Comerica Theatre, 400 West Washington Street. Tickets are $38.50 to $65. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Silent Disco Night
Silent Disco Night starts with you putting on a pair of wireless headphones that light up. The color of the cans corresponds with the channel you are listening to. Three DJs will control each of the stations. They’ll know if anyone on the dance floor is listening to their broadcast grooves by the of the color of the headphones. The DJs behind the Radio Phoenix show Basement Tapes will battle each other to find music that will get you moving or take your headphones off and make a new friend.

Check out the hooks while the DJs revolve it from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, February 22, at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 415 East Grant Street. Tickets are $35, which benefits the museum. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge Time to explore the Coronado 'hood. - KATIE JOHNSON
Time to explore the Coronado 'hood.
Katie Johnson
Coronado Historically Modern Home Tour
Curious community members will converge on the Coronado neighborhood between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 24. That’s when the Coronado Historically Modern Home Tour happens. Head to Coronado Park, 1717 North 12th Street, to take it all in. Tickets for the home tour are $20 (or $15 until February 23), and kids under 12 are free. The tour includes 10 historic homes, plus an old-time soda fountain. Anyone can enjoy the free street fair and live entertainment at the park. Dozens of local vendors will be on hand, selling everything from food to artworks. In other words, it’s a great time to get neighborly. Visit Lynn Trimble

Sarah Spain
Sarah Spain is an award-winning writer, radio host, and ESPN reporter. On several occasions, she has written about how hard it is for women to break into the sports industry, while it’s easy to “get caught up in what they think the bigwigs...and fans want.” As part of the “Must See Mondays” lecture series at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Spain talks with moderator Paola Boivin about the growth of women in this male-dominated field.

The discussion begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 25, at the First Amendment Forum, 555 North Central Avenue. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge So many guitars. - MEG PFEIFFER
So many guitars.
Meg Pfeiffer
International Guitar Night
Having strings attached isn’t always a bad thing, especially if there’s a guitar in the mix. The Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard, gets it. They’re showing more than 80 electric guitars and amplifiers in an exhibit called “The Electric Guitar: Inventing an American Icon.” Plus, the MIM Music Theater concert lineup includes International Guitar Night, which happens at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26. Featured performers include Luca Stricognoli, Antoine Boyer, Samuelito, and Cenk Erdogan. Collectively, they hail from France, Italy, and Turkey. Together, they reveal the diverse sounds of acoustic guitar. Tickets start at $38.50. Visit Lynn Trimble

Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes are technically in contention for a wild card playoff spot. This makes them overachievers in the eyes of frustrated Phoenix sports fans who find watching the Suns hopeless and are less than impressed with the Cardinals’ and Diamondbacks’ off-season moves. But the team is the fourth-lowest-scoring team in the league, so chances are there won’t be a lot of goals scored when the Florida Panthers skate into Glendale. Then again, maybe this is the game that turns it all around.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 26, at Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale. Tickets are $21-$286. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge Great place to grab a book and see a film. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Great place to grab a book and see a film.
Lynn Trimble
I Am Not Your Negro
It’s been four decades since James Baldwin decided to write about three friends who’d been assassinated — Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin died before he finished it, but filmmaker Raoul Peck imagined what that final book might have become. Then he made I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary film exploring the civil rights movement through Black Lives Matter. It’s part of Chandler Public Library’s Black History Month film series. See a free screening at the library’s downtown branch, 22 South Delaware Street, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27. Stay afterward for a discussion of the film, with a faculty member from Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Visit Lynn Trimble

First Draft Book Club
If you’re a fan of suspense novels, then the title of the book My Sister, the Serial Killer might be a little misleading. This quick Saturday afternoon read about sibling rivalry is a darkly humorous story, cleverly told by Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite, that raises issues about moral and familial obligations. Grab a beer and enjoy the discussion around the latest selection of the First Draft Book Club with moderator Barbara VanDenburgh.

Slice into this page-turner at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27, at Changing Hands Phoenix, 300 West Camelback Road. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil

Bingo Night
Are you tired of taking grandma to the smoke-filled halls at the local casino or your neighborhood house of worship to get her bingo fix? Take her to downtown Phoenix’s hippest nightspot instead for Bingo Night. Local celebrity Marshall Shore will spin the ball cage at Gracie’s Tax Bar. Bond over a batch of fried pickles and cheap brews from the bar. Then if the two of you can arrange your cards just right, you can win some cool prizes.
Grab your dauber at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 27, at 711 North Seventh Avenue. This is a free event. For more information, visit Jason Keil
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
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