Things to Do

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Doing Taiyou Con the right way.
Doing Taiyou Con the right way. Benjamin Leatherman
New year, new plans. This week, you can take a stroll through a winter wonderland at Scottsdazzle, enjoy some feel-good laughs during Adult Puppet Slam, or celebrate the iconic David Bowie’s birthday at Starman Disco. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

A great place for conversation.
Valley Bar

Get Lit

Centuries before the advent of social media, there were salons. They were informal gatherings that gave people a place to exchange ideas and wax philosophical. Here in metro Phoenix, the Get Lit series puts a modern twist on salons, bringing them from the 18th century into the present day. Every session explores a different topic, which is introduced by an expert, then discussed by those who’ve come together for a night of intriguing conversation in a fun setting.

Local literary voice Kelsey Pinckney is leading the next salon, where the topic will be writing about trauma. It’s happening from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, January 2, inside the reading room at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. The event is free, but you have to be at least 18 to attend. Seating is limited to 24 slots, so it’s wise to hop online and RSVP before attending. Lynn Trimble

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Prepare to be dazzled.
Courtesy of City of Scottsdale


With a punny name like Scottsdazzle, you should’ve already left a person-shaped cloud of dust on your way out the door. Each year, the best parts of Scottsdale are transformed into a veritable winter wonderland, complete with live music and entertainment, “unique events,” festive decorations, and, of course, ample opportunities for celebratory eating, drinking, and shopping. Because who says Christmas has to end in December? Quitters, that’s who.

Scottsdazzle runs until January 4 throughout Old Town and downtown Scottsdale. Chris Coplan

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Let the boba battle begin.
Robrt L. Pela

Battle of the Boba

Who makes the best boba in the Valley? We find out this week as the Japanese Friendship Garden and Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce host the Battle of the Boba. Vendors will throw down with patrons judging based on the menu, “Japanese-specific” flavor, and tent decorations. Eight quarter-finalists are vying for the ultimate prize: Mochi Fresh, Tastea, Aloha Tea & Coffee, Boba Tea House, Mango Rabbit, Tea Swirl, iTea, and Rapha Tea. And when you’re not busy slamming gallons of boba, there’ll also be live music and a slew of Japanese sweets.

The competition runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, January 3, at 1125 North Third Avenue. The event is free. Chris Coplan

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Poetry time in Tempe.
Changing Hands Bookstore

Friday Poetry

Fiction writer and poet Roxanne Doty will be reading a selection of her works exploring a wide range of topics from people observed on the streets of Phoenix to life in the desert borderlands during the next Friday Poetry event at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. Doty was nominated in 2019 for the prestigious Pushcart Prize, which recognizes literary works by American authors published in small presses.

Following her reading, others are free to read their poetry. The free event will give you a chance to meet fellow literature lovers and help get your New Year off to a smart start. Lynn Trimble

You're never too old for puppets.
Great Arizona Puppet Theater

Adult Puppet Slam

Put away those homemade sock puppets with the googly eyes for a night and see how the professional puppeteers do it. The Great Arizona Puppet Theatre, 302 West Latham Street, is bringing in Magical Moonshine Theatre for its next Adult Puppet Slam, where those 18 years old and over will get plenty of naughty mixed in with their nice.

The California troupe have an international presence in puppetry, mask, and musical theater performance. They’ll start at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 3. Local puppeteers are also part of the adult puppet slam lineup. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 on performance day. Reservations are recommended. You can buy drinks at the show, assuming you’re at least 21. Lynn Trimble

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Hey, it's Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Benjamin Leatherman

Taiyou Con 2020

Anime is still a bit of a mystery to some people, despite its phenomenal growth in popularity in recent years. Quiz the average person on their familiarity with the Japanese style of animation, and they’d probably reference Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Voltron, or another well-known franchise that’s been imported to these shores. If you fall into this category, gaijin, and are curious about anime, Taiyou Con 2020 this weekend is where you can get up to speed.

The three-day event, which is devoted to anime and similar Japanese pop-culture pursuits like manga and video games, runs from Friday, January 3, to Sunday, January 5, at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street in Mesa. There will be vendors, cosplayers, panels, gaming, maid cafes, activities, and more. Special guests include Marie Miyake and Rei Matsuzaki.

Event hours vary. Daily admission is $30 to $40, weekend passes are $50 to $64.99, and a “premier fan badge” is $149.99. Benjamin Leatherman

Kahau Kones

If you weren’t there to watch the Moon landing, or experience the fall of the Berlin Wall, don’t feel left out. You can still see history in the making. Scottsdale’s own Kahau Kones is attempting to shatter the Guinness World Record for largest shaved ice — now sitting at approximately 3,400 pounds — by crafting an ice-cold treat weighing some 5,000 pounds. Could a joke be made here regarding ice in the desert? Sure. But we should all focus instead on finding stretch pants and crafting large enough spoons.

History will (hopefully) be made from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, January 4, at The Pavilions at Talking Stick, 9180 East Indian Bend Road in Scottsdale. The event is free, but be sure to reserve a spot. Chris Coplan

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They're celebrating over at the Phoenix Zoo.
Phoenix Zoo

Night of the Three Kings

Maybe you’re burned out from all the hyper-consumerism of the Christmas holiday season. Get a different take on the meaning of Christmas when Phoenix Zoo, 455 West Galvin Parkway, celebrates Noche de Reyes Magos or Night of the Three Kings. It’s a popular holiday in Latino culture, where festivities highlight the biblical reference to three wise men visiting baby Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Zoo is celebrating with live mariachi music, games, and a chance to meet the Three Kings. The event, which runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m on Saturday, January 4, is included with ZooLights admission, which starts at $13.95 online. It’s said the wise men followed a bright star to find the babe in a manger. But you can follow the dazzling display of animal-themed lights. Best to leave your frankincense at home for the night. Lynn Trimble

Taiko Drumming

The folks at Guitar Center don’t generally like it when you try and barrel through a Neil Peart solo on its drum sets. Luckily, Fushicho Daiko Dojo provides a free space to jump headlong into the world of taiko drumming. For those unaware, taiko is the musical equivalent of a “full-body workout,” with the style often exemplifying “teamwork and cooperation.” So, exercise, socialization, and creative expression all in one? You can’t beat that.

The event is set for 5:30 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, January 4, at 925 North West Grand Avenue. It’s free to the public. Chris Coplan

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The Phoenix Suns will give you something to cheer about.
Jim Louvau

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies have played each other approximately 90 times. Of those head-to-head bouts, the Suns have walked away victorious 55 times. So, if you’re the sort who loves to gamble, the odds say to bet it all on purple and orange. That doesn’t mean the Grizzlies won’t steal one, especially since they bested the Suns on December 11. But with Phoenix experiencing a fairly strong season thus far, any win means the absolute world.

The two teams play their 91st game at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 5, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. Chris Coplan

Elvis Presley Birthday Bash

Images of Elvis Presley dominated television sets on August 16, 1977. That’s the day the rock ’n’ roll legend died of a suspected drug overdose at age 42. Fans still mourn that day each year, but they also celebrate Presley’s life, which included making several films in addition to making music. They’ll be celebrating for several days at Graceland, the star’s famous Memphis mansion.

At The Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School Road, metro Phoenix fans can gather for the venue’s annual Elvis Presley Birthday Bash, which happens on Sunday, January 5. The event kicks off at 6 p.m., but doors open at 5 p.m. The lineup includes more than a dozen creatives. Tickets are $8 at the door, and you have to be age 21 or up to attend. Proceeds benefit the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation, which focuses on arts, education, and children’s programs. Lynn Trimble

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Get the drop on 2020.
Lynn Trimble

Abundant Space

It’s a new year, and if you want to be truly successful, you might consider getting your chakras aligned and your energies cleansed. Luckily, Abundant Space is holding one of its psychic fairs, with 14 different readers available for your psychic needs. So whether you’re looking for a tarot or rune, aura, crystal, Oracle card, or clairvoyant reading, now’s the chance to get a drop on 2020. There’s also something called a toe reading, so why not live it up and try that out to boot?

The fair is set for noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 5, at Abundant Space, 10824 North 71st Place in Scottsdale. Readings run as low as $15 per session. Chris Coplan

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The Booth Brothers are coming to Mesa.
Innovative Management and Consulting

Southwest Gospel Festival

They’ll be feeling some serious Tennessee vibes over at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street in Mesa, as the Southwest Gospel Festival takes to the Ikeda Theater stage for three days. The festival launches at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 6.

The Booth Brothers, Legacy Five, and Tribute Quartet are bringing the music that night, and they’ll be joined by motivational speaker Dennis Swanberg. If you’re not used to hearing gospel, the evening will give you a chance to dip in. If this genre is your thing, you have three days to take it all in. Single tickets start at $13. Full event tickets start at $27. Lynn Trimble

Phoenix poet Sean Avery.

Phoenix Poetry Orchestra

Words and musical notes will collide in unexpected ways on Tuesday, January 8. That’s when the next Phoenix Poetry Orchestra performance happens from 7 to 9 p.m. at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. The evening couples live music composed by Kevin Kerr with a live poetry reading by Sean Avery, a Phoenix creative whose work explores the intersection of Black masculinity and the body.

The evening also includes open mic time for those who want to read their own poetry. Musicians who want to jam with the orchestra can bring their own instruments along. Get your $10 ticket at the door. You can buy drinks or food from FilmBar while you’re there. Lynn Trimble

Starman Disco

January 8 would be the 73rd birthday of the iconic David Bowie. So in his esteemed honor, Xam Renn and A Claire Slattery are holding a musical celebration on this most momentous of days. The Starman Disco will feature a slew of songs, films, and videos from throughout Bowie’s long and storied career. So whether you rep Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, the Goblin King, or the Blind Prophet, it’s time to dance, baby dance.

The evening begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. GA tickets are just $5. Chris Coplan

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Check out The Big Lebowski Movie Party.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

The Big Lebowski Movie Party

The Big Lebowski starring Jeff Bridges is back on the big screen thanks to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which is presenting several screenings of the 1998 film by Ethan and Joel Coen. If you’ve seen it, you know why the theater will be passing out inflatable crowbars before the film rolls during The Big Lebowski Movie Party happening at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8 at 1140 East Baseline Road in Tempe.

Normally, it’s hush-hush inside screenings. But you can revel in repeating iconic quotes right along with the characters during Alamo movie parties. There’s an added bonus — a giant bowling game happening on stage before the film gets underway. And there are other reasons to see it, including cast member Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the fact that Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea shows up a few times in the film. You need to be 18 to attend, and tickets are $14.06. 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