Thanksgiving Day Compliment DeathmatchIf you’re looking for new holiday traditions, think about replicating the Thanksgiving Day Compliment Deathmatch around your holiday dinner table. It’s a local tradition that gives slam poets 30 seconds to poetically compliment their opponents, with a format used by Utah slam poet RJ Walker. The deathmatch is coming to The Lost Leaf, 914 North Fifth Street, on Thursday, November 28.
Show up at 7 p.m. to see the deathmatch, followed by three rounds of poetry performance by 15 poets. Poets will be judged by five randomly selected audience members. This free event is organized by Lawn Gnome Publishing, which works to elevate local voices and highlight the local literary scene. It runs until 9 p.m. Lynn Trimble
Arizona International Auto ShowThe Valley hosts a wide array of car shows, but if you’re looking for the Super Bowl of automobile events, then circle the Arizona International Auto Show on your calendar. The giant showcase promises 500-plus sweet rides, ranging from jeeps and crossovers to alternative fuel vehicles. There’s also a “luxury salon” for Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, and other high-end autos. You can also enjoy a simulated off-road excursion, pet adoptions, and a test track for the kiddies.
The show takes place from Thursday, November 28, to Sunday, December 1, at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street. Tickets are $10 online or $11 at the door. Children 6 and under get in free. Chris Coplan
ThanksLiving 2019Skip the turkey pardon at the White House, and do your own take. ThanksLiving 2019 is happening at Green New American Vegetarian, 2240 North Scottsdale Road in Tempe, from noon to 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 28. It’s all about turkey-free cuisine and fun times. The event includes a multicourse meal, live music, vegan vendors, and kids’ crafts.
Tickets are $27.50 for adults and $12.50 for kids 12 years old and younger if you get them in advance. At the door, you’ll pay $32.50 for adults and $15.50 for kids. A portion of the proceeds will go to Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary, a Scottsdale nonprofit that specializes in caring for senior and special needs animals. Lynn Trimble
Die HardThere’s perhaps no greater Christmas movie than Die Hard. It’s an action-packed story of one man’s commitment to goodness and justice in the face of pure evil (yippie-kai-yay, mother puppet!). But how can you improve on a classic? Just add puppets! The All Puppet Players are retelling John McClane’s story through the medium of racy, R-rated puppets. Will this cheapen the yuletide joy? No. Do gunfights and caroling go hand-in-hand? Yes. Welcome to the party, folks!
The show debuts at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 29, at Playhouse On The Park, 1850 North Central Avenue. Tickets range from $26 to $80. Chris Coplan
Fantasy of LightsWhen it comes to light-themed holiday celebrations, there are a few options Valley-wide to satiate any yuletide yearnings. But after 25 years, few spectacles are as spectacular as Tempe’s annual Fantasy of Lights. Before shopping downtown, enjoy some live entertainment and the parade proper. From there, expand your holiday joy with a tree lighting ceremony and a meet-and-greet with Saint Nick himself. If there were any more warmth and good tidings packed in, they’d need elves to run things.
The Fantasy of Lights kicks off on Friday, November 29. The live entertainment begins at 4 p.m., with the parade set for 6 p.m. near Mill Avenue and Third Street in Tempe. It’s free. Chris Coplan
Merry Main StreetMesa is ushering in an annual holiday tradition called Merry Main Street from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 29. The free event includes a tree-lighting for the city’s Christmas tree, free pictures with Santa, a Christmas market, selfie stations, and more. Most happenings take place along Main Street from Country Club Drive to just east of Mesa Drive. You’ll find food trucks at Pioneer Park, 526 East Main Street in Mesa.
Head to 20 East Main Street if you want to skate at the city’s Winter Wonderland holiday ice rink, located near City Plaza. The rink will be open from 6 to 10 p.m., and tickets are $10. From 5 to 10 p.m. that night, Valley Metro light rail rides between Country Club Drive and Mesa Drive are free, which certainly ups the jolly factor. Lynn Trimble
Free Type-InNothing beats a thank you card or holiday note created by your own two hands. Get inspired to type your seasonal notes during a free type-in happening from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, November 29. The Typewriter Harvest at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road, is a chance to write your little heart out while enjoying the company of other locals who share your love for all things typed.
Bring your own typewriter, along with friends or family members who’d like to join the fun. It’s a great way to beat holiday stress while unplugging from the digital world for a few hours. Lynn Trimble
‘Legends of Speed’If you want to start a lively discussion with your artsy friends, ask them whether cars are works of art. Then head over to Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue, to explore the “Legends of Speed” exhibit that explores the design elements of racecars and considers the ways cars have shaped the evolving American landscape.
Check it out on Friday, November 29, when museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. While you’re there, take a spin through the gift shop in case anyone on your holiday list enjoys art or automobiles. The exhibit is included with museum admission, which is $18 to $23 for adults. Lynn Trimble
The Aeronauts' Incredible JourneyPhoenix residents can fly back to 1862 with a Victorian-era fair inspired by the upcoming movie The Aeronauts, which stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as a scientist and widow, respectively, setting out to fly higher than any person has flown before. Visit a hypnotist, fortune-tellers, or watch a tightrope walker perform. There will also be replicas of the “Magnificent Mammoth” hot-air balloons from the film, which will be shown in a pop-up fly-in theater on a 360-degree wrap-around screen. This free event lands at Steele Indian School Park, located at 300 East Indian School Road, on Saturday, November 30. Festivities begin at noon, and the movie will screen after sunset. Click here to register. Sara Edwards
Johnny CupcakesDespite its name, Johnny Cupcakes has nothing to do with frosted treats — it’s a popular clothing brand describing itself as the “world’s first T-shirt bakery.” That just means they replace beloved characters and icons with cupcakes, like the Han Solo cupcake T that seems an especially savvy purchase. You can snag some of their sweet merch as part of their latest pop-up shop, which includes exclusive items and free goodies via a raffle. Then, go out and grab a real cupcake, ’cause you deserve it.
The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 30, at Stinkweeds, 12 West Camelback Road. Registration is free, but they’ll only accept cards at the shop. Chris Coplan
Free Guided Bird WalkIt’s a bad month to be a turkey. But it’s a great time to be a bird lover because you can enjoy plenty of birdwatching here in the Valley. The Rio Salado Audubon Center, 3131 South Central Avenue, is holding a free guided bird walk from 8 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 30.
It’s designed for bird experts to novices, so you’ll feel right at home if it’s your first time giving birdwatching a try. All ages are welcome. Wear walking shoes and sunscreen, and bring water along for the walk. You can bring your binoculars and field guide, or borrow them from the center. Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the official start time. Lynn Trimble
Drag Queen StorytimeShare your love for books and inclusivity with a young person in your life during the Drag Queen Storytime happening from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 30. Changing Hands at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe is presenting the event in partnership with Neveah McKenzie, who was crowned Miss Gay Arizona America in 2015.
Admission is a $5 donation (plus fees) for a family of four. The event includes readings from books that promote inclusivity and love, along with related arts and crafts. It’s a chance to help young people celebrate diversity in their own communities while fostering a love for reading and stories. Proceeds will go toward Phoenix Pride scholarships. Lynn Trimble
The Muppet Christmas CarolIf racy puppets re-enacting Die Hard isn’t quite your speed, there are other pop-culture-themed Christmas/holiday cinematic celebrations. The Muppet Christmas Carol is arguably the most delightful retelling of A Christmas Carol. For those who haven’t seen the film, all you need to know is Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, and Robin the Frog is the cutest Tiny Tim ever presented in modern filmmaking.
Catch a screening at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, at Phoenix Center For The Arts, 1202 North Third Street. Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $7 for both seniors and children. Chris Coplan
Craig RobinsonFor some folks, he’s the stoic Darryl Philbin from The Office. For others, he’s the mischievous Doug Judy on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. See a different side of Craig Robinson when he visits the Valley. Robinson combines stand-up with musical performances driven by his wit, charisma, and those ever golden pipes. To paraphrase Mr. Philbin, this bad boy’s going Mach five.
The show is set for 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, at CB Live, 21001 North Tatum Boulevard. Tickets are $30. Chris Coplan
ElfElf doesn’t have the legacy of It’s a Wonderful Life, but it will have something else entirely at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s forthcoming screening: audience participation. Activities include a cotton “snowball” fight, singalongs, scratch-n-sniff cards, themed contests, and bubbles. Beat that, The Santa Clause.
You can party with Buddy the Elf and company at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 2, at 1140 East Baseline Road in Tempe. There will be other showings through December 18. Chris Coplan
So You Think You Can Dance Live!Hopefully, your eyeballs have recovered from seeing Sean Spicer’s neon green ruffles worn for an early episode of this season’s Dancing With the Stars. If not, So You Think You Can Dance Live! just might hold the cure. They’re taking their best dancers from 2019 and sending them out on the road, for a tour that includes a stop at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street in Mesa.
So You Think You Can Dance Live! 2019 takes place at 7:30 p.m. inside the center’s Ikeda Theater. Available tickets start at $69.50. Tickets to performances make great gifts, of course. And you never know when you might pick up a dance move or two that will come in handy when you need to entertain all those holiday visitors who waltz in from out of town. Lynn Trimble
Friends TriviaIf your love life’s D.O.A., or it’s just not your day, week, month, etc., there’s one thing always there for you: Friends trivia. Given the season, your team of Joeys and Rachels will have their respective mettle tested with trivia from 10 seasons of holiday episodes, with a keen focus on “The One With the Holiday Armadillo.” What did Chandler buy Phoebe in “The One With the Routine?” How did Monica send Chandler to the hospital in “The One With the Thanksgiving Flashbacks”? Study up!
The event is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3, at Growler USA, 5415 East High Street. Chris Coplan
Holiday Art SaleIf you think artwork is too expensive, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the Holiday Art Sale happening at the Mesa Community College Art Gallery, 1833 West Southern Avenue in Mesa. The sale will feature affordable artworks by college students, faculty, and staff. College faculty members and alumni are some of the Valley’s best-loved artists.
You’ll find artworks and crafts in several mediums during the sale, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 4. Enjoy the sale, then head back in 2020 to see all the intriguing art the gallery will be showing, including works by local artists. Lynn Trimble