Welcome to the first weekend of 2020, y’all. This weekend, you can dress up as your favorite anime character at Taiyou Con 2020, celebrate the king of rock 'n' roll at the Elvis Presley Birthday Bash, or get the lowdown on what’s to come in 2020 at Abundant Space’s psychic fair. For more things to do, visit
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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 Friday, January 4, at 925 North West Grand Avenue. It’s free to the public. Chris Coplan
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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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