Things to Do

The Best Free Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Competitors at last year's Arizona Dragon Boat Festival.
Competitors at last year's Arizona Dragon Boat Festival. Melina Zuniga
Hey cheapos, this one's for you. This week, you can celebrate local art at Spring Tempe Festival of the Arts, get a tarot reading at Changing Hands 45th Anniversary Celebration, or enjoy the night sky at Fountain Hills Dark Sky Festival. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

click to enlarge Meet the music man. - COURTESY OF ASU
Meet the music man.
Courtesy of ASU
Flavio Venturini
Brazil is famous for many things: Carnival, the Amazon rainforest, a giant Art Deco Jesus, and soccer legend Pelé. But it’s got a rich musical history as well, including bossa nova, samba, and more modern genres you might not associate with the South America country. Get schooled at ASU, when Brazilian singer and songwriter Flavio Venturini plays some of his most popular songs and talks about his Brazilian music roots on Wednesday, March 27. Venturini was part of an iconic musical movement called Clube da Esquina (“Corner Club”) in the ’80s. The long list of people who’ve recorded his songs include Pat Metheny, Peter Gabriel, and Stefanie Lai. The free event happens from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Gold Room, 201 East Orange Street, Tempe. Lynn Trimble

Spring Tempe Festival of the Arts
The 42nd annual Spring Tempe Festival of the Arts will boast do-it-yourself creatives selling their wares along with great food and entertainment. To celebrate art’s ability to bring us together, visitors will also have the opportunity to enter the Portal. Inside one of the gold-painted shipping containers you can meet someone else from across the nation or around the world. You’ll be able to talk with them as if they are in the same room. The conversations can range from what a day in each other’s life is like to what your favorite cereal is.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 29, through Sunday, March 31, along Mill Avenue in Downtown Tempe. This is a free event. For more information, visit tempefestivalofthearts.com. Jason Keil


click to enlarge Be in the room where it happens. - COURTESY OF ASU
Be in the room where it happens.
Courtesy of ASU
Art and Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon
Every March since 2014, the Art + Feminism campaign has organized hundreds of Wikipedia editing sessions around the globe. They’ve got a laser focus, described by organizers as “improving coverage of cis and transgender women, non-binary folks, feminism and the arts.” ASU has participated for several years now, inviting interested community members to come together for the cause. This year’s Art and Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon happens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 29, at the ASU Design and the Arts Library, 810 South Forest Mall, on the Tempe campus. It’s free, and experienced Wikipedia editors will be on hand in case you need a crash course. Visit asuevents.asu.edu. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Day on the water. - MELINA ZUNIGA
Day on the water.
Melina Zuniga
Arizona Dragon Boat Festival
In the highly anticipated final season of Game of Thrones, viewers will witness knights and dragons battling alongside and against each other to discover who is worthy to sit on the Iron Throne. The 16th annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival will also feature winged serpents engaged in conflict, but it will be about as far as you can get from a Westeros bloodbath. Rooted in ancient Chinese tradition, athletes will paddle lavish dragon boats across Tempe Town Lake to the beat of a drum as they try to prove whose dragon flies the fastest.

The races run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, through Sunday, March 31, at Tempe Town Lake Marina, 550 East Tempe Town Lake in Tempe. This is a free event. For more information, visit azdba.org. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Where is the wild thing? - COURTESY OF CHANGING HANDS
Where is the wild thing?
Courtesy of Changing Hands
Changing Hands 45th Anniversary Celebration
In today’s increasingly digital world, it seems that brick-and-mortar bookstores are slowly being wiped out by online retailers. Thankfully his hasn’t been the case with the Valley’s own Changing Hands. For 45 years, this independent business has united the community with weekly poetry readings and visits from authors. The store’s Tempe location will celebrate its anniversary with mini tarot card readings, activities for kids, complimentary cake, and a toast with the owners. The Phoenix venue will feature extended happy hour prices at the First Draft Book Bar.

The Changing Hands 45th Anniversary Celebration runs from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe, and 300 West Camelback Road in Phoenix. This is a free event. For more information, visit changinghands.com. Jason Keil

click to enlarge Black out. - ROB MAINS
Black out.
Rob Mains
Fountain Hills Dark Sky Festival
From meteor showers to blood moons, there is no shortage of astronomical activity in Arizona. It’s too bad bright city lights of Phoenix make it difficult to get a full view of the heavens. Thankfully, Fountain Hills, which is located about 30 miles east of Phoenix, was designated a Dark Sky Community last year. The second annual Fountain Hills Dark Sky Festival is a celebration of the city’s efforts to curb light pollution, featuring presentations from educators, a virtual reality exhibit, a star tour, and live entertainment.

Look up to the stars from 4 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, at the Fountain Hills Community Center, 13001 North La Montana Drive in Fountain Hills. This is a free event. For more information, visit FHDarkSky.com. Jason Keil

Bell Lexus North Scottsdale Copperstate 1000
For nearly three decades, vintage and race cars have added a grand’s worth of mileage to their speedometers for a four-day springtime drive through Arizona. The 29th annual Bell Lexus North Scottsdale Copperstate 1000, put on by the Men’s Arts Council, raises money every year for the Phoenix Art Museum. Their four-day journey kicks off at Tempe Diablo Stadium with a world-class car show where you can get up close to over 80 cars and talk shop with their owners.

Start your engines from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 31, at 2200 West Alameda Drive in Tempe. This is a free event. For more information, visit mensartscouncil.com. Jason Keil
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble