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Top 5 Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Weekend

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Taiyou Con @ Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa Halloween seems like a distant memory and Comicon is over six months away. If your costume yen needs to be fulfilled, the fourth annual edition of Taiyou Con celebrates the different dimensions of Japanese pop culture starting Friday, January 3, that includes, yes, cosplay.

See also: 3 Must-Attend Lectures in Metro Phoenix This January

You can bet your very rare Shining Charizard Pokemon card that attendees will be donning the intricate duds of their favorite anime, manga, and video game characters. Amidst the panels and activites will be guests like LA-based voice actor behind dozens of animated series and video games Darrel Guilbeau, world-famous cosplayer Maridah, and the Chalk Sisters, twins Lexi and Devon, creating art live on the premises.

Taiyou Con gets animated from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hilton Phoenix East Mesa, 1011 West Holmes Avenue. Single-day badges are $20 to 25, and a full event badge for all three days is $45. The con continues through Sunday, January 5. More info is at www.taiyoucon.com. -- Jose Gonzalez

Lights-Out Artists Party @ Alwun House There's something about a glowing light -- be it neon, flame, or an electric flicker -- that makes us feel particularly connected to the holidays. Perhaps it's because the bright glow is a symbol of hope, or maybe we just like the idea of illuminating the unknown future.

"Lighthouse" at the Alwun House explores the theme of illumination with artworks of all media, both functional and conceptual. Each of the pieces incorporate light, whether through lightboxes, lamps, art shrines, video, installation, neon, LED, or fire and will be placed throughout the house and gardens. Curated by artist and art lighting designer Landy Headley, the show invites you to come play in the glow.

The "Lighthouse" exhibit closes with the Lights-Out Artists Party on Friday, January 3. The free closing event takes place at 8 p.m. at the Alwun House Gallery and Gardens, 1204 East Roosevelt Street. For more information, visit www.alwunhouse.org or call 602-253-7887. -- Lauren Saria

Derby Dames vs. Phoenix Rattlesnakes @ Hall of Dames It may not be considered a professional sport, but roller derby certainly is one of the most badass. Is there another word for a combination of fierce women, brutal battles, and high-speed pursuit?

This month's match pits the Arizona Derby Dames Hot Shots against the Phoenix Rattlesnakes. Now in its ninth season, ladies-only roller derby has gained a substantial following throughout the Valley -- and not necessarily underground.

The Hot Shots are ranked as the number two team nationally for banked team derby. The league is one of a handful across the country to use the traditional ovular banked track -- adding to the sport's fast-action, full-contact nature. After all, the Dames' mantra is "Live Fast, Die Pretty."

Doors open at 5 p.m., first whistle at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 4, at the Hall of Dames, 2517 West McDowell Road. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Visit www.azderbydames.com. -- Janessa Hilliard

Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks @ US Airways CenterBefore the start of this NBA season, the Phoenix Suns seemed less like a professional basketball team than the premise for Major League 3: a team put together with the express purpose of losing games so ownership could grab a decent pick in next year's stacked draft. But this bunch of misfits -- led by the beast-mode moves of Eric Bledsoe, Miles Plumlee's shot-blocking right hand, and the sly foxiness of Goran Dragic -- has flat-out refused to lay down, climbing up league power rankings and making analysts' heads spin in the process.

These dark horses now sit near the top of the Pacific division and will look to continue their rise when they take on the bottom-dwelling Milwaukee Bucks Saturday, January 4. The game tips off at 7 p.m. at US Airways Center, 201 East Jefferson Street in Phoenix. Want tickets? Call 602-379-7867 or visit www.nba.com/suns. -- Zachary Fowle

Xanadu @ Herberger Theater Center Based on the 1980 musical fantasy film of the same name -- which starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly but somehow still managed to barely break even in the box office -- Xanadu brings together roller-skating, disco-dancing, and Greek mythology. The Broadway hit tells the story of Kira, a Greek muse, as she inspires a young artist to create the first roller disco.

The Arizona Theater Company, the state's largest professional theater, brings the show to the Herberger Theater to kick off the New Year. Directed by David Ira Goldstein and starring husband and wife team Jessica Skerritt and Dane Stokinger, the show promises tongue-in-cheek and outlandish humor.

Get in on the 1980s action of Xanadu at the Herberger Theater, 222 East Monroe Street, at 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, January 5. Tickets range between $41 and $65. Performances continue through Sunday, January 19. For more information, visit www.arizonatheatre.org or call 602-254-7399. -- Lauren Saria

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