Living in metro Phoenix doesn’t seem so bad during the first months of the year. Firstly, the weather’s nice, and, more importantly, there are plenty of things to see and do around town. Some of the Valley’s biggest events happen from late January through the end of May (which is essentially springtime in Arizona, no matter what the calendar might say), including numerous festivals, conventions, sporting events, and art exhibitions.
That will again be the case in 2022, despite the coronavirus and its variants continuing to complicate things. Organizers and promoters of high-profile local events like the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Arizona Renaissance Festival, and Phoenix Fan Fusion are going ahead with plans to run
We’ve put together a rundown of big events we’ve confirmed will be happening this spring. As is the norm for the COVID-19 era, everything's subject to change and certain events may require masks or proof of vaccination to attend (check out the websites for any such mandates).
Fuel your car fantasies at Barrett-Jackson.
Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction
While you’ll admittedly need a king’s ransom to be able to buy on any of the hundreds of high-priced rides, luxury automobiles, and collector cars up for sale at Barrett-Jackson
, there’s plenty of fun to be had just browsing its esteemed selection. The 2022 edition is happening from Saturday, January 22, to Sunday, January 30, at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 North Pima Road, and will feature such automotive beauties as a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and a 1967 Chevrolet Yenko Super Camaro. Daily admission
is $23 for adults, $20 for seniors and students, and $14 for kids 12 and younger.
Arizona Balloon Classic
The skies above Goodyear Ballpark, 1933 South Ballpark Way in Goodyear, will be dotted with a flotilla of colorful hot-air balloons throughout this weekend-long event
from Friday, January 28, to Sunday, January 30. Attendees can watch dozens of balloons zoom skyward during races taking place during daytime hours. After landing, they’ll then become illuminated after dark while glowing in time to music. A food festival, vendor booths, and live performances by local musicians are also planned. Admission
is $15 adults, $12 for seniors, and free for active-duty military and children under 12.
Huzzah! The Arizona Renaissance Festival is returning for 2022.
Arizona Renaissance Festival
Arizona Renaissance Festival
The 50-acre attraction
, located at 12601 East US Highway 60 in Gold Canyon, will offer lively activities and entertainment in a Tudor-style village populated by artisans, performers, knight, rogues, and various other costumed characters. Patrons can frolic with fairies, partake in rides and games, watch jousting battles, or feast on a repast of food and libations (including turkey legs the size of your forearm). Gates open at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and other select dates through April 3. General admission is available online in advance
for $29 for adults and $19 for children 5 to 12. Tickets can also be purchased at the festival box office for $30 for adults, $27 for seniors 60 and active/retired military personnel and their spouses (with ID), $17 for children 5 to 12, and free for kids 4 and under.
Waste Management Phoenix Open
This PGA-affiliated event (often described as “The Greatest Show on Grass”) is notorious in the golf world for its boisterous crowds and the convivial atmosphere that occurs at the TPC Scottsdale, 17020 North Hayden Road, during the week-long tournament. The 2022 edition will take place from Monday, February 7, to Sunday, February 13, and feature some of the world’s top golfers hitting the links as tens of thousands gather inside party tents and skyboxes. General admission
ranges from free to $60, depending on the day.
A teen competitor at the Heard Museum's World Championship Hoop Dance Contest.
Patrick Thomas Bryant
Heard Museum’s World Championship Hoop Dance Contest
The top Native American and Canadian First Nations hoop dancers will show off their tremendous skills at the traditional art form on Saturday, February 12, and Sunday, February 13, in the Libby Amphitheater at the Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue. Competitors will be judged on their showmanship, rhythm, precision, creativity, and other aspects during the two-day competition to determine the winner. The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission
is $22 for adults, $20 for seniors, $10 for Native Americans, and $9 for students and children 6 to 17, and free for kids 5 and under.
Arizona Gay Rodeo
Since its launch in 1986, the Arizona Gay Rodeo
has featured countless LGBTQIA cowboys and cowgirls riding and roping over the past several decades. It’s scheduled to take place from Friday, February 18, to Sunday, February 20, at Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds, 7611 South 29th Avenue. Participants will compete in a dozen different events, including bull and steer riding, chute dogging, barrel racing, and steer decorating. Check out the AGR website
if you’d like to register to compete. If you’d just like to attend, daily admission is $15.
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na ...
Phoenix Idiotarod 2022
This urban shopping cart race through downtown Phoenix is put on by the Arizona Cacophony Society, a local countercultural and social group, is colorful, chaotic, and unlike any other event in the Valley. Teams of costumed pranksters will pilot decorated shopping carts along streets and sidewalks while stopping at various bars, public parks, and other checkpoints along the way. It’s bizarre, boozy fun that’s a total blast to either participate in or watch. This year’s edition will happen on Saturday, February 26, and registration info and other details are available on the Cacophony Society’s site.
The boys of summer will spend their spring getting into shape for Major League Baseball’s upcoming season at 10 ballparks around the Valley during the annual Cactus League. Players from 15 different teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and the ever-popular Chicago Cubs, will compete in games starting on Saturday, February 26. The action runs through March 29 and the daily schedule can be found on the MLB’s site.
Phoenix Scottish Games
The muscular men and women who'll compete in this year’s Phoenix Scottish Games
from Friday, March 2, to Sunday, March 4, at Gilbert Regional Park, 3005 East Queen Creek Road, will toss around heavy objects like enormous stones, logs, and hammers for Gaelic guts 'n' glory. Inspired by the traditional Highland games of Scotland, which date back to the 11th century, the three-day event will offer some culture to go along with all the athleticism as local bagpipe and drum bands and displays by Scottish clans will be featured. Tickets are $20 for single-day tickets or $30 for the entire weekend.
Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival
Valley residents who flock to this springtime event
at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 South McQueen Road in Chandler, will get to see its namesake birds (either participating in races or flapping about in giant corals). There will be more than just ostriches at the festival, which runs from Friday, March 10, to Sunday, March 13, and from Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20. A large assortment of food vendors and carnival-style rides will be available while live entertainment ranging from a concert series headlined by Nelly to various acrobats and stunt performers will be featured on the main stage. Tickets
are $10 to $15.
Spotted outside of Charlie's in midtown Phoenix.
Brides of March
Equal parts bar crawl and costumed urban prank, the annual Brides of March involves hundreds of local men and women donning wedding dresses or other matrimonial finery and hitting up downtown Phoenix’s various drinkeries for an afternoon of fun. The nuptial-themed event put on the Arizona Cacophony Society also features a high-heel footrace and other antics. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, March 19, starting at noon. It’s free to participate and you can find more details by visiting the society’s website.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Irish Faire
It wouldn’t be Saint Patrick’s Day in the Valley without these two downtown Phoenix events, which will celebrate all things emerald. The parade kicks things off at 10 a.m. when its various floats and participants depart from Third and Sheridan streets and head for Margaret T. Hance Park, 64 West Culver Street. A day of merriment follows during the Irish Faire, which runs until 5 p.m. and will include multiple stages of performances by traditional musicians and dancers, as well as a sprawling layout with various games, craftsman and vendors. Admission to the faire is $10 for adults and teens, $8 for seniors and military, and free for kids 12 and under.
Arizona Bike Week invades WestWorld of Scottsdale in April.
Arizona Bike Week
Arizona Bike Week
Harley riders, motorheads, and weekend warriors will turn out by the thousands for this five-day festival from Wednesday, April 6, to Sunday, April 10, at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 North Pima Road, that celebrates motorcycles and biker culture. The Arizona Bike Week festivities will include stunt shows, special displays, wild parties, group rides, and hundreds of vendors, as well as rock concert each night headlined by acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rob Zombie. Admission ranges from $12 to $92.
Maricopa County Fair
While this event might not be as super-sized as the Arizona State Fair, it still packs enough thrills, attractions, and distractions to provide a fun time. Taking place at the state fairgrounds, 1826 West McDowell Road, from Wednesday, April 6, to Sunday, April 10, it will offer patrons a mix of farm animals, homespun crafts and creations, live entertainment, midway games, and (as you’d expect) tons of flashy rides and fried foodstuffs. Kids under 8 are free while admission is $9 for everyone else.
A row of pinball games at ZapCon 2019.
The interior of the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street, will be transformed into the Valley’s biggest arcade from Saturday, April 30, to Sunday, May 1. Local gamers can travel through a warp zone to the glory days of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong during this classic arcade and pinball game convention, which will feature more than 200 vintage titles and old-school classics from local collectors. Admission prices vary but don’t worry about bringing any quarters, as every machine will be set to “free play” mode.
Thanks to the pandemic upending life as we know it, this LGBTQIA-friendly event has been moved to the springtime (and essentially swapped places with Phoenix Pride). But while its position on the calendar may have changed, everything else about this year’s Rainbows Festival will remain the same. Hosted by Heritage Square Park, 115 North Sixth Street, it takes place on Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, and will feature a weekend of exhibitors, vendors, food trucks, and performers. Live entertainment will include drag artists, variety shows, DJs, musicians, and more. The festivities run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is free.
Phoenix Fan Fusion
Phoenix Fan Fusion is considered to be the Valley’s heavyweight champion of geek events, thanks to its gigantic lineup of celebrity guests, activities, and vendors. The three-day pop cultural extravaganza takes place over the Memorial Day weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street, and will feature thousands of hours of programming, including Q&A sessions, parties, workshops, and countless other happenings. It’s scheduled to run from Friday, May 27, to Sunday, May 29, with daily admission currently available for $40 to $55 and full event passes for $90.