As flowers start to bloom, the schedules start to get booked. Spring is easily a season to see and be seen in metro Phoenix -- what with an influx of conventions, art exhibitions, and festivals. Whether your interests lie in comedy, comic books, or something in between, we're certain you'll find at least a few things worth penciling down in our list of the 30 must-attend spring events.
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Spring Butterfly Exhibit
The Desert Botanical Garden is all aflutter with the Spring Butterfly Exhibit, on view now through Sunday, May 10. Guests can walk through the Marshall Butterfly Pavillon and be surrounded by hundreds of colorful butterflies (talk about a place to take the perfect selfie). Entrance to the exhibit is $3.50 in addition to regular garden admission. A butterfly identification guide is available for download at www.dbg.org.
"Andy Warhol: Portraits"
Pop art has popped up in the Valley with the iconic works of Andy Warhol. "Andy Warhol: Portraits" is on view now through Sunday, June 21, at Phoenix Art Museum. The exhibition contains nearly 200 pieces created by Warhol with appearances by celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Sylvester Stallone, and Prince. Museum admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for students, and $6 for children between 6 and 17. Visit phxart.org.
Spark! Festival of Creativity
This spring Mesa Arts Center will rejoice in the right side of the brain with its annual Festival of Creativity, Spark! The free four-day affair will feature live music performances, interactive installations, and visual art displays, all inspired by the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Spark! runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, March 18 and 19, and from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21. Visit www.mesaartscenter.com/spark.
Breaking Ground 2015
CONDER/dance is gearing up to push the creative limits once again with Breaking Ground. The festival of progressive film and dance will feature cutting edge choreographers and videographers both locally based and from around the world. Breaking Ground 2015 happens at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, at Tempe Center for the Arts. Tickets are $20. Visit www.conderdance.com.
Carnaval do Brazil
Try not to burn yourself out on Saint Patrick's Day, because Carnaval do Brazil is right around the corner. The lively celebration of Brazilian culture features colorful feathered dancers from Axe Samba Girls and Sambista A Priscila plus DJ sets and live music from acts such as Grupo Batala, Slleyk Da Bahai, and Gibi Dos Santos. Carnaval do Brazil starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, The Pressroom. Tickets are $15 online and $20 in person for this 21-and-over event. Visit www.carnavaldobrazil.com.
Bobby Lee has come a long way from his amateur comedy nights at The Comedy Store in San Diego. Now the Mad TV veteran is visiting Tempe Improv to showcase some of the comedic skills that landed him national spotlight. Showtimes are 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday, March 20; 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 21; and 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. Tickets for this 21-and-over show are $20 with a two-drink minimum. For details, visit tempeimprov.com.
Moses Pendleton's Momix dancers take on the four elements in a new choreographed work, Alchemia. Momix: Alchemia will perform at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 20, and 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. Tickets run between $29 and $59. For more information, visit www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.
Long Island native Dave Attel is coming to Stand Up Live. The comedy veteran is best known for Insomniac, Dave's Old Porn, Dave's Comedy Underground, and Road Work. Showtimes are 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday, March 24; and 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 25. Tickets for this 21-and-over show are $30 with a two-drink minimum. For details, visit standuplive.com.
Cowtown's annual skateboard contest is hitting Desert West Skateboard Plaza Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29. Here, skaters will show off their skills while the rest of us ooh and aah and exclaim, "Oh, that's got to hurt." Qualifiers are Saturday. Finals are Sunday. Ticket for each day are $5. For more details, visit phxam.com.
19th Annual Arizona Bike Week
Hang onto your hogs, Arizona. The 19th Annual Arizona Bike Week happens Wednesday, March 25, through Sunday, March 29, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. The five-day event will offer live music performances, stunt shows, plenty of parties, a Miss Arizona Bike Week pageant, celebrity appearances, and vendors. Single-day passes are priced between $15 and $28. Five-day passes can be purchased for $60. Visit www.azbikeweek.com.
15th Annual Phoenix Film Fest
Make a note, movie buffs. The 15th Annual Phoenix Film Fest is happening Thursday, March 26, through Thursday, April 2 at Harkins Scottsdale 101. The cinema-centric event will offer movie screenings, seminars, as well as parties for industry professionals and cinephiles alike. Tickets range from $13 to $300. For a full schedule and to purchase a pass, visit www.phoenixfilmfestival.com.
38th Annual Tempe Spring Festival of the Arts
Whether you're in the market for a new painting, a ceramic centerpiece, or a statement necklace, you have a strong chance of finding it at the 38th Annual Tempe Spring Festival of the Arts, where as many as 400 different artists set up shop along Mill Avenue. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, March 27 through 29. Visit www.tempefestivalofthearts.com.
Carlos Mencia has never been one to put it mildly. The comic who talks race, politics, and everything in between has appeared in comedy specials, movies, and televisions shows including his own executive produced series, Mind of Mencia. Mencia will perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday, March 27, 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, and 7 p.m on Sunday, March 29, at Tempe Improv. General admission for this 21-and-over show are $30 and VIP tickets are $50, each with a two-drink minimum. Visit tempeimprov.com for more information.
12th Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival
Winged beasts are taking over Tempe Town Lake. Well, sort of. The 12th Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival will bring men's, women's, and junior's racing teams from around world to the Valley to compete, as spectators cheer them and enjoy Asian and Pacific-style food, vendors, and entertainment. The festival runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29. Admission is free for those not competing. Visit azdba.com.
We told you last year that Ron Funches was a comic to watch. Now here's your chance to do so live. When he's not in front of the mic, the rising stand-up star can be seen on The Kroll Show and NBC's Undateable with Chris D'Elia. Funches will perform at Tempe Improv. Showtimes are 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 2; 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. on Friday, April 3; and 7 and 10:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 4. Tickets for this 21-and-over show are $20 with a two-drink minimum. For more information, visit tempeimprov.com.
Phoenix Zine Fair
Check out the quarterly, monthly, and weekly works of your fellow mag makers with the Phoenix Zine Fair at Trunk Space. This evening of pamphleted pop culture will celebrate the art of zines by allowing visitors to buy, sell, and trade their own collection as well as participate in a juried zine show. It all goes down at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 3. For more information, visit www.thetrunkspace.com.
11th Annual Modern Phoenix Expo and Home Tour
Midcentury Modern enthusiasts should mark their calendars for the 11th Annual Modern Phoenix Expo and Home Tour. Starting Friday, April 10, and leading up to self-guided South Scottsdale home tour on Sunday, April 19, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts will be home to retro lectures, slideshows, mixers, a marketplace, and small tours, including one of Paolo Soleri's Cosanti. Event times and prices vary. For all of the information, visit www.modernphoenix.net/hometour.
14th Annual Phoenix Improv Festival
Looking for a suggestion from the audience? How about an improv festival? The 14th Annual Phoenix Improv Festival will be happening at Herberger Theater, Thursday, April 16, through Sunday, April 18, and feature improv workshops and performances led by both local and national acts. Show tickets range between $10 and $20. For more information, visit phoeniximprovfestival.com.
Does the name Iliza Shlesinger look familiar? Chances are, her latest comedy special Freezing Hot has popped up as a suggestion on Netflix, and for good reason. The Last Comic Standing winner has shown that she has what it takes to make the audience laugh, and now she'll be proving it in person at Tempe Improv. Showtimes are 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday, April 17; 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 18; and 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 19. Tickets for this 21-and-over show are $20 with a two-drink minimum. Visit tempeimprov.com for details.
Arcade games and pinball machines get the convention treatment as Zapcon makes its return to the Valley. The gaming get-together will feature old favorites and rare collectibles as well as tournaments, movie screenings, and the overall chance to geek out with your friends. Zapcon runs from 9 a.m. to midnight on Saturday, April 18, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 19, at Mesa Convention Center. Adult tickets are $25 for a single-day pass and $40 for a weekend pass. Kids' tickets are $15 for a single-day pass and $25 for a weekend pass. For more information, visit www.zapcon.com.
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally - Summer of 69: No Apostrophe
Whether they're playing Ron Swanson and Tammy Two on Parks and Recreation or simply being themselves, it's clear that Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally have serious chemistry. Now the comedy power couple is teaming up and taking their act on the road with a 23-city tour. The Summer of 69: No Apostrophe tour comes to Comerica Theatre at 8 p .m. on Thursday, April 23. Tickets are $39.50. Visit www.livenation.com.
TEDxPhoenix is taking over the Piper Repertory Theater at Mesa Arts Center for an evening of insightful talks on taking your fate into your own hands. Featured speakers include Bristol Baughan, Rachael Bloom, Esther K. Chae, Brandon Gore, Karen Kosiba, Danny Lobell, Macy McKenny, and Camille Seaman. Press Play happens at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26. General admission is $49.99. Visit www.mesaartscenter.com or www.tedxphoenix.com.
Forget Night at the Roxbury, Chris Kattam is spending at night in Phoenix. The Saturday Night Live veteran, who played Mango, Mr. Peepers, and Gay Hitler, will be taking his signature comedy to Stand Up Live at 8 p.m. at Wednesday, April 30. Tickets for this 21-and-over show are $22 with a two-drink minimum. Visit standuplive.com for more information.
Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market
Antique shopping goes on steroids as Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market returns. The two-day event will showcase over 170 vendors selling handmade, rustic, and/or retro home furnishings and fashions. Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. General admission is $5. Early admission, which includes access at 8 a.m. on Saturday, is $10. For details, visit junkinthetrunkvintagemarket.com.
Ignite Phoenix 17
Submissions are open now through Friday, April 3, for Ignite Phoenix 17. Each speaker will get 5 minutes and 20 slides to discuss topics nearest and dearest to their hearts, tackling anything and everything from what wines pair best with a book to what being a Brony actually entails. Ignite Phoenix 17 runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are usually $15 and go on sale sometime in April. For more information, visit ignitephoenix.com.
"Collective Dissent: The SMS Portfolios"
Long before Birchbox, BarkBox, and all the other modern monthly subscription packages, there was William Copley's 1968 project SMS. An acronym for "Shit Must Stop," SMS attempted to bypass museums and galleries by making art accessible to the everyday man. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art examines this project, which features works by Christo, Marcel Duchamp, and Roy Lichtenstein, in its upcoming spring exhibition, "Collective Dissent: The SMS Portfolios," on view Saturday, May 16, through Sunday, September 13. Museum admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Visit smoca.org.
"Super Heroes: Art! Action! Adventure!"
Visit the Heard Museum as it explores the concept of the Native superhero in its upcoming exhibition, "Super Heroes: Art! Action! Adventure!" This collaborative show will display the visual works of artists and graphic novelists who have taken the mythical creature of Native legend and transformed them into modern defenders of justice. The exhibition will be on view Saturday, May 16, through Sunday, August 23. Museum admission is $23 for adults, $18.50 for seniors, $12.50 for students and children ages 6 to 12, and $5 for kids under 6, and free for American Indians and members. Visit heard.org.
Heads up, up, and away: Phoenix Comicon is returning to the Phoenix Convention Center Thursday, May 28, through Sunday, May 31. The 15th annual pop culture spectacular will offer everything from movie screenings and exhibitions to costumes and collectibles. This year's attending celebrities include Alison Hannigan and Alex Denisof from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Jason Momoa from Game of Thrones. Event passes start at $15 and run up to $499. Visit www.phoenixcomicon.com.
Pancakes and Booze Art Show
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How do you improve the the already excellent pairing that is alcohol and art? Throw unlimited pancakes into the mix. The Pancakes and Booze Art Show features work from more than 50 different emerging artists plus live body painting, DJs, and an all-you-can-eat pancake bar. The hearty arts affair kicks off at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 29, at The Duce. Cover is $5. For more details, visit www.pancakesandbooze.com.
Everyone's favorite cross-dressing comedian is venturing across the pond for his World Tour America Part 2. Actor, writer, and British funny man Eddie Izzard, best known such comedy albums as Dress to Kill and Glorious, is coming to Phoenix's Orpheum Theatre Tuesday and Wednesday, June 2 and 3. Both shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets range between $47 and $69. For details, visit phoenix.ticketforce.com or www.eddieizzard.com.