Die HardThere’s perhaps no greater Christmas movie than Die Hard. It’s an action-packed story of one man’s commitment to goodness and justice in the face of pure evil (yippie-kai-yay, mother puppet!). But how can you improve on a classic? Just add puppets! The All Puppet Players are retelling John McClane’s story through the medium of racy, R-rated puppets. Will this cheapen the yuletide joy? No. Do gunfights and caroling go hand-in-hand? Yes. Welcome to the party, folks!
The show debuts at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 29, at Playhouse On The Park, 1850 North Central Avenue. Tickets range from $26 to $80. Chris Coplan
Fantasy of LightsWhen it comes to light-themed holiday celebrations, there are a few options Valley-wide to satiate any yuletide yearnings. But after 25 years, few spectacles are as spectacular as Tempe’s annual Fantasy of Lights. Before shopping downtown, enjoy some live entertainment and the parade proper. From there, expand your holiday joy with a tree lighting ceremony and a meet-and-greet with Saint Nick himself. If there were any more warmth and good tidings packed in, they’d need elves to run things.
The Fantasy of Lights kicks off on Friday, November 29. The live entertainment begins at 4 p.m., with the parade set for 6 p.m. near Mill Avenue and Third Street in Tempe. It’s free. Chris Coplan
Merry Main StreetMesa is ushering in an annual holiday tradition called Merry Main Street from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 29. The free event includes a tree-lighting for the city’s Christmas tree, free pictures with Santa, a Christmas market, selfie stations, and more. Most happenings take place along Main Street from Country Club Drive to just east of Mesa Drive. You’ll find food trucks at Pioneer Park, 526 East Main Street in Mesa.
Head to 20 East Main Street if you want to skate at the city’s Winter Wonderland holiday ice rink, located near City Plaza. The rink will be open from 6 to 10 p.m., and tickets are $10. From 5 to 10 p.m. that night, Valley Metro light rail rides between Country Club Drive and Mesa Drive are free, which certainly ups the jolly factor. Lynn Trimble
Free Type-InNothing beats a thank you card or holiday note created by your own two hands. Get inspired to type your seasonal notes during a free type-in happening from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, November 29. The Typewriter Harvest at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road, is a chance to write your little heart out while enjoying the company of other locals who share your love for all things typed.
Bring your own typewriter, along with friends or family members who’d like to join the fun. It’s a great way to beat holiday stress while unplugging from the digital world for a few hours. Lynn Trimble
‘Legends of Speed’If you want to start a lively discussion with your artsy friends, ask them whether cars are works of art. Then head over to Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue, to explore the “Legends of Speed” exhibit that explores the design elements of racecars and considers the ways cars have shaped the evolving American landscape.
Check it out on Friday, November 29, when museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. While you’re there, take a spin through the gift shop in case anyone on your holiday list enjoys art or automobiles. The exhibit is included with museum admission, which is $18 to $23 for adults. Lynn Trimble
The Aeronauts' Incredible JourneyPhoenix residents can fly back to 1862 with a Victorian-era fair inspired by the upcoming movie The Aeronauts, which stars Eddie Reymane and Felicity Jones as a scientist and widow, respectively, setting out to fly higher than any person has flown before. Visit a hypnotist, fortune-tellers, or watch a tightrope walker perform. There will also be replicas of the “Magnificent Mammoth” hot-air balloons from the film, which will be shown in a pop-up fly-in theatre on a 360-degree wrap-around screen. This free event lands at Steele Indian School Park, located at 300 East Indian School Road, on Saturday, November 30. Festivities begin at noon, and the movie will screen after sunset. Click here to register. Sara Edwards
Johnny CupcakesDespite its name, Johnny Cupcakes has nothing to do with frosted treats — it’s a popular clothing brand describing itself as the “world’s first T-shirt bakery.” That just means they replace beloved characters and icons with cupcakes, like the Han Solo cupcake tee that seems an especially savvy purchase. You can snag some of their sweet merch as part of their latest pop-up shop, which includes exclusive items and free goodies via a raffle. Then, go out and grab a real cupcake, ’cause you deserve it.
The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 30, at Stinkweeds, 12 West Camelback Road. Registration is free, but they’ll only accept cards at the shop. Chris Coplan
Free Guided Bird WalkIt’s a bad month to be a turkey. But it’s a great time to be a bird lover because you can enjoy plenty of birdwatching here in the Valley. The Rio Salado Audubon Center, 3131 South Central Avenue, is holding a free guided bird walk from 8 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 30.
It’s designed for bird experts to novices, so you’ll feel right at home if it’s your first time giving birdwatching a try. All ages are welcome. Wear walking shoes and sunscreen, and bring water along for the walk. You can bring your binoculars and field guide, or borrow them from the center. Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the official start time. Lynn Trimble
Drag Queen StorytimeShare your love for books and inclusivity with a young person in your life during the Drag Queen Storytime happening from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 30. Changing Hands at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe is presenting the event in partnership with Neveah McKenzie, who was crowned Miss Gay Arizona America in 2015.
Admission is a $5 donation (plus fees) for a family of four. The event includes readings from books that promote inclusivity and love, along with related arts and crafts. It’s a chance to help young people celebrate diversity in their own communities while fostering a love for reading and stories. Proceeds will go toward Phoenix Pride scholarships. Lynn Trimble
The Muppet Christmas CarolIf racy puppets re-enacting Die Hard isn’t quite your speed, there are other pop-culture-themed Christmas/holiday cinematic celebrations. The Muppet Christmas Carol is arguably the most delightful retelling of A Christmas Carol. For those who haven’t seen the film, all you need to know is Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, and Robin the Frog is the cutest Tiny Tim ever presented in modern filmmaking.
Catch a screening at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, at Phoenix Center For The Arts, 1202 North Third Street. Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $7 for both seniors and children. Chris Coplan
Craig RobinsonFor some folks, he’s the stoic Darryl Philbin from The Office. For others, he’s the mischievous Doug Judy on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. See a different side of Craig Robinson when he visits the Valley. Robinson combines stand-up with musical performances driven by his wit, charisma, and those ever golden pipes. To paraphrase Mr. Philbin, this bad boy’s going Mach five.
The show is set for 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, at CB Live, 21001 North Tatum Boulevard. Tickets are $30. Chris Coplan