Things to Do

The Best Live and Virtual Things to Do in Phoenix This Week

Nature can help bring a bit more tranquility to your life.
Japanese Friendship Garden
Nature can help bring a bit more tranquility to your life.

We’re cruising into the holiday season with a whole new set of realities that affect traditional ways of gathering, shopping, and more.

Here’s a look at the week ahead, including a dozen ways you can enjoy your free time at home or out in the community, where social distancing and masks are part of the new social landscape.

Check event details before you head out, in case of COVID-19 cancellations. And remember to check venue guidelines, so you know their public health protocols before you go.

click to enlarge Get ready to crash through stereotypes about quilts with this exhibition in Chandler. - VISION GALLERY
Get ready to crash through stereotypes about quilts with this exhibition in Chandler.
Vision Gallery

‘Fleeting Moments’ Exhibit

Set aside any stereotypes you might hold about quilting, because there’s a new exhibition of quilts that reveals the ways artists are putting a contemporary spin on this traditional craft. The “Art Quilts XXV: Fleeting Moments” exhibit opened Saturday, November 21, and runs through the end of the year at Vision Gallery in Chandler. Look for another exhibition of quilts inside Chandler Center for the Arts. Both are open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Vision Gallery is also open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays (except holidays). Admission is free.

Zappa Film

FilmBar is presenting six screenings of this 2020 film exploring the life, times, and influence of Frank Zappa, a multi-genre musician inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, less than two years after his death. He’s renowned for making experimental sound and critiquing contemporary culture. Several themes in his work, including the perils of herd mentality and censorship, resonate anew amid today’s social milieu. The first screening this week happens at 8:40 p.m. on Monday, November 23. Tickets are $16.

‘Still Marching’ Exhibit

The Arizona Heritage Center in Papago Park is showing “Still Marching: From Suffrage to #MeToo,” a new exhibit by the Arizona Historical Society that addresses the “struggles, triumphs, and resilience of Arizona women in their journey to effect change.” The center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except holidays). While you’re there, explore another exhibit titled “Current State,” comprising work by prolific muralist Thomas “Breeze” Marcus. General admission is $12.

click to enlarge Count on Stray Cat Theatre to give Christmas pageants a wickedly funny spin. - JOHN GROSECLOSE
Count on Stray Cat Theatre to give Christmas pageants a wickedly funny spin.
John Groseclose

Alternative Christmas Pageant

Stray Cat Theatre
will be streaming its 2008 production of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant 11 times in the coming days, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 26. The satirical tale, told entirely by a cast of children, tackles both Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Tickets are $15 if one person is screening the musical, or $25 if a group is streaming it together. The final screening is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 6.

Self-Guided Art Tours

If you’re eager to get outside, try walking in parts of Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, or other cities where public art dots city streets and parks. Keep an eye out for murals, sculptures, and light rail art, depending on which area you’re exploring. In Tempe, you can check out a new public art installation called PEACE, created using letters designed by five local artists: Edgar Fernandez, Shachi Kale, Nick Rascona, Kaori Takamura, and Annie Lopez. It’s located on an east-facing portion of Tempe Center for the Arts. Visit the public art sections of city websites for information on art attractions if you prefer to have a plan before you head out.

click to enlarge Recalling a pre-pandemic visit to Crescent Ballroom. - CHARLES BARTH
Recalling a pre-pandemic visit to Crescent Ballroom.
Charles Barth

Live Music on Crescent Patio

The Apaches are performing live on the patio at Crescent Ballroom at 10 p.m. on Friday, November 27, following an 8 p.m. set by Moonlight Magic. The venue describes The Apaches as an instrumental rock band with heavy surf, spaghetti western, and garage influences. Expect erotica lounge, bossa nova, surf, and ska from Moonlight Magic. The concert is free.


Head to the Japanese Friendship Garden to explore a lush, carefully curated landscape filled with stunning plant life, rocks, and other natural materials that make for a fabulous respite from the concrete jungle. The garden will be tastefully decked out with lights for a month, during the Illumination event where you can also buy beer and wine, plus Japanese sake and treats. The event opens on Friday, November 27; event hours are 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets for timed-entry admission are $15.

click to enlarge Some people paint better with a little wine on the side. - CARRIE CURRAN ART STUDIOS
Some people paint better with a little wine on the side.
Carrie Curran Art Studios

Van Gogh Vino

It’s BYOB over at Carrie Curran Art Studios, where you can sip wine while an artist guides you through creating an acrylic on canvas painting you can take home at the end of the night. For the 4 to 6 p.m. session on Friday, November 27, participants will paint a winter desert scene. During the 4 to 6 p.m. session on Saturday, November 28, participants will paint a mountain sunrise. Each class costs $45, which includes event must-haves like art supplies, aprons, and wine glasses.

Ornament Marketplace

Head to the Heard Museum if you want to shop a huge selection of artisan-made ornaments during their ornament marketplace happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on three consecutive days, starting Friday, November 27. Several guest artists will be doing demonstrations during the event. Ornament prices start at $10 (while supplies last). If decide to stay and explore the museum, you can get an adult walk-up ticket for $18.

Small Business Saturday

Your favorite boutiques might be temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support them. Most have adapted by ramping up online offerings and services like curbside pickup. If you want to shop several Arizona businesses at one time, visit the websites for Phoestivus 2020 and a new Local First Arizona initiative called Shop AZ Marketplace. Keep an eye out for artisan markets happening around town, as well.

click to enlarge Throwback to Katie McFadzen performing in A Christmas Carol for Arizona Theatre Company. - JOHN GROSECLOSE
Throwback to Katie McFadzen performing in A Christmas Carol for Arizona Theatre Company.
John Groseclose

A Christmas Carol

Check out the new outdoor stage at the Herberger Theater Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 28, or Sunday, November 29, when Childsplay presents “storybook previews” for A Christmas Carol, based on the classic work by Charles Dickens. Katie McFadzen, one of Arizona’s most-lauded theatrical talents, stars in this one-woman-play that appeals to both children and adults. It's recommended for ages 10 and up. Odds are, the morality tale at the center of this story will resonate in new ways amid the current political climate. Tickets are $15, and include a free book.

Museum Store Sunday

Several Valley museums are offering deals and discounts for Museum Store Sunday, a national initiative happening at participating museums on Sunday, November 29. It’s a great day to show some local museum love by shopping in person or online, depending on what your favorite museums have planned. Cultural venues with gift shops include Heard Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Taliesin West, and more.