We're well into the holiday season at this point, and we hope you're having fun. If not, consider improving your situation with one of our picks for the best things to do this week, including an arts festival in downtown Phoenix, Arizona Cardinals football, or a Christmas-themed bar crawl.
Black Theatre Troupe performs Black Nativity through December 19.
Black Theatre Troupe
It’s been 60 years since Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity
premiered Off Broadway, and more than 50 years since the Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix’s historic Eastlake Park neighborhood became the first Black theater companies in the Southwest. You can celebrate both this season as the company brings its own bright production of Black Nativity
directed by Walter Belcher to the stage. The play retells the classic nativity story in narrative and song, exploring themes of hope, joy, and liberation. It’s being performed at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 9, at the Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center, 1333 East Washington Street. Tickets are $42. Performances continue through December 19. Lynn Trimble
Mariachi Sol de Mexico
Maybe you hear the words Christmas music, and the first thing that comes to mind is sleepy old holiday standards. Never fear, because holiday tunes with the big, bold sounds of mariachi music are headed to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street, Scottsdale. Maestro José Hernández is bringing Mariachi Sol de México
to the venue’s Virginia G. Piper Theater for A Merry-Achi Christmas
at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 10. They’ll be performing both holiday favorites and selections from the mariachi songbook. Tickets start at $39 for both in-person and live-streaming options. Lynn Trimble
The FanDuel FanFest will offer sports action aplenty.
FanDuel FanFest Arizona
Sports betting is pretty inescapable in Arizona at the moment, thanks to the pursuit being legalized in our state earlier this year. Advertisements are literally everywhere, airing nonstop on television, and choking your social media feed. So the fact a branded event like FanDuel FanFest is happening in the Valley seems par for the course. The 21-and-over event, which takes place on Saturday, December 11, at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 North Pima Road, will feature sports betting (natch), as well as interactive sessions with players from the Phoenix Suns, food trucks, and various carnival games and athletic challenges. A concert by hip-hop artist Nelly and DJ set by Gryffin is also planned and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner will do a Q&A session to promote his soon-to-be-released biopic American Underdog
. Gates open at 1 p.m. It’s free to attend for current FanDuel patrons or those who sign up and place a $20 bet with the site by December 10. More info is available here
. Benjamin Leatherman
Engage in some Clausplay at the first-ever Santa-pede bar crawl.
Santa-Pede Bar Crawl
A dozen Santas, a herd of reindeer, and a flock of elves walk into a bar. That’s not the setup for the worst Christmas joke ever, but instead is an approximation of what will unfold during the first-ever Santa-Pede
on Saturday, December 11. Much like the annual Santarchy (which is on hiatus this year), the off-the-wall bar crawl will involve costumed revelers drinking different Tempe bars dry during a single evening. Participants are encouraged to dress up as Kris Kringle or other characters connected to the holidays. Want to go as Hermey the Elf from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or John McClane from Die Hard? Both are cool with Santa-Pede’s organizers, who are requiring costumes (“No spectators. No ugly sweaters.”). Folks will gather for dinner at The Golden Pineapple, 2700 South Mill Avenue, at 6 p.m. before heading for nearby spots like Monkey Pants, Fate Brewing, or Time Out Lounge. The crawl concludes at Yucca Tap Room, 29 West Southern Avenue, where art cars, DJs, and bands will await. The Clausplay starts at 6 p.m. It’s free to participate. Benjamin Leatherman
Show the local love during Phoenix Festival of the Arts at Hance Park.
Phoenix Center for the Arts
Phoenix Festival of the Arts
Show the local love as Phoenix Festival of the Arts
returns with more than 150 artisans and makers, an eclectic lineup of live performances, and food trucks galore. It’s happening at Hance Park, 1202 North Third Street, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 11, and Sunday, September 12. Several artists, including Diana Calderon and Koryn Woodward Wasson, will be doing demonstrations. And Clottee Hammons of Emancipation Arts will be presenting The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. Food truck options range from grilled cheese to hummus. Admission is free, and you can check specific activity times online. Lynn Trimble
The Scottsdale Half Marathon starts in Old Town.
Scottsdale Half Marathon & 5K
If you’ve only seen Scottsdale from the seat of a party pedal bike or the patio of your favorite watering hole, try broadening your horizons during the Runner’s Den Scottsdale Half Marathon and 5K
taking place Sunday, December 12. Both courses are flat loops, and racers get some cool perks like a fleece-lined jacket and finisher medal. Registration is $80 for the half marathon through December 11, or $90 on race day. For the 5K it’s $55 before December 11, and $50 on race day. Registration and the race day expo kicks off at 6 a.m. at Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza, 7375 East Second Street, Scottsdale. The half marathon runs starts at 7:30 a.m., and the 5K walk/run begins at 7:45 a.m. Afterward, there’s a finish line party with beer, mimosas, brunch food, and music. Top finishers get awards or cash prizes. Lynn Trimble
Riparian After Dark
You can get back to nature with a holiday twist at the Riparian Preserve, 2757 East Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. Organized into vegetative zones from marshlands to upland vegetation areas, the park is home to nearly 300 species of birds, plus an assortment of mammals, fish, and other creatures. It’s all decked out with lights for Riparian After Dark
, where you can also hit local food trucks in case you work up an appetite amid all the merriment. Timed-entry tickets are $2 before fees, and you have to buy them before you go. Hours on Monday, December 13, are 5:30 to 9 p.m. The event continues through December 19. Lynn Trimble
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (center) is one of the NFL's best.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
With only five weeks left to go in the current season, the Arizona Cardinals are perched atop the NFL. The Red Birds not only have the best won-loss record going but also feature the top defensive lineups and quarterbacks in the league. Even better, most of Arizona’s remaining games are against teams with plenty of woes, including the Los Angeles Rams (who had a horrible November, losing three games and struggling offensively). The Cardinals (10-2) already bested the Rams (8-4) once this season and look to do so again on Monday, December 13, at State Farm Stadium, 1 East Cardinals Drive in Glendale. Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Cards as 2.5-point favorites, but anything can (and will) happen in football. Tickets
start at $77, but it’s a nationally televised game if you can’t swing the cost. Benjamin Leatherman
The Thing From Another World
Conspiracy theories abound these days, as do works of art inspired by imagined battles between governments and other-worldly forces. If you’re ready for a bit of escapism, head to Majestic 7 Tempe, 1140 East Baseline Road, for a screening of The Thing from Another World
, one of three films inspired by Who Goes There?
, a 1938 novella published under the pen name John W. Campbell, Jr. The plot centers around a UFO that crashes in a remote arctic region, where things don’t go as planned after scientists capture its alien pilot. It’s being shown at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 before fees. The other two films inspired by the novella include John Carpenter’s The Thing
released in 1982, by the way, and a 2011 prequel with the same name. Lynn Trimble
Dale Chihuly, Alabaster and Amber Spire Towers (detail), 2018, 10 x 10 x 9'
© Chihuly Studio. All Rights Reserved.
'Chihuly in the Desert'
Experience the ways works by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly interplay with light, architecture, and natural elements from water to cactus with a joint exhibition on view at Desert Botanical Garden
, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, and Taliesin West
, 12621 North Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Scottsdale. “Chihuly in the Desert” includes both new and existing works exhibited indoors and outdoors. Get a good look on Wednesday, December 14, when ticket times and prices vary by venue. The artworks make amazing selfie backdrops, but don’t let snapping photos distract you from the wonder of these visual feasts. Lynn Trimble