It’s that time of year when friends and relatives from other states begin complaining about the cold and snow. As we luxuriate in the warmth of an Arizona winter, we can celebrate our good fortune and wise choices by engaging in the many events that Phoenix and Tucson have to offer.
Tucson Celtic Festival and Highland Games – November 4-6
If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to get your kilt out of the closet and wear it without the neighbors looking askance, your day is coming in early November when the Tucson Celtic Festival and Highland games are celebrated. Bring your clan to watch this 30th annual celebration of Celtic and Highland culture including pipes and drums, Highland dance, and many vendors. The event takes place at the Rillito Raceway Park in Tucson.
El Tour de Tucson – November 19
Started in 1983, El Tour de Tucson is one of the largest road bicycling events in America and is held annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. For the cycling enthusiast, there’s the 106-mile ride. For those who may still have training wheels on their bikes, there’s a quarter-mile Fun Ride. For everyone in-between, there are six other routes of varying lengths to choose from. If you don’t feel like participating, just go and watch. Better still, be a volunteer and help raise money for Easter Seals or any of the other 50 non-profits the race benefits. Last year, El Tour raised $16 million. Meet people from all over the world at this traditional Tucson event.
Holiday Nights in Tohono Chul Park – December 4-19
Get in the mood for the holidays with a trip to Tohono Chul Park’s festival of lights. On weekends in December, you can walk down the many paths spangled with over a million twinkling lights and enjoy the musicians and artists found along the way. If you’d like to do some holiday shopping, the Museum Gift Shop will be open. Don’t miss this annual event which always proves to be the most stunning display in Tucson.
4th Avenue Street Fair – December 9-11
The Historic 4th Avenue Business District has provided Tucson with two street fairs per year—one in the spring and one in the winter—since 1970. This year’s Winter Street Fair will include more than 400 arts and crafts booths, 40 food and drink vendors, street musicians, entertainers, and many other family activities. This is the biggest event in Tucson, bringing in 600,000 attendees each year and it’s always worth visiting.
First Friday – November 4 and December 2
Since the holidays will be here before you know it, take the opportunity to find unique and creative gifts for those on your shopping list by attending First Friday. Visit art galleries, boutiques, outdoor vendors and be entertained by bands and street performers. While the art district can be a lot of ground to cover, the trolley will arrive every 15 minutes throughout the evening to take you around. Area restaurants and bars have First Friday specials so you can continue the fun long after the galleries close.
City Lights Movie Nights – November 11 and December 9
Get a blanket or some lawn chairs and bring the kids for movie-viewing under the stars. On the second Friday of every month, CityScape at One East Washington is showing some of your favorite family movies for free. November’s movie will be the Steven Spielberg classic, Hook, and in December, get in the holiday mood with Elf and Home Alone 2.
Rock the Block – November 19
Chandler presents its annual block party for the seventh year, and it’s one of the Valley’s favorite events. There’ll be live entertainment on multiple stages and a Kids Zone featuring inflatables, interactive games, and rides. Additionally, you can keep busy by visiting all the food, retail, and arts and crafts vendors. It’s a wonderful way to spend a late autumn day in Arizona, and it’s all free.
ZooLights – November 23-January 8
There’s nothing in Phoenix that will get you in a holiday mood faster than ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo. For the past 25 years the zoo has been stringing millions … MILLIONS … of lights to amaze and delight visitors of all ages. Besides the staggering number of lights, you’ll see a three-story-high holiday tree and watch lakeside music-in-motion shows. Mesmerize your children at ZooLights. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.