Arizona plays host a huge number of festivals and fairs each year, many of which were inspired by some of the unique aspects of the southwestern state’s culture.
A highlight of any visit to Arizona and its capital Phoenix is immersing yourself in the region’s rich arts and cultural scene, which has helped give rise to many of the festivals and fairs that are held here throughout the year. Consequently, such events serve not only as a chance for locals to celebrate their own heritage, but to provide a fascinating insight for visitors as well. We’ve picked out some of the best.
Arizona Balloon Classic
About 25 balloon teams participate in this annual event which attracts thousands of spectators, all drawn by the visual drama of Arizona’s East Valley skies dotted with hot air balloons. Held over three days, the festival features early evening balloon glows, morning balloon launches and landings, and a fun-packed ballooning race too. There’s also music, food, a family fun zone and fireworks to add to the spectacle.
Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear / 28-30 January 2022
Street Eats Food Truck Festival
Over 60 food trucks participate in this well attended foodie festival every year, all serving up mouth-watering dishes ranging from Philly steak sandwiches through to gourmet cuisine. There are also food eating competitions, cooking demos by local and nationally recognised chefs, musical entertainment on multiple stages, a farmers market, arts and crafts stalls, and a Kids’ Zone.
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale / 5-6 February 2022
World Championship Hoop Dance Competition
This unique two-day event, which celebrates the long-standing artistry, athleticism and significance of American Indian Hoop Dance, will see men and women from across the US and Canada compete for cash prizes and – most importantly of all – the coveted title of World Champion Hoop Dancer. Watched by thousands of enthusiastic spectators, along with a panel of keen-eyed judges, performers are assessed on their precision, timing, rhythm, showmanship, creativity, and speed.
Heard Museum Libby Ampitheatre, Phoenix / 12-13 February 2022
Arizona Beer Week
For 11 days in February, the state of Arizona will see dozens of its finest breweries, bars and restaurants, along with vast numbers of industry experts and beer lovers, come together to celebrate the very best craft beer the region has to offer. Taking place at venues across Arizona, the programme of over 200 events will include food pairings, pub crawls, special giveaways and meet-the-brewer nights.
Venues across Arizona / 17-27 February 2022
Buckeye Air Fair
This family-friendly event celebrates the history and tradition of aviation, while offering visitors the chance to learn about the science of space and flight. As well as a wide array of aircraft related exhibits, the fair also puts on a range of activities including rides in biplanes, hot air balloons and helicopters, police and fire demonstrations, and a car show. There’s also a special Kids Zone and a science and technology festival.
Buckeye Municipal Airport, Buckeye / 18-20 February 2022
Lost Dutchman Days
There is little more quintessentially American than a Rodeo, and this hugely popular annual carnival features the very best that the fun-filled, high-octane horse and livestock-riding sport has to offer, attracting some 30,000 spectators each year. Held over three days, it stages over 30 rides, along with a huge array of free, top quality entertainment including a rodeo dance, live music, arts & crafts, family friendly activities, food and vendor booths, a bratwurst party, and a colourful parade.
Rodeo Park, Apache Junction / 25-27 February 2022
Southwest Cajun Fest
Over 1,000 miles separates Arizona and Louisiana, but for one day only the two states come together for a celebration of all things Cajun. The event features a packed programme of cultural festivities and entertainment, but the number one draw is the mouth-watering cuisine. Fusing authentic Louisiana dishes with a dash of Arizona flavour, guests are invited to sample a rich assortment of regional dishes served up by a variety of food vendors. Meanwhile handcrafted beer, eating competitions and live jazz, blues and swing music add to the atmosphere.
Dr. AJ Chandler Park, Chandler / 26 February 2022
Italian Festival of Arizona
Do you harbour a love of all things Italian? Look no further than the Italian Festival of Arizona, a two-day celebration bringing a taste of Italian culture to Scottsdale. Expect traditional live music, a range of arts and crafts, wine tasting and all the tempting Italian dishes and flavours you could wish for. Part of the event’s proceeds will be donated to St Vincent de Paul, supporting those in need in the surrounding area. This is a great family event celebrating the diversity of the local community.
Civic Center Mall, Scottsdale / 26-27 February 2022
McDowell Mountain Music Festival
The musical celebration of community and charity has become a solid fixture in the growing Phoenix festival scene. Launched in 2004, today the three-day event routinely draws over 20,000 fans to the green expanse of Margaret T. Hance park, helping raise huge amounts for regional charities in the process. Notable names from the world of music to have performed at the festival in recent years include Bon Iver, Rufus du Soul and Greensky Bluegrass. As well as live music there are also local food trucks, vendors, and a Kid Zone.
Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix / 4-5 March 2022
Roots N’ Boots Queen Creek
Saddle up for the full Roots N’ Boots Queen Creek PRCA experience, four days of rodeo action for the whole family to enjoy. The event celebrates the best of the local agricultural community, complete with funfair, carnival and vendors, not forgetting the stars of the show, the livestock. Sign up to compete in events, such as Ranch Dressing and Teen Xtreme to bring out your inner cowboy. Younger visitors can meet a range of animals, enjoy gentle pony rides and cheer on all the rodeo contestants.
Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre, Queens Creek / 17-20 March 2022
Spring Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival
This March, Thunderbird Artists, the leading producer of fine art events in the American southwest, will bring the indoors outdoors with their 27th spring festival in downtown Carefree. Guests can view fine art selected through a comprehensive jury process, sample fine wines and spirits, snack on festival food, and listen to live music, all while enjoying the sunshine and meeting fellow art lovers. The festival boasts over 160 juried artists exhibiting a wide range of oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolors, gouache, and photography, as well as ink, pencil, and charcoal drawings. And for those who wear their art collections, the event also features a broad range of one-of-a-kind jewellery.
Downtown Carefree / 18-20 March 2022
Knix Barbecue & Beer Festival
The Great American Barbeque & Beer Festival is back and bigger than ever. If you’re a barbeque nut with a passion for country music, you’re in the right place. An array of BBQ pitmasters will be cooking up the tastiest brisket, pulled pork, chicken and ribs, ready to be washed down with SanTan craft beer. Have a go at mechanical bull riding, browse the farmers’ market and play jumbo lawn games.
Tumbleweed Park, Chandler / 26 March 2022
Cyclomesa Bicycle Festival
A joyful day out for anyone who’s crazy about their bike. The CycloMesa Bicycle Festival will be hosting displays and activities for all ages to enjoy. There’s a Kids’ Zone for younger patrons to explore, complete with circus performers and carnival games, plus an educational bicycle rodeo teaching children how to stay safe on two wheels. Witness the heart-in-mouth BMX show, watch a brutal Roller Derby match or cheer on the riders on their 72-mile cycle route through Mesa.
Venues across Mesa / 7 April 2022
Scottsdale Culinary Festival
Scottsdale becomes the epicentre of Arizona’s foodie scene each April when it plays host to its annual Culinary Festival. Some 40 local restaurants along with 30 craft breweries serve up a bevy of food and drink, while a teen cooking challenge, chef demos and wine and beer gardens also keep revellers entertained. Music plays a prominent role at the festival too, with 20 bands strutting their stuff across three stages.
Scottsdale Civic Center Park, Scottsdale / 18 April 2022
There’s no need to wait for a fancy dress party invite to adorn yourself in the attire of your favourite comic book superhero – just grab yourself a ticket for Phoenix Comicon and you’ll have the perfect excuse. Taking place over four days, the annual event has grown in size and stature since the inaugural edition, and now showcases not just comic books but also science fiction, fantasy and film/television, along with related popular arts such as horror, anime, manga, animation, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics and fantasy novels.
Phoenix Convention Center, Hayatt Regency, Phoenix / 27-29 May 2022
Hell City Tattoo Festival
Hell City Tattoo Festival lands in Phoenix each August, bringing with it over 200 of the world’s most celebrated inky artists. Events include tattoo competitions (including a Worst Tattoo category), an art gallery and tattoo theatre, painting and burlesque performances, educational seminars for healthy practice, live music and tattoo awards. There’s also a handy play zone to keep the little ones entertained. This is a must for body-art fans and a great chance to meet artists you admire and get inspiration for your next stamp.
Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Phoenix / 26-28 August 2022
Grand Canyon Celebration of Art
Every year the vast landscapes of the Grand Canyon National Park serve as a stunning backdrop for a gathering of artists from all over the country, all of whom have been inspired by the iconic natural wonder. Participating artists paint “en plein air” (outside on location) for a week, typically painting in the mornings and evenings when the canyon is at its most vibrant. Visitors can view the artists as they paint, safely from a distance, and their works are then placed on display at the historic Kolb Studio where they are made available for purchase.
Grand Canyon National Park South Rim / 10 September 2022 – 16 January 2023
Winterhaven Festival of Lights
One of the longest-running holiday traditions in Tucson, and one of the most long-standing festivals of its kind in the country, this dazzling event warms the hearts of all who attend. Free to enter, the festival, which dates all the way back to 1949, sees the mature Aleppo pine trees that pepper the leafy residential neighbourhood of Winterhaven wrapped up in twinkly lights and other brilliant illuminated displays.
Tucson / Late December each year