All over the world, festivals are held to help bring a community together for celebrating something particular and to have a little fun. Arizona has its own set of exciting annual events that are sure to help you unwind a little, and possibly learn something new about culture in the southwest! Here are 11 of the best festivals in the state that are worth visiting during your next trip to the region.
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Arizona Renaissance Festival, Gold Canyon
For a couple of months in the beginning of the year, the Arizona Renaissance Festival takes place in the town of Gold Canyon. This is a great place to bring the family to experience what it’d feel like to step back in time, and no trip to the festival is complete without one of their monstrous turkey legs. On site there are tons of acts and shows to watch, more varieties of food than you could dream of, and the ever popular jousting tournament is always a solid hit. In addition to that, all of the staff and many of the attendees like to get in the Renaissance mood by dressing up in their favorite Medieval outfits.
Arizona Bacon Fest, Tucson
Just a few years ago, someone came up with an idea to bring Arizonans together for two important and delicious reasons: beer and bacon. Each year in Tucson the annual Arizona Bacon Fest allows ticket holders to have unlimited samples from dozens of food and beverage vendors, as well as get an education on how to best pair your bacon with beer. There’s live music throughout the festival, and several local restaurants show up with booths to display their own tasty bacon creations. Because of all the alcohol on site, this is a adult-only event.
The Great Tucson Beer Festival
The Great Tucson Beer Festival is put on each fall as a huge fundraiser to benefit the Sun Sounds of Arizona, an organization dedicated to providing audio equipment for those who cannot read print due to disability. Over the years it has grown to be so big that a change of venue was in order, and beer lovers have a chance to sample many of the 200 different brews that are represented at the event. There’s always live music, face painting, and things to snack on in addition to the beer!
Ostrich Festival, Chandler
Every year at Tumbleweed Park in the town of Chandler, thousands of people come out to see the amazing Ostrich Festival that has plenty of fun things to do for the whole family. Other than visiting with some of our feathered friends, there are also rides, local entertainment, shows, yummy food and beverages, and ostrich races to watch!
John Dillinger Days, Tucson
If you’re walking through downtown Tucson, it would be difficult not to notice the historic Hotel Congress building across the street from the Rialto Theater. This isn’t just any hotel, but it’s also the location of the capture of the infamous 1930’s number one public enemy, John Dillinger. Dillinger Days is an annual January event that’s hosted right at Hotel Congress and celebrates his arrest with an artifacts exhibit, music, a vintage car show, and of course reenactments of the capture itself right where it happened.
Polish Festival AZ, Phoenix
The annual Polish Festival of Arizona is a great way to get in touch with European culture. This two-day event is held in the city of Phoenix and provides lots of entertainment, traditional Polish food, ethnic clothing, and beer of course. According to their website, their latest festival had over 97,000 potatoes used, 3,500 stuffed cabbages rolled, and almost 25,000 pints of beer drank!
Tucson Festival of Books
This annual book festival is one of the local events that Tucsonans are most proud of, as it is one of the biggest fairs of its kind in the country. The two-day event typically brings in around 130,000 people to the University of Arizona grassy mall to peruse all the different literature, meet their favorite author, and promote reading within the community. Each year about 350 published authors show up to the festival, such as well renowned authors Stephen King and R.L. Stine, to discuss their latest works and give talks on various subjects.
High Mountain Music Festival, Pinetop
Especially during the summer months, Arizonans like to find ways to beat the heat in creative ways. The annual High Mountain Music Festival takes typically takes place during the month of June in the town of Pinetop, which is located in the White Mountains. There’s always lots of live music and local beers to enjoy, and the fresh forest air helps us forget about the triple digit weather!
Helldorado Days, Tombstone
Every October, Helldorado Days are held for three days in Tombstone to celebrate life in the southwest. This is also the anniversary month of the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral, but instead of combat, there are lots of live music bands, dancing, cowboy stories, and just some good old fashioned fun in this dusty western town. Be sure to come back in May to take part in the Wyatt Earp Days celebration that has a chili cook-off, Wyatt Earp Look Alike contest, and even more rowdiness.
Phoenix Film Festival
The MovieMaker Magazine dubbed the Phoenix Film Festival as one of “The 25 Coolest Film Festivals”, so there’s no doubt that movie lovers always have a blast at this annual event which has been going on since 2000. Each year over 150 films are shown at the eight-day festival that brings in about 25,000 attendees, and there’s even many awards that are given out to the winning producers from several categories.
Arizona Taco Festival, Phoenix
If there’s a comfort food that Arizonans hold dear to their hearts, it’s tacos. The annual taco festival in Phoenix usually takes place in the fall and hosts over 50 restaurants and food trucks that join forces to give the people what they want- delicious, $2 tacos. In addition to that, there’s several different styles of live music played on location, a Lucha Libre wrestling match, and crazy food eating contests and challenges.