9 Festivals in Arizona Everyone Needs To Experience At Least Once
Patti was born in Singapore, grew up in Taiwan, and has visited 25 different countries which have been the fuel for her love of travel writing and sharing those experiences with others. She is a local Arizona travel expert, and has a passion for outdoor activities. She is the co-author of the children's book "Tony Visits Washington."
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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 some of the best festivals in the state that are worth visiting during your next trip to the region.
For a couple of months at 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.
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!
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 and clothing, and beer of course. This is a family-friendly festival with an area just for kids with face painting, cotton candy, and a bounce house.
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 brings literary lovers 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 hundreds of published authors show up to the festival to discuss their latest works and give talks on various subjects.
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.
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 300 films are shown at the eleven-day festival that brings in about 27,000 attendees, and there are even many awards that are given out to the winning producers from several categories.
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, $3 tacos. In addition to that, there are several different styles of live music played on location, a tequila expo, a chihuahua beauty pageant, and crazy food eating contests and challenges.
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!
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.