Spring officially begins in March, but that’s obsolete thinking, from our perspective. The Valley’s spring festival season actually begins in February, with the unleashing of the Devour Culinary Classic, Arizona Cocktail Weekend and the Arizona Strong Beer Festival – all pillars of the local foodist scene. So, get into a festival mindset early with this curated menu of high-season outdoor fun in Greater Phoenix.
Arts and Entertainment Trio
Three artsy pastimes for your vernal consideration.
The 2020 Phoenix Film Festival
March 26-April 5
In a town where Bill and Ted embarked on some excellent adventures, and Clint Eastwood ran a gauntlet at the Arizona Capitol, more than 27,000 people will watch nearly 300 films over 11 days during what MovieMaker Magazine named one of America’s “25 Coolest Film Festivals.” Single tickets, $15-$25; passes $45-$450. Harkins Theatres Scottsdale 101, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, phoenixfilmfestival.com
50th Annual Scottsdale Arts Festival
Drawing nearly 25,000 fans a day, this “multidisciplinary festival” – sorry, masochists, the other kind of discipline – has been assembling artists, craftspeople, tasty food and live music in the scenic Scottsdale Civic Center Mall for a half-century. Pick something up for your den, or go Christmas shopping early. Really early. $12 for single-day admission. 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., 480-499-8587, scottsdaleartsfestival.org
Let Them Entertain Ye
Top 3 Acts at the Arizona Renaissance Festival
Grab a giant turkey leg and give a hearty “Huzzah!” to these primo performers at the 32nd annual Ren Fest.
Armored studs on regal steeds do battle with 10-foot lances three times daily. Catch the Lord Mayor’s Joust at noon, the Princess’ Joust at 2:15 p.m. and the Joust to the Death at 5 p.m.
Adam Crack, Fire Whip Show
Crack has racked up 23 Guinness World Records including “Most Candles Extinguished with a Whip in One Minute” (102) and “Loudest Whip Crack” (148.7 decibels – just a couple decibels lower than the sound of a jet taking off).
Traditional Scottish music takes a modern twist with this large ensemble featuring kilt-wearing bagpipers, clan drummers and traditional dancers.
If You Go
February 8-March 29, $15-$28, 12601 E. Hwy. 60, Gold Canyon, arizona.renfestinfo.com
Where in the World in the Valley?
A Cultural Festival Map
Find the Valley’s hot spots for heritage- and identity-based outdoor festivals.
Steele Indian School Park
300 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix
Japanese Matsuri Festival
February 22-23, free admission, azmatsuri.org
Phoenix Scottish Games
March 7-8, $20-$60, phoenixscottishgames.com
Arizona Arab-American Festival
March 21-22, $5-$10, arabamericanfestival.org
Phoenix Pride Festival 2020
April 4-5, $25-$125, phoenixpride.org
Margaret T. Hance Park
67 W. Culver St., Phoenix
Phoenix Chinese Week Culture and Cuisine Festival
February 7-9, free admission, phoenixchineseweek.org
2020 Phoenix St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Faire
March 14, $8-$25, stpatricksdayphoenix.org
Name that Tune
Can you identify these upcoming Valley music festivals by the clues below?
Looks like: 32 acres of mottled brown and green grass near the Burton Barr Phoenix Central Library.
Sounds like: Indie folk (Bon Iver), Australian alternative dance (Rüfüs Du Sol), reggae (Stick Figure), surf rock (The Growlers) and more.
Feels like: Being at Bonnaroo, sans tents or humidity.
Looks like: A bunch of bro-bands playing on baseball diamonds next to Tempe Town Lake.
Sounds like: Dave Matthews Band, Portugal. The Man, Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, O.A.R., Big Head Todd and the Monsters and more.
Feels like: Attending Lollapalooza in three different decades all at once.
Looks like: Jamaica invaded the Wild West.
Sounds like: Reggae, mon. Damian Marley, Rebelution, Steel Pulse, Collie Buddz, Fayuca and more.
Feels like: Being high and bobbing your head.
Find answers below at the end of article
Food and Drink Fests: A 5-Course Menu
Arizona Cocktail Weekend
Liquid alchemy transforms exotic liqueurs, egg whites, syrups, tinctures, botanical infusions and foams into mind-blowing flavor experiences from both local libation makers and global mixologists. Prices vary by event. Various Downtown Phoenix venues, arizonacocktailweekend.com
Devour the World
Sponsored and programmed by PHOENIX magazine, DTW is the global-cuisine tender to the Devour Culinary Classic mothership (pictured).
Find many of your favorite ethnic moms-and-pops at this afternoon scarf-a-thon in Peoria – including República Empanada and The Breadfruit & Rum Bar – and raise your culinary literacy level in one fell swoop. $55. Centennial Plaza, 9875 N. 85th Ave., Peoria, devourphoenix.com
Devour Culinary Classic
The finest chefs from around the Valley converge on Papago Park for this always-sold-out culinary confab, for the third year staged at Desert Botanical Garden. Highlights include the larder + the delta, Beckett’s Table, Flint by Baltaire and Roka Akor (Saturday); and Vecina, Fellow Osteria and Cotton & Copper (Sunday). Also: unlimited pours of wine and beer. $105-$205. 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, devourphoenix.com
Nirvana Food & Wine Festival
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa executive chef Beau MacMillan’s celebrity-studded culinary soirée features four days of elaborate sit-down dinners served against the eye-candy backdrop of Camelback Mountain. Ticket prices vary. 5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, nirvanafoodandwine.com
Arizona Strong Beer Festival
A longtime favorite of serious Valley beer geeks, the annual conclave of beer consumption features 500 stouts, Imperial IPAs, lip-smacking barleywines and other high-gravity styles, along with more demure brews (i.e. lagers and ciders). You get 30 pours, so pick wisely! Bonus: Lovely outdoor venue. $60. Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, azbeerweek.com
3 Brew Must Do’s
Arizona Craft Brewers Guild president Rob Fullmer suggests these Strong Beer Fest highlights.
To celebrate the festival’s 20th year, 20 Arizona brewers will partner with prominent colleagues to create one-time-only collaborative beers. To wit: Huss is partnering with Colorado’s Odell on an IPA with Cashmere hops; Dragoon is making an Italian Pilsner with Pizzeria Bianco; and Wren House is doing a wild rocky road ale with Illinois’ Destihl. “It’s just a meaningful way to mark the [anniversary],” Fullmer says.
Meet the Brewer Talks
Beer writer John Holl will moderate a series of interviews with brewers in the festival’s new Fry’s Pavilion.
Several of Arizona’s newest brewers will be pouring, including Lazy G out of Prescott, led by the former head brewer at West Coast IPA favorite Societe Brewing. “A little piece of San Diego in the trees,” Fullmer says.
Kimber Lanning: Dishing on Devour
Local First Arizona founder Kimber Lanning launched the Devour Phoenix food festival in 2009, and it’s since grown into one of the Valley’s premier annual culinary celebrations, with multiple highlights including PHOENIX’s Devour the World global cuisine event. We caught up with Lanning for the scoop on this year’s food fêtes.
What are you looking forward to at Devour?
I’m excited about the VIP area, which we’re doing in a Mardi Gras theme because it’s so close to Mardi Gras. We have two exceptional Southern chefs, Stephen Jones and Justin Beckett. We’re going to be transforming Dorrance Hall into a unique experience for everyone, with music, beverages, artwork and entertainment.
How does Desert Botanical Garden enhance the event?
What I love about the venue is your ability to stroll. There’s a lot of space to breathe, and it’s a gorgeous setting. We have woven the event into a lot of different spaces throughout the garden.
What’s the best thing about Devour?
That we don’t try to grow our ticket sales. That’s not the goal. The goal is to continue to attract the best chefs in the Valley, so ticketholders will get rewarded.
Tell me about Devour the World.
Devour the World is focused on the wonderful, small, multicultural restaurants that dot the Valley, whether you’re talking Salvadoran, Venezuelan, Caribbean, German, Swedish, Native American – foods of the world. It’s a celebratory day that shines a light on the incredible talent of people from all over the world who opened restaurants here.
For more information about Devour and Devour the World, visit devourphoenix.com
Answers to Name That Tune
1. M3F, March 6-8, $65-$475, Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 W. Culver St., Phoenix, m3ffest.com; 2. Innings Festival, February 29-March 1, $99-$1,200, Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, inningsfestival.com; 3. Arizona Roots 2020, February 22-23, $99-$629, Rawhide Western Town & Event Center, 5700 W. North Loop Rd., Chandler, arizonarootsfestival.com