Springtime is when the Valley comes alive, both literally and figuratively, from cactus blooms to the Cactus League. There’s no shortage of things to see, do and eat – and plenty of ways to burn off those extra calories. Make the most of Arizona’s high season with this handy blueprint.
Arizona Aloha Festival
Soak up the island vibes – the twang of a ukulele, the fragrance of plumeria strung on leis and the view of the lake can almost transport you there. Learn how to hula, try local “grinds” (Hawaiian slang for food) and watch dance performances at this cultural festival celebrating Hawaii and the South Pacific. Tempe Town Lake, Rio Salado Parkway and Mill Avenue, Tempe, azalohafest.org
Chandler Chamber Ostrich Festival
At the turn of the 20th century, ostrich ranching was big business in the Valley, or as the Chandler Arizonan declared: “Ostriches are all the rage in Chandler and dot the landscape by the hundreds.” One rancher was Chandler founder Dr. Alexander John “A.J.” Chandler. Though the flightless fowl no longer drive commerce, the chamber celebrates that history with live music, carnival rides and, yes, ostriches. Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Rd., Chandler, ostrichfestival.com
“Arizona’s greatest street fair” draws more than 25,000 friends, families and allies celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. Hosted by Phoenix Pride, the fair and fest draws more than 150 vendors and features two stages with live music and entertainment. Heritage Square Park, 115 N. Sixth St., Phoenix, phoenixpride.org/events/rainbows-festival
Maricopa County Fair
There’s something about the nostalgia and variety of a county fair – Farm animals! Monster trucks! Flaming-hot turkey legs and funnel cake! – that means you’ll find plenty to see and do, including the state’s largest youth livestock show. Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, maricopacountyfair.org
Cinco de Mayo Festival
Now in its 30th year, the festival is the state’s largest and longest running Cinco de Mayo celebration, with live music from Los Lonely Boys, lucha libre wrestling, baile folklórico dancers and plenty of tacos and tequila. While the day marks Mexico’s victory over France in an 1862 battle, the festival looks forward by awarding college scholarships to Hispanic students in partnership with Grand Canyon University. Third Avenue and Washington Street, Phoenix, cincophx.com
Bringing the culture of Burning Man to Arizona, the AZ Burners group hosts the localized Saguaro Man to celebrate radical self-reliance and self-expression, building a temporary town with a gift-based economy on their land in Cochise County, replete with large-scale art, music and performances. Cochise County, outside of Willcox, azburners.org/saguaro-man
Playa Fashion Primer
Most burners channel their self-expression into creative gifts and over-the-top outfits. Michelle “Mitch” Phillips of Rare Scarf Glam Vintage in Phoenix styled looks inspired by SagMan’s theme of emergence. If you make the trek to the festival, these items are essential to staying self-reliant – and looking chic – in the desert.
Much like Burning Man’s dry Nevada lake bed, SagMan is windy and dusty, so bring proper eye protection with vintage goggles or disco sunglasses, and a parasol to shade you from the desert sun.
While you won’t need a belt bag to hold any money, you will need it to hold gifts, water or lights, and a scarf or duster for when the sun goes down. Tall boots offer fashion and function, protecting against the brush.