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Spring Festivals in Arizona
Springtime and Festivals: A Fun Combination
Music, art and crafts, games and rides, fun themes and live entertainment ... and, of course, food! Who doesn't like a good festival?
Then add to the mix a beautiful time of year and the great state of Arizona, and you're sure to enjoy yourself for a few hours, for a whole day or weekend, or even a whole week of activities.
I admit, putting this page together was a selfish undertaking, because I love a good fair and wanted to have my own resource for Arizona's best spring events. But I also wanted to share this with other festival-lovers who live in or will be visiting Arizona during this wonderful season.
So I searched and searched and put together a listing of springtime events (that would technically be from March 20 - June 20) that take place all over the state and sorted them by region -- Northern, Central and Southern Arizona -- and then by date, to help us all find something fun when and where we want to go.
I've also included some additional resources towards the bottom of the page, so you can hopefully find any good goings-on that I've missed, new festivals that have recently been added (but that I haven't discovered yet) and Arizona festivals and fairs at other times of the year.
There's also a brief overview of spring in the different areas of the state, because Arizona is definitely diverse. I hope you find something fun to do! I know I will....
Lake Mead -- Grand Canyon -- Page -- Flagstaff -- Williams -- Winslow -- Petrified Forest -- Window Rock -- Sedona -- Pine/Strawberry
A Snapshot of Spring in Northern Arizona - From snow to wildflowers, down jackets to t-shirts in Arizona's northern third
Nope, Arizona isn't all fun in the warm sun. We get plenty of cold and snow too, especially up here in the high country, including my adopted hometown of Flagstaff, where spring can take on many personalities and change them on a dime.
Spring in northern Arizona might mean shoveling feet of snow one day, then skiing in a t-shirt the next. It might be dry as a bone, then pour buckets. And it might be both in two places at the same time, and those places might not be all that far apart.
Northern Arizona ranges from an altitude of 12,600 feet at the top of the San Francisco peaks to around 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River at the bottom of Grand Canyon. Drive an hour, and you might go from three layers of clothing to one. Drive or hike a bit further -- down, down, down -- and you'll be sweating in shorts and a tank top.
Spring around here means runoff too, the snow melting and creating torrents out of otherwise dry riverbeds and washes and swelling sweet little creeks to raging floods, then soon looking quiet and innocent the way they were.
Spring can be a very windy time of year in these parts, so hang on to your hat!
Spring in northern Arizona also means that people are eager to get outside and enjoy the change of season. The calendar of festivals up here in the top third doesn't really fill up until early summer and on into the fall, but there's still some good fair fun to be had when spring rolls around.
Spring Festivals and Fairs in Northern Arizona
- NAU Events - Spring Festival of Choirs
Sponsored by Northern Arizona University's School of Music, this event features the Men's Chorale, Women's Chorale, University Singers and the Harold M. Harter Memorial Handbell Choir. Tickets are $10 and $15.
- Sedona Spirit Sings Festival - May
Held at the Sedona Red Rock High School, this event includes musicians, vocalists, speakers, and sponsors from all over the world, who come together to perform and share their talent in order to "spread peace, unity, harmony, and love."
- National Train Day, Williams, AZ -- May 8 - 9
This festival celebrates the Grand Canyon Railway, with train-related activities including art and artifact displays, train rides and model-train exhibits.
- Soar Into Spring Kite Festival, Flagstaff, AZ -- May 12
With plenty of wind for the occasion, this fun event held in Foxglenn Park from noon to 4pm includes -- you guessed it! -- kite flying and a kite contest, along with arts and crafts with the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society, carnival games, f
- Pine-Strawberry Arts and Craft Guild Craft Festival -- May 31 - June 1
Held at the Pine Community Center in this beautiful location on the Mogollon Rim, this fair features 75 booths that showcase arts such as stained glass, jewelry and pottery, and more. The Pine-Strawberry Fire Department will serve a pancake breakfast
- Strawberry Festival in Pine-Strawberry, AZ -- June 7 - 8
Held at the Pine Community Center, there will be craft booths, live entertainment and food vendors.
A Flagstaff Art Fair at Wheeler Park
Prescott -- Payson -- Lake Havasu City -- Show Low -- Phoenix -- Mesa -- Tempe -- Scottsdale -- Wickenburg -- Alpine -- Globe
A Snapshot of Spring in Central Arizona
To those who live in the Sonoran Desert, whether in the middle of the metropolis of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe and the surrounding suburban sprawl or surrounded by not much more than saguaro, prickly pear, cholla and other types of cactus and lots of big, blue sky, spring starts in late January or early February. It's not so much the calendar that determines when spring begins.
For most central Arizonans, spring begins with the day dawns noticeably earlier, when the fruit trees and roses bloom, and the ocotillo put out their first little leaves and blossom shoots. Spring for many of these folks begins with Spring Training, when half the Major League Baseball teams come to the Phoenix area each year to play Cactus League exhibition games.
If you stick to the calendar, though -- from the Spring Equinox to the Summer Solstice -- spring in central Arizona would feel like summer to people from many other parts of the country, with daytime highs running from the mid-70s to the 80s and 90s in mid-spring to sometimes triple digits as the season comes closer to summer according to the calendar.
Carry a jacket or sweatshirt, though, because the lack of humidity means there's often a big difference between day and evening temperatures -- sometimes as much as 30 degrees or more.
When March 20th rolls around in central Arizona, the festival and fair season is already in full swing, so check the sources at the bottom of this section if you're looking for something fun to do sooner.
Spring Events in the Central Area of the State
- Arizona Renaissance Fest, Apache Junction, AZ -- February 11 - April 2
This hugely popular fair takes place on weekends and President's Day for nearly two months, when jousters, hawkers and the royal court bring the 30-acre village just outside Apache Junction back to life. Participants and even some attendees dress in
- The Great American BBQ and Beer Festival, Chandler, AZ -- March 21
From noon to 10pm, enjoy live entertainment, a kid's zone and a bike show, while surrounded by a traditional backyard barbecue. A BIG one. This event, which costs $10 per person with kids under 12 being free, benefits the Downtown Chandler Community
- Tempe Festival of the Arts -- March 27 - 29
This is a bi-annual festival held along the Mill Avenue District, featuring the works of more than 400 juried artists from around the country, in 18 categories. Visitors can also enjoy wine tastings from local wineries for a $10 fee.
- Camp Verde Archaeology Fair -- March 30 - 31
This free event is held in conjunction with Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month and includes archaeology exhibits, demonstrations, museum, and lectures, as well as a Native American Art Show with entertainment.
- Phoenix Film Festival -- April 3 - 10
This popular film festival showcases short and full-length films from all over the world. You can buy anything from an all-inclusive Platinum Pass to an individual screening.
- Grand Desert Days Festival in Phoenix -- April 10
This family-friendly springtime event, located northwest of Phoenix, features a chili cook-off, a classic-car show, a fun stick-pony rodeo for adults and kids, Arizona authors and musical entertainment. There will also be a kids parade with cash priz
- Herb Festival at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ -- April 10
During this one-day festival, you can learn about the culinary and medical uses of various herbs, tour of the Wing Memorial Herb Garden, see products from vendors like the Arizona Herb Association. There will be live music too.
- Scottsdale's Arizona Wine & Dine Festival -- April 12
At $65 in advance and $75 at the door, this event has a pretty big price tag, but you get a lot and a great culinary experience for your money. This event, hosted by the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, showcases Arizona's top resort restau
- Prescott's Chalk it Up! Festival -- April 17 -18
A regular ol' parking lot will be transformed into a work of art -- chalk art that is -- during this family street-decorating festival. Artists of all ages can (and should!) participate.
- The Scottsdale Culinary Festival -- April 17 - 22
Now in its 34th year, each event that makes up this festival is held at a different location and requires a separate ticket. So check the website for details. There will be appearances from Travel Channel's Adam Richman and Andrew Zimmernuffet and ta
- Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival, Cottonwood, AZ -- April 22 - 25
Held at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, this festival includes educational displays and speakers. You can take one (or more) of 70 field trips to nearby bird-watching spots.
- The Maricopa Salsa Festival -- April 24
That would be food, not the dance, but you can certainly dance while you sample a variety of salsas and vote on your favorite at this family-friendly festival. You can also play games, see some live entertainment, and eat, drink and be merry at Pacan
- Prescott Highland Games -- May 14 - 15
At Watson Lake Park, this fun event features traditional Highland athletics and dance competitions judged by international standards, along with lots of entertainment including bagpipes, Celtic music, clans, Jacobite re-enactors, genealogy exhibits,
- Prescott's Off-Street Festival -- May 29 - 31
Held downtown, this festival features features arts and crafts ... and food of course!
- Folk Arts Fair in Prescott -- June 4-6
Held at the Sharlot Hall Museum, this festival showcases traditional American crafts with demonstrations that include spinning, weaving, candle making, quilting, sheep shearing, basket making, tinsmithing, and more. There are lots of activities for c
- Pow Wow in the Pines (near Pinetop, AZ) -- June 5 - 6
Come meet Native Americans from tribes in the United States and Canada as they gather for dancing, craft making and food preparation at the Hon-Dah Resort and Casino Conference Center on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.
- Payson Arizona Loggers Sawdust Festival -- June 5 - 6
This festival, held at the Payson Event Center on the Beeline Highway, is in its 20th year, celebrating the men and women of the logging industry in the Tonto and Coconino national forests. Two days of competitions determine the Logger of the Year. T
- Show Low Days -- June 6 - 8
Held at the Show Low City Park, this yearly event includes the Cruizin' Car Show, featuring automobiles made in 1972 and before, as well as arts-and-crafts booths, live music, food and a bouncy house for kids.
- Prescott Valley Days -- June 17 - 20
The streets of downtown Prescott are filled with a carnival, parade, arts and crafts and live music during this free event.
See Also for Central Arizona
- Top 10 Valley Spring Festivals
Many of these take place before the actual beginning of spring according to the calendar -- some as early as February -- but in Central Arizona, what's still winter in other parts of the country and even other parts of the state can definitely feel l
- Spring Festivals, Fairs and Celebrations in Metro Phoenix
These four pages of festival listings begin in January
The Arizona Renaissance Festival
Tucson -- Yuma -- Casa Grande -- Clifton -- Safford -- Saguaro National Park -- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument -- Tombstone -- Sierra Vista -- Nogales
A Snapshot of Spring in Southern Arizona
If, like me, you grew up in New England, you grew up knowing the distinctness of the seasons. Remember those days -- those single days -- when, without knowing the actual date, you could feel the season change from winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall? And the same applies to many other areas of the country and other countries too.
In southern Arizona, though, you have to pay closer attention to realize the changes in the seasons. The shift from winter to spring and spring to summer is much more subtle, but to those who've lived there for a number of years, they know how to recognize and appreciate those subtleties.
As Chuck writes in his eloquent article, Springtime in the Arizona Desert, "Living in Southern Arizona where the sun shines most every day and daytime winter temperatures tend to average in the high sixties or seventies, I have found the main signs of spring are the lengthening days and a thinning of traffic congestion as our snow birds begin to leave the area and begin their migration back to the north."
Like northern Arizona, though, southern Arizona has its share of mountains that see their fair share of snow, so when you think spring in that area, imagine still-snow-capped peaks surrounded by blooming wildflowers and teaming deserts teaming with birds and other wildlife.
But what really feels like what most of us have come to expect from spring doesn't last long in southern Arizona where, like in the central area of the state, the daytime temperatures will quickly climb, the wildflowers will dry up and the car windows will roll up in favor of air conditioning. The calendar may say that spring still has a ways to go, but it will feel a lot more like summer if you don't know the subtle differences.
Spring Season Festivals in Southern Arizona
- Yuma County Fair -- March 30 - April 4.
Held at the Yuma County Fairgrounds, this festival features music by bands like Weird Science, which plays 1980s hits, and a Spanish rock-and-roll act called Evaro. You'll also see hypnotists and magicians. Like all good county fairs, there will be l
- Tombstone Rose Tree Festival -- April 5 - 7
This festival celebrates the 128th Blooming of the "World's Largest Rose Tree." with the Rose Tree parade, the Rose Queen Coronation, the Vigilette Variety Show at 1881 Schieffelin Hall, Folklorico Dancers, the Nogales Arizona Mariachi Apache Band, t
- Tucson's Park Place Chalk Art Festival -- April 6 - 7
The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance presents this event at the Park Place Mall, including local established artists, amateur artists, children and adult attendees.
- Spring Fling, Tucson, AZ -- April 8 - 11
Hosted by the University of Arizona and held at the Rillito Raceway Park, this festival raises money for its campus clubs and groups. There will be rides, midway games, food and entertainment.
- Tucson Presidio Living History Days -- April 13
The Tucson Presidio museum/ re-enacts 1775-1856 Tucson life with craft- and food-making and samples, soldier drills, storytelling, and more.
- Arts in the Plaza at St. Philip's, Tucson, AZ -- April 13
This is an outdoor festival presented by Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance with local artisans, musical performances, kids' activities and food vendors
- Tucson Glass Festival -- April 13 - 14
This celebration of the American Studio Glass Movement features demonstrations and talks by artists from across the Southwest, along with glass exhibitions, make-and-take projects, raffles, and VIP events. Most of these activities will take place at
- Pima County Fair, Tucson -- April 15 - 25
This great county fair features 4-H animals, games and rides, a gem and mineral show and other exhibits. Live concert performers include the Commodores and Ted Nugent.
- Tucson Water Festival -- April 21
Held at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park, this event is presented in conjunction with the Earth Day Festival and celebrates water by integrating art, science and culture in an effort to raise awareness, promote stewardship, and f
- Tucson Folk Festival -- May 4 - 5
This is one of the country's largest free festivals, with more than 200 musicians from Arizona and the Southwest performing over 20 hours of family-friendly music, dance, and entertainment in El Presidio Park, downtown Tucson.
- Willcox Wine Country Spring Festival -- May 18 -19
For a $15 tasting fee, you can sample eight wines, receive a commemorative glass and see live entertainment at historic Railroad Park in downtown Willcox., an hour's drive east of Tucson on I-10.
- Tombstone's Wyatt Earp Days -- May 28 - 30
This fun event includes (fake!) gunfights and skits in the street, a chili cook-off (yum!), hangings (fake!), street entertainment, look alike contests, and an 1880's fashion show (cool!).
See Also for More Springtime Events in the Tucson Area
- The Tucson Events Calendar
There are LOTS more spring events -- and many others throughout the year -- in the Tucson area, so click on the month you want to view or the specific date and see what's going on. And this is much more than festivals and fairs. You'll find all sorts
The Pima County Fair in Tucson, Arizona
For More Arizona Events, See Also....
- Festival Network Online: Arizona
Search by month and location, including with "x" number of miles within a certain area code.
- Arizona State Parks Home Page
See their event calendar for special activities in parks all over Arizona
- Arizona Spring Culinary Festivals
All about fine food and drinks, and all over the state
An Arizona Road & Recreation Atlas
We always keep one of these road atlases in each of our vehicles and use it every time we travel around the state, going to festivals and fairs, camping and exploring, or any other occasion and excuse to go for a drive.
The new Landscape and Public Lands maps in this edition show complete road details, classed by use and surface, and the Recreation Guide now features a Grand Canyon section and several new recreation categories.
Just go easy on some of that (yummy, ooey gooey) food at the fair!
If you know of a springtime festival anywhere in Arizona that I've missed, please let me know in the guestbook below so I can add it to the page.
© 2013 Deb Kingsbury