ZUMA Press, Inc / Alamy
Jeff Ficker
November 13, 2014

Thanks to the near-perfect weather from October through May, it’s not hard to catch a fun outdoor festival or event almost year-round in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. In fact, this year alone, the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl and Phoenix Open golf tournament all collide over one mega-sports week at the end of January. Then there’s the month-long baseball tradition that has been luring East Coasters and Midwesterners here for decades: Arizona’s Cactus League Spring Training. That said, there’s quite a bit more to do in Scottsdale than attend sporting events. From the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in January to the Scottsdale International Film Festival and Arizona Taco Festival in October, you’re sure to find something to do while you’re in town. Arts centers in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa all offer full slate of concerts and events.  Here are five not to miss.

The Phoenix Open

Scottsdale’s “greatest show on grass” is the largest event on the PGA Tour, attracting big-game golfers like Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson—and more than 150,000 spectators each day to the weeklong event in late January and early February. Well-stocked bars, young crowds and late-night concerts at the Birds Nest fuel a raucous atmosphere. 

Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction

In January, serious car collectors descend upon the WestWorld complex in North Scottsdale for one of the best-attended auto auctions in the world. Even casual auto enthusiasts will enjoy surveying these gorgeous cars, from 1930s roadsters and midcentury classics to celebrity-owned luxury coupes and first editions that have yet to hit the market.

Scottsdale Culinary Festival

Scottsdale is serious about food, so it’s little wonder that this annual culinary festival in April entices 35,000 people to eat, drink and party. Taste the hard work of local restaurateurs and national celebrity chefs at the Great Arizona Picnic, or dine at one of the dozen events around town, such as the Burger Battle or the Chocolate and Wine Experience.

Scottsdale Arts Festival

This popular arts festival in March gathers 200 jury-selected artists at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall. The three-day event includes live music, dance performances, family-friendly activities and a collection of gourmet food trucks. Artwork from the event is also available for purchase via an online auction. 

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show

Arizona is cowboy country, and we’re serious about our horses. The 60-year-old Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show features some 2,000 Arabian horses at WestWorld for more than a week of demonstrations, seminars and competitions, ranging from formal dressage to English and Western riding styles. Judging is intense, with a sophisticated ranking system.

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