Sample ethnic home-cooking at Tucson Meet Yourself in October to discover more of what makes Tucson a very special place.
Tucson Signature Events
To get to know a community, attend a festival or event and experience its food, music, art, culture and heritage--even climate and natural environment. You can find a "signature event" happening in Tucson and Southern Arizona every month of the year. Browse the list below, or look over our Top Picks, Marquee Sports Events, and full Events Calendar to discover more of what's special about this place.
Tucson Jazz Festival (January 11-21, 2019) The only major jazz festival in January in the USA presents 10 days of live music featuring legends and emerging talents of all jazz genres, from straight-ahead to contemporary, at the Fox Tucson Theatre and Rialto Theatre as well as at the free Downtown Jazz Fiesta presented on outdoor stages and at other downtown venues on Martin Luther King Jr Day.
Tucson Desert Song Festival (January 15-February 5, 2019) This blend of singing in orchestral, chamber, choral, and solo formats features internationally celebrated soloists along with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra (formed in 1929-the oldest continuing professional performing arts organization in Arizona), Tucson Chamber Artists, UA Presents, Arizona Opera and others, in conjunction with master classes and lectures at the University of Arizona School of Music.
Dillinger Days (January 18-19, 2019) See how crime doesn't pay at our celebration of the January 1934 capture by Tucson Police and Fire departments of America's Public Enemy No. 1, the notoriously violent gangster John Dillinger and his unsuspecting gang, with a Depression-era-themed weekend of car shows, history re-enactments, artifact displays, and live music.
Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase (February 2-17, 2019) A one-of-a-kind international marketplace of museum-quality exhibits and world-class collections of gemstones, minerals, fossils, beads, crystals, jewelry, supplies, apparel, and more that originated with the single, original Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® in 1955 and has grown into a showcase of 40+ shows at various locations.
Tubac Festival of the Arts (February 6-10, 2019) Arizona’s longest-running outdoor festival of arts and crafts takes place just south of Tucson in the scenic and historic Village of Tubac, known as "one of the top-10 small art towns in the U.S."
Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering (February 8-9, 2019) Cowboy singers, yodelers, poets, and storytellers from around the United States and Canada preserve the spirit of the Old West with family-friendly performances that include traditional western music and dance at this annual festival in Sierra Vista.
Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® (February 14-17, 2019) Rock hounds at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society held their first gem and mineral show in a school parking lot in 1955; now that show fills Tucson Convention Center on the final weekend of the citywide Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase.
24 Hours in the Old Pueblo (February 15-17, 2019) Tucson's own Epic Rides presents one of the largest 24-hour endurance events of its kind in the world; this single-track mountain bike ride in Sonoran Desert terrain with outrageous costume-clad pedalers and DJ-spun tunes is so popular that it sells out early every year.
Tucson Rodeo & Parade - La Fiesta de los Vaqueros® (February 16-24, 2019) Since 1925, Tucson has celebrated its ranching heritage at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros® (Celebration of the Cowboys), including the Tucson Rodeo at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, one of North America's top-25 professional rodeos, and the Tucson Rodeo Parade, the largest non-motorized, horse-drawn parade in the United States.
Cologuard Classic, Tucson's PGA Tour Champions Tour Event - (February 25-March 3, 2019) Dozens of Hall of Famers and top-ranked legends of men's pro golf play in a no-cut competition and walk the course with fans at a two-day Pro-Am on the famed Catalina Course at Omni Tucson National Resort, a popular PGA Tour venue since the 1960s.
Horse Racing at Rillito Park Racetrack (February - March, 2019) Tucson's legacy as an equestrian center lives on during the winter horse-racing season at Rillito Park Racetrack. Originally opened in 1943, the track is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered the birthplace of modern formalized Quarter Horse racing as well as the "photo finish" and the straightaway “chute system.”
Tucson Festival of Books (March 2-3, 2019) Tucson's celebration of literacy debuted in 2009 and ranks as the third-largest book festival in the United States, attracting more than 130,000 fans to the University of Arizona Mall (during spring break) for author presentations, panel discussions, and exhibits as well as chef demonstrations, a literary circus, a poetry venue, and a Science City area.
Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival (March 3-10, 2019) Once described by American Record Guide as "one of the best and most adventurous festivals in the US!" this event, presented by Arizona Friends of Chamber Music (founded in 1948), draws distinguished artists for a series of concerts, open rehearsals, master classes, and a gala dinner and concert.
Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair (March 22, 23, 24, 2019) The Historic Fourth Avenue District – filled with independently owned restaurants, shops, and pubs – is the scene for this funky street fair, begun in 1970, featuring hundreds of local and national artisans and arts-and-crafts purveyors, food and beverage vendors, street entertainers, and family-friendly activities over three days biannually.
Wa: k Pow Wow (March 16-17, 2019) The Tohono O'odham Nation (Sonoran Desert People) hosts inter-tribal dances and other activities along with an artisan's market featuring Native American vendors from around the United States on the grounds of Mission San Xavier del Bac, a National Historic Landmark established by Padre Eusebio Kino for the O'odham people over 300 years ago.
Tucson Cine Mexico (March 2019) Every year, the longest-running festival celebrating contemporary Mexican cinema, established in Tucson in 2004, presents award-winning contemporary films and documentaries and includes post-screening Q&As and filmmaker panels at varied venues.
Southeast Arizona Wine Growers Festival (March 2019) Dozens of Arizona wineries participate in a weekend of wine releases and wine tastings combined with a chili cook-off, food vendors, and live music hosted at Kief-Joshua Vineyards in Sonoita-Elgin, the first of Arizona’s three American Viticultural Areas.
Tucson Folk Festival (April 6-7, 2019) As one of the oldest admission-free folk music festivals in the United States, established in 1986, this all-volunteer-operated annual event features over 20 hours of live acoustic music featuring local and national acts, folk arts workshops, kid’s activities, food stations, beer gardens, and more in El Presidio Historic District.
Tucson International Mariachi Conference (April 2019) Masters of mariachi music perform with Mexican folklórico dancers in public concerts and at a traditional Catholic mariachi mass during this event—founded in 1982 and nurtured by such legends as Mariachi Vargas De Tecalitlán, Mariachi Cobre, the late Lola Beltrán, and Tucson native Linda Ronstadt—held AVA Amphitheater, Casino Del Sol.
Arizona International Film Festival (April 2019) The oldest and longest running independent film festival in Arizona mixes film shorts, children's films, feature-length films, animation films, and documentaries. It has exhibited over 2,500 films representing 90 countries to over 148,000 patrons in southern Arizona since its 1990 opening in Tucson.
Agave Heritage Festival (April 2019) This festival for ages 21-and-over offers a taste of Tucson—named in 2015 as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the USA—and explores the cultural, commercial, and culinary significance to the Arizona-Mexico border region of the versatile agave plant, with a series of talks, tours, tastings, dinners and exhibits.
Mt. Lemmon Hill Climb (May 2019) Rated by experts as among the top 25% of toughest hill climbs in the USA, this 100-mile ride up Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway on closed roads offers conditions similar to Tour de France in terms of distance, difficulty and height, and is a popular training ride for professional cyclists.
Willcox Wine Country Spring Festival (May 2019) Ranked by Fodor's Travel as one of the top-10 wine festivals in North America (2015), this weekend-long celebration features the finest in wines and artisan products from the fertile Willcox region, one of two American Viticulture Areas in Southern Arizona.
The Tucson 23: Mexican Food Festival (June 15, 2019) Samplings of some of the most authentic and delicious food available north of the international border is offered by local restaurants and breweries at this toast to Tucson’s “Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food” distinction.
Ha: san Bak Saguaro Festival (June 2019 ) The celebration of the traditional summer harvest of saguaro cactus-fruit by the Tohono O’odham Nation (Sonoran Desert People) includes demonstrations, tastings, and more at Colossal Cave Mountain Park on the border of Saguaro National Park East.
El Dia de San Juan (June 24, 2019) In anticipation of Tucson's monsoon rainy season, this traditional ritual honors St. John the Baptist and includes a procession with blessings offered by a Catholic priest, followed by entertainment, games, and refreshments alongside the Santa Cruz Riverbed at Mercado San Agustin.
‘Let Freedom Sing’ Concert (July 4, 2019) Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Honor Guard posts the colors during a salute to the Armed Forces at this holiday concert of patriotic standards and all-American hits staged at UA Centennial Hall since 1984.
HarvestFest at Sonoita Vineyards (July 2019) The oldest commercial vineyard and winery in Arizona, opened in 1983, Sonoita Vineyards hosts wine tastings and wine-and-food pairings, a grape-stomping contest, and horse-drawn wagon tours of the vineyards.
Southwest Wings Birding Festival (August 2019) More than 400 species of birds, almost half of all the birds of the United States and Canada combined, occur in Southeastern Arizona, and August is an especially rewarding time to see many of them—check them out at Arizona’s longest running nature festival, headquartered in the city of Sierra Vista.
Southeast Arizona Birding Festival (August 2019) See native and migrating birds, like rare hummingbirds and Mexican rarities, and discover why Southeastern Arizona is consistently recognized as one of America’s foremost birding destinations at this festival presented by Tucson Audubon Society, founded in 1949.
Salsa, Tequila & Taco Challenge (September 2, 2018) Tequila-based cocktails and fresh salsas are prepared with ingenious recipes on-site by local bartenders, chefs, and restaurateurs competing for several different titles in this food-tasting competition based on three staples of the Tucson diet.
Tucson Fall Gem Shows (September 6-9, 2018) Tucson is well-known in the gem and mineral world for its incredible 40+ shows in February, but there is a smaller (and growing) collection of shows in September at which over 200 vendors from around the world sell and exhibit treasures.
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley Oktoberfest (September 22-October 14, 2018) Tucson welcomes autumn with German-style merriment on four consecutive weekends among the fir trees in the Village of Summerhaven near Ski Valley, the southernmost ski area in the United States at 9,157 feet elevation (a 90-minute drive from central Tucson).
Tucson Pride in the Desert & Pride on Parade (September 29, 2018) Arizona's oldest LGBT organization, Tucson Pride, founded in 1977, presents one of the nation's oldest Pride events (right behind New York City and San Francisco) preceded by one of the wackiest Pride parades ever.
Tucson Fall Open Studio Tours (October 6-7 & 13-14, 2018) One of the Southwest's largest self-guided, driving tours of artist studios and workspaces takes place in Pima County over two weekends and provides opportunities to see the creative process in action and purchase artworks directly from the artists who made them.
Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta (October 4-7, 2018) Favorite minor league baseball teams from Mexico’s Pacific Coast League compete in a series of double-headers with up-and-coming players from select U.S. Major League Baseball teams while fans snack on Sonoran hot dogs at this international tournament at Kino Stadium.
Tucson Meet Yourself (October 12-14, 2018) The Southwest's greatest outdoor food court takes over downtown Tucson once a year during this festival, which celebrates the foods and traditional arts of Arizona-Sonora's folk and ethnic communities, co-founded in 1974 by Tucson folklorist Jim Griffith, a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Heritage Fellow.
Film Fest Tucson (October 11-13, 2018) Tucson's movie-making legacy, dating back to 1939 when Old Tucson studios was built, is spotlighted with films from Arizona's history as well as a collection of Arizona premieres of new independent films and appearances by special guests at Scottish Rite Cathedral, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Willcox Wine Country Fall Festival (October 20-21, 2018) Ranked by Fodor's Travel as one of the top-10 wine festivals in North America (2015), this weekend-long celebration features the finest in wines and artisan products from the Willcox region, one of two American Viticulture Areas in Southern Arizona.
El Tour de Tucson (November 17, 2018) Founded in 1983, the largest perimeter bicycling event in the United States is a Tucson tradition that attracts 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities with main rides of 106, 76, 54, 37 and 28 miles and several Fun Rides on Saturday before Thanksgiving annually.
All Souls Procession Weekend (November 2-4, 2018) The main event attracts an estimated 150,000 participants who parade along the west bank of the Santa Cruz River to a grand finale performance at Mercado San Agustin, Tucson's one-of-a-kind people-powered procession blends aspects of All Souls Day and Dia de los Muertos at what has been called "one of the most inclusive and authentic public ceremonies in North America today."
Tucson Tamal & Heritage Festival (December 2018) The Mexican tradition of making tamales for Christmas is shared by amateur and professional Tucson cooks who compete for prizes with savory and sweet recipes for the ultimate benefit of festival attendees who get to sample and purchase them.
Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair (December 7, 8, 9, 2018) The Historic Fourth Avenue District – filled with independently owned restaurants, shops, and pubs – is the scene for this funky street fair, begun in 1970, featuring hundreds of local and national artisans and arts-and-crafts purveyors, food and beverage vendors, street entertainers, and family-friendly activities over three days biannually.
Tucson Marathon Events (December 8, 2018) Mild Tucson winter weather adds to the popularity of this Boston Marathon-qualifying foot race on what has been called "one of the prettiest courses in the country," from the town of Oracle to the town of Catalina, since 1995.
A Southwest Nutcracker (December 15-16, 2018) Tucson Regional Ballet with Tucson Symphony Orchestra present an original full-length version of The Nutcracker ballet, set in 1880s Tucson and featuring Mama Piñata, Prickly Pear Fairy, dancing chile peppers, and other colorful iconic Southwestern characters.
Patronato Christmas at San Xavier Concert (December 11-13, 2018) A concert of sacred and secular Christmas songs, performed by the renowned Sons of Orpheus with the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and the Tucson Girls Chorus at Mission San Xavier del Bac to benefit restoration and preservation of the 300-year-old National Historic Landmark, termed "the Sistine Chapel of North America."
Downtown Parade of Lights & Festival (December 15, 2018) A Tucson holiday tradition for more than 20 years, the annual Parade of Lights & Festival in downtown Tucson features floats, vintage cars, performers, holiday music, and all kinds of goodies to eat; it includes the Mayor's Tree Lighting Ceremony in Jacome Plaza.
NOVA® Home Loans Arizona Bowl (December 29, 2018) Tucson is a college sports town with passion for its local teams - but on New Year's Eve weekend fans welcome the Arizona Bowl, a post-season collegiate football game certified by the NCAA, which matches teams from the Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences at Arizona Stadium, University of Arizona.
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