Our Staff's Top Picks

We've got the inside track on all there is to see and do in Tucson. Check out our favorite events and experiences here, hand-picked by locals who know the area well.

  • native american dancers

    Three Reasons to Visit Tucson in March

    March is coming in like a lion to the city of Tucson, offering our guests an array of events to choose from. Check out the list below for a few suggestions.

    Tucson Festival of Books

    Head over to the University of Arizona on March 14-15 for this annual festival that features authors, bookworms, book companies, book panels, and other special events for lovers of literacy.


    Spring Festival of the Arts

    Join thousands of art lovers on March 28-29 for one of the largest and most anticipated art events in the region. Held biannually, the fest includes around 150 artists, live music, family art activities, strolling live performers, and a wide variety of food trucks and vendors.

    38th Annual Wa:k Pow Wow

    The city’s largest gathering of this celebration of Native American arts, crafts, singing, impressive cultural dancing, and food will be held on March 21-22, behind the San Xavier Mission del Bac Church. Inter-tribal dancers come from a myriad of central, northern, and western states to compete for large cash prizes.

  • aquamarines and raw crystal gem

    Don’t Knock These Rocks

    It’s February in Tucson — an exciting time when precious stones, beads, crystals, fossils, African art, and more exotic treasures will be on display. Beginning February 1 and running through February 16, hundreds of thousands of folks will descend on downtown Tucson for the eagerly awaited Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase. The wares of more than 4,000 exhibitors from 42 states and 17 countries will be showcased at this largest gem and mineral show in the country.

    Browse and buy from a total of 50 venues that feature a myriad of languages and cultures. The show attracts a variety of attendees, including jewelers, dealers, manufacturers, rock-hounds, collectors, scientists, artists hobbyists, and trade company representatives from all over the globe. And, it’s about more than browsing and buying−appraisers will also be on-hand for those seeking an idea of the worth of their jewelry, loose stones, and tchotchkes. Lastly, don’t forget that many of these items would make terrific Valentine’s Day gifts!


  • sax player

    A Jazzy January

    A preeminent destination for U.S. jazz lovers, the HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival provides a full lineup of concerts by incomparable jazz musicians set against a backdrop of warm and sunny Tucson weather. The festival’s dates are January 10-20 and will feature a special showcase event: A free Downtown Jazz Fiesta on MLK day. This day-long event will offer superlative jazz performers on two outdoor stages, along with shows at Club Congress, The Fox Tucson Theatre, and additional downtown venues. The festival will also participate in the Desert Song Festival with two concerts.

    Don’t miss the jazz stylings of such preeminent musicians as saxophonist and genre pioneer Maceo Parker and His Big Band, six-time Grammy-winner David Sanborn and his Jazz Quintet, along with Grace Kelly & Aubrey Logan, whose performances as part of the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Boston Pops, and Barack Obama’s inauguration are only a small part of their jazz bios. The lineup also includes David Hazeltine and the New York All-Stars, the Average White Band, Mavis Staples, the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Big Band, and many more.

  • luminarias line a beautiful garden path

    Holiday Nights and Lights

    Seasonal hot beverages, fabulous food, fake snow and loads of lights are all on the agenda for the month of December. Check out the list of a few of our favorites below.

    Luminaria Nights Tucson Botanical Gardens

    Come out from December 6-15 for an “illuminating” experience at the gardens. You’ll find a garden snowfall experience, and an enhanced Winter Wonderland with thousands of luminaria, a 10-foot poinsettia tree, the Grinch, Santa’s Mailbox, dancers. the Manhattan Dolls, food trucks. and more.

    Holiday Nights a Million Lights

    Sip hot cider and munch on holiday treats while gazing at millions of lights at Tohono Chul Park. Held every Friday and Saturday night through December 13, Holiday Lights also features musicians, a sing-along, and star gazing via telescope.

    Winterhaven Festival of Lights

    From December 14-29, bring a donation of food or money for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona to see one of the longest-running such festivals in the country. See the lights on foot, or take a hayride wagon, a pedal-powered group bike, or a bus trolley, and don’t miss the fake snow, live music, hot chocolate, and food trucks.

  • film equipment

    Movies, Music, Tamales, and the Tour

    Join us this November and early December in celebrating these four “uniquely Tucson” events.

    Loft Film Festival

    From November 7 - November 14, the Loft Cinema will host this annual film fest showcasing diverse and eclectic indie, foreign, and classic films, and those who make them. Previous guests have included such industry luminaries as Larry McMurtry, Bruce Dern, Griffin Dunne, Udo Kier, and cinematic legend Roger Corman.

    Dusk Music Festival

    From November 9-10, this annual fall music festival in Armory Park will play host to nationally recognized musicians, state, regional, and local artists, games, and art installations, along with fabulous food and craft beer, cocktails.

    El Tour de Tucson

    On November 23, bicycling and racing enthusiasts will come out for Arizona’s largest perimeter cycling event, featuring thousands of professional, advanced, novice, and intermediate riders from all over the world.

    Tucson Tamal and Heritage Festival

    Tamale contests, live entertainment, and artisan and food vendors will gather at the AVA Amphitheater on December 7 for this annual celebration of tamales from the Southwest and Mexico.

  • friends at food truck window

    Meet, Eat, and be Merry

    Featuring fabulous food, amazing art, marvelous music, and a glorious celebration of diversity, “Tucson Meet Yourself” is one of the city’s most eagerly-anticipated annual events. Always held in October, this year’s Meet Yourself will be happening from October 11-13. This three-day festival features getting acquainted, with other festival attendees, dancing in the streets, viewing what is familiar from a new perspective, and loads of delicious, multicultural foods. So much emphasis is placed on the festival’s food, that it has also been dubbed “Tucson Eat Yourself!”

    Founded in 1974 by “Big Jim” Griffith, the festival shines a spotlight on everything from artisan crafts to homemade recipes, demonstrations, and performances that honor Southern Arizona’s diverse ethnicities and communities. Included in the many special guests and events of this year’s festival is food writer and cultural critic Gus Arellano of Culture Kitchen, Cambalache, a group of  East L.A. musicians who perform the Mexican regional folk music known as Son Jarocho, and a Tucson Meet Your Ancestors Community Altar, featuring a large-scale replica of a family Dia de Los Muertos altar, built by master altar makers Ofelia Esparza and Rosanna Esparza Ahrens.

  • red chili peppers

    One Hot Chile Happening

    With the current and welcome emphasis on locally-sourced foods, it’s a blessing to have a variety of farmers markets available. Additionally, it’s double the fun when local produce is venerated by celebrations and festivals. This month is a wonderful example of this custom, when Heirloom Farmers Markets will host the 18th Annual Roasted Chile Festival from September 18-22. Join bushels of chile-lovers for days of family-friendly fun and freshly-roasted chiles, along with live music, chile-infused specialties, and activities for all.

    This seasonal celebration of some of the best chiles in the country features chiles that are grown and roasted right here in Arizona. This year’s festival will feature five events, including two Grande Chile Festivals on September 21 at the Rincon Valley Farmers & Artisans Market and on September 22 at the Rillito Park Farmers Market. You’ll also find a petting zoo, pony rides, a beer and margarita garden, an antique row, chile-cooking demos, and tastings from 2019’s Iron Chef Tucson Wendy Gauthier. Don’t forget to bring home plenty of bagged fresh and roasted chiles for later!

  • View of pool and mountains at dusk

    Did You Hear? We’re in the Top 52

    We’re thrilled and honored to announce that the editors of Forbes Travel Guide recently named El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort among the Top 52 Hilton Resorts & Hotels worldwide! The business publication gave a shoutout to our property in an online article published in early August, citing an exciting array of outdoor activities offered, a stunning location in the Sonoran Desert, and an unparalleled collection of luxury swimming pools with breathtaking views of the Arizona landscape. See for yourself and read the article here.

  • dog with confetti

    From Peace and Love to Bats and Dogs

    August brings a myriad of entertainment delights to Tucson, and listed here are three of the best. First, get your groovy on at the Woodstock 50-Year Celebration at The Rialto Theatre on August 16. You’ll dig the outtasite sounds of the Jimi Hendrix tribute band, the “Anthony Aquarius Mystery,” along with “The Who Experience,” and “Creedence and Company.” On August 17, check out “Woofstock: The Dog Friendly Concert” at the North Kino Sports Stadium.

    This dog-friendly show will feature vendor booths and a beer garden, along with live music by Leila Lopez, Ice-9, Greyhound Soul, The Way Back Machine, and many other local artists in a tribute to various Woodstock musicians. Be sure to bring a blanket for lounging at this benefit concert for Tucson’s homeless pets. Lastly, nature lovers and bat fanciers won’t want to miss “Bats in Flight” on August 17. Join the crowd, Pima County naturalists, and various volunteers at the Pima County Rillito River Park from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and take in the amazing sight as hundreds of bats emerge from their roost and fly away into the night.

  • saxophone player

    Cool Jazz and Southwest Wings

    Each month, Tucson offers guests a myriad of activities and events and here are two excellent suggestions for July. First, chill out with some cool jazz at Geronimo Plaza at the Friday Night Live! Summer Jazz Concert Series. Ongoing through August 30, this year’s free evening concerts will be performed on alternating Fridays and will showcase an array of local musicians along with delicious culinary creations from top restaurants in the area. These performances also support local nonprofits and will feature jazzy stylings from The Muffulettas, Little House of Funk, Mike Moynihan’s Purple Spectre, and the Rezonators Brass Band.

    Next, whether you’re a novice avian aficionado or a die-hard birder, you won’t want to miss the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival from July 31 – August 3. Home base for the event will be Cochise Community College in Sierra Vista, which is conveniently located close to some of the best birding areas in the U.S. This ever-popular fest will offer guided trips, self-guided tours, group field trips, presentations, exhibits, and more. Just don't forget to bring your binoculars along to the event!

  • vintage car interior

    Special Treats for a Special Dad

    If you’re looking for something really special for Dad this month, we suggest checking out these fabulous Tucson events. First, raise a glass (or two) of brew and help out a great cause with Brew at the Zoo on June 15. Dad can sip on samples from more than 17 of the state’s finest craft breweries, munch on pub food, and listen to live music, all while supporting the Reid Park Zoo. Next, head over to Old Tucson the weekend of June 15-16 for a Father’s Day Car Show. Auto aficionados will love the vehicles, along with the cowboys and the live stunts.

    A vintage carousel, a ride on the train, and a cruise in an antique car will complete the day. Lastly, celebrate the end of Dad’s day with a bang as the Tucson Pops Symphony presents Music Under the Stars: The 1812 Overture on June 16. This free concert will feature guest conductor David Hernandez Breton and the Pops performing the Blue Danube Waltz, highlights from Jurassic Park and The Producers before the finale of the Overture and America the Beautiful. Don’t forget the blankets and lawn chairs!


  • gila woodpecker

    May is for the Birds

    Attention bird lovers – whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned birder, you’ll find the refuge at Tohono Chul offers one amazing experience. Located in the heart of Tucson and ongoing May – September and October – April, you can select from either self-guided tours or those that are led by a docent. These small groups ensure personal attention as you learn about this habitat of our avian friends, and how to identify those who make the refuge their permanent home versus those that are transient. Popularly known as the “best birding in Tucson,” Tohono Chul’s paths and gardens are easy to access and walk, and guests can often view around 20-30 species on any given day, along with Arizona’s state bird, the cactus wren.

    Two species of hummingbirds can be seen year-round along with migrant hummingbird species and the magnificent Cooper’s Hawks, also in their native habitat. You may also see curved-bill thrashers, Gila woodpeckers, families of quail, a myriad of migrant warblers, and maybe even a roadrunner! Your guides will be happy to answer questions about the refuge and additional birding venues and help make sure you have a terrific experience here.

  • film camera

    Celebrate International Independent Film at AIFF

    Calling all film lovers – join us at The Screening Room and additional Tucson venues on April 10-21 for the 28th Annual Arizona International Film Festival. Since its inception, the AIFF has more than fulfilled the mission of highlighting independent films by showing almost 3,000 films representing 95 countries. The 2019 festival lineup promises to be even more exciting, from the opening night celebration to the closing party, featuring a total of 28 features and 72 shorts from 22 countries.

    This year’s opening night film will feature the Arizona premiere of Guest Artist starring Jeff Daniels at The Screening Room, with an opening night party at downtown Tucson’s Hotel Congress. The 2019 film selections include such selections as U.S. resident Jamie C.X. Wang’s Baba's Next Chapter, South Korean director Jaehoon Jeong’s Objet, and Pitchroom by U.S. director Persia Fardad-Finn. The filmmakers themselves will be in attendance at most screenings. A Connect with Filmmakers panel will be offered at The Screening Room on April 20, and a closing party will be held on April 21 at the HighWire Lounge.

  • native american pottery

    March Features Music, Movies, and More

    This month, the city of Tucson is offering our guests a myriad of fun and entertaining events from which to choose, and we have selected a few of our favorites here. First, check out the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival on March 3-10. Described as “one of the best and most adventurous festivals in the U.S.,” the festival features a series of concerts and open rehearsals by some of the country’s finest musicians, along with a gala dinner and concert. Next, head over to the Mission San Xavier del Bac on March 16-17 to watch the pageantry of inter-tribal dances of the Sonoran Desert People.

    Be sure to stop by the artisan market featuring Native American vendors. Lastly, enjoy funky street fair fun - browse the hundreds of local and national artists, artisans, street entertainers, food and drink vendors, and more at the Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair on March 22, 23, and 24. Lastly, celebrate the best of Mexican cinema at Tucson Cine Mexico on March 27-31. You’ll find cutting-edge film, along with filmmaker panels and post-screening Q & A sessions.

  • crystals and sage

    Five Fun and Fabulous February Events

    This month, the city of Tucson is hosting a veritable cornucopia of events and attractions, and five of our favorites are listed here. First, check out the semi-annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center on February 14-17. Browse the collections of minerals, fossils, lapidary crafts, jewelry, and more, from an estimated 250 retailers. Next, horse-racing fans will want to head over to the historic Rillito Park Racetrack when winter racing season takes place from February 9 - March 17. Also, Tucson’s own 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo returns on February 15-17.

    This costume-clad, single-track, mountain bicycle ride through the Sonoran Desert is also one epic party and usually sells out early every year. And, don’t miss La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds on February 16-24. The Tucson Rodeo is one of North America’s top 25 professional rodeos, and the accompanying parade is the biggest horse-drawn, non-motorized parades in the country. Lastly, the top-ranked pro golfing legends, along with dozens of Hall-of-Famers, will hit the links at the Cologuard Classic on the Catalina Course at the Omni Tucson National Resort on February 27 – March 3. 

  • close up of drummer

    The Finest Jazz Fest in the West

    The hottest jazz is coming this month to the only January jazz festival in the country. The HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival will take place this year on January 11 - January 21, with genres ranging from straight-ahead to contemporary. Concert locations will include the Fox Tucson Theatre, the Rialto Theatre, and other venues indoors and out in the downtown Tucson area.

    The stellar lineup of performers includes Joey Alexander and the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band with Terell Stafford, Special EFX All-Stars and The Groover Quartet, Tucson Swings Brightly: The Music of Nelson Riddle, all at the Fox Tucson Theatre. Also, Kathleen Grace with Larry Goldings at Club Congress, the Magos Herrera Quartet with Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, Asleep at the Wheel, Trombone Shorty at Centennial Hall, Bobby McFerrin and Gimme5:Circlesongs, and Pink Martini with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra at the Tucson Music Hall, and the Downtown Jazz Fiesta at various downtown stages on January 21.

  • toy train

    A Month of Fabulous and Festive Fun

    Join us this December for a month of Christmas events and activities that will make your holidays merry and bright. First, head for downtown Tucson for the 24th Annual Downtown Parade of Lights on December 15. This magical combination of entertainers, including the Baile Folklorico dancers, holiday floats, marching Mariachis, and more will be capped off by the Mayor’s tree-lighting ceremony. Come early to see Santa at the historic train depot, and to nearby Jacome Plaza for a festival featuring an abundant array of food, live entertainment, and snow.

    Next up is the MOCA Winter Solstice Celebration and their closing party for "Blessed Be: Mysticism, Spirituality, and the Occult in Contemporary Art" at MOCA Tucson on December 21. You’ll find tarot readings, indoors and outside art installations and performances, music, and a bonfire. A ritual ceremony for the closeout will be performed by exhibiting artist Adam Cooper-Teran. Lastly, don’t miss the 68th Annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights through December 26. Bring your donation of money or non-perishable food for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and then walk or ride on haywagon, a bus trolley, or a group-pedaled bike to view this impressive light show.

  • Celebrate Veterans, a Holiday Artisan Market, and El Tour de Tucson

    November offers a wealth of fabulous and fun events for our guests, and a few of our favorites are listed here. First, join us in supporting past and present members of our nation’s military at the 99th Annual Tucson Veterans Day Parade on November 12. Held in downtown Tucson, this year’s theme is “Celebration of Armistice Day,” with awards given for color guard, marching units, floats, decorated vehicles, musical groups, and more. Next, come party with us as you tackle that holiday gift list in style at the 33rd Annual Tucson Museum of Art Holiday Artisan Market on November 16-18.

    Their selection of original artwork and locally-made artisanal crafts is sure to offer gift ideas for everyone on your list. Lastly, don’t miss one of Tucson’s most exciting annual sporting events, El Tour de Tucson on November 17. This largest and longest-running bicycling event in the state is traditionally held the Saturday before Thanksgiving and attracts over 9,000 participants worldwide of all levels – from novice to professional. Additionally, millions of dollars are raised through El Tour that benefits a variety of local and national nonprofits.

  • A Home-Grown Film Fest

    This October, cinephiles can forget the tricks and get their treats at Film Fest Tucson on October 11-13. This homegrown destination fest is the place to be to see award-winning, avant-garde cinema while soaking up the culture and heritage of the City. The festival lineup includes more than 30 narrative and documentary films from both established and emerging filmmakers. This year’s slate includes “Lords of Dogtown” at the Fox Tucson Theater on October 13, with a Q&A featuring director Catherine Hardwicke after the film.

    Additional films on the schedule include: “Little Pink House,” director Courtney Balaker’s statement about working-class folks battling the Pfizer Corporation to keep their neighborhood from being bulldozed, and “Sky High,” director Lynn Reynold’s offering about a U.S. government agent versus a Chinese-alien-smuggling-ring. A documentary about American musician and composer W.G. “Snuffy” Walden, and “Mademoiselle Paradis,” a true story of talented pianist Theresia von Paradis, who became blind when only a young girl, are also on the screening lineup. Many additional films and activities are scheduled, including a Tribute program to honor the work of Director Catherine Hardwicke, and actresses Sophia Mitri Schloss and Haley Lu Richardson. For more information, click here.

  • From Shakespeare in the Park to Pride in the Desert

    This month, the City of Tucson offers a variety of fabulous fun and family-friendly activities, and four of our favorites are listed here. First, join us at the Fox Theater for a celebration of Mexican Independence Day and a free concert on September 15. Next, head over to the Rincon Valley Farmers and Artisans Market on September 16 for their annual Roasted Chile Festival. Along with terrific food and fresh produce, there will also be fun activities for the kids and a beer garden for adults.

    Next, enjoy Shakespeare under the stars when the El Rio Theater Project presents their performance of “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” This premier event opens their Shakespeare in the Park season, which will be ongoing from September 16-October 1. Gather up the family, pack a picnic, and bring a blanket to Himmel Park for this seasonal series favorite. Lastly, Tucson Pride’s Pride in the Desert will return to Reid Park on September 29. This year’s theme is “New Beginnings,” and will be observed with a variety of activities.

  • Celebrate Tucson’s Birthday with a Margarita Toast

    Happy Birthday, Tucson! It’s our 243rd birthday and what better way to celebrate than at the World Margarita Championship on August 10. Things will be hopping here at the El Conquistador Tucson from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., when the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance and Tucson Original Restaurants partner to bring you the World Margarita Championship. You’ll experience tastings of world-class tequila, master-class margaritas, and some of the finest southwestern cuisine. Cocktail competitions aren’t all that’s going on - Tucson Originals chefs and restaurants will settle their rivalry, and a live Judging and a People's Choice award for the best Signature Margarita will close out the event.

    This event aims to encourage and develop local and independently owned restaurants and focus on their culinary proficiency, as well as raise awareness of the City’s diverse culinary community. All funds will benefit SAACA arts education and art therapy programs in addition to supporting Tucson Originals restaurants. So, be sure to join us for this exciting event, and raise a salt-rimmed glass in honor of Tucson’s birthday. For details, call us at (520) 544-5000, and ask about our World Margarita Special Resort Rate.

  • Chill Out with Classic Movies

    July is summer fun time – time to take life a little slower, indulge in lots of your favorite icy beverages and relish the cool summer evenings. And, Tucson film fanatics know that it’s also time for the 18th annual season of Cinema La Placita. Held this year through August 30, Cinema La Placita at Tucson Museum of Art is one of the city’s favorite summertime traditions. Hundreds of filmgoers will descend on downtown Tucson every Thursday at 7:30 to munch popcorn and watch classic movies in an exquisite outdoor setting.

    Cinema La Placita screenings have included “Top Hat,” the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers comedy with fabulous songs and dance moves, the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby/Dorothy Lamour classic “Road to Morocco,” and Prince’s indie gem, “Purple Rain,” along with audience favorite “Born Yesterday.” This comedy/romance starring William Holden, Broderick Crawford, and Judy Holliday became a career-maker for Holliday, when she won the Best Actress Academy Award in 1951, defeating such luminaries as Gloria Swanson, Bette Davis, and Anne Baxter. For upcoming film titles and dates, click here.

  • Make it a Father’s Day to Remember

    This year, make some Father’s Day memories that Dad will cherish forever right here at Tucson’s premier golf and tennis resort. Dad can play through 18 holes of desert golf, or enjoy breathtaking mountain views while honing his game on our tennis courts. Nearby Bear Canyon and Sabino Canyon offer some of the best hiking trails in the country, and many lakes just south of Tucson are stocked with such fish as bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish, and bluegill.

    If Dad is more into the theater, he’ll love “Big Fish: The New Broadway Musical.” Showing June 29-July 8, this poignant and bewitching musical explores the relationships between fathers and sons. Protagonist Edward Bloom is known for his wild tales that stretch the limits of belief, along with the patience of his son, who loves his father more than he realizes. 

    For fathers who appreciate Old West history, the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum is the perfect stop. See the steam locomotive featured in 1955’s “Oklahoma,” check out the interactive exhibits, ring the locomotive bell, and don’t leave without a shot of Dad and the family gathered around the sculpture of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. For details, click here.

  • Music in May: Concerts Under the Stars

    This month’s Tucson Pops Orchestra Spring Concerts in the Park selections will feature vocalizations by two of Tucson’s finest chanteuses, a steel band, and a special arrangement of tunes in celebration of Memorial Day. This season’s series will begin on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, with a performance by the Catalina Foothills High School Steel Band. Directed by Dr. Tina Walton, the band’s selections will include “Smooth,” “Jump in the Line,” and “Steelin’ de Medley.” On May 20, Katherine Byrnes of the Sweet Ghosts band and American Idol semi-finalist Crystal Stark will entertain with such melodies as “Un-break My Heart,” “Orange Colored Sky,” “Little Girl Blue,” and “Le Jazz Hot.”

    On May 27, a special tribute to John Philip Sousa will be the theme in celebration of Memorial Day. In addition to Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell,” the orchestra will also perform “America the Beautiful,” and a medley of tunes titled “A Salute to the Big Bands.” All concerts begin at 7:00 p.m. at DeMeester. Seating is limited, and guests are encouraged to bring folding chairs and/or blankets for lawn seating. For more information click here.

  • A Desert Gala, and Raptors in Free Flight

    Imagine standing in the open desert as magnificent birds of prey fly so close to you that you can feel a rush of air and often the brush of their feathers as they pass. This experience can be yours from now through mid-April, as birds-of-prey demonstrations are being held at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. You’ll watch as the birds fly completely free of tethers and straps. The demonstrations feature only birds native to the Sonoran Desert region, such as peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and the Chihuahuan raven. For more information, call (520) 883-2702, email:, or click here.

    Also, be sure to mark your calendars for April 29 for a Desert Gala evening. Support the Arizona Desert Museum as you enjoy a luxurious evening of fine dining, live music, unique auctions, and our animal ambassadors. To commemorate the city of Tucson as the first American City of Gastronomy, the region’s ancestral crops and blooming succulents will have a special place on the menu. The deadline for reservations is April 6, so reserve your place now by contacting Camille Pons, Member Services/Engagement Officer, at (520) 883-3055, or click here.

  • Viva Tucson Cine Mexico

    What do Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, and Alejandro González Iñárritu all have in common? The answer is that they were all once fledgling Mexican filmmakers. This month, you can view cutting edge Mexican films, and interact with some of the film industry’s finest artists of contemporary Mexican cinema at this year’s Tucson Cine Mexico, the longest-running festival of contemporary Mexican film in the country. Established here in Tucson by the UA Hanson Film Institute in 2004, this year’s festival will be held March 21-25, and will feature documentaries, films, and post-screening question and answer sessions, along with filmmaker panels.

    The festival is always free of charge and attracts diverse viewers. Since its inception, the festival has attracted more than 20,000 movie-goers and has hosted more than 40 filmmakers and industry professionals, including such notables as María José Cuevas, Celso García, Carlos González García, Beto Goméz, and Jesús Ochoa. Many of the films screened at the festival have gone on to become award-winners, such as “Güeros,”  “Heli,” “Club Sandwich,” and “El General.” For details and tickets, click here.

  • The 92nd Annual La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros

    It’s February, and that means it’s time for Tucson’s famous rodeo, and its renowned parade! This annual tribute to the cowboy is one of the state’s oldest celebrations, and one of the top 25 rodeos on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) calendar. Top-notch cowboys and cowgirls will bring their best game to six rodeo performances, and around 200,000 visitors will descend on the city to watch the “longest non-motorized (horse-drawn) parade in the world.” The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee has named the Tucson Conquistadores as the Grand Marshal of this year’s parade, which will feature Mexican folk dancers, stagecoaches, marching musical groups, western-theme floats, Conestoga wagons, and much more.

    Official opening day is February 17, and the rodeo will continue through February 25, with the parade on February 22. Some of the events include RAM Mutton Bustin’, Justin Junior Rodeo, ProRodeo Competitions, the Chicks n’ Chaps Women’s Rodeo Clinic, Timed Events, the REACh program for school children, the Coors Barn Dance, and the rodeo finals. For tickets and details, call (520) 741-2233, (800) 964-5662, or click here.

  • A World-Class Jazz Fest

    Hot jazz and cool licks are on the lineup for the Tucson Jazz Festival. The only January jazz festival in the country, this year’s fest will be held from January 11 - January 21. Thousands of visitors will descent on downtown Tucson for the 10-day-long festival, which promises to be a true sensation. The highlight of the fest will take place on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, when the free day-long Downtown Jazz Fiesta will take place on two outdoor stages and additional downtown venues. Jazz genres from classic to contemporary will be performed by both legends and emerging artists.

    The spectacular lineup of performers includes Spyro Gyra, Sheila E., The Diane Schuur Quartet featuring Ernie Watts, the Hot Sardines, Hypnotic Brass, Arturo Sandoval and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Warren Wolf and the UA Studio Jazz Ensemble, The Mingus Dynasty, “Tijuana Moods” and the TJI Ellington Band, Wycliffe Gordon and bassist/vocalist Jay Leonhardt. For the complete performer lineup, performance dates/venues, and tickets, click here.

  • Nutcracker with a Southwestern Twist and Holiday Nights at Tohono Chul

    This December features two exciting seasonal events in Tucson. First, an imaginative take on a timeless classic, “A Southwest Nutcracker” will be performed on Saturday, December 9th and Sunday December 10th at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall. The full-length ballet substitutes 1880s Tucson for 1890s Russia. Accompanied by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, this version of the story highlights the magnificent dance of colorful and lively Old West characters, including rattlesnakes, coyotes, and the cavalry. Don’t miss this one! For tickets, performance times, and additional information, call (520) 791-4101.

    “Holiday Nights” will take place on December 16th and 17th from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Tohono Chul. Stroll the beautifully-illuminated gardens, dazzling with a million twinkling lights, as you sip on the beverage of your choice or enjoy a snack. Cookies and hot cocoa are complimentary and there will be live entertainers throughout, including performers from the Tucson Jazz Institute, Cirque Roots, the Domingo DeGrazia Spanish Guitar Band, harpist Rachel Kay Knight, and the Magic Mr. B. For tickets and details, call (520) 742-6455 or click here.

  • It’s El Tour de Tucson Time

    On November 18, thousands of cyclists and spectators will converge on Tucson for what has been named The Best in Cycling in November” by Bicycling Magazine. Always held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the 35th Annual El Tour de Tucson is the largest perimeter bicycling event in the country, and includes rides from 40 up to 104 miles, and fun rides from one quarter mile to 12 miles. All ages and fitness levels are invited to compete in categories of novice, intermediate, advanced, and professional.

    All bicycle routes will provide water/snack stations about every 7-12 miles apart and police support at intersections, while the Fun Rides  offer less-grueling biking along the Santa Cruz River. Afterward, everyone celebrates at the El Tour Fiesta – featuring the Grand Cycling Awards Ceremony, music, a Beer Garden, kid’s activities, food vendors, merchandise, and more. El Tour also helps raise funds for many charitable agencies, and last year raised more than $12 million dollars for over 40 non-profit organizations. To register as a participant, or for more information, call (520) 745-2033.

  • ‘Ritas and Raffle Raise Restaurant Awareness

    Since 2008, the Margarita has become the most commonly ordered cocktail in America. Whether you’re one of the purists who prefers their drink made top shelf tequila, Cointreau, and freshly-squeezed lime juice, or one of those folks who enjoys the drink in all its exotic permutations, you’ll want to join us starting at 6:00 p.m. on October 6 for the World Margarita Championship.

    Hosted by the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort, this margarita-making competition is sponsored by Tucson Originals and the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, and will feature a variety of ‘Ritas served up with authentic southwestern cuisine. A panel of judges will decide the winner, and guests can vote for their favorites to determine the “People’s Choice Award.” Tucson Originals chefs and restaurants will be competing for top honors, while food and drink tastings will be provided by Southern Arizona Tucson Originals Restaurants and Purveyors. Raffle Tickets for over $2,000 in local gift cards and gift baskets are available. The event’s purpose is to raise awareness of Tucson’s diverse culinary community, and all proceeds will support the SAACA arts education and arts therapy programs, as well as the Tucson Originals restaurants. For tickets, click here.

  • Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show: September Style

    September in Tucson means it’s time for the annual fall Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show. From September 7th – 10th, thousands of visitors, shoppers, gem dealers, miners, manufacturers, and designers from all over the globe will converge on the Tucson Expo Center for one of the leading jewelry events in North America. Minerals, rough materials, cut stones, and new discoveries from Russia, Brazil,  USA, Thailand, India, Madagascar, Africa, Colombia, Australia, Canada, and China will be featured during this year’s show.

    The international and domestic pavilions will include an Amber Pavilion, offering carvings, cameos, and designer Baltic amber jewelry, and a Southwest Pavilion featuring handmade Native American jewelry. Exhibits from international fashion shows, famous museums, and rare private collections will be available to the public, along with newly-discovered stones and jewelry trends. Also, more than 200 seminars and jewelry-making classes will be offered. Free parking, complimentary shuttles, and an international food court will be provided, along with shipping services. There will be a fee for guest registrations, but wholesale buyers and store owners will be admitted free of charge. For more information, click here.

  • This August, Bird's the Word

    Seasoned birders know that Southeastern Arizona is home to more than 400 species of birds; making this area of the country one of the most popular places for bird-watching. The region is either the permanent home or a migration stopover to species that cannot be found anywhere else in the country, including a particularly rare type of hummingbird. This year, the area will play host to not one, but two birding festivals in honor of our feathered friends and those who study them. The Southwest Wings Birding Festival will take place on August 2nd through August 5th, and the Tucson Audubon Society will present the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival from August 10th through August 13th.  

    August is an especially rewarding month for birding here, as northern birds join subtropical species in Arizona’s mountain canyons. This month offers the best opportunity for watching and studying the above-mentioned hummingbirds and grassland sparrows, along with the possibility of visits from Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental and maybe even some early fall migrating species. For more information, visit

  • Celebrate July 4th Tucson Style

    This Independence Day, the air will be filled with the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers sizzling on grills, blaring horns and crashing cymbals will accompany bands marching to the sounds of Sousa, and a dazzling array of fireworks will illuminate night skies nationwide as we come together to celebrate our most American holiday. Guests of the Hilton El Conquistador can select from many family-friendly and festive event and activities, two of which are listed below.

    On Saturday, July 1st, the Firecracker 100 will be held at the Tucson Speedway from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., with a fireworks show following the race. And return to the Old West at Old Tucson, with shows, living history presentations, train rides, and a daily patriotic flag ceremony. The little ones will love the petting zoo and their vintage carousel, and there will be contests for kids of all ages. Open from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Old Tucson adds to the July 4th fun with a parade, a pie-eating contest, and chuck wagon-style food.

  • Treat Dad to a Distillery Experience

    This year, forget the ties, the after-shave, and the campy boxers, and give Dad something he'll really appreciate – a Tucson staycation and a visit to Hamilton Distillers. Whether he’s a whiskey aficionado or not, the knowledgeable staff at the city’s only distillery will make sure Dad’s tour and tasting is fun, interesting, and memorable. Family owned and operated, Hamilton Distillers offers genuine artisan whiskey. Everything is done in house, from the malting of their own barley, to the mashing, fermenting, distilling, barreling and bottling; it’s all done under one roof.

    Tours and tastings are offered most Saturdays at 3:00 p.m., but for a truly unique experience, encourage Dad to sign up for a bottling shift. One of the most popular events at the distillery, a shift offers the experience of working with the team; helping to fill, cork, seal, label, and box up bottles. The distillery provides lunch, and after Dad’s shift, he can take home a complimentary bottle of whiskey that was bottled on his shift. Ready to book your Tucson getaway? For information on reservations and special packages, visit:, or call (520) 544-5000.

  • A Tucson Tradition: The 32nd Annual Tucson Folk Festival

    May 2017

    The 32nd Annual Tucson Folk Festival starts off with a bang on Friday, May 5th with a festival kick-off party from 6 to 10 pm. After setting up, there will be a gathering at La Cocina, featuring the Greg Morton Band and some additional performers. A $10 donation is suggested. Afterward, on the weekend of May 6-7, over 10,000 folk music fans will converge on El Presidio Park in downtown Tucson for the one of the oldest folk music festivals in the country. This family-friendly event will feature over 200 local, regional, and national musicians performing on five stages. Food vendors and additional entertainment will add to the festivities, and the festival is free to the public.

    This year’s National Headliner for the children’s show is 25-year veteran performer, composer, educator, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Billy Jonas. Jonas’ use of voice, guitar, and industrial repercussion has entertained audiences worldwide. The National Headliners are The Black Lillies, whose latest album, “Hard to Please,” hit #1 on the Roots Music Report and #4 on the Americana radio charts. Festival times are Saturday, May 6th from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday, May 7th from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

  • Frida Kahlo's "Art, Garden, Life"

    April 2017

    The Tucson Botanical Gardens has been selected as the sole institution to host the New York Botanical Gardens exhibit of “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life” through May 31. Years of work and preparation have gone into this exhibit, which scrutinizes the artist’s work via the plants and natural life in her paintings and personal gardens. This is the first show to focus on Kahlo’s appreciation of and insight into the world of nature, particularly the plant life of her native Mexico. The exhibit’s focal point is a re-creation of Kahlo’s gardens at La Casa Azul, her home in Mexico City. Also featured is a replica of Diego Rivera’s pyramid built in Casa Azul’s courtyard. This Meso-American inspiration is the backdrop for an assemblage of succulents native to the deserts of Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. A poetry walk complements the exhibit with a series of placards strategically placed throughout containing selections of poetry written by Kahlo’s fellow countryman Octavio Paz. Tucson Botanical Gardens will also present tours, lectures and other events throughout the duration of the exhibit. For more details, call (520) 326-9686.

  • Playing with the Pros: the Tucson Conquistadores Classic

    March 2017

    Golfing enthusiasts can look forward to two fabulous events this month: golfing at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort, and the PGA TOUR Champions Tour - Tucson Conquistadores Classic.

    First, check out the pros at the PGA TOUR Champions Tour-Tucson Conquistadores Classic. Watch your favorite golf legends compete during three exciting days on the Catalina Course at Omni Tucson National Resort. Featuring a no-cut format and a two-day pro-am, this event will take place from March 15-19.

    Then, bring your best game to the largest and most popular golf resort in Tucson, and one of the best in Arizona. We offer three superior courses with 45 holes of championship golf. Challenge yourself on our nine-hole Pusch Ridge Course. For a more traditional game, both the 18-hole Conquistador and Cañada Courses are ideal.

    A putting green and chipping green are available for practice and warm up, and collared shirts and closed-toe shoes are required on all courses and their affiliated facilities. Tee times and driving range reservations should be made at least two weeks ahead. Call (520) 229-5353 or (520) 229-5354.

  • Mission Garden Project: A Taste of History

    February 2017

    The historical floodplain that would become the Mission Garden Project was brought to light by an archaeological excavation just west of downtown Tucson. Located on its original site, and representing over 4,000 years of agriculture, the project was re-created as the walled garden that was part of the San Agustin Mission established in 1692.

    Thanks to the non-profit group, Friends of Tucson, this urban garden project features vegetable gardens and Sonoran Desert-adapted fruit orchards. A Native Plant section is one of the highlights of the project, along with the Michael Moore Medicinal Garden, which features heirloom medicinal and edible plants. Also, pollinator gardens were added as a habitat for bats, birds, and helpful insects.

    The garden is a significant educational and tourism destination – a living agricultural museum that is also a primary factor in the city’s economic development. Additionally, the project was chosen as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States, and featured on the front page of the New York Times.

    Mission Garden winter hours are Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For tours, email:, or call (520) 591-0478. Or, visit, and Facebook at

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