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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.

  • golf equipment flat lay

    Take A Swing at Topgolf Tucson

    Invite the entire family along for an outing to the most high-tech driving range in Tucson, at Topgolf. This sprawling entertainment venue offers something for everyone. Featuring 72 bays with free Wi-Fi, a billiards lounge lined by big-screen TVs, an on-site restaurant and bar, and a rooftop terrace with cozy fire pits, Topgolf delivers the ultimate golfing experience for all ages.
    Stay with your gang and a safe distance away from other players in your own private bay. The current health guidelines are in place to ensure everyone has a fun and safe time at the area’s most popular golf complex, just minutes away from our sprawling Southwestern resort. Once you’ve finished several rounds of fun, head back to your spacious accommodations at El Conquistador Tucson for a relaxing evening in.

  • annas hummingbrd

    Bird's The Word

    Avian enthusiasts 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 serves as both a permanent home and migration stopover to species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, including a particularly rare type of hummingbird. This year, the area will play host to Tucson Audubon Society’s first-ever Virtual Southeast Arizona Birding Festival.

    Honoring our feathered friends and those who study and admire them, the Virtual Southeast Arizona Birding Festival will take place August 5-7 over the popular Zoom video conferencing platform. Full festival passes, available online, are just $20 each, and half of the proceeds directly support the Sonoita Creek conservation.

    August is a particularly rewarding month for birding here, as northern birds join subtropical species in Arizona’s mountain canyons. This month offers the best opportunity to watch and study hummingbirds, grassland sparrows, and even some early fall migrating species. For more information on the programs and participating properties open virtually and in-person, please visit the Tucson Audubon Society online.

  • 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 stones.pg

    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, chili-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.

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