8 Free Spring and Summer Festivals in Arizona

Fill your calendar with these budget-friendly bashes, classes, and parades.

A hiker overlooks Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona's Cochise County.
Chiricahua National Monument celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

You don’t need to shortchange yourself on sunny weather fun at these arts events, nature fests, and Fourth of July jubilees. 

Chiricahua National Monument Centennial Commemoration, Cochise County

April 18-20

On April 18, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge officially established Chiricahua National Monument, thanks in part to the advocacy of Lillian Erickson Riggs and her husband, Ed, who ran Faraway Ranch in this rocky wonderland. To honor the 100th anniversary, the National Park Service is curating several free celebratory events. You can attend a commemoration ceremony at Faraway Ranch, talk with staff dressed in period clothing to get a glimpse of life in the canyon in the 1920s and ’30s, go on a guided bird walk, and learn about the local geology.

Everclear playing at the Mesa Music Festival.
Everclear playing at the Mesa Music Festival.
David Cottle Photography

Mesa Music Festival, Mesa

April 18-20

Nearly 200 bands from across North America will converge on downtown Mesa for this seventh annual event, offering a rare opportunity to discover dozens of emerging musicians without spending a penny. Music lovers can mosey to various venues—including Nile Theater, Chupacabra Taproom, and Jarrod’s Coffee, Tea & Art Gallery—to listen to bands like alt rockers Grey Daze or indie artists Practically People. The family friendly fiesta will also feature a fleet of food trucks and a Vendor Village where local artisans sell crafted goods and artworks.

Painted pottery on display at La Encantada Fine Art Festival in Tucson.
Wares on display at La Encantada Fine Art Festival in Tucson.

La Encantada Fine Art Festival, Tucson

April 20-21

Set in the plant-filled, alfresco La Encantada Shopping Center, the La Encantada Fine Art Festival showcases numerous artistic genres, including metalwork, sculpture, painting, locally designed fashion, and jewelry. The festival partners with the Southern Arizona Artists Guild to present live demonstrations: watch Erin Newman craft whimsical creations with paper quilling, Gillian Allard make mosaics with broken dishes and tiles, Caryn Steadman weave reeds into baskets, and more.

Spring Open Studios Tour, Sedona and Verde Valley

April 26-28

The popular Spring Open Studios Tour gives art lovers the chance to visit 51 artists in their private studios, watch them create their works, and ask them about their inspirations. This self-guided tour also offers travelers an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at life in the towns where the artists work—Sedona, the Village of Oak Creek, Cornville, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, and Clarkdale. Plus, you can learn about a variety of artistic styles, including glass, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, painting, digital painting, and weaving. 

ARTx, Flagstaff 

May 17-26

This delightfully uncategorizable smorgasbord of experiences is sure to inspire. Scattered throughout Flagstaff, you’ll find more than 30 performances, talks, public artworks, and workshops as part of ARTx. Music lovers can listen to Jill Haley play oboe and English horn music she composed in honor of Petrified National Forest, accompanied by video of the colorful rock formations. Families can watch Nature Tales, a puppet show about wildlife exploration, then craft their own puppets. During Food Foraging Flagstaff, teens can learn about local wild foods, take cooking classes, and present their culinary creations to the public. Visitors can also attend a poetry workshop, listen to a talk on physics and shamanism, watch an impromptu pop opera, and more.


Flagstaff’s Fourth of July Week Events

July 4-7

As if the cool, pine-scented air wasn’t enough of a reason to visit Flag in summer, the city rolls out a trio of complementary events to celebrate the stars and stripes. The festivities kick off with the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce Independence Day Parade, a red, white, and blue extravaganza that weaves through historic downtown. In the evening, Fort Tuthill County Park turns into a stage for a technicolor laser light show synchronized to music. (Lasers are an alternative to fireworks, which can ignite forest fires, terrify pets and disturb wild animals, and release harmful pollutants into the air, soil, and water.) The event also features face-painting, crafts, food trucks, and live music. July 5-7, Flagstaff Art in the Park showcases 80 Southwestern artists, live music, food stands, and a beer garden at Wheeler Park.

Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo Parade & Art Show

July 5-7

While seats at the World’s Oldest Rodeo come with a price, there’s plenty to do outside of the arena that doesn’t cost a dime. From July 5-7, the Prescott Rodeo Days Arts & Crafts Show brings hundreds of artists, crafters, and performers to the historic downtown Courthouse Plaza. On July 6, the 137th annual Rodeo Parade will celebrate “Prescott traditions” with a cavalcade of horses, tractors, fire trucks, and floats.

A Lucifer hummingbird hovers in a field in Arizona.
Join a guided bird walk at the Southwest Wings Summer Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista.
Courtesy Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival

Southwest Wings Summer Birding and Nature Festival, Sierra Vista

July 31-August 3

Nature lovers from around the country flock to the Hummingbird Capital of the U.S. for Southwest Wings Summer Birding and Nature Festival, which offers a full program of free talks, plus field trips starting at $45. This year’s 24 gratis offerings include guided bird walks on the Cochise College campus and surrounding desert, and a workshop on binoculars and spotting scopes for birdwatchers. There are also free talks on bird photography, new racially inclusive bird names, the beavers of the San Pedro River, and the jaguars of the borderlands.