May is a transitional month in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas. The weather is typically hot and there are fewer outdoor events. Winter visitors leave during this time, heading off to cooler areas. But there are annual events that everyone looks forward to.
A visit to Phoenix in May takes some adjustment because of the daytime heat but you’ll find indoor events during the day and evening activities and entertainment. Restaurants turn on their misters and outdoor events such as art walks get comfortable as the sun sets. Or, in the case of the Desert Botanical Garden, early morning can be a great time for events such as educational walks.
Many casinos, bars, and entertainment venues celebrate Cinco de Mayo each year with plenty of tequila and cerveza, but one of the most traditional and long-running family-friendly festivals takes place in downtown Phoenix.
At the Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival, enjoy tacos, Lucha Libre wrestlers, folkloric dancers, nationally known Latino entertainers and a festive atmosphere. This Sunday event is not always held on the fifth, mind you, but it will be the Sunday closest to the 5th. The festival is held from noon–10 p.m. on May 6, 2018.
Peach Festival at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek, just south of Phoenix, is a celebration of this multi-generational family farm, the largest peach grower in Arizona.
This all-organic farm ships all over the world. During Peach Festival, you can enjoy hayrides to the orchards, live music, and children’s rides. Savor fresh peaches at the pancake breakfast and then move on to the sampling pavilion. Buy peach pies and to-die-for peach cinnamon rolls. The festival is held May 11, 12 and 13, 2018.
Beginning at the end of May through September 1, you can experience the beauty of the desert in a whole new way. Point your flashlight at night-blooming desert plants, come upon small nocturnal creatures and marvel at the twinkling lights of the city in the distance.
A flashlight tour makes for a great date night or a fun outing with older children. Tours are held at the Desert Botanical Garden on Saturdays, May 26–September 1, 2018.
May evenings can be mild and the Scottsdale ArtWalk makes for an ideal outing in a magical setting. Scottsdale is known for art and art galleries.
Each Thursday evening, stroll through the Old Town Scottsdale Art District. Wander into galleries, some of which offer wine and appetizers, and enjoy bubbling fountains. Before or after, stop in for dinner at one of Old Town’s many restaurants. ArtWalk is held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Thursday evening.
The spring and fall restaurant weeks are state-wide but there are plenty of participating restaurants in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas.
Phoenix is a foodie destination and you’ll find opportunities to dine your way through the area from southwestern comfort foods to five-star restaurants. Diners enjoy a money-saving prix-fixe dinner. The spring restaurant week takes place May 18–27, 2018.
Head to the Phoenix Convention Center for a four-day pop culture extravaganza over Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of fans, many in costume, enjoy getting autographs and taking selfies with their favorite creators, actors, and authors.
This event, combining Phoenix Comicon and Phoenix Comic Fest, attracts top comic book authors and features genres ranging from anime to illustrated books. It’s a full weekend of events where you can celebrate your inner geek.
Fan Fusion is held over Memorial Day Weekend, May 24–27, 2018, and May 23–26, 2019.
Cave Creek is just north of Scottsdale This event is an exciting balloon glow which means all the balloons are on display on the ground. The balloons will usually inflate from around 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Times vary depending on light, wind and clearing space to inflate.
Viewers can get up close to the balloons or bring a lawn chair to sit back and relax. There are live music, children’s activities and a variety of food stands. The balloon festival takes place May 26, 2018.
On the second Friday evening of every month including May, enjoy the cooler evenings in downtown Mesa. Stroll the streets, enjoy the shops and enjoy the original art on display by over 60 local artists.
Downtown Mesa has become an arts destination with the thriving Mesa Center for the Arts and a vibrant mural program.
Live music fills the air and there are special activities for kids. It’s like a huge block party with a different theme each month. Main Street is alive with activity from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Birds ‘n Beer at the Audubon Center
Birds 'n Beer offers a fun and refreshing way to learn about Arizona birds and other wildlife while networking with fellow nature-lovers.
Have a cold brew while enjoying an enlightening and lively presentation on Arizona nature at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix. The topics are announced on the center’s Facebook page.
The event is held the third Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. RSVP is needed.
The 6th Street Market is a Sunday event featuring local makers, foods, and musicians. Find a selection of unique Arizona-made goods and enjoy time in Downtown Tempe. Over one hundred juried vendors participate throughout the season. You’ll find 30 to 40 at each market.
Head for 6th Street Park surrounding the Tempe City Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Food in Root is set up alongside the 6th Street Market with 30–40 Arizona food producers.