While May generally sees pleasant spring weather in most parts of the U.S., heatseekers can get a jumpstart on summer by heading to Phoenix, Arizona, where the average daily high is already over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and steadily rising. With the arrival of the heat, outdoor events start to dwindle but there are plenty of indoor things to do with air conditioning. Plus, May evenings in the desert are one of the most enjoyable times to be in Phoenix.
To top it off, May is also shoulder season. Winter is when most tourists from cold states farther north flock to the warm Arizona sun, so May is a great time for finding flight deals and cheaper accommodations. The rainy monsoon season that brings daily thunderstorms to the area doesn't begin until June, so you shouldn't experience much rain, either.
Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
Many casinos, bars, and entertainment venues all around Phoenix 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. The event always takes place on the Sunday closest to May 5, which falls on May 2, 2021. This is ticketed event and attendees have to pay admission, but all the funds are used to award scholarships to local students in the Latino community.
Desert Botanical Garden Flashlight Tours
Beginning at the end of May throughout the summer, you can experience the beauty of the desert in a whole new way at the Desert Botanical Garden. 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.
The evening is the best time to be outside during May in Phoenix, and the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk event is an outdoor block party you can join every Thursday. Scottsdale, which is located just outside of Phoenix and is easy to reach, is known for its art scene and numerous galleries. Wander through the streets and you'll find plenty of art spaces, some of which offer wine and appetizers, or just enjoy the festive atmosphere on the street. 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.
Spring Restaurant Week
Arizona Restaurant Week is a biannual fair—there's a spring and a fall edition—that takes place across the whole state, but with all of the amazing restaurants in the Phoenix area it's undoubtedly one of the best places to experience it.
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 at many locations at prices that you can't find outside of this event. The spring version in 2021 takes place from May 21–30, with more restaurants than ever before offering their special menus for take-out.
Phoenix Fan Fusion
Phoenix Fan Fusion was postponed in 2021 and moved to January 14–16, 2022.
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.
2nd Friday in Mesa
2nd Friday in Mesa is canceled in 2021 until further notice.
On the second Friday evening of every month, enjoy the cooler evening weather in downtown Mesa during the 2nd Friday festival. Stroll the streets, browse the shops, and take in the original art on display by over 60 local artists while live music fills the air. There are even special activities specially designed for kids, so bring the whole family to this monthly block party.
Downtown Mesa has become an arts destination with the thriving Mesa Center for the Arts and a vibrant mural program.
6th Street Market in Downtown Tempe
The spring 2021 season of the 6th Street Market was canceled.
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 on Sundays.