7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12
Saguaro National Park East
3693 S. Old Spanish Trail
While many outdoor junkies have traversed Saguaro National Park's mountain ranges and stretches of open desert during the day, the opportunity to explore the park at night is generally not available.
However, park managers offer a few exceptions.
Friday's Night Walk, led by park interpreter Wanda Naylor, will take visitors on a mile-long nighttime journey down the Freeman Homestead Trail.
"A lot of people are afraid of the dark," said Naylor. "What they don't realize is that the human eye has better night vision than they may think."
Naylor, who prefers to lead her hikes without flashlights, said she starts out night hikes by giving visitors time to adjust to the darkness. She said that within 25 minutes, most visitors are surprised at how much they are able to see and hear.
"We human beings are so accustomed to relying on sight that we forget about our other senses," she said. "Animals in the desert have to use all of their senses to survive."
Naylor said she likes activities that show people how well their other senses work.
"I like to go out there and have people use their hearing to figure out what direction sounds are coming from," she said. "In other parks, I've done more with touch, but in this park, you can't exactly go out and feel a cactus."
Naylor said participants often hear coyotes and occasionally hear great horned owls.
"It's just so beautiful and calm," she said. "I think it's a way of refreshing our souls."
Naylor said all hike participants should come prepared with good footwear, water and a flashlight. Reservations have to be made beforehand.
Park admission, which is good for seven days, is $10 per vehicle, or $5 for individuals on foot or a bike. —W.F.
Diane Schuur With the Jeff Daniel Band
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13
Westin La Paloma Ballroom
3800 E. Sunrise Drive
Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Diane Schuur and professional pianist Jeff Daniel are coming to Tucson.
Actually, I should say returning to Tucson. Schuur and Daniel have both called Tucson their home in the past, and both said they are excited to be back as part of Valentine's Day weekend at La Paloma Resort.
"I love Tucson's laid-back energy. I loved the thunderstorms in the afternoon and the smell of the rain-soaked earth when the deluge was over," said Schuur.
Schuur, who has been blind since birth, has won two Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Performance by a Female. Daniel has worked as a professional pianist and keyboardist with musicians including Bunny Brunel, Cheap Trick and Janet Jackson.
Daniel graduated from Canyon del Oro High School and started his music career here. Schuur moved from Seattle to Tucson in 1977, when a mutual friend suggested she move to practice with Daniel.
Their concert will feature Daniel and his band playing songs from his newly released album, Back to the Groove. Schuur will then take the stage to perform along with Daniel and his band.
Both performers are looking forward to working together again. "We're playing a bunch of old songs from when we all played in Tucson together," Daniel said. These "old" songs come from the '40s through the '70s.
They'll also be playing some of Schuur's classics.
"The combination of such top-notch musicians plus the spiritual connectedness of all of us will make this a very special evening," said Schuur.
Added Daniel: "And, of course, there will be an emphasis on love songs, since it surrounds Valentine's Day."
Tickets start at $35. —T.D.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13
220 S. Sixth Ave.
Looking to escape all of the Valentine's-centered celebrations this weekend? Well, look no further than Tucson Carnaval.
The Tucson Carnaval celebration will feature everything you would typically find at a carnival (minus the creepy carnies), including performances, food, a parade and workshops.
Carnaval is being put on by Batucaxé, an Afro-Brazilian drum and dance ensemble. Batucaxé will be among the many groups performing at Carnaval, under this year's theme of "A Global Tapestry of Celebration."
The activities and shows are the threads in that tapestry, with each color representing a different culture, explained Kenya Johnson, marketing director (and dancer) for Batucaxé. The performers and participants are those weaving the tapestry, celebrating cultures including Afro-Brazilian, Japanese, Sonoran and African.
Johnson promised a show like you've never seen; Batucaxé, for example, has been working on new dances for the past year to give the crowd something new.
"We want to get the crowd dancing," said Johnson. ... "It's my favorite part."
Folks from the Tucson Children's Museum will be on hand to provide entertainment for children, including crafts and a puppet show. There will also be workshops to teach the tango, hip-hop dances and drumming.
"I've never seen so much energy, excitement and happiness all in one place, and I get to be a part of it," said Johnson.
Johnson says last year's Tucson Carnaval was a great time for all. "It was hard to wipe the smile off of my face at the end of the day, as a performer and a spectator," said Johnson.
A full schedule is available at www.tucsoncarnaval.org. Admission to Carnaval is free; admission to the nearby Tucson Children's Museum during Carnaval is $2. —T.D.
Universe of Dreams with Neal Conan and Ensemble Galilei
8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12
UA Centennial Hall
1020 E. University Blvd.
Science fiction will court early classical music for one Tucson evening in Universe of Dreams.
UApresents is hosting National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan and Ensemble Galilei for a night of poetry and musical interpretations accompanied by deep-space images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
"Music and science appeal to the same kind of brain," said Conan. "Between the music and the images, a lot of people tell us they walk away transported."
Ranging from Shakespeare to a Navajo creation myth, the readings were chosen by both Conan and the members of Ensemble Galilei.
"It was very much a collaborative effort," said Conan. "If even one person said they didn't like a particular piece, then it was weeded out."
He described the Hubble images that will accompany the music and readings as being truly remarkable.
"It's like your falling into space," he said.
Composed of six classically trained female musicians, Ensemble Galilei will play a mix of Irish, Scottish, Early and Original music while Conan narrates.
"One of the hardest things to do is explain the nature of the performance to people who haven't seen it," said Conan. "The individual elements are fantastic."
UApresents' Mario Di Vetta promised a stunning show.
"Expect an experience literally like you have never seen before," he said.
Conan said his own fascination with astronomy began when his parents bought him a telescope as a boy.
"I spent 30 freezing nights looking at the stars and the moon," he said. "This performance exemplifies man's fascination with the heavens."
Tickets are $20 to $40, with discounts for students, seniors and members of the military. —W.F.