LightsUp! A Festival of Illumination
The Tucson Botanical Gardens launches a new tradition this holiday season with festive illumination designed by renowned landscape architect Tres Fromm. “Lights Up” leads visitors through more than a million lights in an artful sequence of experiences. Six thematic “zones,” each with a unique color palette, feature custom-built, oversized installations including works by local artisans. The path winds through, among other things, a 50-foot light tunnel, choreographed cypress trees and a unique arrangement of traditional luminarias.
5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25 through Sunday, Jan. 15, except holidays, Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way, $30, tucsonbotanical.org
Gasolina Reggaeton Dance Party
This event puts Tucson on the map for what’s becoming a nationwide “movement” of Reggaeton and Latin music. Organizers hope to help them find each other and create communities of like minds, locally and nationally. In that effort, the Rialto joins a string of distinguished venues booked from San Francisco to New York City. Lofty goals aside, this party will be a good time wherever it goes. The only ticketed seats are in the balcony, so put on your dancing shoes. 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street, ticketmaster.com, $15
Fourth Saturday Archaeology Days
Ancient technologies expert Allen Denoyer leads a hands-on program about the ingenuity of the ancient technologies that early civilizations used in daily life. Farming, communication, cooking, construction, hunting and defense all required resourceful use of what was at hand. Pinch pots, cordage and petroglyphs all played important roles. Children, in particular, enjoy learning about etching shells, painting with natural pigments or throwing spears with “atlatls,” the levers that enhanced the speed of a spear.
8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 26, Mission Garden, 946 W. Mission Lane, archaeologysouthwest.org
Rhythm & Roots: Carnivaleros Reunion
Gary Mackender is a writer and visual artist, but music is his jam. He began sharing his singularly eclectic musical aesthetic in 2001. This reunion gathers the players who have accompanied him most often over the years since. All have uncommon skill and a singular commitment to Mackender’s style — spirited and engaging no matter the tempo and underscored with the feel of our desert home. Also see Mackender’s visual art through Dec. 31 at Adobe Barn Gallery, Triangle Ranch, Oracle.
7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, Hotel Congress Patio, Hotel Congress, Plaza Stage, 311 E. Congress Street, rhythmandroots.org, $11.33
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays through Saturday, Dec 31, Triangle L Ranch, 2805 N. Triangle L Ranch Road, Oracle, garymackender.com, free
Made In Tucson Market
Gift-giving holidays are days away and we still have presents to buy! This annual event offers a merry mood for shopping among art and treasures of all kinds, all made by local artists and artisans. Most creators are on hand to talk about their work. Shop here, and if you wind up spending more money on yourself than on your gifts, at least the money stays at home. Artists and craftspeople were among those hardest hit economically with COVID-19 restrictions. Come hungry, too. Some of our favorite food trucks will be on hand.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, Fourth Avenue Coalition, 311 E. Seventh Street, Tucson, free admission, historic4thavecoalition.org
Jake Shimabukuro: Christmas in Hawai’i
Just four strings. That’s all he needs to connect and inspire people with a feeling as fresh and unique as an ocean wave. Fans say he achieves a deep emotional connection with an audience of thousands. Along with fan favorites, he includes holiday music from his 2021 release “Jake and Friends,” recorded with Willie Nelson, Bette Midler and Amy Grant, among others. Bassist Jackson Waldhoff and special guests amplify Shimabukuro’s joy to the world, tied up with a bow of “aloha.”
7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, Fox Tucson Theater, 17 W. Congress Street, tickets start at $25, foxtucson.com
10th Renegade Classics Santa Claus Toy Run
A benefit ride to provide toys for disadvantaged children starts with continental breakfast at Renegade Classics Motorcycles and wraps up with free lunch and a party at Desert Diamond Casino in Sahuarita. The event also includes a $500 Mystery Run, entertainment by Good Trouble, a commemorative T-shirt and a beautiful ride along the Tucson Mountains.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, Renegade Classics Motorcycles, 4745 E. Speedway Boulevard, tucsonbikerevents.com/toyrun.html, $25, $22 advance registration
Even if you can’t carry a tune, you’ll find a warm sense of community in singing with others. It’s true. Google it. Composer Georg Friedrich Händel wrote the exhilarating “Messiah” in 21 days while suffering partial paralysis from a stroke. The work is uplifting enough to have inspired community sings all over the world. Ken Marrs will conduct the audience and soloists in this 46th annual Tucson event. Marrs earned a master’s degree in choral conducting from the UA School of Music.
7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28, Christ Community Church, 530 S. Pantano Road, donations welcome, tucsonsingin.org
Santa Soiree: The Last Mixer of the Year
The Oro Valley Social & Business Club invites the public to network with them and make new friends for the holidays. The more, the merrier the Christmas. The party includes a buffet, karaoke, dancing, a DJ and an open mic. There will also be two Santas. Will we get twice as many gifts?
5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, Reflections at the Buttes, 9800 N. Oracle Road, eventbrite.com, $30
Tucson Holiday Ice
Anyone who grew up with snow and ice will appreciate the thrill of the freeze we can finally skate on. Now it’s time to break out your mittens and your heaviest socks. Our neighborhood pond has finally frozen over, right there in front of the Tucson Convention Center. It even has festive lighting and holiday music to skate and dance to. Imagine the fun of your first skate as a desert kid. Friendly and helpful staff help make sure your rental skates fit. Best of all, when you go home, you don’t have to salt the driveway.
2 to 9:30 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 8, Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Avenue, tickets start at $12, $8 children under 12, tucsonaz.gov/parks/tucson-holiday-ice, reserve skates and 90-minute skate times online. Smallest skates are child size.