Festivals in Coolidge

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It begins with a flurry of activity. Balloon operators prepare for lift-off, checking equipment and tossing ropes as spectators wander the grounds, observing the action. And then it reaches a new level: dozens of balloons take flight at once, filling the crisp December dawn sky with brilliant blues, purples, oranges, and reds that rival the colors around them. The Arizona Balloon Classic's orbs then set off on an aerial hare-and-hound race, drawing cheers from below as onlookers snap pictures.

For one weekend each year, visitors gather on the grounds to snap pictures and watch the balloons inflate and lift-off outside the Gilbert Civic Center for the Classic––a three-day festival celebrating hot-air balloon flight and culture. But the fun doesn't end with the descent to earth. After sunset the tethered balloons begin to glow, lighting up for the DESERT GLOWS portion of the festivities. Attendees browse exhibits and feast on treats from a variety of vendors, and children play in the Family Fun Zone. Last, on Saturday evening, sparks give balloons a run for their money, springing through the sky in a stunning fireworks display.

48th St. and N Loop Rd.
Chandler,
AZ
US

In the award-winning one-woman show Golda's Balcony, four-time Tony-nominee Tovah Feldshuh portrays former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the endless struggle for peace in the Middle east. For Dancing on Ice, winter sport enthusiasts can get an intimate view of skating celebs as tango, swing, waltz, and solve algebra equations on the center ice. A recent $6.7 million renovation equipped the Chandler Center with refurbished seating, increased accessibility, a stage makeover, and an unmistakable new theater smell. See the Chandler Center's online calendar for more information about each show.

250 N Arizona Ave
Chandler,
AZ
US

Normally, if you'd want to eat cuisines from more than 50 different restaurants, you'd be in for a day of some serious traveling. Happily, the Best Food Truck of Arizona contest takes care of the leg work. The two-day culinary competition pits area food trucks against each other to see whose cuisine comes out on top. VIP guests sample all the food they desire, from grilled cheese sandwiches and fry bread to BBQ and soft-serve ice cream. They then cast their votes for their favorite based on presentation, taste, appearance, and friendliness. In between bites, they can take in live music and entertainment from local musicians and performers.

PO Box 11723
Chandler,
AZ
US

On Saturday, October 26, shoppers browse the wares of the more than 40 vendors gathered at the FALLiday BOOtique while their children trick-or-treat at each table. The vendors represent a variety of small businesses in the area, including Indulgence's by Christina, which perfumes rooms with plug-in warmers and 80 fragrances, Stunning by Design, which adorns necks with handmade scarves, A Little Bit of Princess, which makes girls feel special with fun jewelry, and Madame Butterfly Creations. The event also features a few big-name vendors, such as The Pampered Chef.

After grabbing their candy and the one lone pack of raisins that always seems to turn up, kids can get their faces painted by The Face Fairy. Their parents can also get tested to become bone-marrow donors and save lives with the help of Be the Match.

3317 S Higley Rd, Suite 114-260
Gilbert,
AZ
US

At the 12k's of Christmas, a peloton of Santas and seasonally-dressed runners race through the Gilbert's Freestone District Park. All participants receive a Santa hat to wear, and are encouraged to dress up further with colorful socks, an elf costume, or felt reindeer horns. Both 6K and 12K races feature a flat, mainly packed-gravel trail with carolers set up at every kilometer. Chronotrack chips track progress, and race organizers issue awards for the top finishers in each age bracket as well as best costumes. The race also offers a 1.2 K Santa "Sled" run, where racers are encouraged to walk a stroller or enter a souped-up wagon pulled by their pets. By partnering with adoption groups and shelters, the event operates Santa's Pet Village, which helps connects stray pets with new families.

1045 East Juniper Avenue
Gilbert,
AZ
US

There isn't much in this world that's better than drinking beer while listening to music. Good Cheer Brewfest combines these complementary activities with a good cause, and the result is a festival that will be hard to top this holiday season.

The formula is simple: bring together a team of brewers and musical acts, then donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities. This year, those charities include The Humanitarian Activist Alliance and Phoenix Children's Hospital, as well as Toys for Tots, which will be collecting toy donations.

Good Cheer's music schedule features eclectic sounds that range from the foot-stompin' Americana of local boys Random Karma to the soul-driven blues of Ebinezer. Keep an eye on the brew page for updates on the festival's featured beers, which may include everything from crisp lagers to the latest beer-flavored energy drink, BuzzBeer.

263 N Center St
Mesa,
AZ
US