In 1991, the GLBT community of Orlando staged the first Gay Days at Disney World as a way to boost the visibility of its members and share their pride. The event was so successful that it not only morphed into a week-long annual celebration, but it also spawned other celebrations—first in Las Vegas and now in Phoenix. During Gay Days Arizona, participants gather for a five-day extravaganza featuring a multitude of events. Attendees can cheer each other on in a golf tournament, soak up the sun at daily pool parties, don disguises during the masquerade, and sample local cuisine all while celebrating the community.
Microbrews and macrobrews, such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors Light, and Miller Genuine Draft, come together for a night of revelry at the Blue Collar Beerfest & Backyard BBQ. The event takes place at Rawhide Western Town, a replica of a bygone era complete with stagecoach rides and gold-panning activities. Once there, festgoers can swig samples of 20 beers and let a roller-derby expo and a mechanical bull vie for their attention.
Urban Dare Adventure Race is a fast-paced competition that challenges two-person teams to decipher clues, navigate the city, and perform playful stunts. A dozen trivia-based clues lead contestants to checkpoints all over Phoenix, where they must use a camera to document their presence and, in some cases, complete challenges, such as scaling a wall or solving a puzzle. In addition to running and walking, contestants may use public transportation to move from checkpoint to checkpoint, though taxis, cars, and bikes are off-limits. Races generally last less than four hours, and the winning team receives free entry to the Super Dare, a cruise-based take on the Urban Dare concept that features a $5,000 grand prize. Proceeds from the race will be used to help battle breast cancer.
The course itself carries on that fun vibe, too. Winding through city streets and local parks, the 5K route is dotted with hydration stations that dole out hot chocolate. Holiday music, a giant Santa inflatable, and snow blowers help to set
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.
The Fourth of July is, by nature, just one day. However, Red White & Rawhide celebrates the holiday for two days straight, closing out both nights of revelry with epic fireworks. Before the glittering light displays fill the sky, though, there's plenty of fun to be had in the sun. Visitors taste craft beers and wines, for instance, and swig flavored margaritas, washing down meals from local food trucks. Musicians play live for the crowds, too, and local artists showcase handiwork more compelling than a pure black canvas depicting the Founding Fathers in a dark room.