Return of the Mermaids

A dozen girls/mermaids crash the stage to dance to the music of the band the Surfbroads, performing at Haggerty Plaza for the Return of the Mermaids, Saturday, August 12, 2016, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

With so many local events and festivals to choose from each year, it can be hard to keep track.

So, to ensure you make it to all of your faves, we created this list of Tucson's best and biggest celebrations throughout the year.

You know the ones — Tucson Meet Yourself, All Souls Procession, Return of the Mermaids, etc., etc.

Put them in your calendar. Then plan your yearly vacay.

Tucson Jazz Festival

Jeffery Sandberg plucks the strings of his bass during rehearsal on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at the Tucson Jazz Institute in Tucson, Ariz. 

Featuring well known jazz acts from around the country, this is a two week festival, with the main event being a free daylong Downtown Jazz Fiesta on MLK day on two outdoor stages and other venues downtown. This year's feature acts include Sheila E., Spyro Gyra, Arturo Sandoval and The Hot Sardines.

When: Jan. 11-21

Info: Click here

Tucson Fringe Theater Festival

“Meet Your Realtor” will be performed by the playwright, Sherrie Martin.

A three-day unjuried and uncensored performing arts festival that takes place at six different venues. Buy tickets to see as many shows as you want. The festival gives you the chance to see nontraditional performing arts on the cheap. 

When: Jan. 12-14

Info: Click here

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Jim Cresawn, who traveled from Virginia, looks at a table of crystals at the 22nd Street show during the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017.

For a little more than two weeks in January and February nearly 4,000 trade companies from every continent converge in Tucson at about 45 venues selling their gems, minerals, fossils and other items. 

When: Jan. 26 - Feb. 11

Info: Click here

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo

Saddle bronc rider Cole Elshere gives some spectators hearts to pumping as he rides Ole Flame as they go into the fence while scoring an 86 during the finals of the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo on Feb 26, 2017.

Watch bull riders, barrel riders, mutton bustin and more at the Celebration of Cowboys. The yearly event includes the Tucson Rodeo Parade, which is said to be the longest non-motorized parade. 

When: Feb. 17-25

Info: Click here

Fourth Avenue Street Fair

Wire and papier mache figurinnes from Sarena Mann Studios add an air of fantasy and lightness to the 4th Ave. Street Fair in Tucson, AZ. Photo taken Friday, March 20, 2015. Photo by Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star.

The street fair features artists from around the world, crafters,entertainers and food vendors twice annually, in spring and winter. 

When: March 2-4 and Dec. 7-9

Info: Click here

Tucson Festival of Books

A Madagascar Hissing Cockroach catches the attention of Danica Rivera, 7, under the Natural World Tent during the Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona on March 12, 2017.

You'll find everything for the book lover and knowledge seeker here, from Science City, to author tents and workshops to a kid's pavilion and entertainment. There's something for everyone in your whole family at this this annual two-day event. You may even get to meet some of your favorite authors. 

When: March 10 and 11

Info: Click here


Robbie Clark, 9, gives a hula hoop a try while on North Church Avenue and East Congress Street during Cyclovia in downtown Tucson. Clark helped his mother, who was a volunteer for Target, to make sure people were crossing the intersection safely during the event. Cyclovia, meaning the temporary closure of several streets to cars, allows for bicylists, skateboarders, runners, walkers and others to enjoy the day exploring fun activities throughout the route.

Select streets are closed off to cars so you can play, bike, walk, jog, skate or roll in the road. It's a way to have good old fashioned people-powered fun in the streets without worrying about traffic. Plus there are lots of fun activities along the route, such as hula hoops, contests and games. 

When: April 8

Info: Click here

Agave Heritage Festival

This week-long festival celebrates the cultural, commercial and culinary significance of the agave plant. There will be talks, tours, tastings, dinners and exhibits at several venues including Hotel Congress, The Carriage House, Mission Garden, Maynards Market & Kitchen and others. 

When: April 27 - May 6

Info: Click here

Tucson Folk Festival

Janelle Loes wraps up her set on the Plaza Stage in El Presidio Park during the 30th Annual Tucson Folk Festival, held downtown, Saturday, May 2, 2015, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Celebrate American and folk music traditions for two days in this annual family friendly event. The festival features five stages of traditional, contemporary and ethnic folk and acoustic music. More than 120 groups or soloists will perform, including a national headliner and a local headliner. 

When: May 5-6

Info: Click here


Fans hang out in the lobby of Hotel Congress at HOCO Fest 2009.

A three-day event featuring more than 50 musical acts, liquor tastings, guest lecturers, workshops, vintage clothing and vinyl record fairs and after parties. 

When: Aug. 29 - Sept. 2

Info: Click here

Return of the Mermaids

A member of the Mermaid Hoop Troupe spins and twirls on the Haggerty Plaza Stage for the the Return of the Mermaids, Saturday, August 12, 2016, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Believe it or not, Tucson is full of landlocked mermaids and they all come out in costume to celebrate the monsoons and walk in a parade every August. There's live music, a DJ, art vendors, kids activities and a costume contest. The event spans North Fourth Avenue and downtown. 

When: August (Usually on the 2nd Saturday, but might change this year)

Info: Click here

Dusk Music Festival

Singer Luna Aura opens the day during the Dusk Music Festival at Rillito Park, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

This two-day music festival in the fall features nationally recognized acts, as well as Arizona artists and local foods. 

When: Early October

Info: Click here

Oro Valley Music Festival

Kaitlyn Need dances with her friends to the music of Jana Kramer on the first day of the Oro Valley Music Festival. The music continues Sunday at the Golf Club at Vistoso.

A two-day music festival featuring local acts, as well as well known pop-rock and country stars.

When: Early October

Info: Click here

Arizona Insect Festival

Kids with insects at the Arizona Insect Festival.

Learn about, touch and eat bugs at this one day festival hosted by the University of Arizona. 

When: Early October

More info: Click here

Tucson Meet Yourself

Helpers and staff of Tucson's Cafe Santa Rosa keep super busy making Indian Fry Bread during opening day of the 44th edition of Tucson Meet Yourself at El Presidio Park in Tucson, AZ. on October 13, 2017.

This three-day festival happens every October to celebrate the diverse culture, food and art of the people that live here. It's also known as "Tucson Eat Yourself" because of all of the delicious foods. 

When: October 12-14

Info: Click here

All Souls Procession

The 2017 All Souls Procession on Tucson's west side on Nov. 5, 2017.

This event is huge. More than 150,000 people gather downtown, some in costume, some carrying memorials or altars to celebrate, mourn and reflect on those who have died. There's music. There are dancers. There is a ton of creative energy. The group walks about two miles together to watch a finale that includes performances by Flam Chen and the burning of the urn.  

When: Nov. 4

Info: Click here 

Tucson Tamal and Heritage Festival

Helpers prepare tamales for judging at the Tamal and Heritage Festival at Casino Del Sol AVA on Saturday, December 1, 2007.

The festival is a celebration of tamales from the Southwest and Mexico, which includes a tamale contest, local entertainment and artisan, food and farmers market vendors.

When: Dec. 1

Info: Click here

Winterhaven Festival of Lights

This is your go-to holiday light viewing destination. The whole neighborhood is transformed into a lit up wonderland. Plus there are food trucks, hot chocolate and fake snow. 

When: Mid-Dec. to Dec. 26

More info: Click here

Parade of Lights and Festival

Santa Claus, atop a Tucson Fire Department ladder track, caps the parade during the 23rd Annual Parade of Lights.

The festival starts off with a health fair, live music, food and other family activities. It's followed by Tucson's annual parade of all things lit up. You'll see dancers with lit up dresses, Santa, cars with holiday lights and more.

When: Mid Dec.

More info: Click here

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Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson