Framed by a prickly pear cactus sculpture made from bicycle gears, Ben Pawlowski labels some of the items up for bids for the preview of the 17th Annual BICAS Art Auction Fundraiser and Community Celebration at the Whistle Stop Depot, 127 W. 5th St., on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012.

Winterhaven, a screening of "Elf," the Downtown Parade of Lights — you don't have to break the bank to enjoy local events in Tucson.

Here are 36 events that are free to attend this December.

First Thursday at Tucson Museum of Art

Visit the Tucson Museum of Art every first Thursday of the month for pay-what-you-wish admission. There will be art and gallery activities, live music and a cash bar, plus a star party with Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association.

When: 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1

Where: Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.

Cost: Pay what you wish, reserve tickets in advance

Visit the event page for more information. 

Blaire Manalisay, left, 6, plays grocery store with her uncle Ryan Bustamante at the Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S. 6th Ave., in Tucson, Ariz. on March 25, 2021. 

Discovery Nights at Children's Museum Tucson

Visit Children's Museum Tucson for a free night of science and art, including story times and pop-up science experiments. 

When: 5-7 p.m. Thursdays

Where: Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S. Sixth Ave.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Enchanted Snowfall

Looking to enjoy a snowy evening? Head to La Encantada to see snow flurries, all while sipping hot chocolate and enjoying live entertainment. 

When: Thursdays-Saturdays through Dec. 23. Snowfall is 6-6:15 p.m. and 6:45-7 p.m. Entertainment is 6:15-6:45 p.m. and 7-7:45 p.m.

Where: La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Dr.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Holiday Card Party

Just Communities Arizona is hosting a Holiday Card Party, where you can write letters to incarcerated people throughout the state. Las Mujeres Verdes will be there to set up a mercado, plus there will be free tamales and music from a DJ.

When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

Where: YWCA Southern Arizona, 525 N. Bonita Ave.

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for shopping

Visit the event page for more information.

Live music at Steam Pump Ranch

Enjoy a night of live music at Steam Pump Ranch. There will be food trucks on-site, plus beer and wine available for purchase. Bring your own chair or blanket!

When: 7-9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

Where: Steam Pump Ranch, 10901 N. Oracle Road

Cost: Free to attend, food and drinks available for purchase

Visit the event page for more information.

Art Corner with BICAS

Get free access to recycled bike art parts, tools and other materials and get creative! Once you're finished, you can donate your creation to BICAS or give a suggested donation to the nonprofit, if you're able to. Check in at the front counter before heading to the art area.

When: 4-6 p.m. most Fridays

Where: BICAS, 2001 N. Seventh Ave.

Cost: Free to attend, donation suggested 

Visit the event page for more information.

17th Tucson Tamal & Heritage Festival

This festival celebrating all things tamales is back for another year at Casino Del Sol. Attendees will enjoy a tamale contest, live entertainment, and food and artisan vendors. 

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Where: AVA Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road

Cost: Free to attend 

Visit the event page for more information. 

Guests rush to take their photo in front of the tree. The lighting of the holiday tree at Oro Valley Marketplace took place on Dec. 4, 2021 as part of the Oro Valley Festival of the Arts and Holiday Tree Lighting event.

Oro Valley Festival of the Arts & Tree Lighting

Check out Southern Arizona artists at this two-day festival, all while enjoying performances and a tree lighting. There will be more than 130 artists, kid-friendly art activities, food vendors and photos with Santa.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4

Where: Oro Valley Marketplace, 12155 N. Oracle Road

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for shopping

Visit the event page for more information.

Marana Holiday Festival & Christmas Tree Lighting 

Ring in the holiday season at Marana's holiday festival and Christmas tree lighting. Snap a photo with Santa, order food from one of the 40+ food trucks and vendors onsite, watch live performances, shop from artisans, plus enjoy lots of kid-friendly activities like a snow foam dance party, train rides and inflatables. The tree lighting show happens when the sun goes down! 

When: 3-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Where: Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr.

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for food and shopping

Visit the event page for more information.

Asian Holiday Party

The Tucson Chinese Cultural Center is celebrating the holidays with a visit from Santa, gifts for the kids, activities for the adults and a free light dinner for the family.

When: 4:30-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Where: Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, 1288 W. River Road

Cost: Free to attend, RSVP in advance

Visit the event page for more information.

Free First Saturday: The Season of Magic

Tucson's fantasy park Valley of the Moon is hosting Free First Saturday this weekend. You'll get to decorate trees for fairies and go on a lantern walk.

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Where: Valley of the Moon, 2544 E. Allen Road

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Drag Queen Bingo

Roxi Starr is hosting at least two Drag Queen Bingo events this month!

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 at Button Brew House. 5-7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18 at Bawker Bawker.

Where: Button Brew House, 6800 N. Camino Martin. Bawker Bawker Cider, 400 N. Fourth Ave.

Cost: Free to play 

Visit the event page for more information on the Button Brew House bingo. Visit the event page for more information on the Bawker Bawker bingo.

Beer + Bikes

This bike ride goes along The Loop to 1912 Brewing Co. for a beer or two, followed by a bike ride back to Button Brew House for food truck bites.

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3

Where: Button Brew House, 6800 N. Camino Martin

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for brews and food

Visit the event page for more information.

BICAS Art Auction

After a two-year hiatus, local nonprofit BICAS is bringing back its art auction filled with bicycle-themed art. Enjoy a night of art, music and food.

When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 for the preview party and early bidding. 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 for the silent auction night.

Where: SAACA Catalyst Arts & Maker Space in Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Winterhaven Festival of Lights

A holiday tradition for more than 70 years, the Winterhaven Festival of Lights makes its return on Dec. 10. Walk through this charming neighborhood decorated in holiday lights and displays. 

When: 6-10 p.m. Dec. 10-26. 

Where: Winterhaven neighborhood; north of Fort Lowell Road and south of Prince Road, west of Country Club Road and east of Tucson Boulevard

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Art after Dark: Free screening of "Elf"

Each month, Children's Museum Tucson hosts Art after Dark with local arts groups. This month, it's The Loft Cinema! The two are collaborating to screen a free outdoor showing of the movie "Elf."

When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10

Where: Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S. Sixth Ave.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Saturday with Santa

Celebrate the holidays with the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona's Saturday with Santa event, set to include games, holiday crafts, treats and visits with Santa.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10

Where: Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, 1050 S. Plumer Ave.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

A community member, left, and repairer and webmaster, Pete Vieira, right, solder a PlayStation circuit board at a Tucson Repair Cafe event.

Tucson Repair Cafe

Need something fixed? Bring it to the Tucson Repair Cafe to be fixed for free! All items are welcome.

When: 4:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10

Where: Xerocraft Makerspace, 101 W. Sixth St.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Art Hike in Sabino Canyon

Local artist Stephanie Daniels, of Brushes and Boots, is leading an art hike to Seven Falls in Sabino Canyon with company Kula Cloth. Bring your art supplies of choice and go hiking, stopping to draw surrounding scenery. Daniels will provide some artistic guidance.

When: 8:45 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10

Where: Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, 5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road

Cost: Free to attend, register online

Visit the event page for more information.

Tucson Cars and Coffee

Head to this car show centered around Mustangs, hosted by Obsessions Car Club. 

When: 7-10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10

Where: Lowe's, 4075 W. Ina Road

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Free photos with Santa

Free photos with Santa, cookie decorating and hot chocolate! 

When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10

Where: DentalPros, 1402 E. Tucson Marketplace Blvd.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

La Fiesta de Guadalupe

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is hosting its annual La Fiesta de Guadalupe with music and dancing, plus food and art vendors. 

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11

Where: DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, 6300 N. Swan Road

Cost: Free to attend 

Visit the event page for more information.

Ride with FUGA

Take a bike ride with organization FUGA, which advocates for mobility, accessibility and representation for Tucson's south-side and west-side communities. 

When: 9-11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 11; 6-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30

Where: Ward 1 City Council Office, 940 W. Alameda St. on Dec. 11; El Pueblo Center, 101 W. Irvington Road on Dec. 30.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the Dec. 11 event page or the Dec. 30 event page for more information.

Second SundAZe at TMA 

Visit the Tucson Museum of Art every second Sunday for pay-what-you-wish admission. Check out art-making activities and performances.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11

Where: Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.

Cost: Pay what you wish, reserve tickets in advance.

Visit the event page for more information. 

Free Third Thursdays at MOCA

Third Thursday at Tucson’s Museum of Contemporary Art is a party. The art museum is open late with free admission — and free beer from Barrio Brewing Co. KXCI will be DJing and there will be a pop-up market with Galeria Mitotera!

When: 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, 265 S. Church Ave.

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for food

Visit the event site for more information.

Concerts in the Courtyard

Head to Marana for this monthly concert series. This month, enjoy music from the Catalina Foothills Falcon Steel Band. Four food trucks will be onsite and you'll be able to snap a photo with Santa. Bring your own chairs or blankets!

When: 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15

Where: Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr.

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for food

Visit the event page for more information.

Urban Hike with Bawker Bawker

Arizona Trail Association and Bawker Bawker Cider are hosting an urban hike around the downtown area. 

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15

Where: Bawker Bawker Cider, 400 N. Fourth Ave.

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for cider afterwards

Visit the event page for more information.

Queer Speed Dating 

Find your next date or make a new friend at this queer speed dating event!

When: 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16

Where: Bawker Bawker Cider House, 400 N. Fourth Ave.

Cost: Free to attend. This event is for ages 21 and up.

Visit the event page for more information.

The 25th annual Parade of Lights in downtown Tucson on Nov. 30, 2019, looking west on Pennington Street from Scott Ave.

Downtown Parade of Lights

Back for its 28th year, after a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Downtown Parade of Lights will snake through the Armory Park area with more than 30 floats and nearly 1,000 participants.

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: Armory Park area, see the route here

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Winterfest in Sahuarita

Shop from a vendor market, watch a light parade and ice sculpting, order a bite to eat from food trucks, and more at Winterfest in Sahuarita. A tree lighting ceremony will end the night. 

When: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: Sahuarita Town Hall, 375 W. Sahuarita Center Way

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for food

Visit the event page for more information.

Traditional O'odham Agriculture at Mission Garden

Attend this event to learn about Tohono O'odham agricultural practices, including demonstrations and talks about traditional crops including corns, beans and squash.

When: 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: Mission Garden, 946 W. Mission Lane

Cost: Free to attend with a $5 suggested donation

Visit the event page for more information.

Family Saturdays with Watershed Management Group

Head to Watershed Management Group for Family Saturdays where you'll learn about gardening "give-back services," such as pruning, mulching and litter pickup. 

When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: Watershed Management Group, 1137 N. Dodge Blvd.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information. 

Winter Wonderland with Parks and Rec

Tucson Parks and Recreation is hosting a free event for the family that's set to feature carnival games, hot chocolate, crafts and visits with Santa.

When: 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: Quincie Douglas Center, 1575 E. 36th St.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Santa at Harlow Gardens

Kids can meet with Santa at Harlow Gardens, plus make their own ornament to take home.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: Harlow Gardens, 5620 E. Pima St.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Chanukah at Downtown Tucson in El Presidio Park, 160 W. Alameda St.

Chanukah at Downtown Tucson

Celebrate Chanukah at the 39th annual lighting of what's dubbed Tucson's tallest Menorah. In addition to the lighting, there will be songs, a light show, a food truck, crafts and personal Menorahs to take home.

When: 5-6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18

Where: El Presidio Park, 160 W. Alameda St.

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

Free Mead Tasting 

Superstition Meadery will be at 1912 Brewing Company for a free mead tasting! Also on the agenda: live music from Flatlander Jim.  

When: 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23

Where: 1912 Brewing Company, 2045 N. Forbes Blvd.

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for additional drinks

Visit the event page for more information.


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