Why Tempe is the hot ticket in 2024
When you think of Arizona travel, words like “Antelope Canyon” and “Cathedral Rock” might be what first come to mind. But this spring, one Arizona city will bring rock of the musical kind to the desert, and on a scale befitting the Grand Canyon State. Inningsfest—a live music event headlined by big-name bands (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dave Matthews Band, as examples) and spanning two weekends—is just one of the reasons you’ll want to be in Tempe, Arizona in early 2024.
Major League Baseball spring training, new dining and cocktail venues plus acclaimed art and cultural festivals also make Tempe a hot ticket in the new year. The takeaway? Don’t underestimate the appeal of this Greater Phoenix town. Here’s what you need to know to plan your trip.
Hit Innings Festival, a “homerun” music fest
Taking over Tempe Beach Park the weekends of Feb. 23-24 and March 1-2, 2024, Innings Festival will bring over 40 household name bands—plus over a dozen Major League Baseball legends—to three stages at the 25-acre park on the shores of Tempe Town Lake. The addition of a second weekend (officially called "Extra Innings Festival") is a first for the 2024 event—and a good thing, since last year's show sold out.
Music superstars Red Hot Chili Peppers, Third Eye Blind, Dave Matthews Band, 311 and Sheryl Crow are among the event's headliners, alongside hit-makers Hozier, Noah Kahan and country singer Chris Stapleton.
Sports fans can also look forward to baseball-themed activities, appearances by players like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Braun plus an alfresco sports talk show that will be filmed live on location both weekends.
Food trucks will be on hand serving up a variety of fare, including Southwestern, vegan and vegetarian bites, as will beer and cocktail vendors.
Some ticket options have already sold out, so time is of the essence if you want to go.
Catch the Angels at Diablo
Innings Festival is Tempe's bold way of kicking off another exciting series of events for baseball fans: Cactus League Spring Training. From late February through late March, the diamond at Tempe's Diablo Stadium will glitter with the stars of the Los Angeles Angels.
Thanks to Diablo's intimate size, just about every seat in the house is a good one. And since these pre-season matchups are more affordable than regular-season games, you'll have more loot left over for nachos, bratwurst or special diet-friendly options like veggie hot dogs and açai bowls.
The Angels will face off against teams like the Dodgers, the Padres, the Cubs and the Rangers over 16 games. If you want in on the family-friendly fun, click here for the full lineup and info on ticket purchases.
Find the Aloha spirit in the desert
One of Arizona's largest free events will soon return to Tempe for its 30th year: The Arizona Aloha Festival (March 16th and 17th). Through authentic Hawaiian music, dance performances and cuisine, guests will get a true sense of Pacific Islands culture and traditions at the Tempe Beach Park event.
Expect a wide variety of delicious food offerings—Hawaiian barbeque, poke, loco moco bowls, poi and malasadas (Hawaiian donuts), to name a few. Hula and other traditional song and dance performances, cultural artifacts, language lessons and historic lectures are among the immersive exhibitions guests can explore on stage and in the event's Ohana Village area.
The festival also boasts special draws for families. Free, all-ages ukelele lessons and jam sessions, known in Hawaii as "kanikapila," plus storytelling sessions, Hawaiian games, lei stringing and craft activities are among the experiences sure to delight young ones—while enhancing their cultural understanding.
If you're moved to take a piece of the islands home with you, do so while supporting small businesses and independent artisans by shopping at the festival's Island Marketplace. There you'll find dozens of vendors, each offering unique finds like handmade jewelry, island-inspired housewares and authentic Hawaiian instruments.
Dive into a smorgasbord of art and fun
If one-of-a-kind finds are your thing, mark March 8-10 on your calendar. That's when the Tempe Festival of the Arts—one of the oldest festivals in the Southwest—will return to Tempe's Mill Avenue for its spring edition. Over 350 artists from around the country will display their works, while live music, a kids block and food vendors provide even more to experience.
Photography, woodwork, ceramics, paintings and even wearable art are among the 18 different artistic categories that will be showcased and adjudicated at the event. Event goers can also witness the creative process in real time at the Chalk-A-Lot Street exhibition, where professional muralists create masterpieces in chalk and vie for two coveted awards.
Go out with a “Bang Bang”
Ethiopian, Thai, Indian, Lebanese, Mexican, American, Greek and Italian—though this is a start, the array of world cuisines you'll find among Tempe's hundreds of restaurants is too broad to fully list. Adding to the excitement of an already mouthwatering lineup, a new dining and dancing venue has just debuted on the scene. Plus, after being among the first to try the new dinner hot spot, you can keep the novelty going with nightcaps at two brand-new drinks locales.
Opened on downtown Tempe's buzzing Mill Avenue in early December, Bang Bang - Tempe is a Japanese spot that elevates sushi to a celebration. The menu is full of traditional favorites (miso soup, sashimi, nigiri and specialty rolls) plus flaming—yes, flaming—multi-roll party boats for larger groups to share. Guests can sit in the "sushi room" to witness the chefs in action or spread out in the dining room. The restaurant's drinks menu is equally festive, featuring Japanese "tea" pots filled with Asian pear mojitos and yuzu fruit margaritas—plus sake cocktails and Japanese beers. Thursday through Saturday nights, the dance floor in the Bang Bang's club section opens up as well known DJs and musicians take the stage.
For after-dinner drinks or a full-on night out, just-opened "adult playground" and live music spot Devil's Hideaway on Mill Avenue should be on your radar. The indoor-outdoor concept features Eastern European-style interiors with arched doorways, a 20-seat bar, sunken booths and a back patio with its own bar and an open-air stage. When hunger strikes, just walk up to a food truck-style window and grab a bite. The playful menu includes Chinese dumplings and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
Fitting right in with the "adult playground" theme, Devil's Hideaway guests can wander through a hallway near the bar's kitchen to discover a hidden speakeasy-like second nightlife destination: Idle Hands Enchanted Cocktail Bar. The "secret" French-themed bar offers upscale craft cocktails created with house-made mixers.
To keep tabs on everything Tempe has cooking in this banner new year, you may want to bookmark the city's events calendar.