Matsuri Festival

The 27th annual Matsuri Festival brings all the art, culture and food of Japan close to home.


Cool temps and clouds aren’t the only things in the weekend forecast. A handful of outdoor festivals focused on the heritage of several different countries or ways of life make it a good time to get your culture on.

Lost Dutchman Days

What: Find a heaping helping of cowboy culture at Apache Junction’s biggest annual celebration, now in its 47th year. Most of the things drop-in visitors will want to see and do — live entertainment stages, a carnival, vendor booths, a rodeo and the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoptions — take place at Apache Junction Rodeo Park, aka The Main Event Center.

When: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Rodeo starts at 1:30 p.m. daily.

Where: Apache Junction Rodeo Park, 1590 E. Lost Dutchman Blvd.

Cost: $2 admission. Expect extra fees for rides and rodeo admittance.

Information: (602) 540-6524 or


Scottish Highland Games & Celtic Gathering

What: Learn to wear all 9 yards of a “great kilt” from costumed artisans in a 16th-century Scottish village scene at this celebration hosted by Scottish heritage fellowship The Caledonian Society of Arizona. Athletic competitions such as the Hammer Throw, Stone Put and tossing of the caber are the big attractions, but there’s also live music, dancing, a geneology tent and a British car display.

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix

Cost: $14-$16 adults, $5 kids ages 5-15

Information: (602) 431-0095 or


Matsuri Festival

What: Phoenix is a sister city to Himeji, Japan, and this 27th annual festival brings all the art, culture and food of our far-off kith close to home. Here you can oogle bonsai trees up close, have your name scrawled in Japanese calligraphy, eat fresh-steamed “nukiman,” sip Japanese soda, and generally get a kick out of watching all the samurai, anime-esque characters and Shiba Inu dogs parading around. Three stages feature performances from taiko drummers, children’s choirs, kimono models, folk dancers, martial arts troupes and bands with names like the Surfing Godzillas. There are also Japanese tea ceremony demonstrations six times daily, and new this year are a “kendama” booth (where you can try the traditional game of scooping up a wooden ball and catching it in a cup), an Asahi Beer Garden and a “Yomatsuri,” or Night Festival, featuring karaoke, dancing, music and food.

When: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Yomatsuri is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Heritage and Science Park, 115 N. Sixth St., Phoenix

Cost: Free admission

Information: (602) 262-5071 or

Basant Mela

What: In Pakistan, flying kites is a serious pasttime. You can try your hand at it at this kite-flying festival, hosted by the Pakistani Information and Cultural Organization, a group of Valley residents who volunteer all over town. Ultra-light kites, hand-assembled by PICO members, are available on site, or you can bring your own. Either way, PICO volunteers will help you catch the wind and keep your kite in the air. Simply watching from a picnic blanket is also a treat; you’ll be amazed at how high some of the expert’s kites can soar and at how maneuverable they are. Music and booths offering traditional Pakistani food, arts and crafts, and apparel and jewelry add to the fun.

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road, Chandler

Cost: Free admission. Bring money for kites (about $6 each) and food, or bring your own.

Information: (480) 586-1840 or

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or

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