Fun Fall Festivals and Events in Tempe

Tempe Festival of the Arts guitarist

Fall is one of the best times of year to visit Tempe. Cooler weather brings a wide array of fun fall festivals and events in Tempe that the whole family can enjoy. Check out the new Halloween-themed events at Desert Botanical Garden, try some spooky treats at Howl-O-Ween at Phoenix Zoo or find the perfect gift at the Tempe Festival of the Arts. Be inspired by the amazing athletes competing in Ironman Arizona, bask in the glow of Las Noches de las Luminarias or catch an ASU football game at Sun Devil Stadium.

For even more ideas, visit our calendar of events page or suggested itineraries.

Fall Festivals and Events

Tempe Tardeada  at Tempe Community Complex
Tempe Tardeada at Tempe Community Complex is the City of Tempe’s 20th Annual Hispanic Heritage Festival.  Tempe Tardeada takes place on Sunday, October 7 and is the culmination of Hispanic Heritage Month which celebrates the historical significance of Hispanics within our community.  Free activities include live entertainment, dancing, arts and crafts, face painting, inflatables, The Game Truck and the Tempe History Museum’s Family Albums exhibit.  In addition, food vendors sell delicious foods at family-friendly prices.

Four Peaks Oktoberfest at Tempe Beach Park
Four Peaks Oktoberfest at Tempe Beach Park, one of Tempe’s signature annual events, takes place October 12-14, 2018. Benefiting Tempe Sister Cities, this event combines beer gardens, live music, a polka stage, great food including German fare, a carnival and kids activities.

Electric Desert at Desert Botanical Garden
Cactus and desert become a living canvas in the Electric Desert nighttime experience, October 12, 2018-May 12, 2019, taking visitors on an immersive journey through the garden using light and original music. This light and sound experience by Klip Collective is his second garden installation. Electric Desert includes seven site-specific locations, with each experience inspired by and related to the Garden.

Strange Garden at Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden is creating a new fall tradition at Strange Garden, October 26-27, 2018. Dance like a groovy ghoul at the monster bash, see amazing pumpkin carvings by Villafane Studios and encounter weird sites and enchanting creatures throughout the Garden. Kids are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes. And, children 12 and under can choose a free pumpkin to take home.

Howl-O-Ween at Phoenix Zoo
Howl-O-Ween at the Phoenix Zoo, October 26-27, 2018, includes activities and experiences for the whole family. So whether you’re looking for scary tricks or sweet treats, Howl-O-Ween is a delightfully spooky event for all ages.

ASU Homecoming
ASU Homecoming is a week-long party, from Sunday, October 28– Saturday, November 3, 2018. This beloved tradition features university-wide events including the Lantern Walk, a parade, a block party with activities for students, parents and kids, and the homecoming football game against the Washington State Cougars.

Chilies & Chocolate Festival at Desert Botanical Garden
The Chiles & Chocolate Festival at Desert Botanical Garden, November 9-11, 2018 is the ideal recipe for a sweet and spicy weekend. Sample and shop your way through the Arizona’s top chile and chocolate vendors. Indulge in gourmet chocolates, zesty sauces, fresh fire-roasted chiles and other handcrafted treats. Enjoy cooking demonstrations and fiery live performances of Latin, Brazilian, and Spanish dance.

Ironman Arizona
On Sunday, November 18, 2018, cheer on the amazing athletes who compete in Ironman Arizona, an endurance race which features a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a complete 26.2 mile marathon.

Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade
Start the holiday season off right in Tempe on Saturday, November 23, 2018 at the Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade Presented by Wells Fargo, at the official community tree lighting ceremony, street entertainers and the arrival of Santa Claus.

Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden
Each night of Las Noches de las Luminarias, held the end of November through the end of December,  the Desert Botanical Garden comes to life with the soft glow from thousands of hand lit luminaria bags and thousands of white twinkle lights.

Tempe Festival of the Arts
Arguably the most popular event in Tempe, the Tempe Festival of the Arts, November 30-December 2, 2018, continually ranks among the top art festivals in the nation. Over 225,000 visitors flock to Downtown Tempe to see the works from as many as 300 artists.

Fantasy of Light Boat Parade
The 17th Annual Tempe Boat Parade is set to launch on December 8, 2018. In addition to seeing a variety of brightly lit motorized boats sparking in the water, guests will enjoy an exciting line up of live music, food, beverages, photos with Santa and a grand finale of fireworks. This is the only time motorized boats are allowed on the lake, so you don’t want to miss it.

Tempe Performing Arts Season

Fall is the beginning of the arts season at many of Tempe’s venues. Visitors can choose from Tempe performing arts like Broadway shows, edgy productions and everything in between.

ASU Gammage
ASU Gammage, designed by world renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, features some of the best Broadway shows in the country. The 2018-2019 fall season will feature hits such as WAITRESS, ON YOUR FEET! and DEAR EVAN HANSEN. 

Stray Cat Theatre
Stray Cat Theatre is an alternative theatre company in Tempe, known for its quirky and edgy performances that are guaranteed to entertain. See The Cake, November 9-24, 2018.

Tempe Center for the Arts (TCA)
Located on the bank of scenic Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Center for the Arts features a wide array of popular events and activities, including Walk-in Wednesdays open mic night, EDGE happy hours with live music, the Tempe Comedy Concert Series and more. The Tempe Center for the Arts is also home to The Gallery at TCA, an art gallery that features the juried exhibitions from local, regional and national artists.

ASU Football

The Arizona State Sun Devils look to build upon the last year’s success when their 2018 football season kicks off with their first home game on Saturday, September 1, 2018 against UTSA. This year, the ASU football team will welcome some of the best college programs in the country to Tempe. Visit our ASU football page for game info, Tempe hotels close to Sun Devil Stadium and nearby sports bars to grab a drink before or after the games.

Outdoor Fun in Tempe: Hiking – Shopping – Dining

Tempe in the fall is definitely a sight worth seeing. Students arrive back at Arizona State University, the days start cooling off, and the city comes to life in a whole new way. Partaking in outdoor recreation in Tempe is a great way to appreciate the lowering temperatures while also enjoying the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding desert landscape.

There are plenty of outdoor activities this time of year that range from hiking, to biking to outdoor shopping, so be sure to read our blog post about the top 6 outdoor activities in Tempe. And fall is the perfect time to check out Tempe restaurants with great patio spaces to enjoy a meal outside or sip on a craft beer at one of our famous breweries.

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