Scottsdale’s special events season revs up in January

The Hashknife Pony Express is one of the many events and activities returning to Scottsdale this winter and spring. (photo by Hashknife Pony Express)

From free hugs to million-dollar autos, Scottsdale’s special events season gives everyone a reason to embrace January.

The fun begins Jan. 9 when video journalist Ken E. Nwadike Jr., known as the “Free Hugs Guy,” serves as keynote speaker at Scottsdale’s MLK Jr. Dinner Celebration.

A few days later, runners will fill Scottsdale competing in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series and the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction brings some of the world’s finest automobiles to WestWorld.

A listing of Scottsdale special events is below.

The city of Scottsdale’s website at features news and traffic information, plus a full calendar of activities under the “Things to Do” section.

Scottsdale’s free trolley service is a convenient way to travel to events and activities. Several trolley routes work together to connect special event locations and Downtown shopping and entertainment districts.

The trolleys run daily on a regular schedule and connect to the regional Valley Metro transportation system. More information on routes and schedules can be found at, search “trolley” or by calling 480-312-3111.

Here’s a schedule and contact information for upcoming special events in Scottsdale:

MLK Jr. Dinner Celebration features “Free Hugs Guy” Jan. 9

Peace activist, inspirational speaker and video journalist Ken E. Nwadike Jr. is the keynote speaker at Scottsdale’s MLK Jr. Dinner Celebration.

The dinner takes place Tuesday, Jan. 9, at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, 7700 E. McCormick Pkwy. Registration begins at 5 p.m. and the program starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $75.

Mr. Nwadike is founder of the Free Hugs Project, which gained popularity as Mr. Nwadike made headlines for his peacekeeping efforts and de-escalation of violence during protests, riots, and political rallies. Learn more at

Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series runs Jan. 12-14

(photo by Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon)

The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series makes running fun with options for all fitness levels. Known for live music and excitement, the Rock ‘N’ Marathon is a relatively flat course that runs through three of the Southwest’s most scenic cities – Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Get details:

Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction rolls in Jan. 13-21

Hundreds of the world’s finest collector automobiles and thousands of spectators will assemble for this year’s Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction. The auction runs Jan. 14-22 at WestWorld, 16601 N. Pima Road. Visit or call 480-421-6694 for more information.

Sunday A’Fair minifestivals begin Jan. 14 on the Civic Center Mall

Sunday A’Fair features free outdoor concerts by the Valley’s top musicians, an arts-and-crafts market and fun activities for children and families. The free afternoon concerts take place from noon to 4 p.m. most Sundays Jan. 14 through April 8, on the Civic Center Mall. More information:

Take steps to promote acceptance at Regional Unity Walk, Jan. 27

Scottsdale is joining other Valley cities for the annual Unity Walk to promote mutual respect and understanding. The one-mile walk over the Mill Avenue Bridge begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, and ends at Tempe’s Art Park on Tempe Town Lake. There will be entertainment, food and inflatables. More information: and search “unity walk.”

Waste Management Phoenix Open tees off Jan. 29

The Waste Management Phoenix Open takes place Jan. 29-Feb. 4, at the Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale, 17020 N. Hayden Road. Find out why this tournament boasts the largest galleries in golf and has earned the nickname “The Greatest Show on Grass.” More information:

Scottsdale Western Week activities, Feb. 5-11:

  • Western Spirit Gold Palette ArtWalk, Feb. 8

Scottsdale’s popular ArtWalk series adopts a western theme from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8. This free event features the finest examples of Old West and contemporary art. Guests will also enjoy live mariachi performances, a rope trick artist, and live demonstrations inside some of the galleries. Other activities surrounding this western-themed ArtWalk include trolley and carriage rides, line and square dancing, walking historical tours, and western-themed refreshments. For more, visit

  • Hashknife Pony Express gallops into Downtown Scottsdale Feb. 9

Celebrate the Old West at high noon Friday, Feb. 9, when the Hashknife Pony Express thunders into town. Following their arrival, the public can mingle with riders and their horses, plus enjoy free museum admission. From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. there will be family-friendly activities – including a hands-on “Cowboy Bootcamp” for kids at the Scottsdale Museum of the West. More information:, view “upcoming events.”

  • Scottsdale Parada del Sol Parade and Trail’s End Festival, Feb. 10

    A view of the Parada Del Sol parade in Scottsdale. (File photo)

Celebrate one of Scottsdale’s oldest traditions – the Parada del Sol Parade and Trail’s End Festival. The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Scottsdale Road south of Camelback. The party continues at noon with Old Town hosting live music, activity booths and other entertainment. Information:

  • Arizona Indian Festival, Feb. 10-11

This free, two-day family-friendly event begins at 10 a.m. both days on Scottsdale’s Civic Center Mall. Tribes from throughout Arizona will share cultural experiences, traditional dwellings, art demonstrations and more. Other highlights include Native American storytelling, performances, music, an artisan market, food trucks, fry bread stands and kids’ activities. For more details, visit

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Feb. 15-25

The annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show runs Feb. 15-25, at WestWorld, 16601 N. Pima Road. Since 1955, the annual horse show has set the pace in the Arabian horse world, bringing top owners, trainers and breeders from around the globe. More information:

The Boys of Summer begin Cactus League play Feb. 23 in Scottsdale

Catch the San Francisco Giants in Cactus League action at award-winning Scottsdale Stadium. First game is Friday, Feb. 23, against the Milwaukee Brewers. Tickets are available at the stadium box office, by calling 1-877-473-4849 or at, search “spring training”

Scottsdale Arts Festival, March 9-11

Explore the works of nearly 200 nationally-acclaimed exhibiting artists at the annual Scottsdale Arts Festival March 9-11 on Scottsdale Civic Center Mall. Enjoy toe-tapping bands and entertainers, mouth-watering gourmet food trucks and lots more. More information:

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