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Rainbows Downtown

September 30, 2009 by J Seth Anderson

I love fall in Arizona: The summer begins to fade into fond memories, I leave my windows open and turn off the a/c, the license plates begin to change colors, and the annual Rainbows Festival takes place in Downtown Phoenix.

Rainbows Festival is what I call “Pride-lite”- it’s like Pride but without the parade. The other difference is Pride happens in the spring in Indian School Park, but Rainbows is held in Hearitige Square. The first Phoenix Rainbows Festival happened in 2002 as a one-day event. By 2004, it had grown so much that an extra day was added to the festival. I’ve missed Phoenix Pride the last four years in a row for one reason or another but I always go to Rainbows. The festival kicks off the holiday season for me and has become one of my favorite new traditions. (Last year, I got to talk with Afeelya Bunz after the show. That was one of the highlights.)

What’s not to love? The light rail goes there; it’s in a beautiful space downtown; the weather is always sunny and warm (i.e., perfect); there is great entertainment, drinks, and food; and last year, it brought out 25,000 people over the weekend.

Rainbows Festival will be on Saturday, October 3rd and 4th, and coincides with the 2009 Phoenix AIDS Walk happening on Sunday. There is no admission fee for the event, although you can make a donation and all the money will be donated to the AIDS Walk. The festival opens at 10 a.m. both days and goes until 6 p.m. Barbra Seville is taking the stage at 3 p.m. on Sunday and I’m looking forward to that show. (Barbra has a weekly show at Forbidden in Scottsdale, and it’s a ton of fun.)

If you’re looking for something fun and cheap to do this weekend, make a day out of it: Hop on the light rail, come see what the festival is all about, hang out downtown and see all the new projects. Then hop on the light rail and have lunch at a place you’ve never been. That’s what I’m going to do.


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