The First Friday evening of every month in downtown Phoenix will provide you with all flocks of life gathered around multiple forums of artwork. From dancing and singing, to high-priced artwork lining gallery walls and local street vendors selling their handcrafted delights, First Friday has every culturally stimulating experience you can imagine without having to leave the city.
Phoenix’s First Friday event started as an annual event in the spring of 1988 known as the annual Art Detour. Met with large crowds and a new life to the downtown art district, the annual event turned monthly in early 1994. Since then, huge numbers of Phoenix locals and city visitors continue to fill the streets of Phoenix’s art district to share and explore their interest in local art, making this First Friday art walk the largest monthly event in the United States.
Free to all attendees, arrive on the Valley Metro Light Rail or park at the Phoenix Art Museum and travel to all the hot spots by a free shuttle to soak up all that the night has to offer. Comprised of more than 70 galleries, venues and street vendors, you’ll surely find something to please everyone’s interests with this self-guided walking tour.
For me, the event’s convenient location off the city’s beloved light rail system made First Friday a regular monthly outing here in my home away from home. Just four years ago I packed up everything I knew to move out of state for college and began looking for other off-campus experiences to take in what Phoenix had to offer. With several hits and misses, I quickly found refuge in the streets of Phoenix’s art district, as I became a familiar face at First Friday.
With every first Friday of the month, my frequent visits are met with new sights, smells and sounds. Although the usual, art-loving crowd is to be expected, you can never really predict what little wonders you’ll find that night. After attending a few times, I began to know which galleries are worth lingering in the longest, which shops have the best vendors in their yards and what artists will stimulate my desire for unique works of art.
Despite art snobbery stereotypes, First Friday is more about the “come as you are” philosophy while you comfortably stroll the town enjoying an evening of good art, music and food. As a poor college student in love with all artistic forms, this event has truly fed my hunger for great art without having to endure the stuffy galleries quiet enough to hear a pin drop.
Rather, in the streets, yards and galleries of downtown Phoenix, you are greeted with open arms despite your level of love or knowledge for art. As a safe haven for those looking for a lively event full of spirit and culture, First Friday has served as my regular form of entertainment along with being a must for any visitors asking for something to do around Phoenix. In that, I will continue to attend the monthly events and encourage all to join in on the evening of great festivities.