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Tucson - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for Tucson

When to Go to Tucson

Tucson's high season lasts from mid-December to May, which is when the area's mild and sunny wintertime - coupled with the prospect of skiing at nearby Mt Lemmon - attracts North American residents from chillier, more-snowbound climes. You'll pay premium prices for hotel accommodation over this period. Other peak visitor times are major public holidays like the Memorial Day weekend (end of May) and the Labor Day weekend (beginning of September).

The period from May to September is far less popular with visitors - regardless of the fact that local hotels slash their room rates at this time - because this is when the city is at its hottest. Summer temperatures in south-central Arizona are among the highest in the USA, with the daily heat frequently surpassing 100F (38C) and occasionally blazing beyond 120F (49C). July and August can also bring monsoonal storms that contribute brief but heavy afternoon downpours. That said, Tucson is fortunate in that it resides at an altitude of 2500ft (750m), so its climate is a tad milder than that of lower-lying destinations such as the state capital Phoenix to the north. The region also has low humidity (referred to in Tucson as dry heat), which means that come nightfall the heat dissipates and temperatures drop markedly.

Tucson Events

If you're one of those people who are entertained by the spectacle of a small white ball being clubbed around some manicured paddocks, you'll want to be in Tucson in mid-January for the Tucson Open, a men's Professional Golfer's Association (PGA) tournament - the equivalent women's PGA tournament takes place in mid-March. Earthy types descend on the city over the first two weeks of February to take in exhibits at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, one of the biggest displays of shiny rubble in the country. La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, also known as Rodeo Week, is held from the last Thursday of February to the following Sunday, when Tucson puts on a smorgasbord (make that BBQ) of cowboy/girl events, along with what's billed as the world's largest nonmotorised parade.

In early March, the historic Mission San Xavier del Bac to the south of town is the venue for the Wa:k Powwow Conference, a singing, dancing and eating extravaganza staged by the local Tohono O'odham tribe for all the Indian communities living in the region. The mission also sets the scene for a number of religious ceremonies throughout the year, including the Friday after Easter, Christmas and the Fiesta of San Xavier in early December. On 5 May, South Tucson resounds with Hispanic parades, street stalls and concerts in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of Mexico's defeat of France in 1862's Battle of Puebla.

Downtown Saturday Night, an event organised by businesses in the local arts district, hits the streets (specifically the stretches of Congress St and Broadway Blvd between Stone and 4th Aves) on the first and third Saturday of each month between 7pm and 10pm. It entails free street performances and extended opening hours for art galleries in the area.

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