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Cool Summer Nights - June 6 through September 5 - A New Theme Every Saturday Night! - Open 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Children using black lights to search for scorpions in rock wall

Guests under floodlit canopy in the Desert Garden

Dining on summer Saturday evenings at the Museum is a culinary delight as the upscale Ocotillo Café is open for dinner. The intimate setting is the perfect backdrop for savory Sonoran recipes.
Reservations are strongly recommended by calling 520-883-5705.

Children using black lights to search for scorpions in rock wall

Photos above by Rhonda Spencer and Josh Schachter

Beat the heat and enjoy refreshing summer evening breezes during Cool Summer Nights. With stunning sunsets, star-lit skies, gourmet dining, and animals reappearing from their daytime estivation, it is understandable why these enchanting Saturday nights have become so popular.

Plan your escape from the city with a scenic drive through the Tucson Mountains. Relax. Unwind. And unplug! A visit to the desert at night is transforming as the desert’s ethereal aura saturates your senses. The desert’s nocturnal animals become active, bats turn into insect-seeking missiles, and scorpions glow under black lights.

Each summer Saturday night has a unique theme, special programs and family activities. Plan to arrive early for the best parking! Check the schedule below for weekly themes and activities.

Ongoing Nightly Events on Cool Summer Nights

Look for Museum Docents and Jr. Docents interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, animal eye shine, Sonoran Desert insects, night sounds, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, and/or rattlesnakes.

Check the Plan Your Visit board at the Entrance Patio for times and locations!

Weekly Themes & Activity Schedule

(See previous Saturday schedules)

Tucson Improv Movement

August 8 — Conservation & Comedy: The Joke's On Us!

Conservation is no laughing matter and if we don’t take it seriously, the joke really will be on us. But that doesn’t mean conservation can’t be fun! Join this celebration of nature and learn more about protecting it for future generations. The evening’s activities will include live animal presentations about threatened and endangered species, conservation activity stations and a fast-paced, gut-bursting, laugh-riot of a good time inspired by the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert! Tucson’s own, Tucson Improv Movement, will lead the charge with freestyle rapping, comedy challenges, stand-up on-the-spot jokes, and a chance for the audience to participate.

Scheduled Activities:

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Vanishing Circles
Check out the Ironwood Gallery’s latest art exhibition and join in the family art activities.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Monarch Butterfly Conservation
Meet representatives from the Desert Museum’s conservation partners and learn about programs, projects, and what you can do to help. Plus children & families will enjoy the Monarch Butterfly conservation game and Amphibian Conservation Wheel activities.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Conservation Projects
Meet representatives from the Desert Museum’s conservation partners and learn about programs, projects and how you can get involved.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Threatened & Endangered Species Presentation
Get an introduction to native plants and animals that are at risk. Learn about their habitat requirements and identify changes that are causing some species to disappear. Learn how you can help.
7:00 to 7:45 p.m. Real Wildcats of the Borderlands
Listen as the Desert Museum’s expert shares his real-life stories studying jaguars, mountain lions and ocelots of the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. Discover how many animals currently live in the region, how to identify them in the field, their role in the environment and conservation efforts to protect them.
8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Conservation Comedy by Tucson Improv Movement
Bringing humor to a serious topic helps people relate in a very personal way. Did you ever wonder if raptors auditioned for a TV show, what would that show be named? How about America’s Got Talons! Tonight’s presentation will be created entirely by audience suggestions — so don’t miss this laugh-out-loud comedy extravaganza!

National Optical Astronomy Observatory Logo

August 15 — Astronomy Night

Join the experts from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) for a start-studded adventure : Solar Systems of the Universe. Learn about the formation our own solar system and discover the wonders surrounding newly discovered solar systems of distant stars. Take time out to star-gaze through telescopes. And you won’t want to miss the live Physics Factory presentations.

Scheduled Activities:

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Solar Systems of the Universe
Join the experts from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) as they explain the formation and properties of our own solar system and learn about other systems still be discovered. Hear about the similarities and differences, habitable and goldilocks zones and how astronomers study these distant worlds.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Art Activities
Children and families will enjoy glow-in-the-dark painting art activities.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Vanishing Circles
Check out the Ironwood Gallery’s latest art exhibition and join in the family art activities.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Physics Factory Presentations
Watch and wonder as physics principles come alive through mind-boggling demonstrations by experts.
6:45 to 7:30 p.m. Native American Flutes
Musical performances.
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Star Gazing
Enjoy star gazing in Tucson’s “dark skies” presented by the International Dark Sky Association (Southern Arizona Chapter).
8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Physics Factory Presentations
Watch and wonder as physics principles come alive through mind-boggling demonstrations by experts.
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Native American Flutes
Musical performances.

A volunteer helps children collect mineral specimens in egg cartons

August 22 — Science Rocks! & Teacher Appreciation Night

It’s back-to-school time and the Museum is a great place to bone up on biology, rock out with geology and take off with astronomy. From mineral and rock activities to live animal presentations, to great views of the night sky or monsoon weather, the science of nature is on full display! Enjoy Creatures of the Night featuring nocturnal desert animals. PreK-12 teachers, in deep appreciation for their important work, will get in free this evening.

Scheduled Activities:

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Vanishing Circles
Check out the Ironwood Gallery’s latest art exhibition and join in the family art activity.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Information for Teachers
Teachers are welcome to browse the many educational materials and programs offered by the Museum’s education department and community partners.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Geology Activities
Join in the fun for an evening of geology-related activities and explore the biomimicry stations. Teachers can experience a new STEM-aligned teaching program. Learn what shark skin and the Olympics have in common, what plant part you might find on your baseball hat, or what you could find in your kitchen that resembles a saguaro!
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Creatures of the Night
Many desert-dwelling species have adapted ways of living in a desert environment and are typically more active at night. From bats to kangaroo rats, meet some creatures that wake up once the sun goes down. Just how do these animals navigate and find food in the dark of night?
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Creatures of the Night
Many desert-dwelling species have adapted ways of living in a desert environment and are typically more active at night. From bats to kangaroo rats, meet some creatures that wake up once the sun goes down. Just how do these animals navigate and find food in the dark of night?

August 29 — Full "Blue Moon" Festival

The moon has long been an inspiration for artists from all different cultures and tonight the Arts — visual art, music, and poetry — take center stage. Tonight’s “blue moon” is particularly special and happens when there are two full moons in one month. As the sun sets and the moon rises, take a leisurely stroll around the grounds. Experience hands-on art activities or a free photography workshop. Enjoy live musical performances in three unique venues, including one especially for children!

Scheduled Activities:

Cool Photo Tools with Jay Pierstorff and Phonda Spencer. Photo Contest Winners Announced! August 29, 2015, 5:30 p.m., Warden Oasis Theater 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Cool Photo Tools Workshop
Join Art Institute instructor Jay Pierstorff to learn about new photography tools and techniques. Plus, learn about the Desert Museum’s photography contest. Contest Rules and Submission Form
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Vanishing Circles
Check out the Ironwood Gallery’s latest art exhibition and join in the family art activities.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Art Activities
Free, fun, & friendly desert-at-night-inspired art activities and crafts-in-a-jiffy - for all ages and skill levels.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
See rattlesnakes and Gila monsters up close & personal and learn about these most misunderstood reptiles.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Jazz Telephone
Enjoy this mixed musical style quartet featuring saxophone, bass, organ, and drums inspired by music and sounds from around the world.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Napskippers
Live musical performance especially for kids & families.
7:15 to 8:00 p.m. Naim Amor
Listen to this smokey-voiced Parisian transplant whose troubadour style is filled with dreamy, soft instrumentation and classic French pop.
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Jazz Telephone
Enjoy this mixed musical style quartet featuring saxophone, bass, organ, and drums inspired by music and sounds from around the world.
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
See rattlesnakes and Gila monsters up close & personal and learn about these most misunderstood reptiles.
8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Mr. Nature’s Music Garden
Experience an hour of high energy song and dance. Old favorites plus a few originals! Family fun designed especially for children!
8:45 to 9:30 p.m. Naim Amor
Listen to this smokey-voiced Parisian transplant whose troubadour style is filled with dreamy, soft instrumentation and classic French pop.

September 5 — End of Summer Fiesta / Fiesta de Fin de Verano

Celebrate the Mexican heritage of the Sonoran Desert region! As the sun sets behind the mountains and the stars come out, experience the magic of the desert at night. Take a relaxing stroll of the grounds, explore the animal exhibits, and enjoy four unique venues featuring musicians influenced by our Spanish culture. We are proud to partner with the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for this very special night.

¡Celebre la diversidad cultural y la herencia Mexicana del Desierto Sonorense! ¡Disfrute del desierto al atardecer y mientras las estrellas salen; visite los jardines del Museo, vea los animales en sus exhibiciones, y disfrute de la música con influencia Española en cuatro sitios únicos! Estamos orgullosos de asociarnos con la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Tucson.

Scheduled Activities:

6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Vanishing Circles
Visit the Ironwood Art Gallery to see the latest art exhibition and join in the family art activities.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Interpretation Stations
Check out the interpretation stations hosted tonight in Spanish and English.
6:30 p.m. Take a tour of the Desert Museum
Learn about the plants and animals native to the Sonoran Desert region. Tonight’s guided tours will be presented in Spanish and English.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Mariachi Music
Get in the spirit of the night with traditional mariachi music by Los Changuitos Feos
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Music and Dancing
Enjoy the music and watch traditional dancing by Ballet Folklórico Tapatío
7:00 to 7:45 p.m. Animals & Ancient Cultures of Mexico
Enjoy this bi-lingual presentation by Conservation Research Scientist, Sergio Avila.
7:15 to 8:00 p.m. Classical Guitar
Sit back, relax and surround yourself with this classical guitar performance by Dr. Eduardo Costa.
7:30 p.m. Take a tour of the Desert Museum
Learn about the plants and animals native to the Sonoran Desert region. Tonight’s guided tours will be presented in Spanish and English.
7:30 to 8:15 p.m. Tesoro
Celebrate the end of the summer with the contemporary sounds of Tesoro!
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Mariachi Music
Get in the spirit of the night with traditional mariachi music by Los Changuitos Feos
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Music and Dancing
Enjoy the music and watch traditional dancing by Ballet Folklórico Tapatío
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Creatures of the Night
See live animals and learn about their nocturnal lives in this bi-lingual presentation by Education Specialist, Jesus Garcia.
8:30 to 9:30 p.m. All About Cats
Learn about the felines that inhabit the Sonoran Desert region; a bilingual presentation by Conservation Research Scientist, Sergio Avila.
8:45 to 9:00 p.m. Classical Guitar
Sit back, relax and surround yourself with this classical guitar performance by Dr. Eduardo Costa.
9:00 to 9:45 p.m. Tesoro
Celebrate the end of the summer with the contemporary sounds of Tesoro!
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Vanishing Circles
Vea nuestra mas reciente exhibición en la Galería de Arte “Ironwood Art Gallery” y participe en actividades familiares.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Estaciones de interpretación
Visite las estaciones de interpretación con información interesante en Español e Ingles solo por esta ocasión.
6:30 p.m. Caminata por el Museo del Desierto
Acompañe a nuestros guías en una caminata por el Museo del Desierto para aprender sobre las plantas y animales del Desierto Sonorense. Las caminatas guiadas serán en Español e Ingles por esta ocasión.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Música de Mariachi
Entre en el espíritu de la noche con la tradicional música de Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos.
6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Música y los tradicionales bailes
Disfrute de la música y los tradicionales bailes del Ballet Folklórico Tapatío
7:00 to 7:45 p.m. Fauna Silvestre y Culturas Antiguas de México
Disfrute esta presentación bilingüe con Sergio Avila, Científico de la Conservación del Museo del Desierto.
7:15 to 8:00 p.m. Guitarra clásica
Tome asiento y relájese con la música de guitarra clásica del Dr. Eduardo Costa.
7:30 p.m. Caminata por el Museo del Desierto
Acompañe a nuestros guías en una caminata por el Museo del Desierto para aprender sobre las plantas y animales del Desierto Sonorense. Las caminatas guiadas serán en Español e Ingles por esta ocasión.
7:30 to 8:15 p.m. Tesoro
Celebre el fin del verano con los sonidos contemporáneos de Tesoro!
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Música de Mariachi
Entre en el espíritu de la noche con la tradicional música de Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos.
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Música y los tradicionales bailes
Disfrute de la música y los tradicionales bailes del Ballet Folklórico Tapatío
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. Criaturas de la Noche
Vea animales vivos y aprenda sobre sus vidas nocturnas en esta presentacion bilingüe de nuestro Especialista en Educacion, Jesus Garcia.
8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Todo sobre los Gatos
Aprenda sobre los felinos silvesres que habitan el Desierto Sonorense en esta presentacion bilingüe de Sergio Avila, Científico de la Conservación del Museo del Desierto.
8:45 to 9:00 p.m. Guitarra clásica
Tome asiento y relájese con la música de guitarra clásica del Dr. Eduardo Costa.
9:00 to 9:45 p.m. Tesoro
Celebre el fin del verano con los sonidos contemporáneos de Tesoro!

Co-hosted by:

Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce - Southern Arizona - Mexico

Thanks to our Media Sponsors:

La Buena 94.3 (990 AM) La Caliente 92.1 y 93.7