"Spring," Leo Tolstoy said in "Anna Karenina," "is the time of plans and projects."

He should have added festivals, and arts and crafts fairs to that.

In Tucson, spring is the time that glorious weather is matched by an artistic fever, evident in events throughout the city. Artisans who make ceramics, jewelry, weaves, paintings, sculpture, metal works - the list goes on - pack up their goods and make the rounds at the area's many events.

There are advantages for the shoppers - you get to meet with the artists. Prices are generally more reasonable than in the shops, and you can do plenty of browsing before you actually buy. And if you don't want to buy - well, you can't beat the people watching. And at every one of these events but the Old Tucson Cowboy Music & Art Festival, the entrance is free.

Here's a taste of what's coming up over the next few months:

Tangerine Crossing Art Festival

• 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Tangerine Crossing Shopping Center, 12100 N. Thornydale Road, Marana, www.bowmanevents.com

About 50 artisans will line up their artistic wares. That's reason enough to attend. More reasons: Food, music and you'll be so close to the Tortolitas that you'll almost be able to touch them.

Spring Artisans Market at Tucson Museum of Art

• 10 a.m.-5 p.m., March 15-17, 140 N. Main Ave., 624-2333, www.tucsonmuseumofart.org

Wend your way through the 200 or so artisan booths and you'll find much to entice and impress. And there's a bonus: Admission to the museum is free on the market days.

Green Valley Village Spring Market

• 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 15-16, 101 S. La Cañada Drive, exit 65 off Interstate 19, 1-520-625-6551.

More than 50 artisans are expected at this event - now in its 49th year.

Dewdrop Arts & Crafts Fairs

• 9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 15-16; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 17, in the Shops at Thornydale Center, on North Thornydale between West Orange

• 9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 29-30; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 31, outside the Safeway at the southeast corner of North Swan Road and East Sunrise Drive,

• 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 12-13; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 14, southwest corner of La Cañada Drive and Lambert Lane.

The Dewdrop fairs bring about two dozen artisans to each location. Call 488-5780 for more information.

Village of Catalina Art Festival

• 10 a.m.-4 p.m., March 16-17, 77 North Artworks & Marketplace, 16733 N. Oracle Road in Catalina, www.bowmanevents.com

Any excuse to drive up to Catalina is a good one, but an art fest featuring around 60 artists makes the trip even more enticing.

Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair

• 10 a.m.-dusk, March 22-24, North Fourth Avenue between East University Boulevard and East Ninth Street, www.fourthavenue.org

This is the granddaddy of Tucson's street fairs. More than 400 booths mean plenty to look at. Street performers will provide plenty to entertain, and food trucks and booths mean plenty to eat.

Golder Ranch ArtFestival

• 10 a.m.-5 p.m., March 23-24, Golder Ranch Center, northeast corner of Oracle Road (Arizona 89) and Golder Ranch Road in Catalina, 490-4829 or www.jewellsfineartfest.com

Close to 30 artisans will be there with their hand-crafted items. And if it's weather as usual, it'll be a beautiful day in Catalina.

ORO VALLEY Art Festival

• 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 6-7, Rooney Ranch/Target Center, Oracle Road and North First Ave, Oro Valley. 490-4829 or www.jewellsfineartfest.com

As many as 50 artisans are expected to roll up to this art fest, where the view of the Catalinas is striking.

Park Place Chalk Art Festival

• 9 a.m.-6 p.m., April 6; 10 a.m.-3 p.m., April 7, Park Place, 5870 E. Broadway, 797-3959 saaca.org

This is where you can watch art being made - and even help make it. Artists, students and attendees will have a sidewalk canvas in the north entrance courtyards, from about Sears to the front of the Old Navy store.

Marana Main Street Festival

• 9 a.m.-10 p.m. April 6, Main Street and Civic Center Drive in downtown Marana, www.marana.com

This one is designed with pure fun in mind. There will be lots of music, food, activities for kids, a pancake breakfast on Sunday, and even bed races.

Spring Arts in the Plaza

• 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 13-14, 4280 N. Campbell Ave. in St. Philips Plaza, 797-3959 or www.fineartfest.org

The plaza will be full of fine art and live jazz. More than 100 artisans are expected to attend. There will be food, too.

Tucson Water Festival

• 9 a.m.-2 p.m., April 21, Reid Park Demeester Outdoor Performance area, South Country Club Road just north of 22nd Street, www.waterfestivaltucson.org

This is one of our favorites. There are performances, exhibits, an art show, music - all designed to address water issues. Heck, there's even a wishing well with a mermaid. Her name is Odette.

Old Tucson Cowboy Music & Art Festival

• 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 27-28, Old Tucson Studios, 201 S. Kinney Road, 883-0100; www.oldtucson.com

Old Tucson and the Arizona chapter of the Western Music Association team up for this two-day event featuring Western art, Western music, and good ol' Western-style fun. It's $16.95, with discounts available.

Oracle Studio tour

• 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 4 and 5, town of Oracle. The tour begins at 1880 W. American Ave., where maps will be available. 1-520-896-2464. The website won't be updated until the end of March: www.oraclestudiotour.com

It's May, so the heat will be pulsating. But in Oracle, things will be cool. Especially with the open studio tour in this art-heavy town. Artists invite visitors in to see and talk about their work.

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128.