Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport was selected as ‘Best Airport’ from the 2018 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, citing its newly renovated Terminal 4 and the addition of dozens of new restaurants and bars influenced by the local food scene. Sky Harbor was also named one of the best largest airports in the Wall Street Journal’s first U.S. Airport Rankings report. The Points Guy also named Sky Harbor ‘Best Airport’, crediting the airport for offering the best experience in the U.S. for air travelers. Relying on objective and verifiable data from the Department of Transportation, the results show Sky Harbor excels in categories such as timeliness, accessibility, and amenities, all which the airport excels in. Don’t forget about the therapy dogs which have been a unique feature since 2017.
The Westin Kierland welcomes you for an unforgettable, merrymaking winter holiday getaway with the Westin Wonderland package, offered through Dec. 23, featuring rates starting at $139/night. Guests of the festive and family-friendly package will enjoy a kids-eat-free at Nellie Cashman’s Monday Club Café with adult entrée purchase, complimentary access to Santa’s Studio and family photo station, unlimited holiday s’mores served fireside, and a half-day free Kid’s Club session to include a handmade gift for parents. Resort guests will also be met with a holiday light display paired with 3D holiday PaintScaping on Friday and Saturday evenings. Make sure to ask for the rate code HOLIDAY when making reservations!
All aboard! The Wigwam Resort is offering a train ride through a festive holiday-lit path, with opportunities to take pictures with Santa, enjoy entertainment by local bands, and purchase sweet treats. Recurring weekly on Fridays from 6 – 8 p.m. from Dec. 7 – 21.
A brand-new Cambria hotel will open in downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District. The seven-story building will include 127 rooms, a rooftop pool and bar, along with a restaurant and meeting space. The hotel, part of the Choice Hotel chain, is scheduled to open in 2019 near Margaret T. Hance Park at the corner of Portland and Third Street.
Mountain Shadows is offering a new stargazing and astrology cocktails series at the resort now through February of next year. Cocktails Under the Cosmos offers a scenic celestial experience at the resort’s Camelback overlook rooftop deck. Each event features a signature cocktail themed around the month’s astrological sign. Savor hors d’oeuvres and drinks under twinkling lights and the beautiful night sky, while exploring the galaxy through the lens of a telescope with an expert astronomer. Upcoming events include Sagittarius on Tuesday, Dec. 11 from 6-8 p.m., Capricorn on Tuesday, January 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., and Aquarius on Monday, Feb. 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and include two themed cocktails or glasses of sparkling wine and hor d’oeuvres.
Conde Nast Traveler’s 2018 Reader Choice Awards has named The Hermosa Inn as one of the best hotels across the United States. The Paradise Valley resort offers 43 hacienda-style casitas as a tranquil desert escape. The hotel is a perfect attraction for local foodies through Lon’s, the on-site restaurant, which incorporates Southwestern techniques such as wood-grilling throughout its new menu.
The Royal Palms Resort and Spa has completed nearly 3,600 square feet of new meeting and event space. The resort is reminiscent of a Mediterranean-style retreat with details like rustic doors, stone pathways, hand-painted tile, and lush gardens, which is why the property’s various meeting spaces naturally blur the lines between indoor and outdoor. Located at the base of Camelback Mountain, both new venues highlight the coveted mountain views.
The Boulders Resort is igniting southwest holiday tradition with festive décor, culinary adventure, fun outdoor activities, and soul-soothing spa treatments. Relax in one of the 160 private casitas featuring wood-burning fireplaces and private patios. Guests can enjoy an abundance of outdoor pursuits like desert hikes, bicycling, rock climbing, hot air balloon rides, and horseback riding, all offered right on the resort’s 1,300 acre grounds. The Holiday Golf Academy programs are designed for families and junior golfers to play a round of golf on the resort’s 36-hole championship course. Evening activities include Holiday Stargazing and even Moonlight Yoga. Not to be missed is a visit to the resort’s acclaimed Spa at the Boulders which offers unique holiday treatments to soothe away the stress with warm and wonderful treatments. Don’t forget to stop by the resort’s signature restaurant, Palo Verde, for delicious holiday-inspired cuisine.
The newly redesigned Phoenician is partnering with Emmy award-winning screenwriter and author Karen Schaler to create an exclusive holiday experience at the resort from December 7-15 to coincide with Schaler’s upcoming Christmas Camp TV movie and novel. This season, the Phoenician is offering a signature Christmas Camp Room Package starting at $249 per night. The offer includes accommodations for two, a complimentary Christmas Camp book, one complimentary glass of champagne, each, and daily breakfast for two. The resort will also present a variety of festive activities such as a reception and book signing with Schaler, mixology and culinary courses, special spa treatments, charity activities, and more.
Named one of the top resorts in the southwest by the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows will be offering a delicious New Year’s Eve dinner. Guests can enjoy a fixed menu at the Weft & Warm Art Bar + Kitchen which include delectable items such as oysters, grilled Caesar salads, pan-seared duck with cherry gastrique and purple asparagus tips, champagne macarons, and flourless chocolate cake pops, just to name a few. Dinner is hosted from 5 – 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 and includes a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. Tickets are $95 per person plus tax and gratuity.
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia will be ringing in the new year with tasty dishes, champagne, and more. On Monday, Dec. 31 enjoy a tapas tasting at 5 p.m. and partake in the Spanish tradition led by the chefs of Prado preparing plates of meats, cheeses, along with a glass of Dom Perignon. The festivities continue at Prado with a four-course menu and champagne toast at midnight in honor of the new year. On January 1, explore a brunch buffet complete with breakfast favorites along with a Spanish flair and chef-inspired paella, live music, and open patio seating. Please note reservations are required. Ticket prices start at $60 for adults and $35 per child ages 6 – 12.
ARTS, CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT
The annual Mesa Arts Festival held on Dec. 8 and 9 will feature original works of art for sale from local and regional artists. Visitors can enjoy live entertainment on two stages, artist demonstrations, family activity and crafts area, and an array of culinary tastes. The event is free and is held from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona is hosting its first-ever Holiday Bricktacular celebration from Dec. 1-24. Master Model Builder Alec Posta and the rest of the team at Arizona’s ultimate indoor LEGO playground are ready to welcome all to an array of festive and seasonally-themed activities including building your own snowflake, create gingerbread houses, a chance to deck out Santa’s sleigh, write a letter to the Master Model Builder, and enjoy the holidays at MINILAND. Tickets start at $24.
Join Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as the Ballet Arizona rings in the season with the production of Ib Anderson’s The Nutracker. Embark on a thrilling adventure of dancing toys, mischievous mice, waltzing flowers, and sparkling snowflakes from Dec. 14 – 16 and 20 – 23 at Orpheum Theatre.
The Hale Centre Theatre presents the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, the heart-warming version of Dickens’ tale of redemption which is magically brought to life on stage. The production is rich with traditional carols, stunning costumes, and memorable characters that are guaranteed to enrich the holiday season for you and your family. Tickets start at $20. Showtimes vary, see website for details.
Phoenix Theatre and Davisson Entertainment proudly present Home for the Holidays, a cabaret show. The show stars James D. Gish, Phoenix Theatre’s leading man from West Side Story. James is back by popular demand to serenade Phoenix audiences from Dec. 21 – 23. Tickets start at $41.
Chandler Center for the Arts is bringing back DRUMLine Live with a new and captivating holiday show on Friday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. The event takes you on an unforgettable musical journey through the most beloved chart-topping holiday classics. Imagine the festive sounds of holiday cheer combining the sounds of gospel, jazz, soul, Motown rhythms, and The Nutcracker suit mixed with a hip-hop beat and the driving force of the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) marching band. Vocalists and talented musicians coupled with energetic choreography and beautiful costumes make this one of the most dynamic shows of the season.
Snow Week at the Arizona Science Center kicks off Dec. 26 – Jan. 1 for seven days of science and wonder. Over 60 tons of snow will blanket Heritage and Science Park’s grassy hill in white. Arizona Science Center will host daily demonstrations including special ‘explosive’ activities and kid-friendly games throughout the week. Don’t miss the chance to see snow in the Valley of the Sun!
The Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts is presenting a musical production All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The Capella theater show features a blend of beautiful and iconic Christmas carols from England, Wales, French, Belgium and Germany and texts written by more than 30 World War I figures. Tickets start at $47 for adults and $5 for youth. The Del E. Webb Center is also partnering with Rancho Rio in presenting a traditional Italian Family Circus Zoppé from Dec. 14-16. In addition to horses and clowns, the Zoppé Circus will feature 90 minutes of classic circus acts such as acrobatics, performing dogs, foot juggling and sword balancing. General admission tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for youth under 18, or VIP ringside seating for $35 adult, $25 youth.
Cirque du Soleil returns to Phoenix with a new big show Amaluna set to premiere March 15 – April 14, 2019 at State Farm Stadium. The critically acclaimed production will present 38 performances under the iconic Grand Chapitaeu. The 33rd production is written and directed by Tony Award-winning director, Diane Paulus. The Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna is a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voice of women. Book tickets online for a special December holiday offer.
Hot Air Expeditions is taking to the skies and offering new seasonal afternoon flights. Cruise the skies and enjoy the beautiful Arizona sunset, sip on champagne, and taste gourmet hor d’oeuvres in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Hop on one of these gorgeous flights while they are available until March. Imagine the breathtaking views!
There’s something new buzzing at the Phoenix Zoo – and it’s big. The animatronic exhibit Bugs. BIG BUGS! is showcasing 21 larger-than-life bugs scattered throughout the Phoenix Zoo’s Desert Lives Trail. Guests can encounter an emperor scorpion, Mexican red kneed tarantula, beetles, ladybirds and the beautiful Madagascan sunset moth… all of whom can range from up to 23-feet long and 15-feet high! The new exhibit will be at the zoo until April 28th. The exhibit is $5 for the general public and $4 for Phoenix Zoo members.
The desert becomes a living canvas through Electric Desert at Desert Botanical Garden. Take a journey through the garden after sundown and be accompanied by ambient electronic music as the desert lights up to the beats with the projection mapping technology. Electric Desert is a must-see event happening from Oct. 22 – May 12. Don’t forget about the garden’s southwest holiday tradition Las Noches de Las Luminarias, where over 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags and thousands of twinkling lights will set the Desert Botanical Garden aglow for 21 magical evenings from Nov. 25th – Dec. 30th.
Experience the largest holiday drive-through holiday light show at Illumination. The mile-long driving attraction will feature millions of holiday lights synchronized to the season’s music throughout 14 acres of the newest state-of-the-art displays. The event is available until Jan. 5.
The 12k’s of Christmas on Dec. 8 is a family-friendly festival celebrating health, fitness, and the joy of the holidays all while supporting local animal rescue groups. The event includes a 12k run, 6k run/walk, and a 1.2k Santa “sled run” plus a Christmas bazaar, Santa’s pet village with pet adoptions, and a live Christmas entertainment show in the park. Free admission, walkers and runners fees start at $15.
Be dazzled at the 20th Annual Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade on Dec. 8 featuring as many as 50 festive boats of all sizes decorated with hundreds of holiday lights. Complete your holiday shopping at 6th Street Market as vendors will fill up to Tempe Beach Park. Browse hand-crafted items, enjoy a firework show, and see a special appearance by Santa Claus who will listen to children’s special gift requests in Tempe Beach Park. The event is free and is held from 4 – 9 p.m.
Sip, shop, and socialize at the Hotel Valley Ho’s holiday shopping event on Dec. 9 from 3 – 7 p.m. The gathering will include 15 local boutiques, drinks, food, live music, photo booth, face painting, and of course a visit from Santa. Tickets are for those ages 21+ and include one drink, a $10 food voucher and bites from local chefs. Those ages 20 and under can attend for free.
Phoestivus Open Air Holiday Market features locally grown and produced gifts from more than 150 vendors that showcase a variety of locally grown and prepared foods as well as hand-crafted items, jewelry, and holiday decorations. The free event is recurring Dec. 13 – 20 from 5 – 10 p.m. The event boasts traditions like the Phoestivus Pole, Pheats of Strength, and the Airing of Grievances as well as the Phoestivus Ale (brewed by Phoenix Ale Brewery) and hipster Santa. Don’t miss out on this unique downtown Phoenix event.
Glendale Glitters is back as award-winning holiday lighting event has become a traditional across the Valley of the Sun with its stunning display of 1.5 million lights illuminating 16 blocks of historic downtown Glendale. You won’t want to miss out on the largest free holiday light display in Arizona, recurring daily from 6 – 10 p.m. until Jan. 12, 2019.
All aboard the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express! Experience the magic of the classic children’s book as you journey to the North Pole. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while listening to the magical story, until you arrive at your destination greeted by Santa Claus and his reindeer, where each child receives their own special gift. Make this a family holiday tradition! Tickets range from $43-$55 for adults, $33-$45 for children.
Embrace the spirit of winter at CitySkate by skating on a real ice rink in the heart of downtown Phoenix. CityScape is transformed into a winter wonderland and is decorated with a brand-new unity tree with interactive twinkling lights where revelers can light up different patterns at the press of a button. CitySkate will also bring back its ‘Skate it Forward’ series where each Wednesday during skating season, CitySkate will team up with a local organization to raise funds and awareness for their cause.
Celebrate the holidays in the warm, enchanting environment of a beautiful rainforest amidst 3,000 butterflies with Christmas in the Rainforest at Butterfly Wonderland. Recurring until Dec. 28 visitors of all ages can experience the magic of the season with festive holiday décor like the glowing Noble Fir Christmas tree, a 7-foot-tall angel adorned with glittering wings of her own, and live entertainment such as hand-blown glass exhibit in the conservatory.
Expect a water wonderland at SEA LIFE Aquarium this holiday season with an array of sea-themed activities ranging from holiday scavenger hunts, ornament decorating, and even opportunities to see Santa scuba diving. With elaborate décor and endless activities for little ones, there’s no better place to feel festive.
Local musicians, daily Indigenous dance performances, artist demonstrations, and more are happening at the Heard Museum this season. Embrace a uniquely southwest winter wonderland at the Heard Museum with activities for the entire family to enjoy. Included with museum admission.
One of the most enjoyable seasonal transformations takes place at The Phoenix Zoo this season. After dark, once the animals go to sleep, the zoo begins to display millions of holiday lights and hundreds of displays and performances throughout during the annual Zoolights event. Roam the zoo and enjoy holiday music, sip on hot chocolate, and immerse yourself in the glow of the holiday lights at this magical event.
Celebrate the holidays at the Musical Instrument Museum where the MIM is offering special holiday programs and musical performances as well as holiday-themed activities for all ages. Enjoy a musical winter wonderland with songs and musical traditions that spread tidings of good cheer around the world.
The Outlets at Anthem is embracing the holiday spirit with new decorations including an 80-foot-tall Christmas tree with more than 5,000 ornaments and 80 strands of LED lights, with the copper star atop the tree handmade to represent the state of Arizona. Fulfill a Christmas wish by visiting The Salvation Army Angel Tree. Two trees are located at Customer Service and in the breezeway between Gap and Banana Republic now through Dec. 20th. Visitors can also experience Santa’s Cottage with crafts, holiday stories, and photos with Santa himself throughout the month of December.
Kids and adults alike are invited to Westgate Entertainment District’s Skate Westgate, a timeless holiday tradition featuring outdoor ice skating available for all-levels. Visit with Santa Claus, walk inside a life-size snow globe, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many eateries, and more. Adding even more magic is the district’s horse-drawn carriage rides, perfect for the entire family.
The Evolution Spa is opening its new 22,000-square-feet spa center at CIVANA Carefree Resort on Dec. 20. Designed to enhance your senses, the upgraded spa will offer a selection of hydrotherapy immersion therapies which include a tepidarium, a hot and cold walking pool, cold plunge shower, and saunarium. The spa will also include new men’s and women’s steam rooms, over 29 specialized treatments, a 1600-square-foot relaxation lounge offering majestic mountain views, an adult-only pool and sundeck, a salon and boutique shop. The sustainable building will also include a healthy dining outlet adjacent to the spa.
Get your holiday glow on while giving-back through decadent winter spa specials at the Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort. 10 percent of spa services during December will benefit the LovePup Foundation which provides safe and cage-free home for rescue dogs who are then placed for adoption. Spa specials include the sugarberry wine down wrap, which is full of vitamins and includes a sea salt scrub with organic vodka and fresh raspberry extract and ends with a bioactive resveratrol serum blend and white velvet buttercream scented massage. Hydrate your skin with an antioxidant Vitamin C mask and papaya enzyme treatment. Or pamper yourself with the spa’s bourbon bubbler pedicure, which includes a gingersnap-pecan scented scrub made with brown sugar and real Kentucky whiskey to leave your skin extra soft.
The Arizona Grand Resort & Spa is offering tantalizing spa specials now through Dec. 31st. Get your toes ready for your holiday dancing shoes with a warm apple cider pedicure including honey scrub and leg massage while you sip on a glass of hot apple cider. Enjoy a rejuvenating and deep cleansing pumpkin facial that enhances your glow with a mixture of pumpkin purée, Bentonite clays, and active yogurt cultures to boost radiance and deep clean your pores. Melt away stress with an invigorating full body whipped honey scrub or a natural sweet cream body milk massage to leave your skin feeling smooth and hydrated.
The traditional healing bodywork of Japan known as Shiatsu has been reworked to suit the spa setting during the VH Spa’s winter specials at Hotel Valley Ho. Your personal therapist will lead you through a series of stretches, compressions, and acupressure to release tension and achieve mind-body bliss. If you are looking for something more cosmeceutical, enjoy the Pro Script Facial to rejuvenate the skin from a cellular level with an Alpha-Hydroxy-Acid peel and lemongrass aromatherapy. Book an essential-oil salt scrub pedicure with butter crème to leave the soles bright and refreshed, ready for a pop of color from Morgan Taylor’s holiday collection.
This year, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails will transform into an extravagant winter wonderland. From Nov. 23 through New Year’s Eve, the Blue Hound bar will be completely decorated with over-the-top holiday décor as the Valley’s first “Miracle,” the nationally known brand of Christmas cocktail pop-up bars. Experience 12 new seasonally-themed cocktails to be served in a festive setting complete with thousands of Christmas lights, Elf on a Shelf dolls, icicle ceiling, and more, all while staff are decked out in ugly sweaters and holiday attire. Special events and table reservations can be booked as well.
Across The Pond, an intimate 35-seat craft cocktail bar, is now open for business in a renovated space off Central Avenue and Camelback Road. The evolving menu highlights eight unique cocktails, an expansive selection of Japanese whisky, and craft beer and wine, all paired with fresh sushi hand-rolled by renowned sushi chef, Alvaro Salinas. The minimalist space is accented with dark woods and tropical wallpaper. Founded by local restaurant enthusiasts from Born & Raised Hospitality, this spot is perfect before dinner at Clever Koi across the walkway, or as a standalone dinner and drink destination.
Flix Brewhouse is opening its first Arizona location this December with a new venue in downtown Chandler’s Overstreet. The movie theater doubles as a full-scale brewery to feature 48 taps of beer across a 55-foot-long bar. The beers will not only showcase award-winning beers, but 23 taps will be dedicated to Arizona’s thriving beer scene including SanTan Brewery, OHSO, McFate, Huss Brewery and more. With additional seating on Flix’s open air patio, moviegoers and beer lovers alike can soon convene at the newest and perhaps longest bar in downtown Chandler.
Chef and owner Christopher Collins has announced he is reinventing both of his Phoenix restaurants in order to fully reflect the essence of each restaurant’s respective neighborhood locations. The Collins Small Batch Kitchen will replace the restaurant formerly known as Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar, while The Macintosh will replace the former Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, both located in the Biltmore area of the Valley. Both restaurants feature rotating recipe collaborations, new cocktail specials, modern décor, and can’t-miss weekend brunch.
Macayo’s is bringing back its cooking classes at its Depot Cantina location in Tempe on Saturday, December 1st. Classes are led by Macayo’s consulting chef Brian Feirstein and features recipes which honor the company’s 70+ years in business. Attendees will be welcomed with a complimentary Mexican Fresca upon arrival and will taste dishes such as Macayo’s award-winning Green Chile Pork Stew. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.
Take us out to the ballgame because the Arizona Diamondbacks have announced the start of their 2019 season. The D-Backs will host the Red Sox for the second time in franchise history at Chase Field on Friday, April 5. If you want to catch a game (and a fly ball) sooner, the D-Backs are concluding the 2018 season Sept. 30.
The Arizona Cardinals have awarded naming rights for the University of Phoenix Stadium to State Farm insurance company. As a result of the 18-year agreement, the venue will be known as State Farm Stadium. The partnership will also focus on community programs to bring about a positive impact across Arizona. The stadium recently completed $28 million in renovations to their club level earlier this year and was recently selected to host Super Bowl LVII in 2023 and the NCAA Final Four men’s basketball finals in 2024.
Soccer fans in the Valley- rejoice! State Farm Stadium will host one of two Gold Cup semifinal soccer matches in 2019. The game is scheduled for July 2nd at the stadium location in Glendale. The Gold Cup, which takes place every two years, is made up of national soccer teams from North America, South America, and the Caribbean.