This info is from 2015. Click here for updated events

You don’t need frigid winter weather to get in the spirit of the season. Enjoy holiday events in Phoenix, including concerts and performances, outdoor ice-skating rinks, open air shopping markets and festivals, twinkling light displays and even a few places to watch it snow in the desert.
Featured image credit: Adam Rodriguez

Activities

Las Noches de Luminarias: Select dates through December 31

The Desert Botanical Garden comes to life with the soft glow of more than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags, thousands of white twinkle lights and the vibrant sounds and sights of live performing groups.

Las Noches de las Luminarias

Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden (Credit: Adam Rodriguez)

The Polar Express: Select dates through January 3

Every winter the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express comes to life on a journey from the nighttime wilderness of Williams, Arizona, to the enchanted beauty of “the North Pole”where Santa Claus and his reindeer are waiting with a keepsake present for every good boy and girl

CitySkate Holiday Ice Rink: November 28 through January 11

Get into the spirit of winter by skating on a real ice rink in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Central Avenue is transformed into an ice skater’s dream, decorated with a massive 36-foot holiday tree and thousands of twinkling lights.

CitySkate holiday ice rink. Photo by Instagram user @diningtraveler

CitySkate ice rink at CityScape Phoenix. Photo by Jessica van Dop DeJesus (@diningtraveler on Instagram)

Christmas at the Princess: November 19-January 3

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort transforms into a winter wonderland, featuring a skating rink, four-story Christmas tree, visits with Santa, special holiday fare and cocktails and more. All activities are open to the public.

ZooLights: November 23-January 10

When the sun goes down and the animals go to sleep, the Phoenix Zoo magically transforms into one of the largest holiday lighting events in the Southwest. Enjoy millions of lights, hundreds of displays and performances throughout the zoo.

ZooLights (Photo: Phoenix Zoo via Facebook)

ZooLights (Credit: Phoenix Zoo via Facebook)

Westgate Winter Wonderland: November 24-December 24

Westgate Entertainment District transforms into a winter wonderland with free, festive happenings every day of the week including horse-drawn carriage rides, nightly snowfall, a skating rink and visits with Santa Claus.

Fantasy of Lights Parade: November 28

This Tempe holiday tradition features floats, balloons, clowns, novelty units, marching bands, and the arrival of Santa Claus. The parade proceeds through Downtown Tempe and concludes with a tree lighting ceremony.

Mesa Temple Gardens Christmas Lights: November 28-December 31

This display conveys the peace and goodwill of the season with a unique and spectacular exhibit of hundreds of thousands of lights,  uniquely illuminated palm trees and flower gardens, and a large nativity scene.

Festival of Lights: November 28-January 1

The incredible desert landscape on Chandler Boulevard from 24th Street to Desert Foothills Parkway  is decked out with more than 1 million miniature white lights.

Holiday Ice Skating at The Wigwam: November 27-January 3

Experience the joy of The Wigwam’s outdoor ice rink.

Story Time at Desert Ridge Marketplace: December 2, 9, and 16

Bring the kids out to get in the holiday spirit and enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies, story time readings of holiday classics with Mrs. Claus, dancing and exercises and special guest characters.

Avondale Holiday Celebration: December 5

A historic street comes alive with arts and craft booths, live entertainment, food vendors, and kids activities including snow in the park and pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

San Tan Valley Loop of Lights: December 5-25

Drive or walk through this traditional holiday light display. The community has joined together to spread the Christmas spirit to everyone with fantastic light displays and decorations.

F.Q. Story Holiday Home Tour & Street Fair Marketplace: December 5-6

Come tour one of Phoenix’s oldest neighborhoods, all dressed up for the holidays. Take a tour on a holiday-inspired evening of Dickens’ Carolers and beautiful streets lined with luminarias and holiday lights, and shop dozens of craft vendors and food booths at the F.Q. Story Street Fair.

Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park: December 11-23, 26-30 and January 1-2

Take a train ride through many festive holiday lights and displays that turn the Railroad Park into a winter wonderland. Opening night festivities will include a tree lighting ceremony and entertainment, and Santa will be at the park until December 23.

Carefree Christmas Festival: December 11-13

The festival is three days of events, including an electric light parade, fireworks, Santa and real snow, live music and dance, late night shopping, and a Christmas gift market.

Holiday Nights in Lights at The Wigwam: December 11-23

All aboard the Hilgers Express for a train ride through The Wigwam Holiday Light Show.

Hometown Christmas Parade in Glendale: December 12

Celebrate the magic and wonder of Christmas in the Hometown Christmas Parade, an old-fashioned community event for the whole family.

12K’s of Christmas: December 12

Join in for this locally-produced event that celebrates Christmas and raises money to support animal rescue groups. For the fitness minded, run or walk in the 12K, 6K or 1.2K event with carolers at every K.

Festival of Cheer: December 12

The Festival of Cheer is a free event with bouncy houses, holiday traditions from around the world, entertainment and more- including over 20 tons of snow.

Enchanted Island’s Winter Wonderland Express: December 19-20

Hop aboard the Winter Wonderland Express Train to a snow-filled Enchanted Island with tons of fresh snow and sled riding. Visit Santa Claus at the north pole each day and receive free hot cocoa and candy canes.

Snow Week at the Arizona Science Center: December 26-January 1

Celebrate the season with over 60 tons of snow blanketing Heritage and Science Park’s grassy hill in white and daily science demonstrations.

Performances

Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen at the Herberger Theater: Weekends through December 20

This Hans Christian Andersen classic to music by Sergei Prokofiev has become a local holiday tradition for the entire family.

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen. Photo Credit: Herberger Theater

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical: November 29

This beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage at Mesa Arts Center. See all of your favorite characters as they come to life in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.

Holiday Pops at the Phoenix Symphony: December 4-6

Join The Phoenix Symphony and The Phoenix Symphony Chorus to experience this festive concert of seasonal favorites and the ever-popular Holiday Sing-Along.

The Nutcracker at Phoenix Symphony Hall: December 11-14, 16-20, 22-24, 26-27

The magic of The Nutcracker illuminates the stage with more than 150 performers, hundreds of costumes, and the beauty and athleticism of Ballet Arizona’s nationally recognized dancers.

Miracle on 34th Street at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre: Weekends through January 10

A Macy’s holiday Santa enchants children and shoppers in this hilarious and charming Christmas classic for the entire family.

Celebration of Christmas at Dream City Church: December 3-6 and 8-15

Celebration of Christmas is an extraordinary Broadway-style performance featuring a full live orchestra, exciting dance numbers, awe-inspiring aerial stunts, flying angels, and so much more.

Phoenix Boys Choir Winter Wonderland: December 12

Get into the spirit as the angelic voices of the acclaimed Phoenix Boys Choir perform a delightful array of holiday favorites.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker: December 16

Experience the exquisite artistry of world-class Russian dancers, playful puppets and the unmatched splendor of hand crafted sets and costumes in a holiday tradition that brings the Christmas spirit to  life.

Dave Koz and Friends at the Mesa Arts Center: December 16

Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with some of the brightest names in music as multi-grammy nominee and saxophonist extraordinaire Dave Koz returns with his friends Candy Dulfer, Jonathan Butler, and Bill Medley.

Holiday Cabaret with Maestro Jeff Kennedy at Phoenix Theatre: December 17, 19, 23

In the spirit of an intimate New York cabaret, Maestro Jeff Kennedy leads six vocalists from the grand piano in a selection of holiday songs, both new and familiar, in giving a unique perspective on the season.

Shopping

Ornament Marketplace: November 27-29

Enhance your holidays with wonderful Native-themed ornaments hand-crafted by American Indian artists from the Heard Museum Shops during this annual event.

Christkindlmarkt: December 5-6

The celebration brings cherished German and European traditions to downtown Phoenix with holiday entertainment, European cuisine, and vendors and local artisans selling merchandise like children’s toys and Christmas ornaments.

Photo credit: Christkindlmarkt via Facebook

Photo credit: Christkindlmarkt via Facebook

Wonderland Market at WestWorld: December 4-6

Immerse yourself in the sights, flavors and sounds of the holiday season as you shop jewelry, clothing, decor, gourmet goods, toys and other gifts items all under one roof.

Scottsdale Holiday ArtWalk: December 10

The Holiday ArtWalk serves as a sparkling showcase for hundreds of fine artists in Scottsdale.

Phoestivus Open Air Market: December 10 and 17

Give the gift of local, handmade goods for the holidays this year. Phoenix Public Market hosts this annual holiday market in downtown Phoenix, which focuses on locally grown and produced goods.

Briar Patch Christmas Market: December 5-6, 12-13

Briar Patch Christmas Marketplace is an arts and crafts festival featuring local fine art in an outdoor setting. Get in the holiday mood and enjoy free train rides and visits with Santa.

Mesa Arts Festival: December 12-13

The event will feature original works of art for sale from regional and national artists in various mediums; live entertainment showcasing on two stages; live artist demonstrations; family activity area and culinary delights.

Jackalope Art and Craft Fair: December 12-13

Jackalope Art and Craft Fair will host their Phoenix holiday fair, perfect for holiday shopping. More than 200 artisans and crafters will get a chance to feature and sell their work, while giving attendees a chance to meet the maker behind their one of a kind goods.

Artisan Market After Holidays Celebration: December 26-27

The Artisan Market is a beautiful setting for you to bring family and listen to some live, local music, get the kids involved in a creative project, and shop for handmade treasures.

Food & Cooking

Holiday Tea at The Wigwam: December 13-20

Learn the tradition of tea while you enjoy holiday music and storytime for kids along with some delightful goodies.

Breakfast with Santa at Rico’s American Grill: December 19-20, 23-24

The resort’s annual Breakfast with Santa will be offered over four days at Rico’s American Grill. Join Santa for a breakfast buffet and more.

Gingerbread House Cooking Class at The Hermosa Inn: December 19

Join the chef of Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn on a holiday journey of creating your very own gingerbread house. Once the gingerbread house walls are built, creations can come to life with the endless, edible materials to use.

Christmas at Lon’s: December 25

Celebrate Christmas with a pre-fixe menu prepared by the LON’s culinary team and toast with family and friends to new holiday memories.