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.
Las Noches de las Luminarias: Select days November 25-December 31
Eight thousand hand-lit luminaria bags and thousands of white twinkle lights will set the Desert Botanical Garden aglow for 21 magical evenings. Join a Southwest holiday tradition that features the sights and sounds of nine entertainment ensembles.
The Polar Express: Select days November 11-January 6
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.
Christmas at the Princess: November 22-January 1
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.
CitySkate Holiday Ice Rink: November 25-January 8
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 holiday tree and thousands of twinkling lights.
Holiday Ice-Skating at the Wigwam: Select days November 25-January 7
Experience the joy of The Wigwam’s outdoor ice rink.
Holiday Festival at the Falls: December 1
The Falls Water Village will be transformed into one of the greatest holiday menageries of the season! Enjoy festive carols sung by the young students of Phoenix Yamaha Music School while meandering your way through treat stations, arts & crafts booths, Wii games and more. Plus, bring your camera for photos with Santa Claus.
Carefree Christmas Festival & Gift Market: December 9-11
The festival is three days of events, including an electric light parade, fireworks, nighttime carriage rides, Santa and real snow, live music and dance, late night shopping, and a Christmas gift market. Carefree’s four-acre desert botanical gardens provide a stunning backdrop for the event. The winding paths showcase thousands of exotic plants and cacti that are illuminated for the festivities.
Skate Westgate: November 23-January 8
Partake in the timeless holiday tradition of ice skating on Westgate’s real ice rink. Back again this year is the ever-popular, horse-drawn carriage rides that are free to all guests. Adding even more magic to the holidays, snowfall happens twice nightly and Santa Claus is on-hand to listen to Christmas wishes.
F.Q. Story Holiday Home Tour & Street Fair: December 3-4
Come enjoy a stroll through one of Phoenix’s oldest and most desirable historic neighborhoods, decorated for the holidays. This year’s tour features homes on Lynwood Street. Saturday night event features a holiday-inspired evening with carolers and beautiful streets lined with luminarias. Sunday’s event features a holiday street market and food vendors.
Hometown Christmas Parade in Glendale: December 10
The Hometown Christmas Parade is an old-fashioned community event for the whole family-to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and all its glory. Jordin Sparks will be the 2016 Grand Marshall.
12k’s of Christmas: December 10
This family festival celebrates health, fitness and the joy of Christmas, 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 live Christmas entertainment in the park and along the race course.
Enchanted Island’s Winter Wonderland Express: December 17-18
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.
Story Time at Desert Ridge Marketplace: December 7, 14 and 21
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.
Snow Week at the Arizona Science Center: December 26- January 1
Snow Week is back this December at Arizona Science Center for seven days of science wonder. Over 60 tons of snow will blanket Heritage and Science Park’s grassy hill in white. The Center will have daily demos including special ‘explosive’ demonstrations and kid-friendly activities throughout the the week.
Holidays at the Heard: December 26-30
Visitors can experience American Indian art, music and dance performances daily, including crowd favorites like hoop dancing and fancy dancing. Also, enjoy delicious fry bread and fry bread tacos every day.
Holiday PaintScaping at Westin Kierland Resort & Spa: Through December 31
The Resort transforms into a winter wonderland as its exterior walls come alive with PaintScaping, themed 3-D images and animations festively set to holiday music. PaintScaping uses The Westin Kierland Resort as a canvas, integrating the features of the 11-story main building and adding emotion and context with computer-generated holiday characters, snow, and cheer.
ZooLights: November 23-January 8
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.
Fantasy of Lights Parade: November 26
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.
Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade: December 10
Light up the night and be dazzled at the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade. The Boat Parade will feature as many as 50 festive boats of all sizes. After dark, more than a thousand luminaria will illuminate the sidewalks and paths of Tempe Beach Park, a special display provided by Tempe South Rotary. Fireworks will light up the night, too
Glendale Glitters: November 25-January 7
Glendale’s award-winning holiday lighting event has become a family tradition across the Valley and state. The stunning display of 1.5 million lights illuminates 16 blocks of Historic Downtown Glendale, making it the largest free holiday light display in Arizona. Weekend festivities include events in downtown Glendale each Friday and Saturday though December 17.
Mesa Temple Gardens Christmas Lights: November 25-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.
Christmas Lights at the Farm: Select days December 1-23
Take a stroll down the lane as you view festive farm inspired Christmas light displays in the pecan grove. On Saturday Dec. 10 and Dec. 17, you can also enjoy Christmas lights plus farm festivities! Leave room for holiday treats as there will be plenty of food, hot chocolate, cider and wine for sale to keep you warm as you explore The Farm on these two magical nights.
Festival of Lights: November 26-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.
San Tan Valley Loop of Lights: December 3-25
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.
Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park: December 9-23, 26-30, January 1
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.
Holiday Nights in Lights at The Wigwam: December 9, 16 and 23
All aboard the Hilgers Express for a train ride through The Wigwam Holiday Light Show.
Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen: Saturday-Sunday, December 3-18
Performed at the Herberger Theater, this Hans Christian Andersen classic to music by Sergei Prokofiev has become a local holiday tradition for the entire family.
Holiday Pops with the Phoenix Symphony: December 2-4
Join The Phoenix Symphony and The Phoenix Symphony Chorus to experience this festive concert of seasonal favorites and the ever-popular Holiday Sing-Along.
A Christmas Carol at Hale Centre Theatre: December 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24
A Hale Centre Theatre holiday classic, the heart-warming version of Dickens’ classic tale of redemption, is magically brought to life on stage. This production is rich with traditional carols, stunning costumes, and memorable characters that are guaranteed to enrich the holiday season for you and your family.
The Nutcracker: December 9-11, 14-18, 20-24
Join Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as they embark on a thrilling adventure of dancing toys, mischievous mice, waltzing flowers, and sparkling snowflakes. Ballet Arizona rings in the season with Ib Andersen’s The Nutcracker, creating memories to cherish forever.
Celebration of Christmas at Dream City Church: December 8-11, 14-20
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.
iTheatre’s Holiday Cabaret- Give Me Christmas!: December 9-11, 16-18
Jeff Kennedy, a grand piano, some of the Valley’s most talented singers and artists, and our signature Cabaret-style seating with plenty of cheer to go around not to mention brownies. Jeff Kennedy’s Give Me Christmas! is a tune-filled celebration of the season, a year in the making, and only in the style of iTheatre Collaborative.
Dave Koz and Friends at the Mesa Arts Center: December 14
A Mesa Arts Center holiday tradition, multi-grammy nominee and saxophonist extraordinaire Dave Koz returns with his friends Jonathan Butler, Kenny Lattimore and Valerie Simpson. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with some of the brightest names in music.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker: December 22
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.
Cirque de la Symphonie: December 16-18
Back by popular demand, Cirque de la Symphonie returns to The Phoenix Symphony with an all new holiday show. Popular holiday music is performed live by The Phoenix Symphony while hula hoops, strong men, contortionists, aerialists and jugglers perform on stage… and 40 feet above it.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas: December 27
Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features the beloved Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller along with dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting.
Ornament Marketplace: November 25-27
Enhance your holidays with wonderful Native-themed ornaments hand-crafted by American Indian artists from the Heard Museum Shops during this annual event.
Stagecoach Christmas Village: December 9-11
Shop two Christmas villages celebrating the traditions of the Southwest and the old world traditions of Europe. In the Christkindlmarkt, vendors sell sweet treats, such as chocolates, pastries and candies, and the Christkindl and Saint Nikolaus make an appearance with gifts for the children in attendance. Visit the Southwest Christmas Village for fine arts and crafts of the Southwest, holiday music, wine tasting, and traditional western BBQ.
Mesa Arts Festival: December 10-11
Shop for the holidays at this event featuring 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.
Phoestivus Open Air Market: December 8 and 15
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.
Local Holiday Art Festival Pop-Up: December 10
From vintage ornaments to local artisans, shop all things Christmas at The Farm. This pop-up Art Festival will be your one-stop shop for decorations and gifts this holiday season.
Food & Cooking
Gingerbread House Cooking Class at The Hermosa Inn: December 17-18
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.
Breakfast and Lunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus at The Farm at South Mountain: December 10, 11 and 18
Enjoy breakfast with Santa at Morning Glory Cafe on December 10 or lunch with Santa at the Farm Kitchen on December 11, and receive a ticket to see Santa to take a photo and enjoy a Christmas card craft. On December 18, Mrs. Claus will be sharing her favorite Christmas stories with kids during a picnic lunch.