Celebrating the holidays in Phoenix is about more than just Christmas lights on a saguaro cactus. We’ve got timeless holiday concerts and performances, real outdoor ice-skating rinks, horse-drawn carriage rides, twinkling light displays, and you can even watch it snow in the desert! However you like to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year, there is a holiday event in Phoenix for you.
The Polar Express: Through January 4
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 and Ice Skating at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: Through January 4
Christmas at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess festival events and activities are open to the public and include ice skating, a four-story tall Christmas tree, photos and visits with Santa, holiday menus and much more.
Nightly Snowfall at Westgate Entertainment District: Through December 24
The only place in the West Valley to see it snow nightly is at Westgate Entertainment District! Watch as Fountain Park magically turns into a living snow globe each evening with a snow show twice a night.
Photos with Santa Claus at Westgate Entertainment District: Weekends and select weekdays through December 24
Get your photo taken with Santa and tell him what you want for Christmas. Free gift for all kids visiting Santa!
ZooLights: Through January 12
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 with 3.7 million lights and more than 700 light displays. New this year is the Wizard of Oz Music in Motion show.
Las Noches de las Luminarias: Through December 31
Las Noches de las Luminarias returns to the Desert Botanical Garden as thousands of paper lanterns line the paths, creating a peaceful glow throughout the garden.
PaintScaping at Westin Kierland Resort and Spa: Through December 31
The art of “PaintScaping,” which comes from “painting the landscape,” merges a virtual world with the existing world by projecting images onto buildings. The walls of the Westin Kierland come alive with holiday images, including elves decorating the balconies and snow falling in the desert, all set to holiday music. Resort guests, locals and visitors are all invited.
Mesa Temple Gardens Christmas Lights: Through December 31
The annual Mesa Temple Garden Christmas Lights display conveys peace and goodwill of the season with a unique and spectacular exhibit of hundreds of thousands of lights that serve as a backdrop for the sounds of the holidays. The event features hundreds of thousands of colorful lights, a large nativity display, and holiday dioramas.
Spirits of the Season: Through January 1
A 5-week holiday cocktail competition, Spirits of the Season toasts the holidays the best way possible – with festive drinks! Skip the traffic after work or turn a Saturday into a self-guided walking tour and sample the concoctions from several Downtown bars and restaurants. The best part? You decide the winner. Voting will begin Nov 30 and end Dec 18 in the quest to crown the Most Spirited Holiday Cocktail of 2013.
CitySkate at CityScape Phoenix: Through January 14
For the fourth year in a row, close to 100,000 holiday revelers will descend on CityScape Phoenix to take part in the six weeks of CitySkate, a real outdoor ice rink that is dramatically placed in the center of Central Avenue.
Chill at W Scottsdale: Through December 29
Skate under the stars and electric city views, as W Scottsdale transforms its wet pool deck into a winter wonderland. Enjoy CHILL, a 1,500-square-foot hybrid ice skate rink that sits beside the rooftop WET pool. Stay and play this winter, sip on cool cocktails and lounge in a private cabana
Brelby Presents: Quest for Claus: Fridays-Sundays through December 21
Come and enjoy a brand new origins tale about how Santa becomes the mystical figure we all know and love, as viewed through the eyes of a young boy on Christmas Eve. Filled with characters you know and love, this action packed story is sure to become a new holiday tradition.
The Nutcracker: Through December 24
A holiday celebration to share! Dancing toys, mischievous mice, waltzing flowers and sparkling snowflakes dance to Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score performed by The Phoenix Symphony. This holiday classic tells the story of Clara and her magical Nutcracker Prince as they embark on a thrilling adventure. Each year Ballet Arizona rings in the season with Andersen’s The Nutcracker, creating memories to cherish forever.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides at Westgate Entertainment District: Weekends through January 21
Enjoy free horse-drawn carriage rides around Westgate Entertainment District throughout the holiday season.
Glendale Glitters: Weekends through December 21
Glendale’s award-winning holiday lighting event has become a family tradition across the Valley and state, and this year marks the city’s 20th year of this joyous holiday celebration.
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.
San Tan Valley Loop of Lights: Through December 25
The San Tan community has joined together in the effort to spread the Christmas spirit to everyone by putting extra effort into their homes with Christmas lights and decorations. Come drive or walk Loop Of Lights any evening. A neighborhood loop light parade will take place at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 20.
The Festival of Lights: Through January 1
From Thanksgiving until the New Year, Chandler Boulevard from 24th Street to Desert Foothills Parkway is illuminated with more than a million white LED lights. Our incredible desert landscape is decked out with miniature white lights and with clusters of white strands high amongst the treetops.
Santa Claus Express on the Verde Canyon Railroad: December 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 18, 21-23
One of the most magical events of the year is Santa Claus Express. Santa and Mrs. Claus entertain passengers throughout the four-hour rail journey, singing carols, passing out Mrs. Claus’ homemade cookies and helping you create priceless photo memories.
Story Time with PBS at Desert Ridge Marketplace: December 11, 18
Bring the kids out to get in the holiday spirit and enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies, story time readings of holiday classics, dancing and exercises by The Little Gym and special guest characters presented by PBS Channel 8.
4th Annual Phoestivus Market: December 11, 18
Phoestivus is a fun evening of holiday cheer in Downtown Phoenix and an opportunity to purchase gifts for your loved ones from 100+ local vendors. Bring friends and family to enjoy dinner from the food trucks and drinks at the Phoestivus beer garden sponsored by Phoenix’s own Phoenix Ale Brewery. They will be brewing a special seasonal ale just for Phoestivus. For your amusement, you will witness the World’s Largest Phoestivus Pole, Feats of Strength, Airing of Grievances, Holiday carolers and so much more.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker: December 12
This favorite show for families at the holidays features award-winning Russian dancers and is acclaimed by the press. The story of peace features amazing solo dances by ambassadors from Hispanic, African, Russian, Asian, and European heritages. The 2013 production includes 200 all new, hand-embellished costumes designed by Shakespearean expert Arthur Oliver and created in St Petersburg’s oldest theatrical costume shop.
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks: Holidaze in Hicksville: December 13
Since the early 1960s, Hicks has deftly blended elements of swing, jazz, folk, and country music to create the appealing sound he sometimes calls “folk jazz.” The lyrics of his songs range from the simply sublime to the sublimely ridiculous, all presented with his uniquely skewed and inscrutable touch.
Riders in the Sky: December 13
Come sit in a moonlit canyon by a camp fire and listen to songs of the holiday season. For thirty years, Riders in the Sky has been keeper of a flame passed on by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. They have become icons of Western music by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor.
Celebration of Christmas Theatrical Performance at Phoenix First Assembly: December 14-15
The Christmas Express is journeying to your favorite holiday destinations and you’re invited to join the fun. This all-new Broadway style production is filled with exciting music, live animals, thrilling stunts, and so much more. Pack your bags and don’t forget your imagination, as you experience the joy, tradition, hope, and majesty of the most wonderful time of the year.
Live Music at Phoenix Premium Outlets: Weekends through December 22
Enjoy carolers, live jazz bands and even a professional yo-yo performance.
6th Annual Carefree Christmas Festival: December 13-15
Other activities include a Kid’s Zone with 35 tons of real snow, carriage rides, caroling, dance and singing performances, a Nativity display, a pet parade and pet adoptions, and other activities for the entire family. Santa will be in attendance throughout the weekend for photos. An outdoor shopping and gift market with more than 100 exhibitors and a holiday food court, will take place throughout the weekend offering daytime and nighttime, outdoor holiday shopping.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Holiday Lights: December 13-23, 26-30 and January 1-4
Take a train ride through many festive holiday lights and displays turning the Railroad Park into a winter wonderland. Opening night festivities will include a tree lighting ceremony, entertainment and a visit from Santa. Santa will be at the park through December 23.
Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen: December 14-15, 21-22
The Hans Christian Andersen classic to music by Sergei Prokofiev has become a “don’t-miss” Valley holiday tradition for the entire family at the Herberger Theater.
Breakfast with Santa at The Wigwam Resort: December 14, 21
Watch the magic come alive while feasting on a hearty breakfast at Litchfield’s. Children can visit with Santa while enjoying their favorite holiday music.
Amahl and the Night Visitors: December 14
Back by popular demand, the Symphony of the Southwest, together with the Cantilena Chorale and a wonderful cast of singers, will present a concert version of Amahl and the Night Visitors. Originally written for television, this masterpiece by Gian Carlo Mennoti tells the wonderfully imaginative story of a crippled boy who meets the three wise men on their way to see the Holy Child.
12K’s of Christmas: December 14
Join in for the 5th anniversary of this locally-produced event that celebrates Christmas and raises money to help the animals. The 12K’s of Christmas hosts the largest pet adoption event in the East Valley. Along with friends from Maricopa County Animal Care & Control, there will be at least 25 animal rescue groups in Santa’s Pet Village.
For the fitness minded, run or walk in the 12k, 6k or 1.2k event with carolers at every “k”. Strollers and leashed pets welcome.
Heritage Saturday at Rosson Rouse: December 14
Explore history with your kids at Heritage Square. Learn how people in territorial Arizona created homemade gifts and decorations. Make a bottle cap ornament to take home. Look for the white tent at Heritage Square, 6th Street and Monroe Street in Phoenix.
Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade: December 14
Light up the night and be dazzled at the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Town Lake, featuring as many as 50 festively-lighted boats of all sizes. Nearly 30,000 spectators attend, and METRO light rail’s LED installation on the Tempe Town Lake Bridge will provide a special display. The event concludes with a dazzling fireworks grand finale.
Mesa Arts Festival: December 14-15
The annual festival will feature original works of art for sale from local, regional and national artists in various mediums; live entertainment showcasing local and national talent on two stages; live artist demonstrations; the Bookmans Family Activity Area and an array of culinary delights.
A Swingin’ Christmas: December 14-15, 18, 21
This holiday treat features vocalists Nick Gallardo, Nicolette Hart, Sean Zimmerman and American Idol finalist Crystal Stark with a swingin’ six-piece band, bringing your favorite Christmas tunes to life.
Annual Holiday Brunch at Clear Light Buddhist Center: December 15
Join us for our annual holiday brunch and gift exchange. Bring your favorite vegetarian dish to share with others to see what people are already bringing and to list your dish please click here. If you would like to participate in the gift exchange, gifts can range from $5-$15. Everyone is welcome!
The Colors of Christmas: December 15
Hits and seasonal tunes from Melissa Manchester, Ruben Studdard, Cece Winans, Peabo Bryson and more.
Holiday Nights in Lights at the Wigwam Resort: December 15, 22
Holiday carols, wish list writing, photos with Santa, and ice skating! Ice rink hours vary. Train rides will be provided by the Hilgers Express.
Manhattan Transfer Holiday Show: December 17-18
One of the most notable jazz vocal ensembles in music history brings its festive holiday show to the Musical Instrument Museum.
Dave Koz and Friends: A Smooth Jazz Christmas: December 19
Multi-GRAMMY nominee and saxophonist extraordinaire Dave Koz returns with a cherished holiday tradition, in an uplifting, high-energy show the whole family will love. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit as some of the brightest names in music jam on fresh, lively arrangements of seasonal favorites, in a spectacular production.
Last Chance Sale at Outlets at Anthem: December 20-22
Outlets at Anthem will be helping you finish you last-minute holiday shopping with a sidewalk sale. Just because you haven’t found that perfect gift doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time and money. Get all your favorite gifts in one place at great price.
Paula Poundstone: HaHa HoHo Holiday Comedy Show: December 21
Appearing on stage with a stool, a microphone, and a can of Diet Pepsi, Paula Poundstone is famous for her razor-sharp wit and spontaneity.
Canadian Brass Holiday Concert: December 21
Five tremendous brass musicians – each a virtuoso in his own right – form the legendary Canadian Brass. Performing a vast repertoire ranging from Baroque masters to marches, big band, Broadway and popular song, Canadian Brass has charmed audiences worldwide with their unsurpassed musicianship and playful stage presence. This heart-warming holiday concert is a musical journey through time featuring classics of the season by Bach, Brahms and more.
Audra McDonald with the Phoenix Symphony: December 21
Performing with the Phoenix Symphony is Audra McDonald, one of the hottest stars from television and Broadway, and winner of five Tony Awards® and two GRAMMY® Awards. Blessed with a luminous soprano voice and an incomparable gift for dramatic truth-telling, Audra will perform highlights from her Broadway career.
Gingerbread House Cooking Class at The Hermosa Inn: December 21, 22
‘Tis the season to be jolly as LON’s pastry chef guides participants in the art of creating and decorating their own holiday gingerbread house. Once the walls are built, guests’ creations – and sweet tooth – come to life with the endless, and edible, materials. Snacks and beverages will be provided.
Enchanted Island’s 9th Annual Winter Wonderland Express: December 21-22
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 from Noon-5 p.m. each day and receive free hot cocoa and candy canes. Enjoy Christmas decorations, go sled riding and play in tons of fresh snow.
Breakfast with Santa at Rico’s American Grill: December 21-24
The resort’s annual Breakfast with Santa will be offered over four days at Rico’s American Grill. Guests will enjoy seasonal photos with Santa and holiday story time, while Mrs. Claus treats children to whimsical cookie decorating, gingerbread activity books, and a tasty breakfast buffet. Reservations are required.
Elf on the Shelf Holiday Tea at Litchfield’s: December 22
Ring in the holiday season with a special visit from Santa’s Elf. Kids of all ages will be treated to a reading of The Elf’s Story at Litchfield’s as well as the opportunity to write a letter to Santa. Holiday goodies, activities, and music to entertain all.
Winter Holidays and Miracle on 24th Street: December 24-31
The holiday ambiance and spirit of the season will come alive at the Arizona Biltmore Resort with spectacular décor including a live 60- foot decorated Christmas tree, a menorah, twinkle lights and starbursts glittering against the gold leaf of the ceiling. Holiday recreational activities will take place throughout the week including holiday crafts, cookie decorating, family sunset hikes and more.
Christmas at Compass Arizona Grill: December 25
Enjoy Christmas dinner at Compass Arizona Grill with seafood entrees, carved-to-order meats, fresh-baked goods, plus holiday favorite desserts and live entertainment.
Christmas Day Brunch at bistro 24: December 25
Eat, drink and be merry with a delicious holiday buffet brunch in bistro 24 on Christmas day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Choose from breakfast starters, seafood, carving stations, tasty holiday desserts and much more.
Christmas at LON’s: December 25
Celebrate Christmas with a pre-fixe menu prepared by the LON’s culinary team and toast to the new holiday memories that will be created with family and friends.
Christmas Day at ZuZu: December 25
ZuZu is open all day on Christmas. Stop by for breakfast from 6:00 a.m. to noon and enjoy the regular menu or a special feature of huevos rancheros. Dinner is served from noon to 10:00 p.m., with the regular menu available along with lobster bisque, slow-roasted herb-crusted prime rib, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie. The children’s special will be ZuZu’s mac ‘n’ cheese with roast ham and buttered breadcrumbs.
Christmas Dinner at Litchfield’s: December 25
Dine on holiday favorites at Litchfield’s. This three-course meal offers diners a choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert.
Christmas Day Ballroom Buffet Dinner at The Wigwam: December 25
Set in the Wigwam Ballroom, guests will enjoy a festive spread featuring Christmas favorites such as roasted sirloin of beef and pineapple and honey glazed ham. Set in the Wigwam Ballroom, guests will enjoy a festive spread featuring Christmas favorites such as roasted sirloin of beef and pineapple and honey glazed ham.
Snow Week at the Arizona Center: December 26 – January 1
How much fun would tons of snow in downtown Phoenix be? Never stop wondering during Snow Week at Arizona Science Center! We’re celebrating the season with 30+ tons of snow in Heritage and Science Park, ice sculptures, gingerbread houses, candy day, IMAX Penguins 3D, and so much more!
Artisan Market’ After the Holidays Celebration: December 27-29
Browse an array of unique hand-crafted items from local and regional artisans.