Light up your Holiday: 10 sparkling Valley light displays

If your spirits aren’t already deep into planning holiday gift-togethers, marshmallow-dotted hot cocoa and holiday cheer, these 10 holiday light displays across the Valley will be sure to do just the thing:

1. Red Rock Fantasy

Head to Sedona for this annual lighting competition at the Los Abrigados Resort & Spa. Nearly 30 attractions created by local groups using more than 1 million lights are on the grounds. Stop along the trail for hot chocolate and chili. Opening ceremony starts at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.

2. Arizona Celebration of Lights

At this 14th annual attraction, visitors drive through a mile-long show with hundreds of animated figures, tunnels and arches made of more than 7 million lights. Afterward, visit Santa’s Village to take a picture with Kriss Kringle, sip hot cocoa and ride a train. Fast Passes are available for $10 extra. Buses must be less than 13 feet long.

3. Anthem Christmas Tree

A 114-foot-tall Christmas tree is decorated with 3 miles of lights, more than 6,000 ornaments and bows and topped with a 3-foot-tall copper star. Sedona native Michelle Branch and Shane Harper will perform during the lighting celebration at 7 p.m.

4. Zoolights

While the zoo animals are sleeping, more than 600 light sculptures of jumping kangaroos, swinging monkeys, leaping lizards and prowling lions come to life. Don’t miss the Music in Motion dancing-tree display, in which lighted trees along the zoo’s central lake flash and change color in synch with holiday songs.

5. Glendale Glitters

Who says there has to be snow to take a horse-drawn carriage through a town lit with twinkling lights? You can do just that at this seasonal celebration in downtown Glendale. In December, the weekend festivities are themed, such as the Spirit of Giving Weekend on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, and Jingle Bell Rockin’ Nights Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16-17. The festival ends Saturday, Jan. 14, with the Glendale Glitter and Glow Block Party, where the fires of about 20 hot-air balloons augment the glow of the more than 1.5 million lights .

6. The Festival of Lights

More than 2 million white lights illuminate the paloverde trees, ocotillos and saguaros that line East Chandler Boulevard from 24th Street to Desert Foothills Parkway during this Ahwatukee tradition. The main display on the town’s throughway is lit nightly from 6 to 11 from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Don’t miss the lighting festival Saturday, Nov. 26, featuring carnival rides, concerts, beer gardens and a marketplace.

7. Arizona Temple lights

Hundreds of thousands of lights make up this beautiful display at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in Mesa. Featuring a Nativity scene, the enormous display began more than 30 years ago as a gift to the community. Musical groups from around Arizona perform free concerts at 7 each night from Thursday, Dec. 1, through Christmas Day. This year, performances will be moved to the north side of the temple’s visitor center.

8. Tempe Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade

Floats take on a new meaning in this parade, in which dozens of boats are decked out with lights, inflatable polar bears, glowing candy canes and such characters as the Grinch. Santa will visit Tempe Beach Park at 6 p.m., and the parade starts at 7. The kickoff parade is Thanksgiving weekend, with a free parade down Mill Avenue at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26.

9. Las Noches de las Luminarias

Visitors wander the garden’s pathways, which are lit by the glow of 8,000 candles, and sip hot chocolate and spiked cider during this Valley holiday tradition. Mariachi bands, Native American flute players and handbell choirs perform. This year, visitors can see New York artist David Rogers’ “Big Bugs” exhibit. The menagerie of 11 giant wooden insects is ensconced among the plants and paths. A preview for garden members runs Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 1-4; the festival opens to the public Thursday, Dec. 8.

10. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Holiday Lights

Take a train ride around this Scottsdale park to see animated light displays and costumed children’s characters. Opening-night festivities include a tree-lighting ceremony, musical performances and a visit from Santa. Admission is free; train and carousel rides are $2 each.


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