This holiday season, explore winter wonderlands, light shows and interactive events across Arizona. Whether you are looking for the perfect place for a romantic date night or a family outing, there are events for everyone. We’ve put together a list for you and your loved ones to experience the best holiday events the Valley has to offer this season.
APS Electric Light Parade
For over 30 years, the APS Electric Light Parade has united the city in holiday merriment. This radiant tradition takes a neon twist with this year’s theme, “It’s Electric!” Join the glow from Central Ave. and Montebello Ave., ending at 7th St. and Indian School Road. Dec. 3, 7 p.m. www.phoenix.gov.
Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden
Garden lights on winter nights is a must this holiday season at Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de las Luminarias. Enjoy an evening filled with sparkling luminaria-lit trails and twinkling holiday lights. Musical performances, entertainment and festive food and drinks available for a picture-perfect night. Nov. 24–25 and Dec. 1–2, 8–9, 15–16, 19–22, 26–30. 5:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. www.dbg.org.
Rise Uptown Hotel’s Holiday Makers Market
Check everyone off your list and shop for some handmade holiday goodies from local makers on Dec. 2 at the Holiday Makers Market at Rise Uptown Hotel. Sip mimosas and bloody Marys from Lylo, and snag permanent jewelry from LINK X LOU (appointments available here). Local vendors include: Milky Candle Company, Form Floral, Jade & Clover, Mollz to the Wallz, Voyager Bake Shop, Modern Moon and Cisco Studio. Plus, get your sweat on with a free yoga class on the lawn at 9 a.m. with desert mvmt. Dec. 2, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. www.riseuptownhotel.com/events/holiday-makers-market.
The Nutcracker Ballet at Ballet Arizona with the Phoenix Symphony
Ballet Arizona returns to Symphony Hall in grand fashion with this holiday classic. Celebrate the joy and wonder of the season with Ib Andersen’s The Nutcracker as Tchaikovsky’s cherished score is masterfully performed by The Phoenix Symphony. Follow Clara’s wintry adventures as she battles mischievous mice and charms the Sugar Plum Fairy. Dec. 8–24. www.balletaz.org.
The Phoenix Symphony Holiday Pops
Get into the festive spirit at the Symphony Hall with The Phoenix Symphony’s annual Holiday Pops. Under the baton of guest conductor Gerald Steichen and accompanied by the Phoenix Symphony Chorus, this melodic soirée promises a blend of classic carols and hymns. And keep an eye out; a special guest from the North Pole might just make an appearance! Dec.1–3. www.phoenixsymphony.org.
ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo
With nearly four million twinkling lights, groundbreaking Wildlife Lanterns and the grand return of North America’s tallest floating tree set to its own music and light spectacle, Phoenix ZooLights is an experience unlike any other. Wander through a captivating 200-foot light tunnel, delight in the interactive Glow Garden, indulge at the enhanced s’mores station and don’t miss a cheerful moment with Santa himself for unforgettable photos! Nov. 22, 2023–Jan. 14, 2024. 5:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m. www.phoenixzoo.org.
Enchant, the world’s largest holiday light event, unfolds across 10 acres at Scottsdale’s Salt River Fields. Featuring massive, story-driven light sculptures, an ice skating trail, live shows, interactive games and a festive marketplace, Enchant is a magical destination, complete with Santa visits and more for the whole family to enjoy. Nov. 24–Dec. 31. www.enchantchristmas.com.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Holiday Lights
Scottsdale’s McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park transforms into a mesmerizing winter wonderland illuminated with holiday lights and enchanting displays across 30 acres. Step aboard the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and embark on a journey through this captivating seasonal spectacle. Nov. 24, 2023–Jan. 7, 2024. 6 p.m.–9:30 p.m. www.therailroadpark.com.
Glendale Glitters will kick off Nov. 24 & 25 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. This two-day event will feature an extravagant light display with unique, never-before-seen features! Enjoy vendors, music, a visit with Santa and follow the candy cane trees as you shop and stroll through Downtown Glendale. See the lighting ceremony on Nov. 24 at 5:45 p.m., in front of the Glendale Civic Center. The light display will run every night from Nov. 24 through Jan. 1, 2024.
Other events happening during the month of December in Downtown Glendale include The Hometown Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. Another LiVE! @ The Lot will be happening on Dec. 16 from 1 p.m.–6 p.m. with a Jingle & Jam theme. Many of the downtown shops and restaurants will also have events during the holidays, so be sure to stop by. www.glendaleaz.com.
World of Illumination
Grab your sled and join Ranger Reno on a trek down Reindeer Road produced by World of Illumination. Whiz through mountainous terrain, traverse glacial peaks, explore the northern ice caves and make your way through the northern forests to the heart of it all—Santa’s Workshop—the world’s largest animated toy shop. Be dazzled by reindeer, snowmen and toys galore as you witness the most spectacular drive-through light forest this side of the Arctic. Tickets start at $39.99. Now through Dec. 31. Tuesdays–Sundays, 6 p.m.–10 p.m. www.worldofillumination.com.
Downtown Chandler Sugarland
This free event at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park West will kick off on Nov. 25. The Downtown Chandler Community Partnership is putting on a new and improved version of “Sugarland”, an interactive holiday display. This exhibition will have photo opportunities, festive dancing and twinkling lights. Life-size hot chocolate, lollipops, marshmallows, gumdrops and a gingerbread house make for the perfect Instagrammable event. The event will kick off opening night from 4 p.m.–6 p.m. with Prancer’s Pajama Party. Sugarland is open for visitors to enjoy all day every day through the holiday season. Nov. 25, 2023–Jan. 1, 2024. www.downtownchandler.org.
Pratt Brothers Christmas at Rawhide
Pratt Brothers Christmas at Rawhide is Arizona’s premier light show and family experience during the holiday season. This brand-new experience will feature over 6 million lights, a dazzling light show with pyrotechnics, a magical train ride, nightly parades, jaw-dropping stunt shows, holiday shopping, live entertainment and much more. Nov. 24–Dec. 24. 6 p.m.–10 p.m. www.prattbrotherschristmas.com.
Merry Main Street in Downtown Mesa
Downtown Mesa transforms into a festive Winter Wonderland with Merry Main Street. The annual East Valley holiday tradition begins with a towering Christmas tree lighting on Macdonald near Main Street, followed by the launch of a 6,000-square-foot ice rink at Mesa City Center Plaza, alongside a holiday market, music and refreshments. Nov. 24, 2023–Jan. 6, 2024. www.merrymainst.com.
Christmas at Schnepf Farms
For the fifth festive season, Schnepf Farms in the East Valley transforms over 30 acres into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. Families can embark on thrilling adventures, such as the Sleigh Bell Slide, navigate a Christmas-themed obstacle course or craft letters to Santa in his very own workshop. Don’t miss the pinecone decorating, ice skating, snow-globe mini golf and hayrides to feed reindeer, rounded off with caroling, holiday movie and shopping along the twinkling promenade. Open select days from Nov. 24–Dec. 24. www.schnepfchristmas.com.
Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade
Light up the night and be dazzled this holiday season at Tempe Town Lake. Enjoy holiday shopping, festive eats and treats, a dazzling boat parade featuring boats of all shapes and sizes, and a spectacular fireworks show. This event is free and family-friendly. Dec. 9, 4 p.m.–9 p.m. www.downtowntempe.com
World of Illumination
Climb aboard your cosmic sleigh with your host Shiny the Star on a mystical holiday adventure that is out of this world at Cosmic Sleighride produced by World of Illumination. Shoot past the sun, race among the stars and pass through Kris Kringle’s celestial portal where toys prepare for launch. Orbit around a team of astro elves hoverboarding through the cosmos as you enter the stratosphere of Santa City, where all the holiday magic happens. Hold on to your seat — you’re in for one stellar ride. Tickets start at $39.99. Now through Dec. 31. Tuesdays–Sundays, 6 p.m.–10 p.m. www.worldofillumination.com.
North Pole Experience
An AZ Foothills Best of Our Valley winner for having the “Best Holiday Experience for Children,” Flagstaff’s North Pole Experience is an interactive, one-of-a-kind holiday attraction that has dazzled visitors near and far for over 15 years with immersive adventures inside Santa’s workshop—from toy-making alongside elves to visiting Mrs. Claus’s bakery, Santa’s office, Elf University and more. Now through Dec. 24. www.northpoleexperience.com.
Payson & Pine
Electric Light Parade
Payson’s festive holiday parade on Historic Main Street promises a delightful blast from the past this year. Embracing “The ’73 Jubilee” theme, the parade is set to rekindle ’70s Christmas charm. The Winter Wonderland event from 1 p.m.–5 p.m. will be one to remember with an Ice Skating Rink, pictures with Santa and delicious food. The tree lighting ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Parks and Recreation Christmas Tree in front of the Rim Country Museum. Expect vibrant displays of groovy costumes and retro revelry suitable for all ages. Dec. 9, 1 p.m.–6 p.m. www.paysonrimcountry.com.
Santa’s Workshop at The Rusty Pine Cone
Located in the heart of Pine, Ariz., Santa visits The Rusty Pine Cone gift shop each weekend starting the Friday after Thanksgiving. Take your own free photos, enjoy the festivities and have your little ones shop with the elves for secret gifts to give to family. For more details, follow @therustypinecone on Instagram and Facebook. www.therustypinecone.com.
Swiss Village Lighting
A tradition for more than 40 years is returning again to Payson. The Swiss Village Lighting event will have free crafts, live music, pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Clause, food vendors, raffle drawings, train rides and more. There is fun for the whole family at this free event on Nov. 24. www.paysonrimcountry.com/events.
Arizona Christmas City
Prescott, proudly designated as Arizona’s Christmas City by then Governor Rose Mofford in 1989, radiates festive charm from November to January with signature celebrations including a Light Parade & Bonfire, Christmas Parade & Courthouse Lighting with Fireworks, Acker Night 35th Annual Live Music Extravaganza, a Christmas Village & Christkindl Market and more. www.arizonachristmascity.com.
Grand Canyon Railway Polar Express, Williams
Inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s cherished children’s book, the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express comes to life on a 90-minute journey from the nighttime wilderness of Williams, Ariz., to the enchanted beauty of “the North Pole” with holiday songs, cookies and hot chocolate, a special reading of “The Polar Express,” and, of course, a visit by Santa himself. Now through Dec. 30. www.thetrain.com/polarexpress.
LightsUp! A Festival of Illumination at Tucson Botanical Gardens
With over one million lights, LightsUp!, a Festival of Illumination offers a little something for everyone. Custom-built, oversized props, including light tunnels, Cypress-inspired spindle trees, luminaria chandeliers and six themed light areas, comprise this beautifully curated event designed by public garden landscape architect Tres Fromme. Nov. 24, 2023–Jan. 7, 2024, Tuesday–Sunday, 6 p.m.–9:30 p.m. www.tucsonbotanical.org.
Zoo Lights at Reid Park Zoo
This year at “ZooLights: Holiday Magic” at Reid Park Zoo guests will be greeted by a glittering 25-ft tree as they make their way through a wonderland filled with thousands of Christmas lights, light shows and themed displays. There will be carousel rides and live holiday music. Santa will make an appearance each evening through Dec. 23. Hot chocolate and seasonal foods will also be available. Dec. 2–23, 2023; Dec. 26–30, 2023 and Jan. 2–7, 2024. www.reidparkzoo.org.