While it is unlikely there will be snow this December, there are still so many fun ways to get festive and celebrate the holiday season around the Valley this year. Events might be socially distanced, but they are not short on holiday cheer! One of the major perks of living in Arizona is that you can take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy celebrating outside. Take a look at the list below and make some plans for your holiday season.
Las Noches de las Luminarias
Photo credit: Visit Phoenix
Strolling through the Desert Botanical Garden to witness Las Noches de las Luminarias is a magical experience. Soak in the beauty of the botanical garden set against the background of eight thousand luminaries and twinkling lights. Many of the exhibits are lit so that you can still enjoy the cacti and native desert plants after dark.
On your way in, stop to grab a festive cocktail to sip on as you walk through the garden and listen to the holiday performances. This year, the musical performances will be pre-recorded in advance.
The price of admission is $29.95 for adults and $10.95 for children. You must reserve your date and time slot in advance. This year, they are also offering a “silent night” luminaries experience for people who want an evening of self-reflection and peace in the botanical garden.
World of Illumination
Photo credit: Newswire
Drive-thru events are all the rage this year as a safe way to spend time with your family and friends. Visit the World of Illumination any day in December for an amazing animated light show, set to synchronized holiday music. This attraction takes about 25 minutes to drive through, and is sure to be a hit with the whole family. This year they have set up locations in Glendale in the Westgate Shopping Center, and in Tempe at Diablo Stadium, making it easy to visit no matter where you are in the metroplex.
Zoolights at the Phoenix Zoo
Photo credit: NorthPhoenixFamily
Zoolights is one of the most popular annual holiday events in Phoenix for good reason! It is truly an event for all ages, and makes for a perfect date night spot or a fun outing with your family.
Zoolights offers an after-hours experience at the Phoenix Zoo. While you won’t get to see too many animals at night, the real highlight is the Christmas lights. The zoo transforms into a festive winter wonderland with light shows, carolers, and festive treats.
This year, Zoolights is offering two different options: a walking tour and a cruise zoo lights in your car tour. The walk-thru tour costs $20 a person, while the drive-thru tour is $75 a car. Know that if you opt for the walking tour, masks must be worn for anyone over two years old this year.
In the past, the Zoolights experience can be quite popular in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so a pro-tip for avoiding the crowds is to visit in the week after December 25th. The exhibit remains open until January 31st this year, and Zoolights is a great way to keep the festive feeling going into the new year!
Ride the Train at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Photo credit: TravelingMom
The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is one of the best kid-friendly places to get in the holiday spirit, right in the heart of Scottsdale. Take a spin around the park on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad, a train experience that is bound to delight your kids. The train takes you on a loop around the park, allowing you to appreciate the holiday lights display. The park provides ample room for kids to run around and play. Make sure to stop by the General Store to pick up some hot chocolate to sip on as you ride the train!
This year they are limiting the train capacity to 50% to allow for a more spaced out and less crowded experience. The tickets are $15 a person, with free admission for children two and under. The tickets guarantee you access to the train and carousel rides for an hour and a half block of time.
Ice Skate in the Desert
Photo credit: Travelzoo
Your eyes do not deceive you, there is a spot where you can enjoy ice skating outside in Scottsdale this winter! Made with real ice, the Scottsdale Princess is opening their desert ice skating rink for the eleventh year in a row.
Visit at night to enjoy the resort’s incredible Christmas display, which includes over 5 million LED lights. If you bring your kids, the resort also has s’mores roasting and a station where you can get your picture taken with Santa. With so many activities to choose from, you can spend a whole night getting lost in this holiday experience!
Stroll through the Artists of the Superstitions Holiday Art Show
Photo credit: YourValley.net
If you find yourself looking for the perfect Christmas gift, the Artists of the Superstitions art show is a fantastic place to pick up a one-of-a-kind present! It takes place all day on December 12th at the Mountain View Lutheran Church in Apache Junction.
This event is free to the public and will feature a very diverse array of local artwork including ceramics, jewelry, and woodworking. This is a great weekend outing for the art aficionado, or anyone who wants to shop locally for their gifts this year.
Watch a holiday movie at the Royal Palms Resort
Photo credit: Visit Phoenix
Mild winter nights are perfect for getting cozy and enjoying time outside. On December 18th at 7 pm, you can watch the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life on the lawn of the Royal Palms Resort, set against the stunning backdrop of Camelback Mountain. They will have couches, poufs, and blankets set out in pods for each individual group to safely enjoy the movie.
This event is completely free to the public and guests will be socially distanced. To make it even more special, guests will be able to purchase snack boxes and cocktails while they watch.
Watch Ballet Arizona’s Performance of the Nutcracker Suite
Photo credit: Ballet Arizona
The quintessential way to celebrate the holidays is with the beautiful ballet The Nutcracker! There is no better way to kick off your holiday week than with Tchaikovsky’s stunning music and the talented Ballet Arizona performers.
This year Ballet Arizona is taking their performance online. For $20, you can purchase access to the digital performance. It will be available to stream on the respective dates of December 23th and December 28th for up to 24 hours. Make plans to get cozy in your pajamas, whip up some warm drinks, and dance along to the ballet from the comfort of your own home!
Photos with Santa
Photo credit: Noosa News
The holiday season would not be complete without the classic photo with Santa Claus. This year your kids can still get their photo and visit with Saint Nick, but there won’t be any sitting on Santa’s lap. You can book a contactless visit with Santa at a wide variety of locations around the Valley, including the Chandler Fashion Mall, Paradise Valley Mall, Kierland Commons, and Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. Make sure to plan ahead and schedule your visit before you go!