From socially distant Santa photos to dazzling drive-through holiday light displays, the Valley is full of safe-yet-festive fun that proves even 2020 can’t stifle the holiday spirit.
Christmas at the Princess at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess celebrates its 11th year, offering safety alongside the resort’s fun, festive offerings that the Valley has grown so fond of over the years. Now through New Year’s Eve, this year’s event will feature all the best loved attractions like rides at S’mores Land, ice-skating at Desert Ice, Lagoon Lights and the Princess Express Train along with new traditions including Twinkle Town, a land filled with twinkling lights, delectable bites and beverages (and the resort’s newest holiday character Twinkles, Santa’s brightest Christmas light!), and Lanterns of Hope, which invites guests to launch their wish-filled lanterns at the Sonoran Landing Pool. Of course, Santa pays a visit to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess each night, offering socially distanced, no-contact visits with kids and kids-at-heart (advanced tickets are required). In-house guests receive complimentary access to Christmas at the Princess; those who dine at the resort’s restaurants receive complimentary admission and 50 percent off valet parking with a $75 minimum spend; self-parking and admission is $60, includes up to four wristbands; and valet parking and admission is $90, includes up to six wristbands.
From Friday, Nov. 27, through Thursday, Dec. 24, families can safely meet and greet Santa at Scottsdale Quarter inside Santa City in The Quad. Children will have the opportunity to engage in a socially distant conversation and safely pose for a picture with Santa during their visit to Scottsdale Quarter’s North Pole. Advance registration is strongly encouraged in order to promote social distancing and contactless payment for photo packages. Walk-up visits will be permitted as space allows. Scottsdale Quarter will also offer a variety of exciting digital experiences with Santa this year.
A brand-new event this year, Holiday Lights at Salt River Fields is a unique and beautiful drive-through holiday light experience showcasing nearly 5 million lights from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31 from 5:45 to 10 p.m. Guests will wind through a sparkling pathway more than a mile long that surrounds the baseball facility. At every turn, the route will overflow with spectacular light displays, synchronized to Christmas melodies that bring popular holiday themes and characters to life. Holiday songs will be simulcast directly into vehicles on a designated FM radio signal. During the 7 p.m. hour, on Dec. 10, the first day of Hanukkah, Holiday Lights at Salt River Fields will greet visitors in a blue and white motif to honor the Jewish holiday. Tickets range from a general admission of $35 on weekdays to a $355 weekend carriage ride for 12.
Park West shopping center hosts three new community events designed to help shoppers revel in the holidays in a safe and socially distanced manner this season: the social media-based Holiday Caroling Battle; the Holiday Luminaria Walk on Nov. 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and two “Brighter Together” photo opportunities with seasonal characters (featuring Santa on Saturday, Dec. 5, and The Grinch on Saturday, Dec. 12). Each event is free, and Park West will accept non-perishable food items on behalf of St. Mary’s Food Bank. To enter the Holiday Caroling Battle, post the best family-friendly video of yourself or a group singing a holiday tune to either platform and tag @shopparkwest for a chance to be one of five winners who will receive a $100 gift card to their favorite Park West shop or restaurant. Videos must be posted by Sunday, Dec. 13, at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be selected based on the most likes/views; and winners will be notified on Tuesday, Dec. 15. For every caroling video in which Park West is tagged, the shopping center will donate seven meals to the St. Mary’s Food Bank (up to $500).
Now through Dec. 31, Tempe Marketplace and Desert Ridge Marketplace is hosting a variety of safe holiday events for the entire family. Standouts include a nightly snowfall every night at 7 and 8 p.m.; virtual Santa photos (use code “SantaTMP” or “SantaDRM” for $5 off your photo package at picturemesanta.com); and the first-ever Starry + Bright Star Tunnel, a 40-ft.-long, star-shaped tunnel to mark the season with dazzling shots and merry moments.
The City of Scottsdale announced the return of its popular holiday extravaganza, Scottsdazzle, with new events and added protocols to ensure a safe and welcoming environment. Scottsdazzle runs through Dec. 21 with celebrations surrounding the winter solstice. In addition to dedicated events, Old Town’s enhanced décor and dazzling lights sprinkled throughout the streets will remain through Jan. 3, 2021. Exciting events include Holiday Movie nights Dec. 4 (The Santa Clause), Dec. 5 (Elf) and Dec. 6 (Home Alone) on the East Lawn at Scottsdale Civic Center at 6 p.m. (online registration is required). Another must-attend event, the Gold Palette ArtWalk on Dec. 10 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., which takes place throughout the Scottsdale Arts District showcasing Old Town’s finest art galleries and encouraging art aficionados to revel in the holiday spirit with the sounds of strolling carolers, a visit from Santa and more.
For the 19th year, Outlets at Anthem is home to Arizona’s tallest fresh-cut Christmas tree. The white fir measures 70-ft.-tall, 20-ft.-wide and weighs close to four tons when completely decorated. In addition to admiring the tree, guests can stop by Santa’s Cottage through Dec. 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, bring your pup to Santa Paws for photos on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 and more.
Great Wolf Lodge Arizona’s annual Snowland celebration is filled with winter festivities Nov. 27 to Jan. 3. Families are invited to safely soak up the holiday spirit and enjoy the daily snow showers in the Grand Lobby, socially distanced Santa visits, seasonally-themed crafts, the Frosty Fest Family Dance Party and new this year: a Cocoa Trolley, which will travel floor to floor whipping up warm beverages for the whole family. Plus, retail outlets at Great Wolf Lodge will sell festive Santa Hat Wolf Ears for $6.99 with $2 from each sale being donated to Make-A-Wish. Of course, Snowland visitors have access to the hotel’s water park for a little aquatic adventuring.
From Nov. 27 to Jan. 3, make Christmas memories with your loved ones at the third-annual Lights At The Farm at Vertuccio Farms in Mesa. Activities will include the giant bubble Christmas tree, a dazzling lights tunnel, a nativity scene, Santa’s reindeer, a skating rink, a holiday hay maze, mini-golf, fire pits with s’mores and a complimentary Christmas photo booth. Tickets are $11 online; $13 at the gate.
Merry Main Street will be held in Downtown Mesa from Nov. 27 through Jan. 2, featuring the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink with more than 5,000 square feet for skating, the nearly four-story-tall Christmas tree and Santa’s sELFie stations.