From tree-lighting ceremonies and photos with Santa to Christmas movies under the stars and DJs spinning holiday classics, here are 30-plus ways to savor the seasonal spirit in Phoenix and beyond.
On Nov. 26, between 4 and 9 p.m., the Fantasy of Lights Street Parade and Tree Lighting officially kicks off the holiday season. Families are invited to enjoy holiday eats and treats and take a stroll through a special holiday market before the street parade begins at Mill Avenue and 3rd Street and the lighting of the 40-ft. holiday tree at Centerpoint Plaza on 7th Street, just west of Mill Avenue at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Nov. 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Park West invites guests to get into the spirit of the holidays with a visit from Santa himself. Take complimentary pics against a holly jolly backdrop featuring a classic airstream camper and Christmas trees. Plus, DJ Pulse will be spinning classic holiday tunes.
The Montauk in Old Town Scottsdale is getting into the holiday spirit every Wednesday with Christmas Movie Nights. Guests can enjoy half off bottles of wine, live music from local artists from 6 to 8 p.m. and a classic Christmas movie starting at 8 p.m. (Dec. 1: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Dec. 8: Elf; Dec. 15: A Christmas Story; and Dec. 22: Home Alone)
Guests are invited to the SHOPS at Gainey Village on Dec. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. during the sixth-annual Holiday Wine and Dine Christmas event. The free event will include live music, a blow-up snow globe, delicious baked goods, coffee and hot chocolate by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, wine tastings and visits with Santa himself.
Santa’s Circus, a holiday-themed, high-energy acrobatic show, is coming to Arizona for the first time Dec. 2 to Dec. 5 at The Madison Center for the Arts. Santa’s Circus is a high-energy, colorful, cirque-style show for the whole family. Plus, meet and greet your favorite Christmas characters and write your own letter to Santa with the help of Mrs. Claus. Tickets are $35 to $65.
Almost Famous Theatre Company presents Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – A Young Adult Production: Dec. 3 to Dec. 5
Based on the timeless classic, Almost Famous Theatre Company presents Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – A Young Adult Production is a musical adaptation with 17 Irving Berlin songs and a dazzling score. The event takes place at The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Center of Phoenix. Tickets are available here.
From 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Dec. 4, the W Scottsdale will fully transform into a dazzling Winter Wonderland dream where the desert meets magical snowscape. Half of its pool will be transformed into a ice-skating rink, the area will be decked with twinkling lights and Cottontail Lounge’s frosty ambiance will welcome an aerial show. Complete with ice sculptures, a bar made of ice and a glittering ambience, the ticketed event will start out at $25, with the possibility to rent out tables and cabanas.
L’Auberge de Sedona guests can take part in the cherished Tree Lighting Ceremony on property Sunday, Dec. 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. Throughout the season, guests can enjoy seasonal eats (including special menus at Cress on Oak Creek), live music, specialty activations led by local experts (like ornament- and gingerbread cookie-making), timely spa treatments and more.
The Wine Store by Tarbell’s will be hosting a holiday block party and wine sale event with culinary delights, premium wine tastes, a local farmers market, fun contests and live music in the Tarbell’s parking lot at Camelback East Village on Sunday, Dec. 5, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Lost Our Home Pet Rescue’s 12th Annual Holiday Champagne Brunch & Auction takes place at Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. This annual event raises critical funds needed to support services and programs to continue to provide for pets and people in our community. Tickets start at $125 per person.
Dream City Church hosts Celebration of Christmas Dec. 9 to Dec. 19 at its Phoenix campus. The performance features a full orchestra and state-of-the-art technology with special effects, dance numbers, stunts and more. Tickets range from $10 to $30.
Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows is kicking off the holiday season with the return of its second annual Luminarias Holiday Market on Dec. 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. The resort has invited 22 local artisans, and guests can splurge on a variety of apparel, home décor, jewelry and art. Surrounded by more than 500 beautiful luminaries, guests can enjoy a one-night only outdoor holiday market and listen to live music from Joel Dalton to celebrate the holidays.
Ballet Arizona is proud to announce its 36th year of The Nutcracker performances, choreographed by Artistic Director Ib Andersen and offering a total of 15 performances through Christmas Eve. Afternoon and evening shows are available at Symphony Hall in Downtown Phoenix. All performances are accompanied with live music by The Phoenix Symphony. Ticket prices for The Nutcracker start at $25, with various packages available.
The Zoppé Family celebrates their 15th year of performing in the state this holiday season. The intimate Italian circus is back and better than ever under the 500-seat Big Top with this year’s show theme, “La Vita Nuova,” or “The New Life.” The one-ring circus celebrates the tradition of Old World Italian circus arts, like acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowning and expert jugglers. Zoppé: An Italian Family Circus “La Vita Nuova” takes place in Chandler at Rawhide through Dec. 18 and in Tempe at Big Surf from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2. Tickets range from $30 to $60 per person.
One of the Valley’s most unique holiday events and celebrated traditions returns on Dec. 11 as Tempe Town Lake hosts a festive boat parade at 6 p.m. and fireworks show at 8 p.m. The free event also features live music, and local shopping and dining opportunities.
JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa Presents Holiday Jukebox featuring Haley Reinhart: Dec. 17
On Friday, Dec. 17, from 8 to 9:30 p.m., enjoy an 80-minute show with renditions of your favorite Christmas hits by Haley Reinhart, former “American Idol” contestant, at the Mummy Mountain Cookout at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. General admission is $35 per person; VIP table for four for $300, including a bottle of Paul Hobbs wine. Tickets can be reserved here.
Uptown Plaza is getting in the holiday spirit with its Christmas at the Plaza celebration on Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shoppers can enjoy hot cocoa and apple cider from AJ’s while children make holiday crafts in the courtyard. Dickens Carolers will also be walking throughout the plaza singing holiday classics. Plus, check out the 12-ft. Santa sitting atop Uptown Plaza’s newest tenant, Dapper & Stout.
Welcome winter solstice and commemorate the longest night of the year with meditation, sound healing and intention setting at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North on Tuesday, Dec. 21. The evening begins at 5 p.m. Following the class, guests are invited to set their intentions and release any negativity, and complimentary wassail will be served. Open to both resort and local guests (bring your own yoga mat), the winter solstice experience is $25 per person.
Scottsdale Quarter transforms into a holiday wonderland full of free events and activities throughout December including the annual tree lighting ceremony and Santa Social (Nov. 27), photos with Santa (through Christmas Eve), holiday films (Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17), festive weekend entertainment and much more excitement for the entire family.
Santa Claus came to town and is taking photos at Scottsdale Fashion Square’s Palm Court through Christmas Eve. To reduce wait times and ensure social distance, families are encouraged to schedule their visits with Santa via his special booking website at fashionsquare.com/SantaPhotos. In collaboration with Autism Speaks on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Sensory Santa brings the magic to everyone by providing a compassionate environment where families are encouraged to visit Santa at their own pace. More details are available here. On Dec. 6, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, from 4 to 8 p.m., Santa with strike a pose with Fido and Fluffy during the Santa Paws Pet Photo Experience.
The North Pole Experience, the Home of Santa’s Workshop, is heading into its 12th year. Located in Flagstaff, the North Pole Experience gives families a behind-the-scenes trip to Santa’s workshop. The NPX adventure begins at the Little America Hotel in Flagstaff, where families receive their golden ticket to the trolley that transports them to activity-packed Santa’s Workshop. Tickets to limited remaining dates are available here.
Scottsdazzle, the City of Scottsdale’s popular holiday extravaganza that brings a variety of festive activities and fun events, kicks off Saturday, Nov. 27 with the signature Sing-Along & Tree Lighting Ceremony at 7 p.m. Scottsdazzle also hosts a jam-packed schedule of festive make-and-takes, workshops, yoga classes and much more throughout Old Town through Dec. 31.
This winter, The Wigwam is spreading comfort and joy with its schedule of special events and seasonal celebrations, including breakfasts with Santa himself (select weekends Nov. 27 to Dec. 19), the resort’s annual tree lighting (Nov. 26) and even a Holiday Family Fun Package for stays on select dates between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31 to ring in the season.
Through Dec. 31, Desert Ridge Marketplace will transform into a living snow globe with its Nightly Snowfall every evening at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. near AMC Theatres (excluding Christmas Day). Plus, guests will enjoy snowfall every hour on Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Through Dec. 22, guests can visit the Salvation Army Christmas Angel Tree near Dave & Buster’s, pull a tag and shop for a gift for children in need. Visitors can also enjoy many photos opps, a 20-ft.-long Starry & Bright star tunnel, a 40-ft.-tall Holiday Tree and much more.
The Holiday Light Experience at Salt River Fields is a dazzling drive-through holiday light show showcasing nearly 5 million lights and 1.2 miles of displays. New this year, Santa’s Village is a magical spot with hot chocolate, snacks, gift shopping, the Holiday Light Theatre and a visit from Santa. Hours are 6 to 9 p.m. daily with tickets ranging from a general admission of $35 on weekdays to a $375 weekend carriage ride for 12.
For 12 years, Christmas at the Princess at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has dazzled Valley families with its four-story musical Christmas tree, Princess Express Train, Desert Ice skating rink and millions of Lagoon Lights. This year, the six-week festival, taking place through Jan. 2, adds fun new experiences to its festive lineup of fun, including The Village, Twinkle Town, The Lodge and A Christmas Wish. And, of course, no visit to Christmas at the Princess is complete without a visit with Santa (reservations are required). Full ticket information can be found here.
This holiday season, the four greatest rock n’ rollers in history are gathering at The Phoenix Theatre Company for the world premiere of Million Dollar Quartet Christmas. Great on their own but even better together, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley continue their story on stage through through Jan. 2. The theater has designated the Dec. 18 performances of Million Dollar Quartet Christmas as mask and vaccination required.
Every year, Arizona Center transforms into a holiday-themed experience, this year running through Jan. 3. Arizona Center will become every kid’s dream with Downtown Toy Town and will host a series of free events for the holidays including the tree lighting with Mayor Kate Gallego (Nov. 27), holiday kite decorating and a holiday concert series with local bands performing live in the Grotto on various dates.
Hop on board the Paradise & Pacific Railroad at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale and experience a winter wonderland of holiday lights and displays. Santa will also be at the park nightly through Dec. 23 to visit and take photos with. The event will feature limited capacity of people per one hour and a half time blocks at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. nightly; tickets are $15.
From Nov. 28 through Jan. 5, Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale hosts a variety of themed crafts, holiday stories and songs, daily snow showers, games and plenty of holiday fun during its annual Snowland celebration. Plus, new this year, families can recharge between waterpark attractions at the decked-out Snowland Cabanas (reservation required). During the Hanukkah season from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6, there will be daily lighting of the menorah candle (excluding Friday), located in the Grand Lobby.
CityScape Phoenix is back for a six-week run Nov. 26 through Jan. 5. Downtown Phoenix’s real outdoor ice-skating rink, decked in festive decor and twinkling lights, has a new look and location this year, found at Patriot’s Park in the center of CityScape. CitySkate ticket pricing includes skate rental and 90 minutes of skate time during designated skate sessions. General admission is $18 per person; admission for military, seniors and children 8 and under are $13 per person; admission for children 3 and under is free.
A Valley tradition for three decades, Zoolights at Phoenix Zoo welcomes guests and members to experience millions of twinkling lights, illuminated animal sculptures, two music-in-motion light shows and much more through Jan. 15. Both walk-through and cruise the zoo options are available.
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock‘ s Winter Wonderland is back in full force this holiday season. In addition to its amazing igloo experience (each igloo can accommodate groups of two to six guests for nightly seating times between 4 and 9 p.m.), Hilton Sedona is also offering a festive themed activity lineup for guests from gingerbread-infused spa treatments to melt the holiday stress away to over 40 Fit-mas classes to keep you both busy and in the Christmas spirit.
VH Spa at Hotel Valley Ho in Old Town Scottsdale is making spirits bright with its 90-minute Holiday Lights Massage + Reflexology, a massage featuring acupressure, peppermint aromatherapy and infrared light therapy for pain reduction ($185, originally $255). Or, try the 60-minute A-Brite Facial + LED Masque, offering the latest innovation in cosmeceuticals from Priori ($160, originally $195). These winter specials are available from December through January and include access to the hotel’s two pools, a drink voucher to use anywhere on property, valet parking, and fitness center access. Reserve your spa service by calling 480.421.7777.