With the Christmas and the holiday season in full swing, you won’t find much snow, but you will find everything else you need to get you get you excited about Christmas in Palm Springs, CA. Here are the best Palm Springs Christmas events.
Averaging 350 sunny days a year, Palm Springs makes it hard for even the biggest Scrooge to say “Bah Humbug!” Updated for the 2023 season.
Christmas in Palm Springs 2023
WildLights Holiday Festival at The Living Desert
The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Garden in Palm Desert is a magical place. With over 750,000 twinkling lights illuminating the park after dark, the WildLights Holiday Festival is a Christmas in Palm Springs tradition that will get you and your family in the holiday spirit.
In addition to the holiday light display, this event also boasts crafts for the kids, Wildlife Wonder Shows, carousel rides, and camel rides. No that isn’t a typo, they have camel rides that take you on a wild trip around the arena. Luckily, my brave four year old got this cautious mom to ride with her.
The WildLights Holiday Festival begins November 22, 2023 and runs select nights through December 30 from 6-9pm. Advance purchase tickets are required.
Winter is the perfect time to get outside in Palm Springs. Here are the best things to do in Palm Springs with kids.
Magic of Lights at Empire Polo Club
The Magic of Lights is a drive through winter wonderland featuring more than a mile of dazzling lights. Light designs feature everything from life sized dinosaurs and monster trucks to a holiday Barbie display. This event runs on evenings November 17 – December 31, 2023. Tickets are priced per vehicle and there is a $10 discount for advanced purchases online.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
“Breakfast with Santa” returns to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway on Saturday, December 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Join Mr. and Mrs. Claus for breakfast, holiday crafts, and storybook readings. Santa will also be visiting the Tramway’s Mountain Station on Saturday, December 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
If its snow you are looking for, the top of the Tramway is where you will find it. Snow may be elusive in Palm Springs, but it’s not out of the question. In fact, there’s even an annual snow guessing contest! When the snow does fall, take the tram up Mt. San Jacinto.
Due to the elevation, you can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or a good old-fashioned snowball fight all in one place. Whether you visit or not, participate in the snow prediction contest and send in your guess for a chance to win free tickets on the Aerial Tram to enjoy this fun event to celebrate Christmas in Palm Springs.
Winterfest in Indian Wells
Back for 2023, Indian Wells Winterfest will be taking place at various locations throughout the City of Indian Wells from December 1, 2023 through January 1, 2024.
It kicks off with the tree lighting at Indian Wells Golf Resort at December 2nd at 5pm. There will be holiday-spired golf events throughout the season. Choose from either the Shots in the Night Driving Range or Putting Course.
There will also be an Ice Rink at Indian Wells Winterfest throughout the season. Reservations are required.
Enjoy a drink or game at the Igloo Bubble Bar and one of the snow globes. Grab a hot chocolate from the Holiday Cookie and Candy Truck, get a photo with Santa and visit one of the food and drink pop ups located throughout the event.
Annual Palm Springs Christmas Events
Festival of Lights Parade
I figured 80,000 people lining Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs couldn’t be wrong. I had to find out for myself why people kept coming back to see this Festival of Lights Parade.
With over 20 miles of lights, marching bands, performing groups, local businesses, civic service men and women, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Needless to say, this parade demonstrated that the people of Palm Springs know how to get their holiday groove on! Our favorite part of the parade was the incredible marching bands from the local schools. The beat of the drums made the Christmas spirit come alive.
This year the 30th Anniversary parade will take place December 2, 2023 at 5:45pm.
The Walk of Inns
Take a self-guided walking tour of Palm Springs’ unique boutique hotels and historic inns, and see why this is an event not to be missed. Explore the city’s historic and mid-century modern gems decked out for the holidays.
The Walk of Inns is a free holiday event; it is also a toy drive to benefit Well in the Desert. Please consider bringing an unwrapped toy. The annual Inn Walk will be held the second Thursday of December.
Old Town Artisan Studios kicks off the holiday season by transforming their three-acre art campus into Gingerbread Lan. There will be holiday displays and a 17-foot tree as well as opportunities to decorate gingerbread cookie, paint clay ornaments, take photos with Santa, enjoy seasonal music, and more. This year’s event takes place November 25th as well as December 2, 9, and 16. Best of all, it’s free!
Snowtopia at the Palm Springs Air Museum
Snowtopia is one of the Palm Springs Air Museum’s signature events It takes place from 6-9pm December 19 – 23, 2023. Each evening Santa Claus and his friends will arrive at the Air Museum there will be a playground of 40 tons of real snow, craft making, hot chocolate, smore’s and more! Kids 3 and under get in free. Be sure to buy your tickets online in advance!
Indio International Tamale Festival
The Food Network ranked the Indio International Tamale Festival in the top 10 “All American Food Festivals” in the nation. With plenty of family activities, the Tamale Festival is delicious and fun! This year’s event takes place December 2 & 3, 2023. Admission is free.
Christmas in Palm Springs – Themed Lodging
Coming from out of town? The Palm Springs area boasts quite a few great resorts that feature family-friendly holiday fun throughout the season.
Miramonte Resort and Spa
The Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa is the perfect complement to your holiday vacation and a place to experience several Palm Springs Christmas events. On our quest to find some holiday cheer in the desert, my daughter and I found more than we had expected.
We roasted chestnuts, toasted s’mores, decorated cookies, made a craft, wrote a letter to Santa, and Mrs. Claus read books. When there wasn’t an activity going on, we spent time in the game room which is suitable for infants to adults.
La Quinta Resort and Club
In neighboring La Quinta, be sure to book a stay the uber-luxe La Quinta Resort and Club. In addition to fine lodging, La Quinta offers outdoor fire pits, nostalgic Christmas decorations, chestnut roasting, kid-friendly crafts, breakfast with Santa, and family activities. Families will enjoy activities such as fudge-making classes and more, all offered daily at the resort.
You won’t miss their 50-foot white fir Christmas tree on the main plaza. Beautifully lit, this tree serves as the centerpiece for the surprisingly festive environment. Every Friday, guests can watch an outdoor screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the iconic film by Frank Capra who spent a great deal of time at the resort.
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is hosting some holiday fun this season! Most notably, there will be a life-size gingerbread house inspired by the Coachella Valley.
Join your family on a holiday dressed Gondola Sleigh Ride driven by an Elf – sail through the Venetian-inspired canals! A stay at the AAA Four-Diamond resort also includes festive holiday decorations, seasonal menus, pools, golf, and tennis courts to round out your Christmas in Palm Springs.
Is there a Christmas in Palm Springs event we missed? Does your business have updated information to share? Email [email protected] and tell us about it!
Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.
Special thanks to Sisily Calvert who wrote the original version of this article.
Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun and Palm Springs Christmas Events; we update it yearly:
Disclosure: A joyful thanks to the Palm Springs Visitors Center who helped arrange a wonderful holiday visit for Sisily and her family to Palm Springs. Thanks also to the Miramonte Resort and Spa in Indian Wells for hosting Sisily and her family so that she could share her experience. She was not asked by anyone mentioned in this article to share a particular point of view and all opinions are her own.