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Winter is truly the most wonderful time of the year in Phoenix. The hot summer days are replaced with perfect daytime temperatures averaging 75℉. It’s the perfect escape for your winter holidays. Phoenix offers a wide range of light displays, holiday shows, and winter festivals, including ones with real snow. Check out all the events and activities that families love during the holidays and Christmas in Phoenix, Arizona.
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Light Shows and Displays
Feel the magic of the holidays through some of the amazing light displays around town. Phoenix Zoo brightens the night mid-November through mid-January during their annual ZooLights event. Millions of lights and hundreds of illuminated displays enchant families as they wander the zoo grounds. Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden offers guests a chance to experience the gardens by the glow of candles and twinkling lights as 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags line the paths while hand bells and mariachis play songs of the season. Stop by the Christmas Lights at the Mesa Arizona Temple Gardens to celebrate the birth of Christ with hundreds of thousands of beautifully displayed lights as well as a life-size nativity and nightly musical performances. Both the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’s annual Christmas at the Princess and Westin Kierland Resort & Spa’s annual Family FunFest boast spectacular animated light shows every evening throughout the holiday season. Scenes are projected onto the resort transforming the building facades into castles, gingerbread houses, and more. These shows are free and open to the public.
Ice and Snow
Photo by Tiffany Vaughn
Families can still experience a bit of winter fun while enjoying the beautiful winter weather of Phoenix. Skate in the city’s only outdoor ice rink, CitySkate at CityScape, throughout the month of December. Mid-December, The Children’s Museum of Phoenix hosts Snow Much Fun Day where museum guests get to play in 20 tons of snow. Ride a small train to a Winter Wonderland at Enchanted Island the weekend before Christmas. Once you arrive you can sled, visit Santa, and feast on cocoa and candy canes. Visitors play in 30 tons of snow and participate in some snowy science experiments during Arizona Science Center’s annual Snow Week, December 26th-January 1st.
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The Nutcracker ballet is a timeless holiday tradition and one of the best places to experience it is with Ballet Arizona at Symphony Hall. The nationally recognized dancers continue to captivate audiences year after year. The Phoenix Ballet also puts on a spectacular performance of The Nutcracker featuring live music by the Phoenix Symphony select weekends in December at the Orpheum Theater. The Phoenix Symphony performs their annual Holiday Pops concert at Symphony Hall with the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Families will love listening to holiday favorites and especially joining in for a sing-along. The Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents The Night Before Christmas every year through puppetry in a musical performance all ages are sure to love. Traditional and unique holiday plays can be found at venues across the valley such as Mesa Arts Center and Tempe Center for the Arts. Shows change annually so be sure to check their websites for this year’s performance information.
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For over twenty years, 16 blocks of downtown Glendale twinkle with over 1.5 million lights every night during the Glendale Glitters Festival. Weekends from late November to early January, festival attendees visit Santa, play in snow, listen to live music, dine, and shop. This free event is a favorite with local Arizona families. Another great holiday event is the Carefree Christmas Festival. Weekends in December, downtown Carefree is transformed into a winter wonderland perfect for family fun. Slide through 35 tons of real snow. Enjoy an electric light parade, firework show, great food and holiday shopping, photo ops with St. Nick and much more.
Breakfast with Santa
Photo by Tiffany Vaughn
Can’t get enough of Kris Kringle? Let the kids get some face time with the big guy at The Wigwam Resort during their annual Breakfast with Santa. Enjoy a breakfast buffet full of kid and adult favorites, including a fresh pancake bar and hot cocoa. Seating is limited to allow families plenty of time to get pictures and have the little ones tell Santa everything they want for Christmas. Between bites of food and whispers to Santa, children are entertained with a variety of holiday crafts activities. Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort hosts a breakfast with both Mr. and Mrs. Claus at Rico’s American Grill. While Santa tells stories and listens to Christmas wishes, Mrs. Claus helps with cookie decorating and gingerbread activity books.
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