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Winter is truly the most wonderful time of the year in Phoenix. The hot summer days transform into perfect daytime temperatures averaging 75℉. It’s the ideal escape for your winter holidays. Phoenix offers a wide range of light displays, holiday shows, and winter festivals, including some with real snow! Check out all the events and activities that families love during the holidays and Christmas events in Phoenix. Updated for 2018!
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Feel the magic of the holidays through some of the amazing light displays around town. Check out Arizona’s largest drive-through light show, Illumination. This state-of-the-art display dances to synchronized holiday music.
Phoenix Zoo brightens the 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. 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags line the paths while handbells and mariachis play songs of the season.
What better way to experience Christmas events in Phoenix than on a train? At McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park ride through fantastic light displays on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad.
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 resorts, transforming the building facades into castles, gingerbread houses, and more. These shows are free and open to the public.
Another free show is the parades in Tempe. Tempe’s Fantasy of Lights Parade and Fantasy of Light Boat Parade dazzle spectators with twinkling lights, Santa, and fireworks.
Families can still experience a bit of winter fun while enjoying the beautiful winter weather of Phoenix. Skate outdoors at CitySkate at CityScape or Stake Westgate in Glendale throughout the month of December and the beginning of January. Mesa will also have an ice skating rink through the holiday season right outside City Plaza.
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. Additionally, 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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Experience the timeless tradition of The Nutcracker ballet. One of the best places to enjoy the show 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.
Local communities really know how to celebrate Christmas in Phoenix. For over twenty years, 16 blocks of downtown Glendale twinkle with over 1.5 million lights every night during the Glendale Glitters Festival. Festival attendees visit Santa, play in the 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, holiday shopping, photo ops with St. Nick, and much more.
The Scottsdazzle holiday extravaganza kicks off with a tree lighting and sing-along celebration the Saturday following Thanksgiving. The whole month of December Old Town Scottsdale is filled with activities, entertainment, and festive decor. New this year, Mesa joins in the festival fun with Merry Main Street. Experience the Polar Express in the Light Rail train. Visit Santa on the weekends, shop local vendors, and stop by Santa’s sELFie Stations. And we can’t forget Peoria’s Old Town Holiday Festival. For one night only Old Town Peoria is transformed to a magical world of snow, Santa, and fun activities.
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. Limited seating allows 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 also 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.
At the HD South Breakfast with Santa, snap a photo with Santa and eat a breakfast catered by Snooze, An A.M. Eatery. Or head over to The Children’s Museum of Phoenix for a kid-friendly morning feast. Families also enjoy a meet-and-greet with Santa and museum play time. Be sure to check venue websites for events dates and times.
Look for the best hotel prices for Christmas events in Phoenix.
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