2018 Holiday Happenings in Phoenix

From light displays to winter wonderlands, there is so much to see and do in the Valley of the Sun.

From stunning light displays to festive holiday events, there are a myriad of ways to celebrate the holiday season in the Valley of the Sun.

Holiday Events/Destinations

Scottsdazzle: This monthlong City of Scottsdale event incorporates multiple signature happenings through Dec. 22. View the holiday tree at the Scottsdale Waterfront, visit Sugar Plum Avenue, attend the Java Jingle Crawl and Canal Concerts, and more. 

Christmas tree and a balloon dancer

Christmas at The Princess: The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess transforms into a winter wonderland complete with a four-story musical tree, real ice skating rink, Santa’s Secret Headquarters, rides, 4.5 million lights, a Princess Express train, a Build-A-Bear shop, and character appearances. Through Dec. 31. 

Santa HQ: Santa sets up his headquarters at Scottsdale Fashion Square through Dec. 24. Visit the Elf Academy and stand in front of the Magic Mirror, create an Elf-ID card, check out the Naughty or Nice Meter and Elf-Ray Vision, and take a photo with Santa. 

CitySkate at CityScape Phoenix: The Valley’s largest holiday rink returns to Downtown Phoenix through Jan. 6, 2019. Skate on real ice, enjoy thousands of twinkling lights plus holiday happenings, and explore festive art installations. Every Wed. a portion of general admission goes to a nonprofit. 

Skate Westgate: Westgate Entertainment Center becomes holiday central with a 36-ft. tree, real ice skating rink (through Jan. 13, 2019), visits with Santa, a nightly snowfall, free horse-drawn carriage rides, a menorah lighting, and live music on Fri. and Sat. nights.

Glendale Glitters: In Glendale, 16 blocks are lit with 1.6 million lights all month, plus on Dec. 14-15, enjoy special weekend festivities. 

Light Displays

Valley light displays are plentiful throughout the month. Millions of lights illuminate Phoenix Zoo during ZooLights (through Jan. 13, 2019), an event which also includes entertainment and live reindeer.

More than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags light up the night during Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden (through Dec. 31).

boy looking at holiday lights

Drive through the animated Illumination: Symphony of Light (through Dec. 31), this year in two locations (Phoenix and Tempe).

Take a train ride through the Holiday Lights (through Jan. 6, 2019; closed select days) at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

Gingerbread Events

Stop by the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa to view a special Gingerbread Village, measuring 26x16 feet in diameter, and created with a wonderland theme (complete with a queen’s chair; mushrooms; and the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and Cheshire Cat!). Construction of the village, which was led by Executive Pastry Chef Chris Cwierz and is on view all month, took seven weeks.

At the Arizona Biltmore, Afternoon Tea—with its menu of sandwiches, pastries and loose-leaf teas—has been a tradition for more than 88 years. To celebrate the holiday, the event takes a twist, transforming to a Gingerbread Tea. Enjoy a unique, themed menu featuring a gingerbread cookie for children and a glass of champagne for adults. Offered Wed.-Sun. through Dec. 24; seatings are limited.


Michelle Glicksman
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