Guide to Christmas in Phoenix: Events, Festivals, and Attractions

Despite its desert setting, the Christmas spirit permeates the Phoenix area with festivals, holiday bazaars, crafts for kids, ice skating, tree lighting ceremonies, and of course, Santa sightings all season long.

From getting your picture taken with Santa at local malls to attending a  holiday performance, driving through  Christmas lights or taking the family out to dinner on  Christmas Day, you and your family will find plenty to do this holiday season in Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. Many events are free, but there may be parking fees or fees for certain activities at an event, and all dates, times, and offerings are subject to change without notice.

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    Fairmont Scottsdale Princess christmas tree
    Courtesy of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

    The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess kicks off the Ninth Annual Christmas at the Princess festival on November 20, 2018, with the lighting of the musical tree, a 45-foot tree that holds 67,000 LED lights that “twinkle and dance” to holiday songs.

    Santa arrives on opening night, and music, refreshments, ice skating, and activities entertain the whole family nightly throughout the holiday season.

    The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess events run through December 31, 2018

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    Skate Westgate in Glendale
    Courtesy of Westgate Entertainment District

    The Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale spreads holiday cheer with a professional ice skating performance, public skating sessions, a tree lighting ceremony, visits from Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, nightly snowfall, and a menorah lighting.

    Festivities kick off on Tuesday, November 20, 2018, with the holiday tree lighting, first snowfall, and Skate Westgate events; events and attractions will continue until Christmas Eve.

    The Skate Westgate rink will be open from November 3, 2018, to January 13, 2019.

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    ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo
    Judy Hedding

    Each year the Phoenix Zoo puts up a display of holiday lights that transform the animal exhibits into a winter wonderland full of activities that are fun for the whole family. Because ZooLights takes place in the evening, you won't see many live animals, but you will see lighted animal sculptures.

    ZooLights will take place from November 21, 2018, to January 13, 2019, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. nightly. The event will feature millions of lights as well as a 200-foot-long Polar Slide, visits with live reindeer, a fun 4-D Theater event, and an entirely new exhibit at Stingray Bay.

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    Snowfall at Rawhide Western Town
    Courtesy of Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse

    Join Santa for the nightly snowfall and a tree-lighting ceremony on Main Street in Chandler at the Rawhide Wild Horse Pass for Snowy Christmas, which will take place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from November 22 to December 23, 2018. 

    Lights, entertainment, holiday stunt shows, and Santa are all part of the celebration. Drop off your letter to Santa at Rawhide’s “Delivery to the SW Pole” mailbox or grab a photo with Santa throughout the event. Regular admission prices apply as well as a small parking charge.

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    The Santa Train
    Frank & Dianne Polimene

    The Polimene family tradition of The Santa Train goes back 40 years and celebrates its 28th year in Arizona in 2018; the attraction has added new segments to the mountain tree and snow lake shows.

    Visitors control a home-made 1/6 scale train as it travels over 80 feet of track, activating several features along the way: a crossing gate, an erupting volcano, a Ferris wheel, a lighted bridge, a moving carousel, a candy cane factory, and candy cane dispenser. Free candy canes are presented to all young visitors until 9 p.m. via one of the train cars.

    The Santa Train will be set up at 541 East Mountain Sky Avenue in Ahwatukee, Phoenix, Arizona, from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Eve and will be available to view and operate each evening from dusk to 11 p.m.

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    Winter Wonderland
    Courtesy of Butterfly Wonderland

    Butterfly Wonderland transforms into "Christmas in the Rainforest" to kick off the holiday season with colorful holiday décor. Guests enjoy 7-foot living angels with expansive wings that add an ethereal aura to the Conservatory, while musical groups including Scottsdale Strings, Aaron White, and others fill the air with the serene sounds of the season. Regular admission applies.

    In 2018: Variable days and hours from November 23 to December 28

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    Las Noches de las Luminarias
    Courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden

    Each year during the holiday season, the Desert Botanical Garden lines the paths of this extraordinary desert garden with thousands of luminarias. The Garden takes on a magical atmosphere as the sun sets in the desert and guests stroll the garden pathways.

    Along with the luminaria-lit paths and romantic ambiance, the Desert Botanical Garden also features a number of live entertainers nightly, ranging from mariachi and dance to classical crossover, Americana, Gypsy Soul, and swing.

    In 2018 the Garden lighting will be even brighter as the soft glow of the luminarias meets the vibrant special effects show, "Electric Desert: A Light and Sound Experience." 

    In 2018: December 1 - 23 and 26 - 31, 2018

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    Concert at the Mesa Arizona Temple
    Judy Hedding

    The annual Mesa Temple Garden Christmas Lights display conveys peace and goodwill of the season with a unique and spectacular exhibit of hundreds of thousands of lights that serve as a backdrop for the sounds of the holidays. 

    This year, however, due to the Mesa Temple renovations, the Christmas Lights display has been postponed until 2020.  A special Christmas Concert Series will still be held at the Inter Stake Center Auditorium which is close-by.

    In 2018: Concert series only on variable dates November 25, 2018, through December 23, 2018. Look for the lighting display to return in 2020.

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    PaintScaping at Westin Kierland Resort
    Courtesy of Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

    The Resort transforms into a winter wonderland as the walls of the Westin Kierland come alive with PaintScaping, themed 3-D images, and animations set to holiday music. Between show times, the resort is decorated with a seasonal light display. Free admission.

    On the first night, Santa will excite children as he rappels down the 11-story resort in the midst of the Westin Wonderland holiday light display.

    In 2018: Thanksgiving Friday to New Year's Eve

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    The Phoenician, Scottsdale
    Judy Hedding

    The Phoenician continues a time-honored tradition of breakfast with Santa, along with cookie decorating and a photo keepsake to take home. Guests of the resort can join a one-hour guided exploration of the 250 varieties of cacti on the 2-acre desert retreat, which are adorned with holidays lights during the season.

    In 2018: December 8 and 15 for breakfast with Santa; every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in December for the garden tour.

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    Merry Main Street in Mesa
    Courtesy of City of Mesa

    The festivities begin in downtown Mesa with an evening of music, food, and fun for everyone. Beginning with a tree-lighting ceremony, you can spend the evening strolling through downtown enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season.

    Merry Main Street features the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink of more than 4,000 square feet. Other key attractions at Merry Main Street include the Jack Frost Food Truck Forest and numerous sELFie photo stations. Friday and Saturday evenings feature arts, crafts, and local vendors along Main Street.

    Take advantage of the Merry Main Express Free Fare Zone to ride the light rail between Country Club Drive and Mesa Drive from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends after Thanksgiving through the end of December.

    In 2010 - 2019: November 23 to January 4, 2019

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    Ice skating at the Wigwam
    Courtesy of The Wigwam

    Join this annual holiday event at the Wigwam at Litchfield Park in the West Valley with a tree lighting, Santa, snow slide, and holiday ice skating.

    The annual tree lighting and festivities take place on the resort's front lawn at 5:30 - 8 p.m. on November 23, 2018.

    "Holiday Nights in Lights" glows for visitors on December 7, 14, and 21, 2018. You and the kids can have breakfast with Santa on Saturdays, November 24 - December 22 and Sundays December 16 and December 22, 2018.

    In 2018: Holiday events kick off on November 23, 2018, and run through Christmas Day.

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    Santa Wine Around at Scottsdazzle
    Judy Hedding

    Scottsdazzle transforms downtown Scottsdale into a holiday extravaganza. Highlights of the month-long event include a Christmas tree lighting, the Gold Palette ArtWalk, holiday culinary tours, free concerts, a fashion show, and farmer's market among other activities and events.

    In 2018 - 2019: November 24 to January 1, 2019

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    Christmas lights in Glendale
    Courtesy of City of Glendale

    Downtown Glendale presents themed events on various weekends throughout the holidays. On opening night, the Glendale Glitters Spectacular Weekend features holiday entertainment, food, hand-crafted holiday gifts, a children’s winter wonderland, shopping, and visits with Santa.

    The stage show counts down to the lighting ceremony on the opening Friday evening. The grand finale, called the Glitter & Glow Block Party, takes place in January. Free admission to all events, though there may be a charge for some activities.

    In 2018: November 23 and select evenings through January 12, 2019, the grand finale party.

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    Ahwatukee Christmas lights
    Courtesy of Ahwatukee Chamber

    Visit Ahwatukee for carnival rides, community entertainment, a beer garden, Marketplace Street Fair, and the Harley Parade. In south Phoenix, Chandler Boulevard from 24th Street to Desert Foothills Parkway is illuminated with more than a million white LED lights and can be seen nightly, from November 24 through early January 2019 from 6 to 11 p.m.

    In 2018: November 24 from 12 to 8 p.m. (Opening Day); lights through early January 2019

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    Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade
    Tim Hacker/East Valley Tribune/Courtesy of City of Tempe

    You can stroll Mill Avenue and witness the beauty of holiday lights in Tempe. The Fantasy of Lights Parade begins at 4 p.m. and is followed by the official community tree-lighting ceremony, street entertainers, and the arrival of Santa Claus.

    The Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade and Boat Parade have become a desert tradition in Downtown Tempe. At Tempe Town Lake on Saturday, December 8, 2018, enjoy the lighted boats parading around the lake.

    In 2018: November 23 at 4 p.m.

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    Children's Museum of Phoenix
    Judy Hedding

    Celebrate the holiday season at Children's Museum of Phoenix.

    At the annual Snow Much Fun Day, you and the kids can play in 20 tons of snow—until it melts—and visit with Santa. Free with museum entry fee.

    The museum opens an hour early to host Santa for breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. Children can meet and take a picture with Santa Claus, then spend the rest of the day playing in the Museum. The charge for Members $15/person; Non-Members: $30/person includes museum admission.

    In 2018: Saturday, December 8

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    CityScape ice rink
    Courtesy of CityScape

    Skate on real ice at CityScape in downtown Phoenix. Admission includes skate rental. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the rink. The grand opening celebration and tree lighting take place on November 23.

    Special events include holiday movie nights. If you are just wanting to watch the movie, you can bring picnic blankets and chairs and settle in to watch for free. 

    In 2018 - 2019: November 23 to January 6, 2019

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    Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
    Courtesy of Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

    At the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia in Paradise Valley, you can get into the Christmas spirit with a holiday tree lighting, a Ho Ho Ho hike with Santa, and a Yappy Hour Howl-aday Party for your furry friends. The resort also organizes an opportunity for you to participate in a food drive. 

    There are dining experiences such as Breakfast with Santa and, as part of their dining series, a traditional Spanish holiday feast paired with wine.

    In 2018: Holiday events commence on Thanksgiving Eve and run through New Year's Eve. 
     

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    In addition to several DIY ornament craft workshops, the Glendale main library branch hosts a number of festive events throughout December, including a unique glass concert where the artist performs on different glass instruments including a glass harp and glass xylophone. The concert will feature holiday selections.  

    In 2018: Various dates in December

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    Arizona Biltmore
    Courtesy of Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

    A time-honored tradition for more than 80 years, the Arizona Biltmore’s High Tea features a seasonally inspired menu of sandwiches, pastries, and loose leaf teas, presented on fine china. During the holidays, the Biltmore Teddy Bear Tea offers a unique themed menu and includes a cuddly Biltmore Teddy Bear to take home as a memento. Afternoon Biltmore Bear tea happens at variable times during December.

    Diners can snap photos with St. Nick and Mrs. Claus during breakfast with Santa, and little elves are invited to roll up their sleeves and work alongside renowned cookie decorating professional Mrs. Claus. 

    In 2018: December 1 to 28

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    Visit the Hackett House Gift Shop during the Tempe Arts Festival to see all the beautiful and unique decorations and gifts. You can also enjoy a magical holiday tea on December 8, 2018, served in Hackett House’s historic Friendship Rooms. Registration is required for the holiday tea.

    In 2018: The Tempe Arts Festival takes place November 30 - December 2 with the holiday tea being served on December 8.

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    Playing in snow in Peoria
    Courtesy of City of Peoria

    Enjoy snow, singing, Santa, entertainment, vendors, and more in Oldtown, Peoria during this holiday festival. Enjoy shopping the street market and have a look at the creativity of the Gingerbread House builders. 

    The festival will take place south of Peoria and Grand avenues. Parking and admission are free. Some activities have a nominal fee. Food and beverage concessions will have festival food for purchase.

    In 2018: Friday, November 30 from 5 to 10 p.m.

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    Wickenburg Christmas Parade of Lights
    Courtesy of Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce

    Cowboy poets gather at the Wickenburg Community Center for performances, mingling, and cowboy meals.

    Celebrate the season at the Wickenburg Christmas Parade of Lights in historic downtown Wickenburg. More than lighted 30 floats will be paraded down the streets of downtown Wickenburg starting at 6:30 p.m.

    You can enjoy holiday refreshments (while supplies last) and visit with Santa at the Little Red Schoolhouse.

    In 2018: Cowboy Christmas: December 7,8; Parade: December 14

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    The Annual Surprise Party in Surprise, Arizona, includes the ever-popular Gingerbread House Contest. Entrants must deliver their creations to the Surprise Party Gingerbread Tent located at the 8 Acres Park, north of the Stadium located at 15850 N. Bullard Avenue, between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 1. Judging takes place later that day. Free entry.

    In 2018: December 1

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    A tree-lighting ceremony, rides, attractions, food and craft vendors, plus an appearance by Santa Claus himself should be reason enough to visit the Queen Creek Holiday Festival. But your holiday fun also benefits young residents at this event hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Kiwanis Club.

    The parade will start from Sierra Park Boulevard and will head north towards Maya Road in Queen Creek.

    In 2018: December 1 from 12 to 7 p.m.

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    Ice skating in Maricopa
    Courtesy City of Maricopa

    At Copper Sky Regional Park in Maricopa, residents know how to spread Christmas cheer. The mayor leads the countdown to reveal the city Christmas tree covered in lights and decorations. Guest can take pictures with Santa and sip hot chocolate and munch on cookies while listening to local community group performances. A gingerbread cookie decorating contest and a Santa Run 5k with a 1.5-mile walk option are fun highlights.

    There will be an artificial ice rink and snow zone for families to enjoy. Entry into the Snow Zone for children ages 3 and older is $5 (cash only). Children 2 and under will have special bounce houses just for them for free. 

    The Maricopa firefighters sponsor a toy drop and provide rides in the firetruck to those who bring a donation.

    In 2018: December 1 from 3 to 8 p.m.

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    CycloFest Mesa
    Courtesy of City of Mesa

    Join the Mesa Bike & Pedestrian Program at Alta Mesa Park for 10 tons of snow play, a mechanical snowboard, bounce houses, food trucks, and reindeer games plus a holiday helmet safety message and concussion education. 

    Stick around after the snow melts for a guided family-friendly bike ride through Alta Mesa’s neighborhood to see homes lit up with holiday lights and decor. Night ride starts at 5:30 p.m. Bring your helmets and bike lights.

    In 2018: Saturday, December 15 from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

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    This unique Southwest tradition draws thousands of visitors to downtown Chandler each year. There's a parade starting at 6:45 p.m., the lighting of the tumbleweed tree, and Santa, plus live holiday music and dance by local performers throughout the evening. 

    New for 2018, the parade route will be .75-miles from Frye Road to Erie Street along Arizona Avenue.

    In 2018: December 1 from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

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    More than 60,000 twinkling lights and ornaments adorn the trees and median of Avenue of the Fountains in downtown Fountain Hills. Santa and his elves arrive while carolers sing. Shops, galleries, and boutiques along the Avenue stay open late to greet visitors. The Stroll takes place along the entire Avenue of the Fountains leading up to Fountain Park, home of one of the world’s tallest fountains.

    In 2018: December 1 from 5 to 7 p.m.

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    Historic Avondale celebrates the holidays on Western Avenue between Dysart and 3rd Street. This historic area comes alive with arts and craft booths, live entertainment, food vendors, and kids activities including snow in the park. Mr. and Mrs. Claus flip the switch to light up the street and then, will be available for pictures with the children.

    In 2018: December 1 from 5 to 8 p.m.

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    A visit from Santa, the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree, kids activities including reindeer games and inflatables, vendors, and 40 tons of snow draw visitors to the Goodyear Ballpark in the City of Goodyear each year. Free admission, free parking—and an ugly sweater contest.

    In 2018: December 1 from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

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    After dark, the residents of central Phoenix gather to watch floats and marching bands celebrate the beginning of the holiday season. The Electric Light Parade starts at Central Avenue and Montebello at around 7 p.m. The parade ends at 7th Street and Indian School Road.

    You can take METRO Light Rail to the parade area. Free admission.

    In 2018: December 1

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    Shamrock Farms, Arizona’s hometown dairy, transforms its working dairy farm and tour into a winter wonderland. In addition to getting up close and personal with 10,000 cows on the guided tour, you can enjoy 15 tons of snow, holiday crafts, and face painting.

    Santa and Shamrock Farms' own jolly ​"spokescow," Roxie, will be there, too. Reservations and pre-payment are required for the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. event. Lunch costs extra.

    In 2018: December 1 and 2

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    Christmas at Petersen House Museum
    Courtesy City of Tempe

    The historic Petersen House Museum in Tempe gets completely decked out with Danish Christmas decorations for the holiday season. Guests are invited to tour the museum for free, though donations are accepted and appreciated.

    In 2018: Weekends in December

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    You can express your holiday style this Christmas season at the Velma Teague Branch Library in Glendale, where the winter craft series includes an ugly holiday sweater workshop and ornament making for children. Look for special readings and performances on the December calendar of events

    In 2018: Various December dates

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    The Farm at South Mountain
    Courtesy of The Farm at South Mountain

    Visit The Farm at South Mountain to enjoy farm-inspired Christmas light displays in the pecan grove, holiday pop-up shopping featuring vintage ornaments and handmade items from local artisans. You can also join DIY Christmas gift workshops and wreath-making classes.

    On December 7, Mrs. Claus will be telling holiday stories outdoors at The Farm. Bring the children and grab some dinner from the Farm Kitchen, settle in and enjoy the stories.

    In 2018: Various December dates

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    The Arizona Winds
    Courtesy of The Arizona Winds

    The band performs in Midwestern University’s 2,000-seat hall at the center of the Glendale campus. The program features arrangements of familiar Christmas tunes with interesting musical twists. Guests are gifted with free admission and free parking for the 2:30 p.m. concert.

    In 2018: December 9

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    The Hermosa Inn
    Courtesy of The Hermosa

    Throughout the month of December, guests dining at LON’s and Last Drop have the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind hand painted ornaments and holiday cards created for the occasion by the students from the Scottsdale Artists’ School.

    On December 8, 2018, participate in a journaling workshop with a focus on the spirit of the holiday. The Journaling - Art and Observation series is presented in partnership with Scottsdale Artists School.

    On Christmas Eve and Day, enjoy a special, prix-fixe three-course holiday menu at LON's. 

    In 2018: Various dates in December

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    Santa’s Animation Celebration: An Awards Show On Ice
    Courtesy of AZ Ice Gilbert

    This holiday production by the AZ Ice Gilbert Figure Skating Department spotlights skaters of all ages and levels, featuring more than 80 skaters from Gilbert and cities across the valley. Some of the featured soloists include regional and national competitors in both singles and ice dance.

    In 2018: December 7, 8

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    Carefree Christmas Festival
    Courtesy of the Town of Carefree

    The Christmas in Carefree festival at the Carefree Desert Gardens includes a snow village with Santa, a parade, a fireworks display, train rides, an outdoor Christmas Market, pet parade, carolers, choirs, and more. 

    In addition to the festival, Carefree's tree lighting ceremony and holiday film night take place Friday, November 30, 2018, at 5 p.m. The Menorah lighting takes place each night of Chanukah at 5 p.m. 

    In 2018: Festival dates are December 7 to 9

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    Luminarias light up the trail at the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert. Enjoy holiday entertainment with school choirs and carolers from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

    Stroll around the candle-lit trail at Water Ranch lake with hundreds of luminaries as well as numerous festive light displays at every turn. This is an excellent opportunity to experience after dark at the preserve.

    The event collects donations for local nonprofits.

    In 2018: December 7-8, 14-15, and 21-22

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    Residents and business owners in Maricopa with lights and holiday decor in their yards or outside of their businesses may register to be judged. Judging takes place in these categories: Best Theme; Best Light Show; Best Use of Color; Best on Parade ($300 cash prize); Residents' Choice ($300 cash prize); and Best Business. Everyone is invited to visit Maricopa during the judging period and after the winners are announced (on the website) on December 20.

    Resident voting will begin on Saturday, December 7 and continue until December 16, 2018. A map will be provided on the website.

    In 2018: December 7 to 20

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    Take a train ride through more than 100,000 lights and a variety of holiday displays that turn the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale into a winter wonderland. Free admission; small charge for train ride and carousel.

    Children can visit with Santa in the historic Maricopa Depot on November 30 - December 2 and December 7 - 23 from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

    In 2018: November 30 through January 6 (excluding December 3, 24, 25 and 31)

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    12K’s of Christmas
    Courtesy 12K’s of Christmas

    This Christmas event at Freestone Park in Gilbert includes a 12k run, 6k run/walk, and 1.2k run/walk for families and kids, with Christmas carolers along the way. Strollers and leashed pets are welcomed on the course. All 6k and 12k participants receive Christmas stockings (running socks) and a finisher's medal. Wear your Christmas outfits and you might be awarded a prize. Proceeds support all participating rescues and Maricopa County Animal Care & Control. 

    Free performances by the Campo Verde Jazz Band, Arizona Canine Freestylers, a Ballet Folklorico group, and more keep the energy high after the run/walk.

    Visit Santa's Pet Village hosting more than 20 animal rescue groups and pet-related exhibitors, and the Christmas Bazaar, both great places to find gifts for people and pets. 

    New in 2018, the advance packet pickup is on Thursday, Dec 6 at San Tan Ford at 1429 E. Motorplex Loop.

    In 2018: December 8, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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    Queen Creek Kids Christmas Car Show & Toy Drive
    Courtesy MCSO MCSO Queen Creek

    Teenagers cruise from Queen Creek High School to Desert Mountain Park to collect Christmas gifts for less fortunate children. Entertainment at Desert Mountain Park includes food vendors, a DJ, live music, and Santa Claus. Prize raffles benefit students with special needs.

    Awards for several classes of car show participants will be presented; registration and donations to the Queen Creek Family Resource Center are tax-deductible. Entry fee: $10 and an unwrapped toy for a boy and an unwrapped toy for a girl.

    In 2018: December 8, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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    Bring your mittens and a snow tube; grab your friends and neighbors and join the fun at Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert. The $10 admission for kids includes all-day snow-hill privileges, the hayride, maze, air bounce, and animals; adults cost $5 each to tag along.

    They will have fresh cut Douglas Firs and Noble Firs for sale at the farm during the event.

    In 2018: December 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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    Christmas in Litchfield Park
    Courtesy City of Litchfield Park, Arizona

    Arts and crafts vendors, a parade, snow, community entertainment, Santa, and more bring the Christmas spirit to historic Litchfield Park. 

    The hometown parade starts at 10 a.m. and includes community groups, marching bands, and floats.

    In 2018: December 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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    Hometown Christmas Parade in Glendale
    Courtesy of Glendale Christmas Parade

    This parade in historic downtown Glendale highlights all the magic and wonder of Christmas in a parade. Churches, businesses, and community groups from around the valley participate. Proceeds benefit Glendale’s local food bank Hope for Hunger. In addition to the cash proceeds, a city-wide food drive provides thousands of pounds of non-perishable, canned food to Hope for Hunger.

    On parade day, the public may bring non-perishable food items, clothing or new toys to donate. Look for collection locations along the parade route on Glendale Avenue. A celebration follows the parade.

    In 2018: December 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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    About 50 lighted and decorated watercraft parade on the Tempe Town Lake for the annual Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade.

    It's a beautiful sight with the colorful lights of the boats reflecting on the water of the lake. ​The parade begins after dark, at about 7 p.m. Luminarias at Tempe Beach Park make for a festive walk to the viewing area on the southern bank of the lake. Visit with Santa Claus at Tempe Beach Park

    In 2018: December 8 

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    The Ignite Hope festivities kick off at North High School in Phoenix with a family-friendly pre-walk party, including face painting, superhero appearances, music, refreshments, and a visit from Santa himself.

    The 1.1-mile candlelit walk to Phoenix Children’s Hospital starts at 5:30 p.m., ending in the PCH parking lot.

    When walkers arrive at 6:30 p.m., they take part in an inspirational program led by patients and enjoy the lighting of the hospital’s holiday tree. 

    In 2018: December 8

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    Join the Phoenix Chorale at DeSoto Central Market along Roosevelt Row in Phoenix as they sing Christmas carols and drink beer. Ten percent of all beer sales will be donated to Arizona Helping Hands.

    The Phoenix Chorale is also collecting unwrapped toys to be donated to the Arizona charity, which provides assistance for foster kids and families.

    In 2018: December 1 at 7 p.m.
     

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    Arizona Big Train Operators
    Courtesy of Arizona Big Train Operators

    Members of Arizona Big Train Operators open their backyard G-scale railroads for the annual Christmas open house tour, which includes 13 properties.

    Watch trains running along garden railroads located around the Phoenix area, in the West Valley, East Valley, Sun Lakes, and Gold Canyon from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

    While admission is free, donations are accepted and appreciated and are used to support ABTO activity throughout the Valley, including the maintenance of the trains at the Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

    In 2018: December 8, 9, 15, and 16

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    Jingle all the way through the course at Westgate Entertainment District, Glendale with candy and cookies, festive music, creative Christmas images, and so much more to get you in the holiday mood. Race entry includes a finisher medal for both 5K and half marathon runners along with a Santa hat and beard, t-shirt, and candy cane socks. Glendale Fire Charities also collect toys for their annual toy drive.

    In 2017: December 16 at 8 a.m.

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    Holiday Tea and Tour at Rosson House
    Courtesy of Heritage Square

    Fully decorated for the holidays, this 1895 Victorian mansion in downtown Phoenix is at its best. Combine your tour of the Rosson House with an elegant high tea. The 1901 Stevens Bungalow transforms into a Victorian-style tea room where tea sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, and, of course, tea is served on exquisite vintage china. Reservations required in advance.

    In 2018: December 1, 2 and December 15, 16

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    Paint a holiday tree landscape, no art experience necessary. Register online as space limited; includes all your needed art supplies. There is a coupon code for a discount on the website.  

    In 2018: December 12 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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    Enjoy a pancake breakfast, pictures with Santa, and holiday activities at the Mesa Convention Center. Proceeds from the breakfast benefit City of Mesa’s Community Spirit, a charitable fund-raising and volunteer organization that makes Mesa a better place to live. 

    The funds go towards books, materials, field trips, and other items needed for local elementary schools in Mesa.  

    In 2018: December 15, two seatings 8:30 and 10 a.m.

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    Winter Wonderland Express train
    Judy Hedding

    Ride the holiday train to a snow-filled Enchanted Island in Phoenix. Visit with Santa Claus for free at the North Pole and enjoy a free cup of hot cocoa and free candy canes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Regular prices for rides and attractions apply.

    In 2018: December 15 and 16

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    See live performances featuring handbells, harps, and more at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Enjoy seasonal songs and a Celtic Christmas performance by Irish Christmas in America

    In 2018: December 16, 17, 19, and 21

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    Stay healthy and motivated this holiday season with an island-themed Christmas race in Tempe at Tempe Town Lake. The fun starts at the Neil Giuliano Park area. 

    This year, the race starts at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, December 22, 2018. Enjoy an event packed with fun, music, and great swag. Costumes and fun are encouraged.

    In 2018: December 22

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    Mr. and Mrs. Claus play host to memorable breakfasts at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort's American Grill featuring a buffet, seasonal photos with Santa, and holiday story time, whimsical cookie decorating, and gingerbread activity books led by Mrs. Claus.

    Breakfast with Santa is served buffet-style. Reservations are required, call 602-997-5850. Seatings are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

    In 2018: December 16, 17, 22 - 24

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    Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
    Richard Cummins / Getty Images

    A Phoenix tradition, Holidays at the Heard is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Dance and music performances and artist demonstrations introduce visitors to traditional and contemporary American Indian music, dance, and art.

    It's a great time to tour the museum, shop in the world-class gift shop, and grab a bite at the courtyard restaurant. 

    In 2018: December 26 to 30

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    More than 75 tons of snow and fun holiday activities enliven the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix during Snow Week.

    There will be interactive science demonstrations and ice-themed shows to add to the chilly fun.

    In 2018: December 26 to January 1, 2019