Guide to Christmas in Phoenix 2022: Events, Holiday Lights, and Attractions

the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess decorated for Christmas

Scottsdale Fairmont Princess

Despite its desert setting, the Christmas spirit permeates the Phoenix area with magical light displays, snowy scenes, cookie decorating, crafts for kids, ice skating, and other activities with Santa all season long.

From getting your picture taken with Santa at local venues to attending a holiday performance, watching tree lightings, going on a driving tour of 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 surrounding area. Many events are free, but there may be parking or other fees for certain activities.

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ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo

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. This year, ZooLights will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. nightly from November 23, 2022 until January 15, 2023. Visitors can enjoy ZooLights by walking or driving through, depending on the night, so check the calendar.

Because ZooLights takes place in the evening, you won't see many live animals, but you will see lighted animal sculptures. The event will feature millions of lights as well as visits with live reindeer, holiday foods and drinks, and a Wildlife Lantern Safari featuring 66 illuminated creatures.

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Christmas in the Rainforest at Butterfly Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale transforms into Christmas in the Rainforest, kicking off the season on November 25, 2022 and running until New Year's Eve, with colorful holiday décor and thousands of butterflies from around the globe in the biggest glass conservatory in the U.S. Guests enjoy an art exhibit with hand-blown glass, a beautiful Christmas tree, weekend performances by a local Native American flute player, and a chance to peruse the Butterfly Treasures Gift Shop.

Your entrance to Christmas in the Rainforest is covered with your general admission into Butterfly Wonderland, which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden

Las Noches de las Luminarias

Desert Botanical Garden

Every holiday season, the extraordinary Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park, Phoenix, lines its paths with 8,000 luminaria bags on select nights. This year's festivities will run from December 1, 2022 to New Year's Eve, during which the celebration, called Las Noches de las Luminarias, will bring a magical atmosphere to the Garden. You can also see the glow of Wild Rising creatures—animal sculptures made from colored, recyclable plastic.

Tickets, which include access to the event and live music performances, are $40 for adults and $17 for children.

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Merry Main Street

Merry Main Street in Mesa

City of Mesa

Mesa's Merry Main Street celebration features a 5,000-square foot Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, open daily from November 25, 2022, until January 7, 2023, except for Christmas Day. Advance tickets with a specified time slot are required for skating, and your ticket is valid for one hour on the rink and includes your skate rental.

Other exciting holiday attractions at Merry Main Street include Mesa’s four-story-tall Christmas tree, the 12-foot Mesa Menorah, a Jack Frost-themed food truck area, free visits with Santa, Santa’s Merry Makers Marketplace on opening weekend, and more.

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Glendale Glitters

Christmas lights in Glendale

City of Glendale

Historic Downtown Glendale glows Christmas lights during Glendale Glitters, a family tradition in the area consisting of a 16-block span transformed into an enchanted forest with over 1 million lights. The city is alight from November 21, 2022, until January 7, 2023, every night from 5–10 p.m.

Other holiday-themed events that accompany the lights include live entertainment, food trucks, and the grand finale Glendale Glitter & Glow Block Party.

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Scottsdazzle transforms downtown Scottsdale into a holiday extravaganza loved by locals and visitors. The festival is full of different events from November 26, 2022 through New Year's Eve, including holiday culinary tours; a beer festival, and a farmer's market, among other activities.

View the city's lovely holiday tree, illuminated décor, and public art installations, which are all scattered about the Old Town of Scottsdale. Many local restaurants and shops offer special deals during Scottsdazzle, so keep an eye out for extra incentives around town.

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Christmas and Chanukah at the Carefree Desert Gardens

Carefree Christmas Festival

the Town of Carefree

Christmas in Carefree is a holiday light display at the Carefree Desert Gardens, located about 50 minutes outside of downtown Phoenix. Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour to see the 25-foot Christmas tree under the largest sundial in the western hemisphere and stroll garden pathways of Sonoran desert flora and fauna decorated with thousands of sparkling lights.

The Chanukah Menorah lighting festivities kick off on December 3, 2022 with a tree lighting ceremony, and continues for all eight nights of Chanukah until December 25.

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Christmas at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess puts on Christmas at the Princess with all types of holiday events from November 18, 2022 through January 2, 2023. Visitors can enjoy over 4 million sparkling LED lights, holiday characters, ice skating, light shows, shopping, photos with Santa Claus, roasting marshmallows, and many other festive activities. Don't miss the Christmas tree at the resort, which has 70,000 LED lights that dance to classic holiday songs in the Enchanted Plaza. The annual Christmas Day brunch is available to hotel guests and community members.

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Winter Wonderland Express at Enchanted Island

Winter Wonderland Express train
Judy Hedding

Ride the Winter Wonderland Express holiday train to a snow-filled Enchanted Island in Phoenix, where 25 tons of snow are brought in for a wintry day in the desert. Families can play in fresh snow, race on sleds, visit with Santa Claus at the North Pole, have a cup of hot cocoa and some candy canes, and enjoy holiday decor. The Winter Wonderland Express runs at the Enchanted Island on the weekends of December 10-11 and December 17-18, 2022, and is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Winter Wonderland at The Children's Museum of Phoenix

Children's Museum of Phoenix
Judy Hedding

Celebrate the holiday season at Children's Museum of Phoenix. At its annual Winter Wonderland celebration, guests can visit with Santa as well as go sock skating through the three levels of the museum. The event is free if you have paid the usual museum entry fee.

This year's Winter Wonderland takes place between November 19, 2022 and January 29, 2023. Visits with Santa take place on December 3 and 4, 2022.

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True Star Hometown Christmas Parade in Glendale

Hometown Christmas Parade in Glendale

Glendale Christmas Parade

All the magic and wonder of Christmas is apparent at this year's True Star Hometown Christmas Parade in historic downtown Glendale, taking place on December 10, 2022. Churches, businesses, and community groups from around the area participate, and proceeds benefit Glendale’s local food bank Hope for Hunger. In addition to the cash donations, a city-wide food drive provides thousands of pounds of non-perishable, canned food to Hope for Hunger.

This free event is open to the public. The parade route starts at 51st Avenue and Glendale Avenue, then goes west on Glendale to 58th Avenue.

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CitySkate Holiday Ice Rink

CityScape ice rink


Skate on real ice during afternoon and evening skate sessions at CityScape in downtown Phoenix. This year's skating season runs from November 26, 2022 to January 5, 2022. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the rink and include skate rental.

During the CitySkate season, every Saturday and Sunday from 2-6 p.m., families can visit with Santa Claus or warm up at the hot chocolate stand provided by Copper Blues each Friday and Saturday—it's staffed by Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops earning a portion of each beverage sold.