Located about nine miles from downtown Phoenix, Old Town Glendale is a quiet oasis of tree-lined sidewalks, historic brick buildings and graceful bungalows-turned-boutiques. This is one of the largest antique shopping districts in Arizona, with more than 70 antique and specialty shops sprinkled across three pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.
Along with excellent antique shopping, visitors to downtown Glendale can also enjoy the city's lively year-round calendar of special events. One of the most popular summer events is the city's Christmas in July festival. This year, the day-long festival will take place on Saturday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This July, historic downtown Glendale will turn into a winter wonderland — Photo courtesy of City of Glendale Convention and Visitor's Bureau
While it might seem odd to think about Christmas when summer temperatures are well into the triple-digits, the festival gives shoppers the chance to pick up gifts and decorations well before the rush of the traditional holiday shopping season.
Visitors can stop by the Glendale Visitor Center during the event, where city staffers will be handing out free maps of downtown and coupons to local businesses. The first 200 visitors are invited to spin a prize wheel for the chance to take home a free gift.
Santa Claus himself will be making a guest appearance at the event, greeting visitors and taking photos between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visitors can take their own pictures with Santa, or buy a professional photo for a nominal fee.
To get festival goers into the spirit of the season, holiday music will be playing throughout downtown. Businesses will also host Christmas-themed workshops, including holiday cookie decorating and crafts. At the historic Cerreta Candy Company, guests can help decorate a chocolate Christmas tree.
Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without plenty of holiday sweet treats. Guests can indulge in "Santa Sundaes" made with peppermint ice cream, as well as cups of eggnog. Both will be sold during the event.
Christmas in July also marks the start of Glendale's annual holiday light installation. Every year, the city installs more than 1.5 million lights around downtown, creating one of the most elaborate displays in the Phoenix Metro Area. It takes city workers four months and 5,000 hours of labor to install the lights in time for the city's annual Christmas festival in November.
As part of the event, the Glendale Visitor Center will be collecting non-perishable food items for the city's Hope for Hunger Food Bank. The volunteer-operated food bank provides supplemental and emergency food to local families. More than 545,000 tons of food were distributed in 2012.
Admission and parking to the Christmas in July festival is free. For more information about the event, contact the Glendale Convention and Visitors Bureau at (623) 930-4500.