10 Best Holiday Attractions in Phoenix: Celebrate the Season in the Desert

When the holiday season arrives, Phoenix comes alive with Southwestern hospitality and warmth. One of the most unique holiday events in the Valley happens at the Desert Botanical Garden at the annual Las Noches de las Luminarias festival. More than 7,000 luminaries are set out along the garden pathways, turning the grounds into an wonderland of light and shadow. Strolling musicians, hot apple cider, and gourmet bites only add to the wonder of it all.

For another winter wonderland in the desert, head to downtown Phoenix for the annual CitySkate Ice Rink at the CityScape shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. Strap on your ice skates and take a spin on the smooth ice rink, then enjoy holidays cookies and listen to holiday carolers.

One of the biggest block parties in Arizona happens every holiday season in historic downtown Glendale during Glendale Glitters. Every weekend in December, the downtown quarter turns into a pedestrian-only area with street vendors, live music, and holiday shopping in the city's antique shops. The annual culminates with a post-Christmas all-weekend bash featuring hot air balloons on the streets and live music on every corner. 

For a uniquely Phoenix holiday event, check out Holidays at the Heard. The annual Southwestern tradition celebrates the spirit of the holidays and native cultures at the Heard Museum in central Phoenix. The event starts the day after Christmas and continues for a week, giving visitors a chance to explore authentic American Indian culture, including live music and dance.

One of the grandest holiday celebrations in the Valley happens every winter at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort. Christmas at the Princess, the resort's annual holiday celebration, features a holiday tree lighting ceremony, a four-story...  Read More

"A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail" has become a favorite annual holiday tradition for many Phoenix families. The play, a production of the Valley Youth Theatre, has been presented annually for nearly 20 years. The play is a thoughtful...  Read More

Handel Messiah's is an annual Christmas tradition around the world, bringing the popular "Hallelujah" chorus to lovers of classical Christmas music. The Phoenix Symphony, along with the Phoenix Symphony Chorus, puts on a rousing rendition of the...  Read More

More than 150 performers fill the stage for the Valley's premier annual production of Ballet Arizona's The Nutcracker, one of the top productions in the country. The annual holiday tradition features top-notch costume and set design, with a...  Read More

ZooLights is one of the biggest holiday light displays in the Southwest. Approximately two-and-a-half million twinkling lights are strung throughout the zoo, and you'll also encounter numerous animated displays (new ones pop up every year too)....  Read More

Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe becomes the center of holiday celebration every December, especially during the annual Fantasy of Lights Parade. The parade happens every year on the day after Thanksgiving and features up to 40 floats, marching...  Read More

Glendale kicks off the holiday season with its weekend-after-Thanksgiving festivities, but the fun doesn't end there. Every Friday and Saturday night until Christmas, the city features fun activities, concerts, foods, and horse-drawn carriage...  Read More

Holidays at the Heard is an annual Southwestern tradition celebrating the spirit of the holidays and native cultures. The event starts the day after Christmas and continues for a week, giving visitors plenty of time to experience authentic...  Read More

Nothing says winter in the city like a freshly surfaced ice skating rink decorated with twinkling holiday lights. That's what visitors will find at the annual CitySkate at CityScape Phoenix event, which arrives in downtown Phoenix every year in...  Read More

The elegant grounds of the Desert Botanical Gardens glow with candlelight during this famous winter event. Late in the year (usually in December), volunteers line garden pathways with more than 7,000 luminaries, creating an otherworldly...  Read More


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega has lived in the Arizona desert since she was a teenager. She works as a writer and editor in Phoenix with her four dogs and two cats.

She received her MFA in Creative...  More About Patricia

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