A Scottsdale Holiday: The Best Seasonal Celebrations in the Desert

The holidays are a special time in the desert, especially if you find yourself spending winter in Scottsdale. The city is no stranger to throwing a good party, especially when the holiday season rolls around. Scottsdale plays host to numerous art walks, block parties, and light displays, many of which are free to the public.

For families, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park celebrates with an elaborate holiday display. Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park features a tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and train rides through a winter wonderland. Admission to the park is free, and train rides are $5.00 per person.

If you want to see the tallest fresh-cut Christmas tree in the country, take a short drive to the nearby community of Anthem to gaze up at wonder at the Christmas tree located in the heart of the Anthem Outlets shopping center. The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Anthem Outlet takes place every November. The white fir tree is shipped to Arizona from California every fall, and is progressively decorated throughout the holiday season. The tree, which measures more than 100-feet tall, is open for public viewing throughout the holiday season.

For a charming small-town holiday celebration, check out the Carefree Christmas Festival in downtown Carefree, a short drive from Scottsdale. The three-day event features an electric light parade, a fireworks festival, holiday gift market, pet parade and even real-life snow in the desert. 



Local DJ and holiday enthusiast Chris Birkett puts on an amazing show every season with Winter Wonderland Arizona, a Christmas light spectacular that brings the wonder and magic of the season to families and visitors in Scottsdale. The exhibit...  Read More



The Stroll in the Glow Festival brings the magic of the holidays to the streets of Fountain Hills. Every year, the town spends the fall putting up thousands of lights - more than 65,000 to be more exact - on the Avenue of the Fountains. On the...  Read More



The Carefree Christmas Festival offers three days of holiday spirit in the heart of downtown Carefree, just north of Scottsdale. The family-friendly festival features a Christmas tree lighting, Chanukah menorah lighting, Breakfast with Santa...  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



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



Looking for a one-of-a-kind family attraction this holiday season? Illumination Symphony of Light is one of the largest holiday drive-thru light shows in the metro Phoenix area. Enjoy an immersive experience that lets you drive through millions...  Read More



Experience the magic of the season at Butterfly Wonderland. The month-long event features butterflies from around the world, including Latin America, Africa and Asia. The conservatory will display a glowing Noble Fir Christmas tree decorated in...  Read More



McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park offers one of the season's most enchanting and family-friendly holiday events. The annual McCormick-Stillman Railroad Holiday Lights event features train rides through a wonderland of holiday lights and displays....  Read More



Every year, Scottsdale's beautiful Fairmont Princess Resort throws one of the biggest holiday parties in the Southwest. The holiday-themed extravaganza features a desert ice skating rink surrounding by a lovely cactus garden. Where else in the...  Read More



The City of Scottsdale celebrates the holidays in style with this popular annual event. Scottsdazzle is a month-long holiday celebration that officially kicks off with a tree-lighting ceremony on Black Friday. The event continues was designed to...  Read More


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.