The holidays are upon us once again here in Phoenix, bringing with them the usual array of festivals, performances, and other activities–plus some fun new options– to get all ages into the holiday spirit. This year we’ve combed through what’s available and selected a list of our favorites for you. So take a peek, make your choices, and let us know how you like them!
World of Illumination
Opening November 16th, World of Illumination lights up two world-class drive-through animated light shows for Phoenicians to enjoy–one in Tempe and one in Glendale. Said to be the largest animated light show on the globe, each WOI display stretches out for a mile and is equipped with over 2 million dazzling lights.
WOI locations are open 7 days a week, regardless of the weather.
Please observe that park traffic must flow in only one direction.
Tempe Location: Enchanted Safari at Tempe Diablo Stadium, 2200 W. Alameda Dr., Tempe
Glendale Location: Candy Rush at Desert Diamond Casino, 6751 N. Sunset Blvd., Glendale
Dates: November 16th - January 1st
Prices: Depending on when you go, prices range between $31.99 and $49.
Prices may fluctuate, so check here before you plan your trip.
You must buy your tickets online ahead of time, as no tickets are sold at the admission gate.
Note: Ticket prices are per car, not per person, so you can bring as many riders in your vehicle as you wish. (But please do keep safety in mind!) One Mom rents a 15-passenger van for her family and another family to ride through together, and she says the kids love it! (Do keep in mind that the World of Illumination website says no buses, limos, or RVs, however.)
Twas the Night Before…by Cirque du Soleil
This show, Cirque du Soleil’s very first holiday production, promises an exciting modern twist on the classic Christmas story, sure to captivate the whole family. Through Cirque du Soleil’s outstanding acrobatics, jugglers, and interesting clowns, the tale unfolds around the discouraged Isabella, who learns about kindness, friendship, and the magic of Christmas.
Cirque du Soleil is a non-traditional circus that does not feature animals.
The performance has no intermission and is approximately one hour and 20 minutes long.
Still not sure exactly what to expect from Cirque du Soleil? Here’s a video of some highlights you can preview to help you decide on attending.
Location: Performance will be held at the Arizona Financial Theatre at 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix
Dates: December 16th - December 24th
Prices: Depending upon the date and time of your attendance, ticket prices can range from $45 to $80. Check your calendar and find dates/tickets here. You can also order tickets by phone at 1-844-765-8432.
If you’ve got a large group, you can save 15% off 10 tickets or more.
The Brightest Star: A Celebration of Christmas
A stunning arrangement of music (there’s a full, live orchestra), dance, acrobatics, aerial entertainment, and a remarkable final procession to the nativity, this musical theater performance features more than 175 different character roles. This performance focuses on the quest for purpose and the beauty of New York City at Christmastime.
Location: Dream City Church, Phoenix Campus
13613 N. Cave Creek Rd. Phoenix
Dates: December 8th - 18th
Prices: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday tickets are:
Tier A: $27
Tier B: $18
Tier C: $10
Saturday and Sunday tickets are:
Tier A: $35
Tier B: $26
Tier C: $15
In addition to purchased seating, there are also limited free seats available for each performance–but they go fast. It is recommended that guests arrive approximately an hour before each performance to secure their seats.
Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens
For 21 days at the end of the year, The Desert Botanical Garden transforms into Los Noches de Las Luminarias, or The Nights of Luminaries. With more than 8,000 candlelit luminarias placed along the trails of the garden, the event also features beautifully strung holiday lights, sculptures, hot beverages, and live entertainment such as reggae, mariachi, and choir singing. Since it’s held at night, telescopes are also provided for looking at the stars.
On December 18th, the Garden honors the Mexican tradition of La Posada with pinatas, food and beverages, singing, and other activities. These festivities are all included with a Luminaria ticket on the night of December 18th.
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Dates: Members Only Weekend: December 1st-4th
Additional dates: December 9th-11th, 15th-18th, 20th-23rd, 26th-31st
The hour for this event are from 5:30 pm until 9:30 pm
Member Adult Tickets: $34.95
Member Child Tickets: $14.95 (ages 3 - 17)
General Public Adult Tickets: $39.95
General Public Child Tickets: $16.95
Children ages 2 and younger are admitted free of charge
Merry Main Street
Starting November 25th at 5 p.m., the annual festivities of Merry Main Street in downtown Mesa will kick off with a tree lighting followed by live holiday music, vendors, and the opening of the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink. The tree lighting festivities will take place at the Mesa Christmas Tree, 1 N. MacDonald in Mesa from 5 pm until 10 pm.
From then on, the ice rink will once again be open for skating, and the Merry Main Street calendar will be jam-packed with activities until December 31st. The impressive 40-ft. Mesa Temple Christmas Lights will be on display in the evenings, Mesa’s Menorah will be lit each night of Hanukkah, the Illusionists bring a bit of holiday magic to Mesa Arts Center, and Jack Frost’s Food Truck Forest will be serving up delicious holiday treats, for just a few examples. And as always, there will be visits with Santa, too!
Location: Downtown Mesa
Dates: November 25th through December 31st
Prices: Events vary in price, and some are free. Check the Merry Main Street Calendar to find prices for your activities.
The Nutcracker Ballet
The talented dancers of Ballet Arizona take the stage at Symphony Hall for another enchanting performance of The Nutcracker this holiday season. The ballet’s traditional music of Tchaikovsky is played live by The Phoenix Symphony while 150 performers charm the audience through all the classic scenes of this holiday favorite.
Location: Performances take place at Phoenix Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams Street, Phoenix
Dates: December 9th through December 24th
Prices: Ticket prices vary substantially depending upon the date and seating location in the venue. Check Ballet Arizona’s site to choose your date and seat location to purchase your tickets, or call the Box Office at 602-381-1096.
Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo
This year’s display is said to be an even larger and more improved version of years past, so if you enjoyed Zoo Lights before, you’re sure to love it now! A Phoenix holiday favorite, guests can drive (or walk!) through an illuminated Phoenix Zoo, complete with animal sculptures, music-in-motion displays, a 3-story decorated Christmas tree, artist performances, photos with Santa (this year there’s an enhanced Santa visit), a Wildlife Lantern Safari, a theater with 4D, and more–as well as plenty of holiday treats like hot cocoa and kettle corn and free admission to Dinosaurs in the Desert with every ticket purchased.
*There are also Sensory Friendly ZooLight experiences (with modifications to lighting, music, crowd sizes, etc) available on November 9th and January 9th.
Location: 455 N. Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix
Dates: November 23rd, 2022, through January 15th, 2023 (Member previews will be available November 21st and 22nd). Hours of Operation: 5:30-10:30 p.m.
Tickets purchased online: $30 General Admission, $25 Members
Tickets purchased at Gate: $35 General, $30 Members
Bulk tickets are available for 50 guests or more
Children younger than age 2 visit free
Christmas at Schnepf Farm
A great spot for families with littles, Schnepf Farms has been transforming its 250 acres into a Christmas Wonderland every year since 2019. Working as partners with World of Illumination, the farm offers everything from a visit to Santa’s magic workshop to a round of snow globe glow-in-the-dark mini-golf to cookie and pine cone decorating, a ride on the Illumination Express (featuring a million+ lights synchronized to classic Christmas music), holiday shopping, a hayride to Santa’s reindeer, and much more. Toddlers have their own bouncy house, and the largest inflatable obstacle course in the world is located on the grounds to boot
Location: 24810 E. Rittenhouse, Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Dates: November 25-27, December 1-4, December 8-11, December 15th-24
All dates’ hours are from 5 pm until 10 pm
Choose the date of your visit here for a list of prices and options on that day.
General Admission is $22.95.
You can also rent private campfires equipped with s’mores kits, etc., for the night for $100.
Christmas at the Princess
If your family would enjoy a bit of Christmas at a 65-acre luxury resort, make a note to stop by Christmas at the Princess this holiday season. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort invites the public to their annual holiday event, which includes everything from lit-up lagoons (with swans, mermaids, and pirates) to a 6,000 square foot ice skating rink to visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, rides on the Princess Express trains, music and light shows, marshmallow roasting, s’mores making, and so much more.
Location: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, 7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale
Dates: November 18th, 2022 through January 3rd, 2023
General Admission with no parking: $20 per ticket
Self-Parking for 1 Vehicle with Wrist Bands for up to 4 people: $80
(Valet Parking options are Sold Out)
Note that some activities have a range of separate fees from your General Admission ticket purchase: For Ice Passes, Photos with Santa, and other activities, check The Princess’ site for details and pricing
Holiday Family Jubilee Outdoor Movie Night: Frozen
Ideal for ages 3 and up, Phoenix’s Deer Valley Community Center celebrates the holiday season with their Holiday Family Jubilee Outdoor Movie Night on Saturday, December 10th. Bring your blankets, lawn chairs, and the whole family to enjoy the movie ‘Frozen’ while sipping hot cocoa, nibbling candy canes, munching popcorn, and creating holiday cookies and crafts. There will also be singing (practice up on your Frozen song lyrics!) and even a chance to get your picture taken with Santa.
*If you love holiday movies in the park and can’t make this one, check out PJs in the Park for a December 4th showing of Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch at Civic Space Park.
Location: Deer Valley Community Center, 2001 West Valhalla Lane, Phoenix
Dates: Saturday, December 10th, 6 pm to 8 pm
Prices: $20 per family, up to 6 people. Registration is required.
Register your family here.
Old Town Holiday Festival at Peoria
This December, the City of Peoria holds its traditional Old Town Holiday Festival and Street Market in Old Town Peoria. The festivities include horse-drawn carriage and wagon rides, roaming high school choirs, local vendors and food trucks, live entertainment, a stunning Gingerbread house display, and Santa himself. Don’t miss the tree lighting ceremony at 7:15 pm!
Note: Peoria is having its Annual Gingerbread House Competition from December 1st through 7th, with judging on December 8th and the winners expected to be on display at the Old Town Festival on December 10th. For more info, contact Peoria Community Center.
Location: Downtown Peoria, south of Peoria and Grand Avenues, including Peoria Center for the Performing Arts and Osuna Memorial Park
Dates: December 10th, 5 - 9 pm
Prices: Parking and admission are free
Christmas in the Park
Every year, Litchfield Park prepares its annual Christmas in the Park event for the community (and surrounding communities) to enjoy on the second Saturday of each December – which falls on December 10th this year. This free event features a parade to kick things off, numerous children’s activities, a Holiday Market spread out on the Library Lawn, live entertainment, ice skating, inflatables, food and craft vendors, a petting zoo, photo ops with Santa Claus, and more.
Location: Litchfield Park, 100 Old Litchfield Road, Litchfield-Park, AZ
Dates: December 10th, 9 am to 5 pm
Prices: Free and open to the public
Menorah Lighting at Westgate
Once again this year, a Grand Menorah Lighting will take place at Westgate Entertainment District on December 2nd from 6 pm to 7 pm. After the Menorah Lighting, guests can enjoy family-friendly games and activities as well as raffle prizes and live entertainment. The event will be hosted by Chabad of the West Valley.
Location: Westgate Entertainment District, 6751 N. Sunset Blvd., Glendale
Dates: December 2nd, 6 pm to 7 pm
Prices: Free of charge
APS Electric Light Parade
The APS Electric Parade comes to Downtown Phoenix once again this year on Saturday, December 3rd, at 7 pm. With a history of dazzling the streets of downtown for over 30 years, the parade features all the expected floats and bands as well as activity areas honoring international holiday traditions, food vendors, face painting, arts, crafts, games, and pics with Santa at the parade’s end.
The City of Phoenix recommends taking the Valley Metro Light Rail to the event if possible to cut down on traffic. Lots of folks start showing up several hours ahead of time, and the crowds get bigger every year. Bring your own chairs and blankets for seating, and remember that spots along the parade route are first-come, first-served. Feel free to bring a cooler, but alcohol and glass containers are not allowed.
Location: The parade begins at the intersection of Central and Montebello Avenues at 7 pm and continues through Downtown Phoenix, finishing at Indian School Road and 7th Street.
Dates: December 3rd, 2022, rain or shine
CityScape Holiday Ice Rink
If your family loves to ice skate under the stars, Phoenix’s CitySkate opens November 28th for four 90-minute skate sessions every night through New Year’s Day. 7,000 square feet of outdoor ice is offered to skaters, as well as skate rentals, plus a huge holiday tree with hourly light shows, music, and the usual shops, nightlife, and eateries of CityScape. CitySkate is managed by American Outdoor Skating Centers, LLC.
Guests can also shop and snack while waiting or after their skating session ends.
Double check hours, parking availability, and Uber/Lyft dropoff info here.
Location: 11 E. Washington St. at Patriot’s Park next to Urban Outfitters in central CityScape of Downtown Phoenix
Dates: November 28th through January 1st
Prices: Tickets are sold at the door for each skate session, which are divided into four 90 minute sessions beginning at 4:00 pm and ending at 11:30 pm. There is often a line for both skating and skate rentals (and your skate size is not guaranteed to be available at all times), so plan on arriving as early as you can.
General Admission: $20 per person
Children ages 8 and younger: $13 per child
Kids 3 and younger are free
Military ($13 each), seniors ($13 each), and students ($15 each) receive discounts with proper ID.
You get $5 off when you bring your own skates.