Where does Phoenix hide its holiday spirit?

December in Phoenix may not feel too wintery, but the city has plenty of annual traditions and seasonal celebrations that showcase its holiday spirit. Phoenix comes alive with twinkling lights, jolly carolers, festive décor, and holiday cheer during the winter season despite its lack of snow. The Phoenix-metro area transforms from its typical southwestern flair into a winter wonderland during the holiday season where people can check out a number of festivals, parades, ice skating rinks, and celebrations in honor of the holidays. So if you are in the Phoenix-metro area during the holiday season, check out these festive celebrations and fun events that will get you in the holiday spirit.

photo by Evette / CC BY-SA

Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden

During the holiday season the Desert Botanical Garden lights up with its annual Las Noches de las Luminarias festival, making it one of the most unique winter celebrations in the Phoenix area. Garden paths are lined up with 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags and thousands of white lights that transform this desert garden into a glowing wonderland for a magical evening during the holidays. The festival includes musical acts and live entertainment like mariachi, flamenco guitar, dance, acoustic rock, reggae, classical, and holiday music. Visitors can enjoy a holiday-themed dinner at the on-site restaurant or sip on hot cider or cocoa while strolling along the garden’s flickering lighted paths amid desert flora.

Fantasy of Lights

Downtown Tempe continues its holiday traditions with the Fantasy of Lights Parade and Boat Parade that has attracted families to this magical event for more than 20 years. The Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade marks the beginning of the holiday season with festive parade floats, a tree lighting ceremony, and an appearance by Santa Claus. On December 10th, the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade is the only time when motorized boats are allowed on Tempe Town Lake for an incredible parade of about 50 festive and lighted boats of all sizes. Sidewalks are also lit up with that lead up to Tempe Beach Park. The event includes an evening full of fireworks, selfies with Santa, live music and food, and fun for the entire family.

photo by Visitor7 / CC BY-SA

CitySkate at Cityscape

Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the CityScape shopping and dining complex is converted into a winter wonderland despite its desert location. The annual CitySkate at Cityscape features an outdoor ice skating rink that’s decorated with festive holiday lights. Visitors can take a break from shopping and rent skates to hit the rink and glide around the ice for a few spins, or they can sit back and relax and sip on hot cocoa or snack on Christmas cookies while listening to the sounds of Christmas carolers.

Christmas at the Princess

The holiday spirit shines bright in the Valley during the Christmas at the Princess festival, which is held at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort. Now in its seventh year, the resort transforms into a sparkling, magical winter wonderland that includes an enchanted plaza with a four-story musically animated tree that has 70,000 LED lights and decorated with dozens of snowflakes and a five-foot snowflake tree topper. The event also features more than three million LED holiday lights shinning throughout the resort’s lagoons, a nativity garden, Princess Express train, a 6,000 square-foot desert ice skating rink, Christmas carousel and Ferris wheel rides, carolers, and photos with Santa. Christmas at the Princess festival is open to the public and perfect for the entire family to create magical memories and traditions during this holiday season.

photo by Alan Stark / CC BY-SA

Zoolights at the Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo hosts its annual Zoolights event, which is one of the largest holiday lighting events in the region. Check out the three-story lighted tree and 3.5 million glimmering lights that are strung throughout the entire Phoenix Zoo as well as the 600 animal light fixtures that are sure to dazzle and sparkle in the evening. This bright event gets crowds in the holiday spirit by offering festive food and drinks as well as carousel and camel rides, a polar slide, photos with Santa Claus, and artificial snow.

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