Insider Guide to the Valley’s Holiday Traditions and Festive Celebrations

‘Tis the season to create lasting memories! Whether you’re venturing through festive holiday markets in search of locally-made treasures or immersing yourself in quintessential only-in-Arizona experiences, the opportunities to #livelovelocal are boundless.

From cherished traditions like Las Noches de Las Luminarias and Zoolights to emerging holiday favorites, we’ve curated a delightful list of ongoing events, one-time holiday wonders, and diverse activities to ensure your season is merry and bright!


Image courtesy of Phoenix Zoo

11.22-1.14 | ZooLights! A cherished local tradition, Zoolights illuminates the Phoenix Zoo with nearly four million lights, featuring dazzling displays, Wildlife Lanterns, and the tallest floating tree in North America that comes to life with a synchronized light show set to original music! Treat yourself to kettle corn and hot cocoa, and don’t forget to capture a magical moment with Santa. Purchase tickets…

11.25 – 12.30 | Holiday Tea at The Phoenician Promises a delightful fusion of festive cheer, culinary excellence, and a touch of luxury. This experience goes beyond tea; it’s a celebration that allows you to gather with loved ones of all ages to create cherished family traditions. Scouted Tip: Reservations open in late September for this beloved event. Reserve early

11.24-1.7 | Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Experience the magic of Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. This 30-acre park transforms into an enchanting winter wonderland with captivating displays. Enjoy a delightful ride on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and the vintage 1950 Allan Herschell carousel. Secure your tickets here…

11.17-1.6 | Christmas at The Princess Transforming Scottsdale’s AAA Five Diamond Resort into The North Pole’s sister city, Christmas at The Princess is one of the Valley’s most extraordinary celebrations. Residents and visitors alike gather for this treasured holiday tradition. Make reservations here…

12.2 | APS Electric Light Parade For more than three decades, the APS Electric Light Parade has been an event where families, neighborhood groups, and businesses from across the city come together to celebrate the joy of the holiday season.  This year’s theme “It’s Electric!” is all about neon! Read more

Image courtesy of Ballet Arizona

12.8-12.24 Ballet Arizona’s The Nutcracker As quintessential to Christmas as Santa himself. Celebrate this beloved show at Symphony Hall in Downtown Phoenix with accompaniment by The Phoenix Symphony. Reserve tickets here

11.25-12.31 | Scottsdazzle The signature holiday event of Old Town Scottsdale, unfolds over two months, offering a variety of celebrations, shopping experiences, and dining options for all. The festivities begin on Saturday, November 25th, with the renowned Sing-Along & Tree Lighting Ceremony. Explore a month-long holiday extravaganza that includes festive decor, exceptional dining, abundant shopping, and over 45 incredible events. Check out the events page

Scottsdazzle Stroll Walk along the canal banks surrounded by the sounds of the season. Saturday evenings during Scottsdazzle, live music sets the festive tone in this sprawling celebration, featuring public art installations, holiday decor, and a 40-foot Christmas tree lighting up the night with the holiday spirit. Warm up with hot cocoa and sweet treats from local food vendors as you wander through Old Town Scottsdale’s winter wonderland. Learn more…

12.7 | The Gold Palette ArtWalk is Scouted pick where art enthusiasts wander from gallery to gallery, soaking in the spirit of the season with the melodic sounds of traditional holiday carolers and the stunning Scottsdazzle holiday decor illuminating the night Learn more…

Image courtesy of the Desert Botanical Garden

12.8-12.30 | Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden Twinkling lights on winter nights are a must this holiday season at Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de las Luminarias. Enjoy an evening filled with sparkling luminaria-lit trails and twinkling holiday lights. Musical performances, entertainment, and festive food and drinks are available for a picture-perfect night. Reserve tickets here

12.14-12.16 | Phoestivus is back for its fourteenth year in support of the DPTHX Farmers Market! Knock out your holiday shopping with over 200 small local vendors and enjoy food, drinks, music, and live art. Learn more…

12.9-12.31 | Scrooge! ATC’s New Holiday Musical | From the enchanting world of the Oscar-nominated film “Scrooge” emerges ATC’s Christmas musical extravaganza, crafted by none other than the illustrious Oscar-, Grammy-, and Tony-nominated composer Leslie Bricusse. Reserve tickets

Santa Stops

12.9 & 12.16 | Arcadia Toys is bringing Santa to town! He’ll be at the Phoenix location from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm on December 9th, and then he’ll be making his way to the Gilbert location on December 16th, also from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Santa will be there to spend time with all the good little girls and boys, eager to learn what they want most this holiday season. Get your camera ready, and someone from the Arcadia Toys team will be happy to help snap a photo. No sign-up is required! Learn more

Image courtesy of Biltmore Fashion Park

Biltmore Fashion Park  Meet Santa in front of the poinsettia “Christmas Tree” on Center Center Lawn. A visit with Santa is always free, and photo packages are available for purchase Reserve your visit  

Kierland Commons Experience the Magic of Santa with a visit Schedule here

Photos with Santa at The Quarter The Big Guy arrives on November 16th and will remain at Scottsdale Quarter until Christmas Eve when he returns to the North Pole to deliver presents Learn more

Scottsdale Fashion Square Santa’s Winter Wonderland is an annual delight, and those who plan ahead by pre-booking a visit receive a free personalized call from Santa before their visit, as well as a free personalized video afterward Pre-book here

Northern Arizona

Image courtesy of The North Pole Experience

11.24 The North Pole Experience The enchanting journey begins at Flagstaff’s The Little America Hotel, serving as the launch point for The North Pole Experience. Families board the “magic bus,” which transports them to Santa’s 400-year-old workshop at the North Pole. This interactive adventure includes a tour of the toy factory, a visit to Santa’s sleigh hangar, graduation from “Elf University,” and delightful treats with Mrs. Claus. Reserve here

11.10-12.30 | The Polar Express Departing twice nightly from Williams, Arizona, this 90-minute train journey winds through the scenic landscapes of Northern Arizona, bringing to life scenes from Chris Van Allsburg’s beloved children’s book. The adventure wraps up with a special visit from Santa, who presents small gifts to the kids, accompanied by hot chocolate and cookies for the whole family. Learn more

11.2 Prescott’s Annual Christmas Parade A scenic 1.45-minute drive from Phoenix, in the heart of Arizona’s renowned “Christmas City,” Prescott’s annual hallmark event weaves its magic, transforming the streets into a vibrant display of lights, colors, and holiday cheer. This year’s theme, “Toys, Trains, and Candy Canes,” adds an extra layer of festive delight as adorned floats, marching bands, and community groups come together to craft a whimsical procession, embodying the heartwarming spirit of the holiday season. Learn more

11.9 Festival of Lights The Lighting of 6000 Luminarias The cherished tradition began 50 years ago and is a highly anticipated holiday event in Sedona. At the tolling of the bell tower at 5:00pm, the lighting of 6,000 luminarias gets underway in Tlaquepaque’s courtyards and walkways. A full schedule of lively musical entertainment, a visit from Santa, and free cider awaits, making it the perfect outing for families and friends. Learn more

From entertaining tips to hostess gifts – we’re sharing our latest resource round-up to help you prepare for holiday hosting and gifting, we’ve Scouted all the ways you can (and should!) prep for the holidays, locally.