Top December events in metro Phoenix

The North Pole Experience. Photo

Hot cocoa with marshmallows, holiday light displays and the spirit of giving. Some of our favorite family memories are made in December. With the gentle balance of continuing traditions and creating new ones, this list of holiday happenings will fill your days with joy and warm up your winter nights. Happy Holidays!

Find more extensive day-by-day event listings at And look here for some of the best holiday light displays this month in greater Phoenix.

Nov. 17-Dec. 28

The North Pole Experience. Take the Candy Cane/Snowball Express to Santa’s 400-year-old workshop, where you can assist the elves in toy making, tour the factory, get bakery treats and take photos with Santa.

Christmas at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

Nov. 22- Dec. 31

Christmas at the Princess. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess transforms into a glistening winter wonderland with a four-story musical tree, ice skating, Lagoon Lights, Princess Express Trains and Santa’s Secret Headquarters. Princesses Angelica and Noel, a huggable yeti named Shivers, squishable Graham (a walking s’more) and Peppermint Penguin and Selfie Elfie host a Christmas character farewell at 9 p.m. nightly in the Enchanted Plaza.


Dec. 1

Peoria’s Old Town Holiday Festival. Peoria has hosted this holiday event for more than three decades. Families can enjoy live entertainment, a visit from Santa and 20 tons of snow.

Joy to the Herd at Shamrock Farms.

Dec. 1-3

Tempe Festival of the Arts. This ranks among the top art festivals in the nation. Shop more than 300 artists along Mill Avenue and surrounding streets.

Joy to the Herd at Shamrock Farms. The dairy farm transforms its Welcome Barn area into a winter wonderland. Farm tour, face painting and Santa on Friday. All that plus real snow play and holiday crafts Saturday-Sunday.

Dec. 1-23

A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail. Travel to the snow-covered Hundred Acre Wood for Valley Youth Theatre’s 22nd annual holiday musical. A.A. Milne’s beloved characters, Pooh, Piglet, Kanga and Baby Roo and Owl, organize a search party to help Eeyore find his lost tail.

Dec. 2

APS Electric Light Parade. For more than three decades, the APS Electric Light Parade has been bringing Phoenix families, neighborhoods and businesses together. This year’s theme is “Winter Nights, Dazzling Lights.”

Festival of Tales. Southwest Human Development and Paradise Valley Community College host this literacy event with storytelling, arts and crafts, games, face painting, live music, food trucks and free books.

Dec. 3

Chanukah Carnival. Join Congregation Beth Israel for its annual celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights. This all-ages event is open to the public. Enjoy carnival rides and games along with traditional Hanukkah treats.

i.d.e.a. Museum Free Sunday. Spend a free day at the the i.d.e.a. Museum, where kids can play and explore mind and body wellness at “The Art of Healthy Living” exhibit.

Peppa Pig’s Surprise!

Dec. 6

Peppa Pig’s Surprise! Peppa Pig, George and all their friends are in town for an all-singing, all-dancing adventure. This theatrical production features songs, games and a stage full of surprises.

Dec. 8-10

Phoenix Festival of the Arts. Live entertainment, more than 100 artists and vendors, food trucks, children’s play area, flash performances and more.

Dec. 8-24

The Nutcracker. Ballet Arizona presents this holiday classic with live music by the Phoenix Symphony.

Dec. 9

Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade. The lake lights up at the Valley’s most unique holiday event featuring 50 festively lighted boats of all sizes. 6th Street Market vendors will also fill up Tempe Beach Park. Stay for a fireworks finale.

Ignite Hope for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. There’s not a dry eye after this evening event that includes a 1.1-mile walk from North High School to Phoenix Children’s, led by the Phoenix Fire Department. Walkers are greeted by holiday carolers and hospital patients waiving candles from their windows. It concludes with a lighting of the PCH Christmas tree.

Holidays at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

Dec. 16-17

Holidays at MIM. Celebrate the holiday season with musical performances and holiday-themed activities at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Winter Wonderland Express. Ride the Holiday Train to a snow-filled play area with sled rides. Families can enjoy Christmas decorations, take pictures in human-sized snow globes and visit with Santa.

Dec. 17

Santa Hustle. Hundreds of Santas hit the streets of Glendale for the city’s Santa Hustle 5K and half marathon, benefiting Glendale Fire Charities. Enjoy holiday music, candy canes and cookies and a festive after party.

Holidays at the Heard.

Dec. 26-30

Holidays at the Heard. Embrace what makes the Southwest a unique winter wonderland this holiday season with local musicians, indigenous dance performances, art demonstrations and art activities.

Dec. 31

Noon Year’s Eve. Ring in the new year with a roar at the Phoenix Zoo’s dinosaur-themed New Year’s Eve party for families. Play in 30 tons of snow and enjoy a Jurassic bounce house, snowball targets, plus live music, dancing, games and dino activities.