2021 holiday events for Arizona families

Last updated Nov. 26, 2021

Celebrate the upcoming holidays with some of these local events and experiences. Start a new tradition with a performance, tree or menorah lighting, Santa pictures, drive through light shows, or ice skating! Make the most of this holiday season.

ANTHEM

Nov 28. Chanukah Celebration- Public Menorah Lighting. Children’s Program, Donuts, live music! Join us at 4 PM at the Outlets at Anthem (near Children’s Place) 4250 W Anthem Way, Phoenix. jewishanthem.com

Through Dec.24. Outlets at Anthem. For the 20th consecutive year, Outlets at Anthem will be home to Arizona’s tallest fresh-cut Christmas tree! Plus, visit Santa in his cottage on the north side of the Food Court. Santa is available for visits and photos near Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory now through Christmas Eve. Hours are 11am-7pm daily with a break from 3-4pm. Christmas Eve hours are 8am-4pm with a break from 1-1:45pm. Well behaved cats and dogs are allowed to visit Santa every Monday from 4-7pm.  Reservations are strongly recommended for photos but not required. outletsanthem.com

CAREFREE

Dec.28-Jan.5. Chanukah in Carefree is hosting a wonderful event on Community Night, the first night of Chanukah, on Sunday, November 28, 2021. A new chosen charity will be lighting the menorah each night and leading the prayers and songs. After the ceremony there will be a celebration in the Pavilion with food, drinks, and live music. There will be a raffle and other surprises. Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. 101 Easy Street, Carefree. visitcarefree.com

CHANDLER

Nov. 26-28 & Dec. 3-5. Ballet Etudes “The Nutcracker” Let Clara’s magical journey surround you as she encounters life-size mice, swirling snowflakes, dancing confections, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. A feast for the eyes and ears with colorful costumes paired with Tchaikovsky’s original score, Ballet Etudes’ Nutcracker is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season with the entire family.  $27, $31. Check for times. Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler. 480-782-2680 or  chandlercenter.org

Nov. 28. Chanukah Extravaganza. This holiday celebration features a Menorah lighting, Gelt drop, mini donut making, Chanukah gifts, light up Chanukah wrist bands, and fire juggling! Chabad of the East Valley-875 N. McClintock Dr., Chandler. 480-855-4333 or chabadcenter.com

Dec. 4.  Santa Saturday. Crossroads Towne Marketplace welcomes your family to a holiday celebration on Dec. 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.! Meet Santa, get a free photo, play fun and festive holiday games with Funergy, and make a new ornament for the tree. 3757 S Gilbert Rd, Chandler. shopcrossroadsstc.com

Through Dec. 18. Rawhide Snowy Christmas. The Town is illuminated with over a million lights and is decked out with holiday. Rawhide will feature holiday festivities nightly during general public hours (5pm-10pm). Admission is FREE! Every Friday & Saturday night, Santa will lead the official tree lighting ceremony and be available for photos. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the nightly snowfall down Main Street and all of the town lit up. Rawhide Western Town: 5700 W. North Loop Road, Chandler. Rawhide.com

FLAGSTAFF

Through Dec. 26. The North Pole Experience. Delight in the magic of the holiday season at Santa’s enchanting, 400-year-old workshop. Join us for an unforgettable North Pole experience inside the toy factory, Mrs. Claus’s bakery, Elf University, Santa’s Sleigh Hanger, and family time and photos with St. Nick himself. Santa’s massive workshop is one impressive sight to see. Take a peek at the place before you arrive, we won’t tell the elves. 480-779-9679 or northpoleexperience.com

FOUNTAIN HILLS

Dec. 3 – 19. Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! Junie B. Jones, First-Grader, is super-excited about the upcoming Holiday Sing-Along and Secret Santa gift exchange at her school. Too bad tattletale May keeps ruining all of Junie B.’s fun. So when Junie B. draws May’s name for Secret Santa, she comes up with the perfect plan to teach her nemesis a lesson! But will the Christmas spirit of peace and goodwill interfere before she can give you-know-who what she deserves? A hilarious and endearing tale based on the best-selling book series by Barbara Park. 7 to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Fountain Hills Theater, 11445 N Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills. 480-837-9661 Ext. 3 or fhtaz.org

GILBERT

Nov.28. City-Wide Menorah Lighting. Join us at SanTan Village at 6 p.m. for the 10th Annual City-Wide Menorah Lighting. Dignitaries and Honorable Guests will be in attendance at this remarkable community event! Menorah Lighting is held at the West End of Harkins Court. Featuring the great gelt drop! Thousands of chocolate gelt coins will come showering down! Enjoy donuts and latkes, music and entertainment! San Tan Village: 2218 E Williams Field Rd Suite 235, Gilbert. 480-282-9500 or santanvillage.com

Through Dec.24. A Christmas Carol. This spectacular, heart-warming version of Dickens’ classic tale of redemption is magically brought to life on the Hale Stage. This production is rich with traditional carols, stunning costumes, and memorable characters that are guaranteed to enrich the holiday season for you and your family. Hale Centre Theatre, 50 W. Page Ave., Gilbert. 480-497-1181 or haletheatrearizona.com

GLENDALE

Through Jan. 2. World of Illumination is the worlds largest drive-through animated light show. Sugar plum fairies. A gigantic gingerbread village. Sweets as far as the eye can see. World of Illumination presents Candy Rush, the world’s largest animated drive-through light show, highlighting larger-than-life Christmas characters and confections. This mile-long journey features millions of colorful lights and enchanting holiday music— a must see treat for the entire family. 6 to 10 p.m. daily. Tickets start at $39 per vehicle. Desert Diamond Casino: 9431 W. Northern Ave., Glendale.  worldofillumination.com

Through Jan. 9. Downtown in December. Downtown Glendale is the place where holiday fun lives with Downtown in December. Downtown’s beautiful Murphy Park is in the center of it all with Murphy Park LiGHTS! This year’s holiday light display includes a 20-foot walkthrough Snowman and a 30-foot tree with lights that dance to the music. Glendaleaz.com

MESA

Dec. 10. Merry Museums. Arizona Museum of Natural History and the i.d.e.a. Museum, two family-friendly museums in Downtown Mesa will offer free admission from 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. on Friday December 10. This special event is during the Merry Main Street activities. At the Arizona Museum of Natural History visitors can take a selfie with a dinosaur, try their hand at gold panning or wander through an ancient village of the ancestral Sonoran Desert dwellers. At the i.d.e.a. Museum, guests get to experience unique hands-on art exhibitions and engaging STEAM programs. More museum activities can be found online at arizonamuseumofnaturalhistory.org and ideaMuseum.org .

Through Jan. 2. Mesa’s Merry Main Street is a spectacular celebration of the holiday season in downtown Mesa. The festivities include music, food and fun for everyone. A nearly four-story tall Christmas Tree, with a lighting ceremony at 5:45 p.m on opening night. NEW this year: 12ft. Mesa Menorah. The large menorah will have a light added nightly (Nov. 28 – Dec. 6). Skating at the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink ($10). Other key attractions are local crafters and artisans, Mesa’s Polar Express, Jack Frost Food Truck Forest, Santa’s sELFie stations with visits from Santa on Friday and Saturday evenings and much more. Free. 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. City Plaza, 20 E. Main St., Mesa. merrymainst.com

Through Jan. 2. Lights at the Farm features 2 million dazzling lights and displays synchronized to a variety of Christmas classics. This is the third year Lights at the Farm and Vertuccio Farms have partnered to create Arizona’s largest walk-through synchronized light show. Lights at the Farm covers ten acres of larger-than-life Christmas displays covered in more than 2 million LED and RGB lights. The festive light installations are synchronized with popular holiday music. One area of the exhibit pays tribute to our troops in a patriotic display of red, white, and blue. Weeknight tickets are $12, and weekend tickets are $15. Skating, which includes skate rental, is an additional $8. 4011 S. Power Road, Mesa. 480-882 1482. Advanced purchase and skating reservations are recommended at www.lightsatthefarm.com.

Through Jan.15. Walk-Thru ZooLights. Experience millions of twinkling lights, dazzling animal sculptures and two Music-in-Motion Light Shows on the main lake. Enjoy the Holiday Safari Animal Presentation nightly at 8 and 9 p.m. in the Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater. Meet Santa and his elves at Leapin’ Lagoon and take home a commemorative photo. All ages. 5:30-10:30 p.m. $20, free ages two and younger. Optional purchases include kettle corn, hot cocoa, souvenir photos, and select glow items. Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. 602-286-3800 or phoenixzoo.org

PEORIA

Dec. 11. Old Town Holiday Festival. The City of Peoria invites the community out to enjoy the annual Old Town Holiday Festival. Take a stroll through Old Town Peoria and enjoy all the holiday activities, including the following: Live entertainment, local merchants and vendors, gingerbread house display, food trucks, tree lighting at 7:15p.m., Santa Claus, and roaming choirs. 5 p.m. to 9.p.m. Old Town Peoria: Johnny E. Osuna Memorial Park. Crossroads of Peoria Ave. and Grand Ave. peoriaaz.gov

 Through Dec. 30. Elf the Musical is based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, this hilarious tale of Buddy, who, as a baby, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. This modern-day holiday classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf. All ages. Check for ticket prices. 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, Noon & 5:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 W Paradise Ln., Peoria. 623-776-8400 or azbroadway.org

PHOENIX

Through Dec. 5. The Christmas Mouse Puppet Show. This original Christmas story tells the tale of a sweet, lonely mouse and the magic of Christmas. 10 a.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $12, $8 ages 12 and younger. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Great Arizona Puppet Theater, 302 W. Latham St., Phoenix. 602-262-2050 or visit azpuppets.org

Dec. 11-12. Christown Cringle’s Workshop and Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen.These family-friendly events will include fun-filled kids crafts, holiday characters, a storytime with merry elves, ornament making, music and more. The first 100 children to attend the Saturday event will receive a $5 gift card to Harkins Theatres (while supplies last). Noon-3 p.m at Christown Specrum Mall, West Bethany Home Road & 19th Avenue, Phoenix. christtownspectrum.com

Through Dec.24. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. The holiday classic soars off the screen in this musical adaptation of the beloved television special. Because of his shiny nose, Rudolph doesn’t feel like he belongs in Christmastown and sets off to find a place that accepts him. Along his journey, he encounters fellow misfits, only to realize that home is where he has belonged the whole time. When a storm threatens to keep Santa’s sleigh from taking flight, what makes Rudolph different turns out to be what helps him save Christmas. Ages 5 and older. Tickets starts at $13. Check for times. Herberger Theater Center, 222 E Monroe St., Phoenix. childsplayaz.org

Through Dec. 31. Las Noches de la Luminarias. The Garden shines bright during the holiday season!  Enjoy live music performances, entertainment and thousands of dazzling hand-lit luminarias at the Garden with family and friends. For 44 years, the Garden’s trails sparkle during this iconic holiday tradition, and it will remind you of what the season is all about. This year, the event will shine extra bright with the inclusion of Chihuly in the Desert. Select nights only, please verify event details. Dbg.org

Through Jan. 5. CitySkate is Downtown Phoenix’s most popular, real outdoor ice-skating and a time-honored tradition for so many Valley families. A new look and location this year due to Valley Metro Light Rail construction along Central Avenue. The CitySkate rink is different in design and size than in years past, but will still offer freshly surfaced ice, twinkling holiday lights and festive décor, all set within the heart of the city. Three 90 minutes sessions from 5 to 11 p.m., Nov. 26- Dec. 16; Four 90 minutes sessions from 3 to 11 p.m., Dec. 17 -Jan. 5. $18 per person; $13 military, seniors, students and children 8 and younger; Free children 3 and younger. $2 off if you bring your own skates. Patriot’s Park (in the center of CityScape), 11 W. Washington St., Phoenix.cityskatephx.com

Through Jan. 15 Walk-Thru ZooLights. Experience millions of twinkling lights, dazzling animal sculptures and two Music-in-Motion Light Shows on our main lake. Enjoy the Holiday Safari Animal Presentation nightly at 8 and 9 p.m. in the Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater. Meet Santa and his elves at Leapin’ Lagoon and take home a commemorative photo. All ages. 5:30-10:30 p.m. $20, free ages two and younger. Optional purchases include kettle corn, hot cocoa, souvenir photos, and select glow items. Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. 602-286-3800 or phoenixzoo.org

Nov. 28 Chanukah Celebration – Grand Menorah Lighting! Join us for our inaugural Chanukah Celebration at 5:30pm. Featuring live music, balloon artist, hot latkes & doughnuts, crafts & activities for kids, lighting of a giant menorah, greetings from Mayor, Kate Gallego. Free of charge. Open to the public Get a free light-up Menorah necklace! Hance Park 67 W. Culver St., Phoenix (east side of park).

Nov. 29 & 30, Dec. 6 & 7. Cruise Zoolights. From the comfort of your car, experience millions of twinkling lights, dazzling animal sculptures and two Music-in-Motion Light Shows on our main lake. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 7:30 to 9:30p.m. Advance ticket purchase required. $75/carload ($60 members). Optional purchases include kettle corn, hot cocoa, souvenir photos, and select glow items. Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. 602-286-3800 or phoenixzoo.org

Dec. 2-5. Santa’s Circus is a brand new, spectacular Christmas-themed circus! Beautifully decorated to capture the essence of Christmas. Meet and greet your favorite Christmas characters and write your own letter to Santa with the help of Mrs. Claus. Plus get your picture taken with Santa after the show! $35-$65. 7 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday. Madison Center for the Arts, 5601 North 16th St., Phoenix. 602-664-7777 or themadison.org

QUEEN CREEK

Dec. 4.  Santa Saturday. Queen Creek Marketplace welcomes your family to a holiday celebration on Dec. 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.! Meet Santa, get a free photo, play fun and festive holiday games with Funergy, and make a new ornament for the tree. 21398 S. Ellsworth Loop Rd., Queen Creek. queencreekmarketplace.com

Through Dec. 31. Christmas at Schnepf Farms. Experience the wonder of Christmas at Schnepf Farms, a special kind of holiday magic for the entire family. Featuring the Illumination Express train ride, a Christmas carousel, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, hayrides to reindeer, pictures with Santa, snow globe mini golf, a beer and wine garden, and the world’s largest inflatable Christmas-themed obstacle course. 5-10 p.m. nightly. Purchase tickets in advance. $10-$17 online reservations strongly encourage. Schnepf Farms, 24610 E Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek. 480-987-3100 or schnepfchristmas.com

SCOTTSDALE

Nov. 27-28, Dec. 5, 12, and 19. Shop & Be Merry Holiday Market. This series of indoor holiday events featuring live music by Arizona musicians, a curated market of fine arts and crafts, children’s holiday activities, and specialty food and beverage. The event is free to attend with additional activities available for a fee. 12:30–3:30 p.m. Make-and-take craft activity provided by Storybook Entertainment for $10. 1–3 p.m. Visit with Black Santa. scottsdaleperformingarts.org

Nov. 28. Menorah Lighting Ceremony. Join Chabad of Scottsdale in The Quad and enjoy some fun! The Chanukah celebration will start on November 28th with music, entertainment, Chanukah treats, gelt, and a giant menorah lighting. The giant menorah will be lit every evening throughout the holiday. Scottsdale Quarter-5059 N Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 205, Scottsdale. scottsdalequarter.com

Dec. 18. Live Nativity Drive-Thru. All families are invited to gaze on the festive holiday lights and a live nativity scenes. The first 100 vehicles get a free Advent gift bag. The live Nativity scene will include live actors and animals. Free and open to the public. 7 to 8 p.m. North Scottsdale United Methodist Church, 11735 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-948-0529 or nsumckids.info

Through Dec. 19. Holiday Weekend Entertainment. This event reoccurs weekly on Saturday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tis’ the season for shopping, carolers, Christmas characters, and more! Starting Black Friday, enjoy holiday music from the Dicken’s Carolers and Pete Pancrazzi while you stroll through Santa City in The Quad. Scottsdale Quarter: 15059 N Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 205, Scottsdale. experiencescottsdale.com

Through Dec.19. Winter Waterland. Festive lighting, music, and décor change with each rotation as you ride through custom-themed exhibits featuring graceful stingrays and sea turtles, playful sea lions, and majestic sharks. Jolly ol’ helmet-diving SeaTREK Santa is making a splash again this holiday season with underwater appearances on select dates from Thanksgiving weekend through Christmas Eve. Odysea Aquarium: 9500 E Via De Ventura, Suite A-100, Scottsdale. 480-291-8000 or odyseaaquarium.com

Through Dec.25. Christmas in the Rainforest. Bring family and friends to a seasonal holiday experience, “Christmas in the Rainforest,” featuring an abundance of butterflies from the rainforests of Costa Rica, Africa, and Asia. See Butterfly Wonderland decked in festive décor and enjoy live music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the butterfly conservatory by violinist Jonathan Levingston on Nov. 28, Dec. 5, and Dec. 12. Have some festive fun with “Draco on a Shelf” – a take on the popular “Elf on a Shelf” and try to find 10 hidden photos throughout the venue of Draco, Butterfly Wonderland’s popular Chinese water dragon. 9500 E Via De Ventura, Scottsdale. 480-800-3000 or butterflywonderland.com

Through Dec. 31. Scottsdazzle is a holiday extravaganza that brings a variety of festive activities and fun events to residents and visitors alike. Activities and events take place at various locations around Old Town through December 31. Local retailers and restaurants also join in on the festivities, offering guests incentives to dine, drink and shop throughout the season.scottsdazzle.com

Through Dec. 29: Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. More than 100,000 lights will adorn trees and displays during McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park’s Holiday Lights program. Festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m. with a tree lighting ceremony, entertainment and a visit from a special guest – Santa! Holiday Lights will run from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. Train and carousel rides will be available for a nominal fee. For more information call or visit the website. Daily except Christmas Eve and Day and New Years Eve. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, 7301 E. Indian Bend Road, Phoenix. 480-312-2312 or therailroadpark.com

Through Jan. 2. Christmas at the Princess. Every winter, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort becomes a twinkling holiday wonderland for both hotel guests and the public. Their socially distanced outdoor holiday celebration offers ice skating, light shows, s’mores, pictures with Santa Claus, water lantern ceremonies and more. 4-10 p.m. peak days, 5-10 p.m. off-peak days. 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale. 480-585-4848 or scottsdaleprincess.com

TEMPE

Dec. 5. Santa’s Enchanted Holiday Festival. Celebrate the season with a day of family fun! Feed and ride the reindeer, take mini photos with Santa and shop amazing local vendors. Enjoy face painting, crafts, boutique shopping and a farmers market. There are picnic spots and lunch is available to purchase at the cafe. Fun for all ages. Free for adults and kids under 12 months. Tickets include reindeer food and a reindeer headband. Parking is an additional fee per car.1490 E Weber Dr, Tempe. Enchantedholidayfestival.com

Through Dec. 31. Tempe Marketplace will transform into a living snow globe with its Nightly Snowfall every evening at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. near the District Stage (excluding Christmas Day). Plus, enjoy snowfall every hour on Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Take advantage of the fun photo ops at Tempe Marketplace, travel through the beautiful life-sized Starry + Bright Star Tunnel, then step into Candy Cane Lane, a delicious holiday dreamland filled with giant gumdrops, larger-than-life lollipops, colossal chocolates, gigantic gingerbread men, and a hot cocoa pond, complete with massive marshmallows. Tempemarketplace.com

Through Jan. 2. World of Illumination is the worlds largest drive-through animated light show. Grab your sled and join World of Illumination on a trek down Reindeer Road. Whiz through mountainous terrain, traverse glacial peaks, explore the northern ice caves and make your way through the northern forests to the heart of it all – Santa’s Workshop – the world’s largest animated toy shop. Be dazzled by reindeer, snowmen, and toys galore as you witness the most spectacular drive-through light forest this side of the arctic. Who knows, you may even catch Santa and his elves making your present this year…if you’ve been nice! 6 to 10 p.m. daily. Tickets start at $39 per vehicle. Tempe Diablo Stadium: 2200 W Alameda Dr., Tempe.  worldofillumination.com

WILLIAMS

Through Dec. 30. The Polar Express. Experience storybook magic when you ride the Polar Express in Williams this holiday season. The Grand Canyon Railway transforms the train into the Polar Express, based on the Chris Van Allsburg classic. Families will also snack on cookies and sip on hot chocolate and sing carols. 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. train departures (3:30 p.m. on select dates). Packages available for meals and hotel stay. Grand Canyon Railway, 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams. 800-222-6966. thetrain.com

STATEWIDE

Through Dec. 23: 2021 Christmas Angel program. The Salvation Army has partnered with Arizona’s Family to provide Christmas gifts to families in need. You can help.