Toast to the Season with These Merry Holiday Events in Phoenix

Time to get cheery at Phoenix’s best holiday festivals, markets, and more.

Courtesy Miracle Pop-Up
Courtesy Miracle Pop-Up

It’s finally that magical time of year: multicolored lights are strung across palm trees and cacti, while out-of-state license plates show up on the roads as snowbirds arrive to escape White Christmases. One of the best times of year in Phoenix (weatherwise) coincides nicely with the holiday season; there’s enough of a nip in the air to get into the mood of festive parades, outdoor wonderlands, and hearty alcoholic beverages. There is plenty to enjoy in the Valley this year, with everything from ice skating to Tumbleweed Lighting to keep you and your loved ones occupied. Here are the best holiday events in Phoenix.

Food and Drink Events in Phoenix

Now thru December 23
Bitter and Twisted, Downtown Phoenix
Once again, Bitter & Twisted is the place to get festive with a drink in hand. The award-winning cocktail bar’s annual pop-up collaboration, Sippin’ Santa, takes over B&T for the holiday season. With a tiki bar theme and plenty of Christmas cheer, come for this year’s roster of cocktails  like the Surf Nut, Sharkey's First Christmas, and Ginger Snapper. Beloved returning favorites include Jingle Bird, Holiday on Ice, and the original Sippin' Santa. Reservations are highly suggested but some walk-ins can be accommodated for two-hour visits.

Thru January 7
The top of the Westin Tempe already hosts the lovely open-air lounge Skysill, but for the holidays, they’ve added a fun winter escape. Skysill Chalet takes the feeling of a cozy cabin atmosphere and transforms it into a 90-minute experience, complete with Christmas music, fireplaces, comfy chairs and twinkling lights. The abbreviated menu leans heavily into winter flavors; for a rich and indulgent adult beverage, try the Pumpkin Spice Egg-hog with your complimentary hot cocoa macaron. The noshable food offerings include a seasonally tailored charcuterie board and “Mistletoe” Lobster Mac and Cheese.

Courtesy of Downtown Phoenix Inc.

Holiday Festivals in Phoenix

November 24–December 24
Queen Creek, $18.95 and up

This Queen Creek farm is beloved for its you-pick gardens, famous peach pie, and amazing glamping sites. But around this time of year you could easily mistake Schnepf Farms for the North Pole. Schnepf Farms has transformed into a winter wonderland. With activities that run the gamut from glow in the dark snow globe mini golf to bonfires for s’more roasting and the Illumination Express train, there’s absolutely no shortage of holiday fun to be had. Check the schedule online for operating days, as they do vary.

November 24–January 6, 2024
Downtown Mesa, $10
Downtown Mesa is kicking off the festive season with their annual Merry on Main Street showcase. There’s the popular Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, where Phoenicians can lace up their skates on the 5,000-square foot outdoor rink, sans the freezing temps. Santa is around for visits and the official Menorah will be lit every night of Hanukkah. Plus don’t miss the holiday variety show, The Man Who Killed Santa Claus, featuring the mayor of Mesa.

Now thru January 6
Scottsdale, $35 and up
For the 14th year, Christmas is very much alive and well at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ annual festival that is perfect for families, friends, and couples. This year’s event will feature all the best loved attractions from Christmases past, such as Desert Ice, Lagoon Lights and Princess Express Train, alongside new traditions like the new Aurora Ice Lounge + Chill with a 20 degree thermometer setting and a signature cocktail. With a ferris wheel, bookable fire pits and igloos, and literally millions of lights, there’s enough to spark the Christmas spirit in anyone.

Holiday Markets in Phoenix

December 1
Scottsdale, cost varies
So, you’ve still got some holiday shopping to do. Skip the big box stores. And don’t even think about logging into your Amazon account. Show some love and support to the local makers, artisans, and crafters in your community by attending this 4th annual event. Happening at Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, this open-air market checks all the boxes when it comes to holiday shopping. There will be live music, food, and cocktails.

Courtesy Desert Farm Lights

Holiday Lights in Phoenix

Now thru January 1, 2024
Glendale, Free
For 30 years, an astonishing 16 blocks of colorful Christmas lights illuminate the Downtown Glendale neighborhood for the holidays. The epic light display aptly called Glendale Glitters features 1.7 million twinkly lights. The lights definitely shine bright, but local shops and restaurants throughout Historic Downtown Glendale shine, too. There will also be a tree lighting ceremony, a Christmas parade, and a Jingle & Jam concert performance throughout the six weeks. If that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit—oof.

Now thru December 30
Desert Botanical Garden, Papago Park, $39.95
Thousands of glowing luminarias and twinkly lights have set Desert Botanical Garden aglow this holiday season. It’s part of DBG’s annual tradition, Las Noches de las Luminarias. In addition to the lights, and lots of ‘em, the family-friendly nighttime experience features musical performances, entertainment, and convenient beverage stations throughout the garden with hot cocoa and spiked libations to keep you warm as you stroll the garden’s trails.

Thru December 31
Surprise, tickets start at $20
The West Valley holiday light installation is returning to Justice Brothers Ranch for another year of family fun and, obviously, lights. Initially created as a high-quality, immersive holiday event close to home for West Valley families, this year’s event includes the chance for couples to enjoy gooey s’mores inside giant themed snow globes while children will stay occupied with inflatable obstacle courses, bounce houses, bungee trampolines, and a 90 ft. fun slide. For those seeking adventure, attendees can put their senses to the test and navigate a gingerbread and scented candy cane maze.

November 22–January 14, 2024
Papago Park, starting at $30
The Valley is already dressed up in red and green and shiny twinkling lights for the holiday season. And this time of year one destination shines extra bright—the Phoenix Zoo. Millions, yes millions, of lights and hundreds of displays deck its walkways and exhibits nightly through the holiday season as part of ZooLights. The Phoenix Zoo also has festive food and drinks available for when your stomach starts to rumble. On December 4, ZooLights will be presented in a sensory friendly way so all guests can enjoy the experience.

December 3
Downtown Chandler, Free
It’s a holiday time tradition unlike any other. Seriously, there’s no other place where you can see more than 1,000 painted tumbleweeds positioned in the shape of a Christmas tree. For more than 60 years the folks in Downtown Chandler have been putting up this marvel. It’s a feat that takes 20 gallons of white paint and 65 pounds of glitter. There’s simply no question, the tumbleweed tree is a uniquely Southwestern tradition we don’t see going away anytime soon. The official tree lighting ceremony is on Dec 3 and each night will be lit at sunset.

December 9
Tempe, Free
How else would you celebrate holidays in the desert than watching boats sail past? The beloved Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade on Tempe Town Lake allows boat owners to show off their watercrafts all decked in lights and decorations. The well-rounded evening includes musical entertainment, food vendors, photos with Santa, and is capped off by a dazzling fireworks display.

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Asonta Benetti is a Phoenix-based freelance writer specializing in travel, food, and beverage. Her credits includeFood & Wine, VinePair, AFAR, Eater, andBon Appétit, among others.