Events

Everything Festive Happening in Phoenix This Holiday Season

CityScape Phoenix
CityScape Phoenix | Phoenix Speedskating
CityScape Phoenix | Phoenix Speedskating

The holiday season is upon us, and in Phoenix that means it’s a crisp 80 degrees, the palm trees are illuminated by white lights, and shopping malls are as crowded as, well, shopping malls. Although the Valley of the Sun may lack some time-honored holiday joys -- like snow or reindeer -- we make up for it with our own assortment of events and spectacles, including an 80-foot-tall Christmas tree, a dive bar covered in Christmas lights, and an ice skating rink that doesn’t require snow gear. To make the most out of your holiday season, check out our list of festive events and treasured Phoenix holiday bucket list items.

Have a drink at Scottsdale’s unofficial holiday bar

All season long
Scottsdale
The Coach House is the pinnacle of holiday drinking -- it’s divey, unpretentious, family-owned, and most importantly, completely covered with holiday lights inside and out. It’s essentially the perfect holiday drinking tradition you’ll never want to give up. 
Cost: The price of a drink (or several)

Witness the lighting of the state’s tallest tree 

November 16
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but here in Arizona, we’re here to show you that our Christmas spirit can out-size them all -- even New York City’s famed Rockefeller Center tree. The City of Anthem is home to the state’s tallest, fresh-cut Christmas tree (coming in at 80-feet tall and 20-feet wide), which requires twelve decorators to adhere its more than 5,000 bows and ornaments -- including the 3-foot copper star topper. The 18th annual lighting ceremony will include all kinds of activities ranging from photos with Santa to live music. 

Hit the largest light and lantern fest in North America

November 21 - January 12
Arizona State Fairgrounds
Lights of the World is the largest festival of its kind on the continent, and Downtown Phoenix is lucky enough to have it return for another year. Not only does it offer more lights than every house in your neighborhood combined, it incorporates traditions from cultures from across the world, as well as global cuisine. Activities include carnival rides, games, acrobatics, music, and dance performances.
Cost: Tickets start at $18, parking fee is $10

Ice skate your way through the area's biggest ice rink -- right in Downtown

November 23 - January 5
Downtown Phoenix
Nothing evokes festive feelings quite like ice skating around a giant Christmas tree. CitySkate provides all that and more (like photos with Santa) right in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. Plus, how many places can you go ice skating in a t-shirt? 
Cost: Tickets start at $15

Miracle pop up bar
Hotel Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails | Melissa Horn

Sip your holiday spirit at Arizona’s only “Miracle” Pop-Up Bar

November 25 - December 28
The Hotel Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails will once again be transformed into an adults-only North Pole, complete with nostalgic Christmas decor, ugly sweater-wearing bartenders, and of course, festive cocktails ranging from the Bad Santa to the Snowball Old Fashioned. In addition to the drinks, attendees will enjoy five holiday dishes, including the Holiday Fries and Soup for You to enjoy amongst the thousands of twinkling lights and sparkling garland.

Sip festive cocktails in a tiki-themed oasis hosted by Arizona’s top cocktail bar

November 26 - December 24
Bitter & Twisted, Arizona’s undisputed top cocktail bar, is putting a tropical twist on the holiday pop-up bar in collaboration with famed tiki connoisseur Jeff “Beachbum” Barry. Guests can look forward to island decor and themed cocktails like the Kris Kringle Colada, the Christmas Eve of Destruction, or the shareable Jingle Bowl. Plus, 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Action Against Hunger, a charity that fights hunger worldwide.  

Experience a white Christmas with a festive walk amongst animals and lights

November 27 - January 19
Phoenix Zoo
Zoolights is an undeniable can’t-miss Phoenix holiday event. It combines millions of lights (in the shape of animals), actual animals (kind of, it is dark), and some great hot chocolate, so you can see why it’s a hit. There’s even an artificial snowfall -- definitely something to take advantage of here in Phoenix.
Cost: Tickets start at $14.95

Trot with your fellow turkeys on Thanksgiving

November 28
Wesley Bolin Plaza
Believe it or not, turkeys can run pretty fast (25mph to be exact), so take a page out of their book and fight off holiday pounds at the Turkey Trot. Depending on how ambitious you’re feeling, you can run the 1 Mile Gobbler Dash, a 5K, or 10K, and there are even runs specifically for the kids. Plus, dressing up like a turkey is encouraged
Cost: Registration starts at $18

Walk the lit Botanical Garden all season long

November 29 - December 31
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful spaces in the Southwest, and their signature holiday event -- Las Noches de las Luminarias -- offers live music and an enchanting tour of the expansive garden amid the light of 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags, and thousands of twinkling lights. 
Cost: Tickets start at $34.95

See the work of 300+ artists at the Valley’s beloved art festival

December 6-8
Mill Avenue
The Tempe Festival of the Arts is a nationally recognized art festival, and a Downtown Tempe tradition, drawing 225,000 attendees a year to see more than 350 artists from across the country. However, it’s a lot more than just an art festival -- think live music, fashion shows, food trucks, and plenty of beer. 
Cost: Free event

Witness the Valley’s favorite holiday parade

December 7
North Phoenix Baptist Church
The APS Electric Light Parade has been a fixture in the Valley’s holiday scene for over 30 years -- bringing over 100,000 attendees each year and some incredibly ornate floats by Valley favorites like The Phoenix Suns and Arizona Cardinals. The parade starts at North Phoenix Baptist Church.
Cost: Free event

 The Tumbleweed Tree Lighting
The Tumbleweed Tree Lighting | Downtown Chandler

Gather the tumbleweeds in the most Arizona holiday tradition of all

December 7
Chandler
If you’re not from Arizona, this might be hard to believe, but here in the Wild West we actually gather a bunch of tumbleweeds together, assemble them in the form of a Christmas tree and light it up to commemorate the holiday season. Kind of endearing, right? And surprisingly, we’re the only city in the Southwest to do anything like this (so come on by!). 
Cost: Free event

Shop local for all your holiday gifts at Phoestivus

December 12 and 19
Phoenix Public Market
Phoestivus is an event inspired by German Christmas markets and Seinfeld’s Festivus -- which is reason enough for you to go, but this year, for the 10th anniversary event, you can also look forward to over 200 local vendors with hand-crafted gifts, meaning you won’t even have to step foot into a mall to get your holiday shopping done.
Cost: Free entry

Welcome 2020 in the coziest way possible -- covered in flannel

December 31
The Churchill
Sick of sequin dresses, uncomfortable dress shirts, and shivering every New Year’s Eve? Us too. Thankfully, The Churchill is mixing things up with the inaugural Flannel Ball, where you can bundle up in your coziest flannel and celebrate the coming of 2020 with beer, live music, an art show, food trucks, lawn games, and a pinata drop at midnight. 
Cost: $10 

Party your way into 2019 in style at Royal Palms

December 31
Royal Palms Resort & Spa
Say good riddance to a super weird 2019 and head into the new decade with this high-end event featuring live music, a raw bar, light bites, and even a fireworks show. Enjoy toasting to a hopefully way more awesome 2020 at midnight, and don't forget to tip the courtesy coat check.
Cost: $175

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Jamie Killin is a Phoenix-based writer. Follow her on Twitter @jamiekillin or on Instagram @jamiefayekillin.