The Most Festive Events in Phoenix This Holiday Season
Holiday markets, festive light displays, and more.
Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The saguaros and palm trees are dressed up in string lights, bartenders are pouring festive cocktails, and there’s absolutely no shortage of holiday spirit (and spirits, of course) to go around. And while there’s a very, very slim chance of snow in the forecast this holiday season, you can still get your ice skating fix; we’ve got deets about an outdoor ice rink. We made a list and checked it twice—now button up your winter coat, crank up the Christmas music to 11, and mask up for these unmissable holiday experiences, Phoenix.
Some of our favorite holiday season events are not on the list this year. Due to health authority and government agency guidelines, many organizers have opted to cancel their holiday season events. The organizers and businesses hosting the following events have taken action to provide safe experiences for holiday revelers, including social distancing efforts, operating at a limited capacity, mask mandates, and more. But, anything can happen. It’s 2020 after all. Keep in mind that these events can change or be canceled at a moment's notice. Check out their website and socials before heading out.
The halls are decked at Downtown Phoenix’s favorite drinking spot, Bitter & Twisted. The award-winning cocktail bar is celebrating the season with a festive, collaborative pop-up called Sippin’ Santa. Equal parts tiki and Christmas, the pop-up has all the trimmings for a jolly good time, including rum-drenched island-style sippers and incredibly festive floor-to-ceiling decor. Bitter & Twisted is open with limited capacity, all guests are required to wear masks around the bar, tables have been socially distanced, and the menus have gone digital. Reservations are required and can be made online.
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 music, a touchless live photo booth, and convenient beverage stations throughout the garden that are pouring up festive drinks like hot cocoa and spiked libations to keep you warm as you stroll the garden’s trails. Currently, the Desert Botanical Garden is open at a limited capacity and ticket reservations are required in advance.
There’s really no general rule of how early you can put up holiday lights or how late you can take them down. Even if there was, Coach House doesn’t follow rules. Here, the lights go up early and they stay up well after the holiday. But, nobody really minds. Having a drink at Scottsdale’s oldest dive bar during the holidays has become somewhat of a local’s rite of passage. So go ahead, pull on your ugly Christmas sweater and belly-up to the Coach House bar for a drink, or two. Just don’t land yourself on the naughty list.
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 a beer and wine garden onsite, there’s absolutely no shortage of holiday fun to be had. Don’t be a Grinch, plan your visit and get your tickets here.
Cost: $15 online, $17 at the gate
Keep your milk and cookies, Santa. Hotel Valley Ho’s on-site restaurant ZuZu can do you one better with their seasonal Show Stopper Shake. This month’s festive milkshake wonder is a Christmas cookie lover’s dream. Piled high with confections including a vanilla coconut snowball, pink gummies, candy canes, lollipops, strawberry milk crumb, and of course sugar cookies, the sugar cookie flavored shake is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. ZuZu also has a trio of unmissable, and more approachable, Short Stopper Shakes including the Candy Cane Forest, Gingerbread Man, and Caramel Crunch; a vanilla shake topped with a brûléed banana and praline blondie. Make your reservation here.
Lace up your skates. Downtown Mesa’s Winter Wonderland Ice Rink is up for the season. Located just outside of City Plaza, the 5,000-square foot outdoor rink gives all of us desert-dwellers a little taste of a time-tested wintertime tradition, without the freezing temps. And you’re just steps away from delicious sandwiches at Worth Takeaway and crushable craft ciders at nearby Cider Corps. In an effort to keep everyone safe this year, skate times are limited to one hour and all tickets must be purchased online in advance. Skate rentals are available. Get your tickets here, skaters.
It’s been a helluva year, and we could all use some cheer. Find your cheer in liquid form at Miracle Bar. The Christmas-themed pop-up bar is taking over the rooftop space at Downtown Phoenix’s Floor 13. Light bites like Arizona citrus marinated olives and pepperoni flatbreads round-out a list of holiday-inspired drinks like the rum-forward Fruitcake Flip, Snowball Old-Fashioned, and Christmapolitan, a festive take on the classic Cosmo with a palate-pleasing cranberry sauce zing. The pop-up experience is open with limited capacity and does not accept reservations.
An astonishing 16 blocks of colorful Christmas lights illuminate the Downtown Glendale neighborhood this time of year. 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. Pop-in at The Black Sheep for coffee, get your pizza fix at La Piazza Al Forno, and save some room for vegan peppermint ice cream at Papa Ed’s. If that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit—oof.
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. And this year, you can experience ZooLights from your car, or on foot. Find all the information you need to plan your visit here.
Grand Avenue is a corner of our city that’s brimming with artwork at every turn. From the colorful sidewalks to the large scale murals painted on shops and galleries; art is everywhere. So it only makes sense that this bustling Downtown Phoenix arts district would have their own arts-focused holiday market. The Socially Distanced Holiday Market on Grand Avenue features a different lineup of local vendors each weekend ranging from paper artists and to clay creators. Holiday shoppers can also find kitschy stocking stuffers and vintage treasures, too. Find out which vendors will be at the holiday market here.
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.
Downtown Tempe’s 6th Street Market Holiday Pop-Up is your one-stop shop for unique gifts. Searching for handmade jewelry and one-of-a-kind art pieces? Maybe you’re hunting for gourmet goodies for the gourmands on your list. Whatever you’re after, this outdoor market can help you effortlessly sleigh that pesky holiday shopping list. Here’s some more good news. With any market purchase, you can get your gifts wrapped for free. It’s basically a Christmas miracle!
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. 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 from Weft & Warp Art Bar to fuel your shopping. Santo Press, Vim + Vigor Candle Co., and Lafayette Avenue Ceramics are just some of the vendors that will be there.
Sure, the big man in red certainly knows his way around a plate of cookies. But what does Saint Nick know about Frosty Shots, Whoville Punch, Winter Sangria, and Peppermint Porter, huh? More than a dozen restaurants and bars throughout Downtown Chandler are offering $4 drink specials and food specials as part of the annual Sippin Santas Pub Crawl. The self-guided bar crawl also promises live entertainment and plenty of opportunity for festive selfies. All participating bars and restaurants are adhering to CDC guidelines. Masks are required, branded masks will be provided, and all participants will undergo a temperature check at registration.
Can’t get enough Christmas tunes? Good, because Maestro José Hernández and his mariachi ensemble are coming to town. The platinum-selling group will be playing all of the classics this holiday season in their traditional mariachi-style. This group is good. And they’ve got the Grammy nominations to prove it. The holiday fiesta is happening at the Virginia G. Piper Theater. Or, if you’d rather enjoy the show in your holiday jammies from your couch with a mug of hot cocoa, you can purchase tickets online to stream the live show from home.
Mazelpalooza is on pause this year. But the community behind NowGen PHX has found a way to bring people together with over a week of mitzvahs to help those in need. From December 21 - 30, NowGen PHX will host a series of food, clothing, toy and book, and health and hygiene drives that benefit local charities and organizations. Donations are accepted at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, just pre-register and select your drop time online.
Sign up here for our daily Phoenix email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.