It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even in the Valley of the Sun! While our east coast brothers and sisters trudge through near zero visibility snow storms, and our midwest brethren scrape ice from their windshields, we are sitting pretty poolside, golfing 18 holes, and hiking just about any mountain that has a trail.
But here's the thing, Arizonians might not have snow, but we do have a large dose of Christmas spirit in our bones, ready, willing, and able to touch just about anyone who is seeking sleigh bells, Kris Kringle, hot cocoa, and of course, ye old Christmas Tree.
In fact, there are so many places in Arizona to visit to get into the Christmas spirit, you might just be surprised at what to find. From a zoo filled with millions of Christmas lights to a trip on the Polar Express up to the North Pole itself, Christmas in Arizona is NOT boring.
So dig your coat out of the depths of your dusty closet, find your favorite hot cocoa recipe, sit back and relax, because we are going to take you on a journey through the state of Arizona to find the best 15 Christmas spots this season.
ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo
First stop, the Phoenix Zoo! Phoenicians rejoice November 21st when millions of lights adorn the zoo and the gates open for participants 5:30 pm and run until 10:30 pm, making it a great spot for families and adults alike.
This year will be nothing short of magical with a 4-D theater playing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (price of admission included with your ticket!), real-life reindeer, and millions of displays of lights that will put you in complete awe.
Get tickets online here.
CitySkate at CityScape
Who knew you could ice skate in the desert? City Skate creates a winter wonderland year after year smack dab in the middle of Downtown Phoenix. There is a giant Christmas tree, Santa for the kids, activities for the whole family, and, of course, ice skating!
Whether you are looking for a spot for date night or want to grab dinner with your family and friends after an evening skate, you can enjoy the rink starting November 23rd until January 6th at 1 E. Washington Street in downtown Phoenix.
Find hours and pricing at phxicerink.com
Snow is falling at the epic Westgate Center nightly from November 19th until December 31st. If you are as obsessed with Christmas as Santa himself, this is the perfect place to get into the Christmas Spirit without shoveling snow.
Every night from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. you can sit on the AMC lawn, look up at the sky and enjoy the first and probably only snow that will fall in Glendale, Arizona. Throughout the Christmas season, there will be live music, Santa visits, and even caroling!
For more information about the Westgate snowfall, visit their website Westgate Shopping and Entertainment
The North Pole Experience
Fancy a trip up north to visit Santa's workshop? You can have this exact opportunity at The North Pole Experience in Flagstaff, Arizona. Now, if you are new to Arizona and aren't familiar with Flagstaff, this is a place where there is actual snow, making it a white Christmas experience for men, women, and children!
At the North Pole Experience, you will find Santa's workshop, Mrs. Claus' bakery, Elf University, a tour of Santa's Sleigh and parking spot, as well as pictures with the merry old elf himself. This is absolutely one of the most famous spots to get into the Christmas spirit in Arizona, so don't miss it! For more information, click here.
Polar Express Railway North Pole
All aboard the Polar Express! The magic of Christmas lives on the Grand Canyon Railway's annual Polar Express experience in Williams, Arizona. This fully functioning railway is completely transformed with the spirit of Christmas just as the book The Polar Express describes.
There is hot cocoa served on the train as you move from Williams up even further north, cookies, songs, candy canes, and each child receives a present simply for joining in the fun and taking a ride on the train. The train time is an approximate 90-minutes leaving at 5:30 p.m. and returning at 7:30 p.m. For more information, click here.
Lights of the World at Arizona State Fairgrounds
The Arizona State Fairgrounds host the Lights of the World, where lanterns and international arts are displayed to celebrate the many cultures of our world, how they celebrate the holidays and have an overall showcase of lights, sound, and Christmas spirit.
Approximately 10 million lights adorn the fairgrounds, and there are over 65 displays to enjoy from December 6th through February 3rd. Along with lights and Christmas spirit, there are carnival rides, entertainment, and free games with the price of admission! This is the largest display of lights in North America, so don't miss this!
For more info and to ticket prices, go to phoenix.lightsoftheworldus.com
Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden
What could be better than an evening under the stars? Perhaps an evening under the stars with romantic lantern lighting, adult beverages, live music, and the Desert Botanical Garden? If you answered yes (and why wouldn't you?) you will need to go to the Las Moches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens this Christmas.
Over 8,000 lit lanterns line the desert landscape providing a beautiful backdrop for a date night or night out with friends. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden for the festival from December 1st through December 31st.
For more info, times, and dates go to dbg.org
Looking to quickly load up on Christmas spirit this season without leaving the comfort of your car? Head over to Illumination, a drive-through Christmas light experience where the lights are tied to a symphony, you can hang out of your car like a happy puppy, and slowly make your way through the symphony of light.
At the stopping point, you can enjoy food trucks, cocoa, and an observation point where you can see the lights from above. There are two locations for Illumination, one off the 1-17 and Jomax in Phoenix, and also in Tempe at Diablo Stadium. For more info on locations and tickets, visit their website here.
Word to the wise, the tickets are cheaper to buy online!
Snow Much Fun - Children's Museum of Phoenix
If you are looking for a fun family affair, the Children's Museum of Phoenix dumps over 20 tons of actual snow in their facility for your kids to pretend they are Elsa or Olaf and make an incredible snowman, have snowball fights, make snow angels, and pretend for a hot second it isn't 70 degrees outside.
You don't have to be a member to join in the fun! Simply go here to their website and grab tickets ahead of time.
Christmas at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess goes ALL OUT for Christmas. From a giant Christmas tree smack dab in the middle of the hotel to an ice rink, a holiday train, live events from Santa's helpers, Smores land, an Enchanted Plaza, and more.
Tickets are $55 for those who want to self-park and $85 for valet (or spend $75 at any resort restaurant and get FREE parking), so make your travel arrangements ahead of time to avoid the extra $20. This is an event that starts December 1st and runs through January 1st, so you can enjoy the holiday spirit for an entire month right here in Scottsdale.
For tickets and info, visit their website
APS Electric Light Parade
Come one, come all, to the parade that will kick off the Christmas Spirit in Phoenix! The APS sponsored Electric Light parade is an annual event starting December 1st in Phoenix to celebrate the season with millions of lights, floats, and music.
Stick around and walk the streets for vendors, food trucks, cocoa, or grab a bite to eat. The event starts at 7 p.m. and runs from Central Avenue to Montebello Avenue south to Camelback Road, east to 7th street and south to Indian School road. Best part, IT'S FREE! More info here
Winterhaven Festival of Lights
Who said the citizens of Phoenix get to have all the Christmas fun? Down south in Tucson the holiday spirit is out and about ready for tourists, visitors, and residents to play.
The Winterhaven Festival of Lights runs from December 8th through December 26th and features millions of twinkling lights throughout the site. This is the 69th year the festival has gone down, making it one of Tucson's greatest holiday treasures. For more information, visit their website.
Snowbowl skiing, snowboarding, and sledding
Looking to have a white Christmas? Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff, Arizona makes it a huge point to deck the halls with Christmas decorations, gigantic Christmas trees, and of course, lots and lots of snow.
If you like skiing, snowboarding, or want to have some good old-fashioned sledding, there is something for everyone up north at Snowbowl. Even if the outdoors aren't for you, send yourself to the lodge for a hottie tottie or some cocoa.
Bearizona Wild Wonderland
Located in the Grand Canyon Junction in Williams Arizona, Bearizona Wildlife Park is a glittering, seasonal treat for families and couples who are looking for a little extra holiday spirit. There are wild animals, smores, and so much more to enjoy here!
When is this fabulous park open for their Wonderland? Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in December until Dec. 19, then every evening through Dec. 31. Enjoy their light shows that start every night at 5:30 p.m., animal meet and greet from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and story time with Mrs. Claus to wrap up your evening! Visit their website here.
Phoestivus in Phoenix
It's Phoestivus for the rest of us! Come to downtown Phoenix and celebrate the holiday spirit downtown with shops, outdoor vendors, craft beer, a hipster Santa, and live music.
For adults, this is one of the best one-stop shops for holiday spirit. You can shop, dine, support local small businesses, and have a ton of fun with your spouse, partner, or group of friends. December 13th and 20th the festival runs from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Visit their website for more information on dates, times, and vendors!