It’s the most wonderful time of the year and, once again, we’ve got your list of all the super fun things to do in the Phoenix region over the holidays! From the Nutcracker ballet to posing with Santa for photos to a night walking through the amazing ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo, we’ve got it all down with dates, times, and ticket prices so you can plan out your holiday schedule in a jiffy.
Please keep in mind that some of the events do sell out, and tickets to performances with limited seating are going fast. If you have your heart set on attending any of these, it’s best to hold your spot as soon as possible! Also, please check the event website or call ahead for health restrictions due to COVID if you plan to drive a long way. We’d hate for you to get there and find out the event was canceled or changed for health reasons, or that the venue’s COVID requirements weren’t in line with your expectations.
Other than that, here is the Phoenix-area holiday activity guide for 2021. We hope you’ll get out there and enjoy the city and surrounding areas as much as we do. Did you find something especially fun (or awful) this year? Let us know! Did we miss anything great in our activity guide? Tell us about it! We’ll be sure to hold a spot for it on next year’s guide!
And now, without further ado -- get out there and have a great time!
Through Dec. 19: The Nutcracker
Presented by Ballet Etudes, this rendition of The Nutcracker is a delight for the senses, complete with mesmerizing costumes, breathtaking dancers, and Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable composition. Buy tickets here. Ticket prices range from $30 to $34, and children 2 and under are free.
Mesa Arts Center, Piper Repertory Theater
1 W Main St, Mesa, AZ
Dec. 18 - 19: Christown Cringle’s Workshop and Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen
Every weekend in December 2021, visit Christown Spectrum Mall in Phoenix for a full afternoon of kids’ crafts, storytime with Santa’s elves, music time, ornament making, and much more. And don’t forget to check out the snow globe near Walmart -- some say it’s a great spot for a selfie!
Saturdays are particularly special because the first 100 children to attend on Saturdays will receive a $5 gift card for Harkins Theaters while supplies last. Holiday characters have been known to stroll through the mall on Saturdays as well.
Noon to 3 pm
Christown Spectrum Mall
West Bethany Home Road and 19th Avenue
Dec. 17th: BHC Christmas Block Party
Enjoy the harmonious sounds of the Desert Aires Chorus in concert, followed by the Southwest Singers, and the beloved Phoenix Boys Choir. Then step over and visit some friendly critters at Carter’s Christmas Petting Zoo, observe a live Nativity scene, admire antique cars and trucks, and take off in free hot air balloon rides from 4 pm to 8:30 pm. The event is free, but hamburgers and hot dogs will be available for purchase.
3:00 pm - 8:30 pm
9440 W. Hutton Drive
Corner of Burns and Hutton
Sun City, AZ
Dec. 20: David Benoit: A Charlie Brown Christmas Phoenix
Enjoy the excitement of a Charlie Brown Christmas all over again with the music of Grammy-nominated David Benoit, a contemporary jazz musician with 40 years of performing experience.
Starts at 7 pm
Get tickets here.
Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)
4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, AZ
Dec. 27-30: Snow Much Fun Event Scottsdale
The Arizona Boardwalk is hosting this free 4-day holiday party for the whole family, featuring live music, bouncy houses, slides, holiday shopping, and more -- you can even enjoy magical falling “snow”!
11 am - 3 pm each day
Arizona Boardwalk, Courtyard
9500 East Vía de Ventura, Suite E-100
Check details here: https://www.azboardwalk.com/event/free-snow-much-fun-event-2
Through January 15: ZooLights
Come enjoy the sparkle of holiday lights throughout the zoo in the shape of nearly 70 wild animal sculptures, two music-in-motion light shows on the main lake, and a Holiday Safari Animal Presentation every evening at 8 pm and 9 pm in Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater.
Meet Santa for a quick pic together at the Leapin’ Lagoon.
Walk-thru visits and drive-thru visits (“Cruise ZooLights”) are held on different nights (check the schedule here).
Every night from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Walk-thru adult tickets are $20, $16 for members. Children aged 2 and younger are free.
Cruise ZooLights tickets are $75 per general vehicle; $60 per member vehicle.
You can also opt to buy hot cocoa, kettle corn, glow items, and souvenir photos.
Phoenix Zoo/Arizona Center for Nature Conservation
455 North Galvin Parkway
Through Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol Play with Music
For the 19th time, the town of Gilbert welcomes the cast of A Christmas Carol to the Hale Stage. Based on the heart-warming tale by Charles Dickens, this magical play with music will thrill guests with its breathtaking choreography, brilliant characters, and unforgettable costumes. Don’t miss this holiday tradition! Please note, the theater website shares this warning: “A Christmas Carol uses strobe lights and fog at times during the performance. This show may be frightening for younger children. The Ghost of Marley scene uses fog, intense lighting, loud noises and special effects.”
50 West Page Avenue
Performance times range from 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, and 8 pm
Each performance runs for approximately 2 hours.
Check ticket availability for different times and buy tickets here.
Through Dec. 18: Rawhide Snowy Christmas
Every Friday and Saturday night, you can join in when Santa leads his official Christmas tree lighting ceremony and then have your picture taken with him. Rawhide Center will showcase holiday activities every night from 5 pm to 10 pm, with free admission.
5700 W. North Loop Road
Through Jan. 2: World of Illumination Tempe -- Reindeer Road
Buckle up for the world’s largest drive-thru animated light show! Once you’re in and safely seated, turn up your car’s stereo to hear perfectly synced holiday favorites play right along with the movement of hundreds of lights all around you. Every World of Illumination display is one mile long. The best part? Santa visits on Mondays!
Choose your location -- there’s one in Tempe and one in Glendale, each with its own different theme. Glendale’s is based on Candy Rush; get tickets here. Tempe’s is based on Reindoor Road; get tickets here. Ticket prices start at $39 per vehicle and change according to date and time.
Note: Parks are open rain or shine. Tickets are sold online only, never at the gate.
6 pm to 10 pm
Tempe Diablo Stadium
2200 W. Alameda Drive
World of Illumination Glendale -- Candy Rush
6 pm to 10 pm
Desert Diamond Casino
9431 W. Northern Ave.
Through Jan. 9: Downtown in December
Stunning light displays are the focus of this year’s event with a huge 20-foot walk-thru snowman and a 30-foot tree with lights that move to the beat of accompanying holiday music. Community theater groups, dancers, and musicians gather for free holiday performances on the Murphy Park Amphitheater stage just after sunset on Fridays and Saturdays according to the lineup on this calendar. Santa visits during the mayor’s Christmas parade on December 11, which begins at 11 am. All the festivities can be enjoyed between 52nd and 58th avenues. Stay and browse the many shops and restaurants of Glendale while enjoying the magical lights throughout the city. Plenty of free parking will be available. Download a free walking map of the city’s downtown area here.
Starts every night from 6 pm to midnight.
It all starts at Murphy Park.
5850 W. Glendale Avenue
Through Dec. 30: Elf the Musical
Enjoy this holiday classic based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel. Buddy, a mysteriously human-sized elf sets off from the North Pole to try to find his real father in downtown NYC. Hilariously charming, performances begin Tuesday through Friday at 5:30 pm and Saturday - Sunday at both noon and 5:30 pm.
Ticket prices start at $57 for single show-only purchases.
Buy tickets in person Monday through Friday, 10 am to 3 pm, or call 623-776-8400, press zero.
Some dinner and a show tickets are left; the best availability is for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Entrees include honey-baked ham, parchment baked cod, eggplant vegetable ratatouille, and chicken cordon bleu, while upgraded entrees include shrimp alfredo and prime rib. All entrees come with side dishes.
Arizona Broadway Theatre
Tuesdays - Sundays with performances at noon and 5:30 pm
7701 W. Paradise Lane
Through Jan. 1st: Annual Mesa’s Merry Main Street
This event is free with some extras having fees, such as ice skating at the Winter Wonderland Rink, which is $10 per skater.
Come to Mesa for a holiday wonderland in the streets, including a 4-story tall Christmas tree and this year’s newest addition, a 12-foot Menorah. Guests will also enjoy the Mesa Christmas Market, Jack Frost Food Truck, Polar Express, Santa’s SELFie stations, and visits from Santa on the weekends.
7 am to 6 pm (some activities go later, i.e. skating rink is open until 10 pm)
Mesa City Plaza
20 E. Main Street
Check activities on the calendar to see what you’d like to do next!
Through Jan. 2: Lights at the Farm
Lights at the Farm at Vertuccio Farms shows off 10 acres of holiday lights synchronized to music for visitors to walk through. Once you check those out, come try out the 4,000 square foot synthetic skating rink, sit beside the tasty s’mores fire pits, play some games with the kids, visit the petting zoo, take some pony rides, stand beside the 30-foot cornstalk tree, get a pic with the family next to the 25-foot selfie sleigh, and so much more.
Tickets are available online here and at the gate. Weeknight tickets are $12 each and weekend tickets are $15. Skating is an additional $8. It’s advised that you buy tickets in advance for the skating rink as well as it sells out early every night. Get those here. For more info visit www.lightsatthefarm.com.
5:30 pm to 9:30 pm Sunday thru Thursday
5:30pm to 10pm Friday & Saturday
4011 S. Power Rd.
Through Dec. 24th: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
From now through Dec. 24, catch a performance of the widely adored Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, great for all ages 5 and above. Come see the classic tale play out in front of the youngest among us for a holiday treat like no other. Check afternoon performance times for extras like backstage tours, ASL performances, and special sing-along days here. Ticket prices start at $20 and go up according to category and location in the theater. Performances run for approximately 90 minutes.
Herberger Theater Center
900 Mitchell Drive
Through Jan. 5: CitySkate
Skate under the star-filled desert sky at CitySkate, downtown Phoenix’s real outdoor ice-skating rink. The skating rink has a new design this year but remains the same sparkly holiday festivity you can count on enjoying with loved ones every evening for the duration of this year. Choose from three 90-minute sessions from 5 pm to 11 pm until Dec.16th, and four sessions from 3 pm to 11 pm Dec. 17th until Jan. 5th.
Prices are $18 per person, $13 for military, seniors, students, and children age 8 and younger. Children are free at age 3 and younger. Bring your own skates for $2 off.
$18 per person; $13 military, seniors, students, and children 8 and younger; Kids free under 3.
Patriot’s Park (central CityScape)
11 W. Washington St.
Dec. 19th: Shop & Be Merry Holiday Market
Join the fun at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts for a slew of holiday activities for all ages. Start with live music from local Arizona musicians, then get into some arts and crafts, nibble on some delicious specialty food and beverages, and visit with Black Santa. December 19th guests can enjoy free crafts decorating a pair of ice skates and making a bookmark.
The event is free with additional activities available for a small fee. Make-and-take crafts provided for $10.
Noon to 4 pm
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
7380 E. Second Street
Dec. 18: Live Nativity Drive-Thru
Enjoy viewing a real live Nativity scene drive-thru when you visit North Scottsdale United Methodist Church on December 18 at 7 pm. For one hour, you can drive through the parking lot and see lovely holiday light displays and a live Nativity scene including live animals, and live actors playing the roles of Mary, Joseph, the Angels, and the Wise Men. Tune your car stereo to 89.3FM to hear music and the Christmas story as you drive through. The first 100 vehicles will receive Advent gift bags as they leave the parking lot at the Jenan Road exit.
This event is free and open to the public.
North Scottsdale United Methodist Church
11735 North Scottsdale Road
Through Jan. 2: Winter Wonderland
Visit the aquarium during this holiday season to enjoy the holiday lights and festive decorations while observing the sea life, and you may just catch a glimpse of SeaTREK Santa showing up underwater on select dates throughout December. Check out these other holiday promos to see what floats your boat.
Tickets start at $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for children. Your best bet is to buy tickets online in advance as they have a limited capacity at the Odysea and may sell out before you get there otherwise. Purchase tickets here.
9500 E Via de Ventura, Suite A-100
Through Dec. 31: Scottsdazzle
Having originated in 2015, the two-month long calendar of festive holiday events known as Scottsdazzle continues. Offering something for everyone, this annual event has deals and activities in the realms of dining, holiday celebrations, fun stuff for kids, and shopping.
Note: Parking in Old Town is free with time limitations. Check out the interactive Old Town Parking Map to find your nearest spot.
To make sure you don’t miss anything, check the Scottsdazzle calendar for a full listing of events.
Old Town Scottsdale
Crossroads of Main Street and Scottsdale Rd
Select Nights Through Dec. 31: Las Noches de Las Luminarias
Once again, visitors can enjoy the dazzling brilliance of Las Noches de Las Luminarias at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Gardens this holiday season. Enjoy musical performances, live entertainment, and the flickering glow of over 8,000 luminaria bags carefully lit and sorted throughout the gardens by volunteers every night.
New this year: Chihuly in the Desert: A stunning display of Dale Chihuly’s glowing creations is placed artistically among the Garden plants. (Note: The second half of the experience is housed at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West; if you can, make a plan to visit there as well).
The musical lineup can be viewed here.
Tickets are available by advance purchase only, with prices beginning at $39.95 for adult members and $49.95 for general public adult admissions, $16.95 for child members, and $18.95 for general public child admissions. Parking is free, but you will need to set aside extra time for parking. Guests can dine at the on-site Patio Cafe or Gertrude’s Restaurant, but advanced reservations are recommended for Gertrude’s. There are several holiday drinks offered throughout the gardens which can be purchased by debit or credit card only (no cash). The Garden Shop is open until 10 pm.
Please review their rules of admission and safety protocol here before heading to the event.
5:30 pm to 9:30 pm (Last admission time begins at 8:30 pm)
Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens
1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Through Dec. 31: 11am to 3pm: Holidays at the Heard
Another beloved annual Phoenix tradition, Holidays at the Heard can be enjoyed again in 2021 at the Heard Museum Campus throughout the month of December.
Guests will enjoy performances like guitar and Native American flute with Grammy-nominated Aaron White, the skills of violin player Sage Cornelius, a range of talented hoop dancers and other dance performances, acoustic rock metal artist Sage Bond, and the brilliant work of Hopi and Navajo artists. There is also a Hoop Dance Championship, Indian Fair, and more.
*Note some events and performances will be charged an additional fee besides admissions.
Food and beverages will be served on-site at the Courtyard Cafe (closed Sundays) and the Coffee Cantina from 10 am to 4 pm.
Visitors can browse for souvenirs in the Museum Shop or Books & More, the Heard’s on-site gift and book shops.
Museum Hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Members are admitted at 9 am.
Tickets are $23 for adults (walk-up), $20 for adults (online in advance), Seniors: $20/$17, College students with ID and children ages 6 - 17: $9, children ages 5 and younger enter free, American Indians with tribal ID enter free. Heard Museum members enter free.
This list is by far not exhaustive, but we think you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in there.
What types of things do you and your family enjoy doing around the holidays? Do you like to go out for a lot of musical performances, lights, and shopping, or do you prefer to stay home, cook, and decorate the tree? A blend of both perhaps? Let us know if you attend any of the activities in this guide and how you liked it. From our families at Jungle Roots to yours, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season -- and we’ll see you next year!
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.