Holiday light displays
By Carson Mlnarik
Phoenix won’t exactly see a White Christmas, but there are plenty of opportunities to get into the holiday spirit with light displays. So, grab your loved ones, hot cider and a blanket and take to the road to check out the millions of lights keeping Phoenix aglow through the new year.
Downtown Glendale glitters with the power of 1.5 million lights each holiday season. The largest free light display in Arizona is great, but make sure to reserve time to browse downtown’s offerings of mom-and-pop restaurants, coffee and unique shops. Each weekend features food trucks, a petting zoo and visits with Santa.
Historic Downtown Glendale, 5835 W. Palmaire Avenue, Glendale, glendaleaz.com/glitters, 6 to 10 p.m. November 24 to January 6, free.
Illumination: Symphony of Light
You don’t have to get out of the car for this one! Take the whole family on a 25-minute ride through a mile of lights synchronized to holiday classics over FM radio. The ride culminates at Holiday Boulevard, a winter play land featuring a walk-thru ornament, food trucks and a giant snowman. Ticket price admits an entire car with an additional $10 price for the walk-up activities.
Illumination, 27701 N. Black Canyon Highway, Phoenix, illuminationaz.com, 6 p.m. November 15 to January 14, $29.50-$32.
Las Noches de Las Luminarias
Warm up this holiday season with a stroll through luminaria-lit desert gardens. With more than 8,000 bags and thousands of white lights, you’ve never seen a cactus look so beautiful. Each night features unique entertainment ensembles, including handbell and country music performers, as well as buffet and restaurant options.
Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, dbg.org, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. November 24 to December 30, $12.50-$30.
Lights of the World Lantern Festival
The Arizona State Fairgrounds gets a makeover when it’s taken over by traditional Chinese lanterns. This festival melds the classic lanterns, which range from 18 to 60 feet high, with cutting-edge technology. Featuring 11 different exhibits, this magical marriage of culture and light is one of the largest shows in the country. It also houses carnival rides and games.
Lights of the World Lantern Festival, Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix, lightsoftheworldus.com, 5 to 10 p.m. November 16 to January 2, $15-$18 and kids under 3 free.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
For the first time, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has expanded its family-friendly holiday light experience for five weeks of magic. Their light display features a special train ride through a winter wonderland and kids can stay for nightly visits with Santa starting on December 8. The park’s Model Railroad Building will also be on display.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, 7301 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale, therailroadpark.com, 6:30 to 9 p.m. December 1 to January 7, train rides $5 and carousel rides $2.
Mesa Arizona Temple
A little construction can’t stop the Mesa Arizona Temple’s annual colorful light display. Hundreds of thousands of lights, flower gardens and a nativity scene are all a part of the free event. Visitors can also catch Christmas concert performances each night in December through Christmas.
Mesa Arizona Temple, 525 E. Main Street, Mesa, mesachristmaslights.com, 5 to 10 p.m. November 24 to December 31, free.
The Phoenix Zoo glimmers each night from November 22 to January 14 when millions of lights are switched on. While your favorite animals are sleeping, their glowing counterparts come alive alongside carousel and camel rides, photos with Santa and a nightly snowfall at 7 p.m.
Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, phoenixzoo.org, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. November 22 to January 14, tickets start at $12.95.
For other events, visit our events page.