Light Up the Night this Holiday Season.Posted 11/30/2018
With Thanksgiving behind us, the Yuletide season is officially in full swing.
From the aroma of freshly cut pine to the cheerful sounds of holiday music, there’s no shortage of cheer this time of year. And what better way to soak up the magic than to visit one of the many holiday lights shows in your area.
Thankfully, our desert cities come aglow after dark during the holidays so you don’t have to travel far to get your glitter fix. Here’s a list of our favorite spots to illuminate your holidays this season:
Zoolights (Nov. 24 – Jan. 11):
Zoolights at the Phoenix Zoo has been a Valley favorite for more than 25 years and all it takes is one visit to become a fan yourself. With more than 3.8 million lights displayed throughout the zoo, a three-story holiday tree, lakeside music-in-motion shows, a carousel, camel and wagon rides, and select animals on display, there’s something for everyone in the family.
Time: 5:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Price: $14-$18 for adults; free for Children age 2 and younger
Place: 455 North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Merry Main Street (Nov. 25 – Jan. 1):
What do you get when you mix a four-story holiday tree and tens of thousands of lights? Mesa’s very own Merry Main Street celebration, featuring a 4,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink, plenty of Christmas lights, Jack Frost’s Food Truck and live music courtesy of the Mesa Arts Center.
Time: 5-10 p.m.
Price: Free; $10 for one hour of ice skating
Place: Downtown Mesa
Rawhide Snowy Christmas (Nov. 23 – Dec. 23, Weekends):
Break out the cowboy hats and boots and head out to Rawhide for a holiday experience with an Old West flair. Guests will enjoy tree lightings, nightly snowfall and visits from Santa every weekend. Plus, kids will have the opportunity to write letters to Santa, help paint his sleigh and participate in other attractions. Some additional activities will be available for a small fee.
Time: 5 p.m.
Price: Free. Parking $5
Place: Rawhide Western Town, 5700 W. North Loop Rd., Chandler
Tumbleweed Tree Lighting & Parade of Lights (Dec. 1):
What better way to kick off the holiday season in the southwest than to light up a Christmas tree made of tumbleweeds? Chandler’s Tumbleweed Tree Lighting is a unique tradition that dates back to 1957 and includes the collection of nearly 1,000 tumbleweeds from around the city. Once collected, the tumbleweeds are attached to a 25-foot wire frame, then painted, glittered and lit during the famous lighting ceremony, where more than 12,000 locals and visitors are expected for an evening of celebration that includes a Parade of Lights, traveling performers, Santa’s House and much more.
Time: 4:30 – 9 p.m.
Place: Downtown Chandler
Illumination Symphony of Light (Nov. 16 – Dec. 31):
Load up the car with the whole family for this dazzling light show that mixes technology, music and thousands of lights for one-of-a-kind show that features a massive 500-foot-long RGB LED matrix display tunnel, 30-foot singing snowman in sync with music and a giant nativity scene, among many other Christmas-themed displays.
Time: 6 – 10:30 p.m.
Price: $29 per vehicle
Place: Tempe Diablo Stadium, 2200 W. Alameda Dr., Tempe
Riparian After Dark (Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22):
Families of all sizes are invited to Gilbert’s popular Riparian Reserve at Water Ranch for the annual Riparian After Dark, a festive light celebration amid the park’s natural resources. Visitors will enjoy hundreds of luminarias, festive light displays and holiday entertainment featuring a variety of local school choirs and carolers.
Time: 5:30 – 9 p.m.
Place: 2757 E. Guadalupe Rd., Gilbert
Las Noches de Las Luminarias/Electric Desert (Dec. 1 – Dec. 23 & Dec. 26 – Dec. 31):
Any time of the year is a great time to visit the Desert Botanical Garden, but the holidays are extra special. With thousands of twinkling lights strategically positioned throughout the beautiful desert landscapes, this holiday event is truly spectacular. Visitors will be guided through the sparkling masterpiece with the help of 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags and the vibrant sights and sounds of Electric Desert by Klip Collective. With so many exhibits to see, you’ll surely work up an appetite. But, don’t worry because the Desert Botanical Garden has options to dine in the garden as well.
Time: 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Price: $29.95 – $39.95
Place: 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix
Glendale Glitters (Nov. 23 – Jan. 12):
Sixteen blocks of Historic Downtown Glendale will be illuminated with a stunning 1.6 million light display during the holiday season, making it the largest holiday light display in Arizona. Those who attend the award-winning light display will also enjoy holiday entertainment, delectable food, hand-crafted holiday gifts, a children’s snow field and petting zoo, and visits with Santa Claus.
Time: 5 -11 p.m.
Place: Downtown Glendale
Christmas in Color (Nov. 23 – Dec. 31):
Holiday music always sounds better with lights, which is why you don’t want to miss Goodyear’s Christmas in Color event featuring more than 1.5 million lights twinkling in tune with the sounds of your radio. This drive-thru light show will also have an added 3D element for a one-of-a-kind event that’s fun for the whole family – and you don’t even have to leave your vehicle to get the full experience.
Time: Monday – Thursday, 6 – 10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 6 – 10:30 p.m.
Price: $25-$30 per vehicle
Place: Goodyear Ballpark, 1933 S. Ballpark Way, Goodyear
APS Electric Light Parade (Dec. 1):
More than 100,000 people are expected to head to Downtown Phoenix for the 32nd annual APS Electric Light Parade featuring the theme, “Magic of the Holidays.” With dozens of illuminated floats, marching bands, decorated trucks and holiday music. This can’t-miss experience will surely add some magic to your holiday season. The event is free but only one night, so mark your calendar for December 1 and get ready to light up the town.
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Central and Montebello avenues, Phoenix
Lights of the World (Dec. 6 – Feb. 3):
Get ready for an international light extravaganza with this luminous tour featuring more than 60 displays, including a castle-shaped entrance, a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree and cross-shaped tunnel. Visitors will enjoy a blend of cutting-edge light displays and traditional Chinese lantern techniques for a truly unique experience. The event will also feature carnival rides and games, international food and performances of music, dance and acrobatics.
Time: Tuesday through Sunday, 5-10 p.m.
Place: Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix
Lights of the World – Tucson (Nov. 8 – Jan. 2):
One of the most popular light shows in Arizona has expanded to Tucson this year, and the experience will be just as spectacular as the Phoenix-area event. Visitors will enjoy 11 exhibits and 75 stunning displays from around the world and of different eras, including the Jurassic period. Admission includes all 15 carnival rides and the acrobat and sea lion shows on select dates. Visitors will also have access to a wide range of food, carnival games and craft activities.
Time: Tuesday through Sunday, 5-10 p.m.
Place: Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way, Tucson
Winterhaven Festival of Lights (Dec. 8 – Dec. 26):
The 68th annual event is one of Tucson’s favorite holiday traditions with more than 200,000 visitors each year. Festival-goers enjoy a unique tour of lights around the neighborhood via a hayride wagon, bus trolley, pedal-powered group bike or on foot. The best part: Every home goes all out with decorations – with no house barren. The popular event is free and perfect for all ages. Visitors are encouraged to bring a donation of food or money for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
Time: 6-10 p.m.
Price: Free; additional fees for wagon and pedal rides
Place: 3334-3398 N. Christmas Ave., Tucson
Marana Holiday Festival & Christmas Tree Lighting (Dec. 1):
Marana may be a small suburb of Tucson but its tree-lighting ceremony and holiday festival attracts thousands of attendees for a fun-filled evening of live music and entertainment, 20 tons of real snow and the lighting of a 40-foot Christmas tree. The event is free for the whole family and there’s plenty of parking nearby.
Time: 3–8 p.m.
Place: Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Dr., Marana
Reid Park Zoo Lights (Dec. 5 – Dec. 30):
Nothing beats sipping hot chocolate amid an oasis of sparkling holiday lights and lighted animal displays. And, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Reid Park’s Zoo Lights this holiday season. Visitors will also enjoy falling snow in a winter wonderland, pictures with Santa, live music, s’mores and, of course, thousands of beautiful lights. Additional offerings include carousel rides and a selection of food and drinks.
Time: 6–8 p.m.
Place: Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Ct., Tucson
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