Top 10 Things To Do At Christmas In Phoenix, Arizona - Updated 2024

things to do in phoenix at christmas
Contributing Writer
| 5 min read

Phoenix is a gateway to exploring the vast, rugged, and spectacular landscape, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With multiple parks in the city and several national parks including The Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park within easy driving distance, hiking and cycling are popular activities when visiting Phoenix. As temperatures dip across the country, this beautiful city comes alive with festivals and markets to welcome the holiday season.

Children will love to see the ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo, and they’ll be delighted to take a trip to the Winter Wonderland Express. Meanwhile, the adults will enjoy exploring the markets and catching a popular Christmas show. Even without the snow, there is plenty to do in Phoenix during the holiday season. Scroll down to discover the top things to do at Christmas in Phoenix, Arizona.

1. See the zoo light up as the sun goes down (from USD 37.95)

things to do in phoenix at christmas | see the zoo light up as the sun goes down

A yearly tradition for the entire family, the ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo is a must-do when visiting the Arizona capital. This year, the evening promises to be more extravagant than the previous seasons with all-new animal lanterns, a music and light show, and a nightly snowfall. Tickets also include access to the limited-time Dinosaurs in the Desert event, which allows visitors to have a prehistoric experience with animatronic dinos and even engage in an interactive fossil dig.

On November 9 and January 9, the zoo will host a special sensory-friendly event with smaller crowds, reduced flashing lights, and lowered music so that this annual holiday extravaganza can be enjoyed by all.

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Phoenix Zoo: One Day General Admission Ticket

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2. Witness ‘Twas The Night Before show with the family

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

'Twas the Night Before… is back!

POV: It’s finally November 1st… 'Twas the Night Before… is back! Our exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic is set for 4 shows in Boston, Dallas, Detroit & Phoenix. Make sure to book your tickets now so you don’t miss Santa’s arrival in your city!

Posted by Cirque du Soleil on Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Did you ever imagine you would hear of Christmas and Cirque du Soleil in the same sentence? Well, the world’s most famous circus troupe will mesmerize the audience with its first-ever Christmas production that puts a spin on the classic holiday poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. This over-the-top family show running for eight days in Phoenix promises to be an entertaining experience for all.

So, come with your loved ones and experience the holiday joy of kindness, sharing, and friendship through a spectacular performance that Cirque du Soleil has become noted for over the years.

'Twas The Night Before

Address: Arizona Financial Theatre, 400 W Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85003, United States

Website: ‘Twas The Night Before

Opening hours: Dec 16: 7:30pm; Dec 17: 1pm, 4pm, 7:30pm; Dec 18: 12pm, 3pm, 6pm; Dec 20 - 22: 7:30pm; Dec 23: 4pm, 7:30pm; Dec 24: 12pm, 3pm, 6pm (no shows on the 19th)

Price: starts at 45 USD

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3. Try ice skating under the stars

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Make it a fun evening out when you choose to go ice skating at CitySkate, located at the popular downtown dining and entertainment destination of CityScape. Bring your own skates or rent one at the door and enjoy 90 minutes of joy-filled skating around an elaborately decked-out Christmas tree. And if you are packed with meetings or sightseeing activities during the day, don’t worry because this venue is open until quite late.

The best part is that the facility is fully operational at the allotted times all through the holiday season.

Ice Skating at CitySkate rink

Address: City Skate, Patriot’s Park – inside CityScape: 11 W Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85003

Website: Ice Skating at CitySkate

Opening hours: Nov 28 - Jan 1: 4pm-5:30pm, 6pm-7:30pm, 8pm-9:30pm, 10pm-11:30pm.

Price: 13 USD - 20 USD, with 5 USD off if you bring your own skates.

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4. Enjoy a glittering light parade

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Electric Light Parade 2022

We hope you made it to the APS Electric Light Parade this past Saturday. If not, watching this snippet will make your holiday brighter. Catch a replay of the entire parade at 6 a.m. Christmas morning on ABC15 Arizona!

Posted by Arizona Public Service - APS on Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The 35th annual APS Electric Light Parade by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department is back with a bang with “Light Up the Night” as this year’s theme. This annual holiday event features elaborate floats with glitzy light displays, marching bands, and large-scale illuminated balloons in the shape of animals and stars. Children will surely be delighted, and adults will not be far behind as the holiday spirit flows through the crowd.

You may want to snag a spot early so that you won’t miss out on any of the action. The parade route is approximately 2 mi (3.22 km) and lasts around 45 minutes. Finish the evening with a meet-up with Santa by making your way to Santa’s Village at the end of the parade.

APS Electric Light Parade

Address: Starts from Central Avenue and Montebello Avenue

Website: APS Electric Light Parade

Opening hours: Dec 3: 7pm onwards

Price: Free

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5. Watch outdoor holiday movies in cozy PJs

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Experience a unique holiday tradition where you can cozy up in your favorite PJs and head to a showing of free movies under the twinkling Phoenix skyline. Bring a blanket and some snacks to munch on as you get into the holiday spirit with some popular Christmas classics from the past.

Currently in its 10th year, this event combines the joy of Christmas along with a uniquely American tradition of outdoor movie screenings that is sure to be enjoyed by visitors in the city.

PJs in the Park: Free Holiday Movies Under the Stars

Address: Civic Space Park, 424 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004, United States

Website: PJs In The Park

Opening hours: Dec 3 (showtimes to be announced)

Price: Free

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6. Be a child for a day and visit the Winter Wonderland Express

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Enchanted Island Amusement Park on Wednesday, October 19, 2022

While Enchanted Island Amusement Park is open year-round, children and adults alike can be transported to a winter wonderland in Phoenix for four days during the holiday season. Hop on the special train and disembark at a snow-filled area with Christmas-themed bouncy castles, sleds, and Santa. Visitors also enjoy complimentary cups of hot cocoa and candy canes.

Have your family pictures taken on a giant inflatable chair and search for elves on the shelf for a chance to win an annual family pass to the amusement park.

Winter Wonderland Express at Enchanted Island Amusement Park

Address: 1202 W. Encanto Blvd. Phoenix, AZ 85007

Website: Enchanted Island Amusement Park

Opening hours: Dec 10, 11, 17 & 18: 10am - 7pm

Price: Entry to Enchanted Island is free but costs 12.50 USD for a Winter Wonderland train ticket and 30 USD for unlimited rides.

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7. Catch the opulence of the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Your favorite holiday classic is back this December! Join us at Symphony Hall - Phoenix for Ib Andersen's nationally recognized production of The Nutcracker. With dazzling costumes and sets, unforgettable characters, and Tchaikovsky's iconic score played by The Phoenix Symphony this is one show you cannot miss! See why The New York Times called Ballet Arizona's Nutcracker "top 3 in the USA"! Get your tickets today:

Posted by Ballet Arizona on Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Ib Andersen’s The Nutcracker is a spectacular production that is definitely a must-see during the festive season. Over the years, this iconic ballet has gained prominence as a staple production on the holidays, and this one is among the finest in the country. The talented dancers of Ballet Arizona, one of the most famous ballet companies in America, put their heart and soul into this gem.

The elaborate costumes designed by Fabio Toblini—including the 75 lb (34 kg) costume of the Mouse King—as well as Tchaikovsky’s soulful music recreated by The Phoenix Symphony bring to life this extravagant Christmas production. Whether it is your first viewing of The Nutcracker, or it’s a holiday tradition for your family, you will be left in awe of amazing talent both on and off the stage.

The Nutcracker

Address: Symphony Hall, Phoenix Convention Center, 75 N 2nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004, United States

Website: The Nutcracker

Opening hours: Dec 9: 7:30pm; Dec 10: 2pm, 7:30pm; Dec 11: 1pm, 5:30pm; Dec 15: 7pm; Dec 16: 7:30pm; Dec 17: 2pm, 7:30pm; Dec 18: 1pm, 5:30pm; Dec 21 & 22: 7pm; Dec 23: 7:30pm; Dec 24: 1pm

Price: starts at 35 USD

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8. Shop for unique gifts at Phoestivus Holiday Craft Market

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

This annual holiday market is back for its 13th year but this time, at a new outdoor location. With over 200 vendors, it ensures that you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking unique, local, and handmade gifts for friends and family. Though entry to the event is free, donations are greatly appreciated as this is the main fundraising event for the Downtown Phoenix Farmers’ Market.

Visitors will get their feet tapping with the huge lineup of musical acts taking the stage on both nights of the event. But that is not the only live performance on display. A live art installation will take place at the Recordbar Alley, and Kraken Glass will showcase live glass blowing.

Phoestivus Holiday Craft Market

Address: 720 North 5th Street, Downtown Phoenix

Website: Phoestivus Holiday Craft Market

Opening hours: Dec 14 & 15: 5pm - 10pm

Price: Free

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9. Build the holiday house of your dreams at Arizona Biltmore

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Imagine your fantastical holiday home and build it with graham crackers, icing, chocolates, and as many toppings as your heart desires. Come to Arizona Biltmore and let your creative juices flow as you imagine a simple cottage or a more elaborate castle with edible treats in place of bricks and cement. If you’re serious about competing, come prepared with drawings, measurements, and a few practice sessions under your belt.

This fun event is open to people of all ages and skill sets, and the hotel chef will pick a winner at the end of the event.

Holiday House Building at Arizona Biltmore

Address: Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, 2400 E. Missouri Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85016 United States

Website: Arizona Biltmore

Opening hours: Dec 17 & 24: 4pm - 6pm

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10. Be mesmerized by Desert Botanical Garden

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

You will be taken aback as you step into the folds of the botanical garden and watch the beautiful lights illuminating the flora. This holiday season, the Las Noches de las Luminarias returns for its 45th year with an added bonus of the colorful Playing with Stars sculptures by German visual artist Rotraut adorning the garden trail.

The event first took place way back in 1978 as a one-night experience when the staff lit 700 luminarias. And though the event now runs over several days and has added many more lights, the old meaningful tradition continues. Come and discover the 50,000 desert plants of the Desert Botanical Garden in a different light.

Las Noches de las Luminarias

Address: Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008, United States

Website: Las Noches de las Luminarias

Opening hours: Dec 1-4 (members only), Dec 9-11, 15-18, 20-23 & 26-31 (general admission): 5:30pm - 9:30pm

Price: 34.95 USD (member adult); 14.95 USD (member child); 39.95 USD (general public adult); 16.95 USD (general public child)

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Find the joy of Christmas in Phoenix

14 Santa Sleigh  Far Side View IMG_5241 Lights of the World PHX AZ
Source: Photo by Flickr user Dick Thompson used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The arid desert and red rocks of Phoenix do not conjure up images of Christmas, but the city will surprise you once you visit during the holiday season. Ice skating, iconic Christmas shows, and light displays make the city come alive during December. Come and discover the fun things to do at Christmas in Phoenix, Arizona, by referring to this list.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Raised in Bangkok and now living in India, Pallavi loves planning and going on road trips around the country. She believes they are the best way to understand a region!

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