15 Arizona holiday events for the whole family

PHOENIX - Don't miss out on holiday memories with the family. Here are 14 holiday celebrations and events going on around the state that the whole family can enjoy.

Boat Parade of Lights

Cozy up with family and friends for this great holiday tradition. For three days in December, families can build a bonfire and watch as boats adorned in lights cruise through the Bridgewater Channel in Lake Havasu City for the 21st  Annual Boat Parade of Lights. The event features up to 50 brightly decorated boats ready to awe crowds.
Hours: Dec. 6, 7 and 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Location: McCulloch Blvd. N. Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403.

Carefree Christmas Festival

"Have a Carefree Christmas" by taking part in the holiday festivities at the 6th Annual Carefree Christmas Festival. During the three day festival, Dec. 13-15, check out highlights like the Electric Light Parade, holiday fireworks, visits from Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, a pet parade and more.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission: Free
Location: Easy Street in the Carefree Desert Gardens and the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion.


Who says you can't go ice skating in Phoenix? For the fourth consecutive year, CityScape in downtown Phoenix is inviting Arizona families to enjoy their CitySkate ice rink in the middle of Central Avenue. Stop by on Nov. 30 for a special opening ceremony or any day between then and Jan. 13, 2014 for some icy cool fun.
Hours: Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. (See website for special hours and events).
Admission: Kids & adults $12 each. Military $6. Seniors $10. Kids under 3 $6. Students with I.D. $10. (Includes skate rental and unlimited skating all day).
Location: 1 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85004.

Fantasy of Lights

Get in the spirit of the season with the Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade in Tempe. As many as 40 units, including floats, balloons, clowns, marching bands, and Santa Claus, will proceed down Mill Avenue. The parade will end with a tree lighting ceremony hosted by emcees Mark and Monica from 98.7 The Peak.
Hours: Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.
Admission: Free
Location: Mill Avenue from 3rd Street to 7th Street.

Festival of Lights

What started as a marketing plan for a Chandler community has now developed into an annual festival. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, Chandler Boulevard is illuminated with more than one million LED lights. The lighted desert landscape makes for an excellent nighttime drive with the family.
Hours: Every night from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Admission: Free
Location: Chandler Boulevard from 24th Street to Desert Foothills.

Glendale Glitters

The holiday magic continues in downtown Glendale Friday and Saturday evenings until December 21 with 1.5 million dazzling lights, free admission and fun for the whole family. ABC15 is proud to sponsor the annual holiday tradition every weekend between 6pm and 10pm. One special aspect of each weekend will be luminarias on several blocks throughout both Old Towne and the Catlin Court Historic District. In all, the trail of luminarias will measure about one mile and feature about 1,250 luminarias. The luminaries will be lit each weekend event night.
Hours: Every weekend night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: Free
Location: Downtown Glendale

Las Noches de las Luminarias

Step away from the stressful holiday season and relax at Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden. As you walk the paths lined with 8,000 luminaria bags, enjoy a warm cup of cider as well as the sounds of soft bells and carolers. The outdoor event will be occurring Nov. 29 and 30, Dec. 1-4, 9-23, and 26-31 unless canceled by weather.
Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Admission: $30 for adults. $12.50 for children ages 3-12. Members can purchase discounted tickets.
Location: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008.

North Pole Experience

Take the kids to visit Santa's workshop conveniently located in Flagstaff. From the Little America Hotel, you and your little ones will hop on one of Santa's magical trolleys and be transported to the toy workshop where you can help build toys. Your visit also includes special private time with Santa.
Hours: Daytime tours run from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Evening tours run from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Admission: Daytime tours cost $42 per person. Evening tours cost $55 for adults and $49 for children 18 months and up. (Infants 17 months and under are free).
Location: 2515 E. Butler Ave., Flagstaff, AZ 86004.


Join Clara on her magical journey as she encounters life-size mice, the Sugar Plum Fairy and more memorable characters with the Ballet Etudes' 27th Anniversary production of Nutcracker at the Chandler Center for the Arts.
Hours: Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dec. 1 at 3 p.m., Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.
Admission: $23-$28
Location: 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler, AZ 85225.

PJs in the Park

Catch a double-feature Christmas movie showing at the Civic Space Park in your favorite holiday pajamas. You, your friends and family are welcome to the public viewing of Polar Express and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Guests will receive free hot chocolate, holiday treats and a special visit from Santa.
Hours: Dec. 6 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: Free
Location: 424 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004.

The Polar Express

All aboard! Travel to the North Pole to see Santa and experience the magic of The Polar Express along the way. Every winter the Grand Canyon Railway transforms into The Polar Express, a nighttime train adventure departing the Williams Depot. Guests can expect lively characters to provide constant entertainment, yummy treats, and a special visit with Santa on the way back.
Hours: The train departs at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on most days in December.
Admission: Tickets are around $37 for adults and $25 for children.
Location: 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams, AZ 86046.

Ugly Sweater Run

It's ugly sweater weather, and there's no better way to celebrate than the Ugly Sweater Run at Tempe Beach Park. You can join thousands of other runners and walkers for the annual 5k on Nov. 23, and after the race, enjoy the post-run festivities.
Hours: 10 a.m.
Admission: Pricing varies from $39 to $50 depending on your party size and date of registration. All children 8 and under are free. Every participant is asked to bring a new toy to donate to Toys for Tots.
Location: 620 N. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ.

White Christmas

Celebrate the holidays with a classic Christmas musical. Irving Berlin's White Christmas about two World War II veterans and their song-and-dance act will be performed at the Phoenix Theatre throughout the month of December.
Hours: Times vary depending on the show date.
Admission: Ticket prices vary from performance to performance and also depend on where you choose to sit.
Location: 100 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85004.

World's Largest Gingerbread Village

Love to decorate gingerbread houses? This holiday season explore the World's Largest Gingerbread Village located in the lobby of the Prescott Resort and Conference Center. The whimsical village showcasing over 100 cookie houses will be available all of December.
Hours: Any time
Admission: Free
Location: 1500 State Route 69, Prescott, AZ 86301.


The Phoenix Zoo presents ZooLights, a dazzling light show featuring more than 700 light displays. This year the annual ZooLights will have two different "Music in Motion" shows, one of which "will take you down the yellow brick road with music from the Wizard of Oz," as well as 3D LED animal displays throughout the zoo.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Friday and Saturday 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Admission: $10 Sunday through Thursday tickets. $14 any night of ZooLights. Members can purchase discounted tickets.
Location: 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008.

Know of other events? Let us know!

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