EntertainmentThings To Do


Ice skating, Christmas lights, and Santa photos: Holiday things to do around the Valley 2021

2021 Christmas Displays.jpg
Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2022-11-01 13:44:05-04

PHOENIX — From ice skating to roasting s'mores, taking a photo with Santa to seeing millions of twinkling lights synced to music, there are a bunch of activities and events to get you into the holiday spirit around the Valley.

Here are a few happening around town.

ABC15 Holiday Lights Map 2021: Amazing home displays to see around the Valley
Cheers! 5 Christmas-themed bars to check out around the Valley

Christmas at the Princess
Nov. 16, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022

The grounds at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale have been decorated with thousands of lights and huge lighted displays for its seasonal "Christmas at the Princess" event. Kids and families can board a train to see all of the lights around the lagoon (extra costs), go ice skating (extra costs), and go on some small carnival rides, like slides, swings, and a carousel. There are also fire pits, s'mores-making kits, photos with Santa (extra costs), and nightly shows in the plaza.

Admission/parking is $72 to self-park, which includes passes for four people, $108 for valet, which includes passes for six people, or $18 each for people who either walk to the resort or take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi to the resort. Those who dine at the resort and spend $75 can receive 50% off the cost for valet admission.

World of Illumination: "ReinDeer Road" and "Candy Rush"
Now, through Jan. 2, 2022

World of Illumination has two new drive-thru light shows in the Valley — "ReinDeer Road" at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, and "Candy Rush" in Glendale, near the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley. See millions of lights and hundreds of lighted displays synched to holiday music along a mile-long route. Tickets are $40-$50 per vehicle.

Lights at the Farm at Vertuccio Farms
Nov. 19, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022

Billed as "Arizona's largest walk-thru synchronized light show," Lights at the Farm features some two million lights, including walk-through tunnels, larger-than-life ornaments, Christmas trees, and snowman. The nightly event also features food, games, and activities, such as an ice skating rink and a petting zoo. Santa is scheduled to visit Dec. 18-23, 2021.

Tickets are $12-$15 per person.

Murphy Park Lights
Nov. 19, 2021 - Jan. 9, 2022

The City of Glendale is moving away from its large festivals in downtown Glendale and is instead focused on smaller activities and events. As such, Glendale Glitters is now known as Murphy Park Lights. Instead of hanging thousands of lights throughout downtown Glendale, lights can be seen at Murphy Park. There is also a 30-foot tree and a 20-foot snowman to serve as festive photo backdrops. The lights will be on through Jan. 9, 2022.

Because the event is smaller, businesses at Catlin Court, who were usually part of Glendale Glitters, decided to put up their own lights and host their own event, "Christmas in Catlin Court." From Dec. 3-18, 2021, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., lights will be on along Caitlin Court and businesses will be open with specials, activities, and crafts. Santa is also scheduled to visit for photos.

Phoenix ZooLights
Nov. 24, 2021 - Jan. 15, 2022

The Phoenix Zoo will once again be decorated with millions of twinkling lights, lighted animal displays and sculptures, and its Music in Motion show for Zoo Lights, which celebrates 30 years in 2021. People can walk around the zoo and see all of the different lights. The carousel, stingray bay, and camel rides will also be open during Zoo Lights. New this year, some 30 paintings from artist Russell Rona featuring endangered species will be illuminated and placed along zoo trails.

Admission on walk-thru nights is $16 for members and $20 for the general public.

Cruise ZooLights
Nov. 29 & 30, Dec. 6, 7, 13, 14, 2021, Jan. 3, 4, 10, 11, 2022

The zoo will also have 10 nights reserved for Cruise ZooLights, where the zoo will be closed to foot traffic and people can drive along some of the zoo's trails and pathways to see the lights. Cruise ZooLights nights are: Nov. 29 & 30, Dec. 6, 7, 13, 14, Jan. 3, 4, 10, and 11. Cruise ZooLights is $60 per vehicle for members and $75 for the general public.

Holiday Lights Experience at Salt River Fields
Nov. 24, 2021 - Jan. 1, 2022

The drive-thru holiday lights show returns to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Lighted displays, Christmas trees, and tunnels with five million lights have been placed around Salt River Fields, where the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies play their Spring Training games.

Tickets are $35-$50 per vehicle, but increase to $55-$70 on holidays and closer to Christmas. A lighted carriage can also be booked for $300-$380 on certain nights.

Christmas at Schnepf Farms
Nov. 24 - Dec. 31, 2021

Schnepf Farms has once again been decorated for the holiday season. Families can ride the Illumination Express train ($10 per ride) and see thousands of lights, a partnership with World of Illumination, the same team that operates the drive-thru light shows in Glendale and Tempe. New this year is the four-lane Sleigh Bell slide and a Ferris wheel. Kids can also decorate pinecones, write a letter to Santa, play mini golf, ride a carousel, and make their way through a Christmas-themed obstacle course ($7, unlimited attempts).

Tickets are $12-$19 per person. Food, drink, the holiday lights train ride, and obstacle course are additional costs. Tickets are $2 cheaper ($12-$14) when booked online.

Merry Main Street
Nov. 26, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022

Mesa will light its Christmas tree in downtown Mesa on Friday, Nov. 26 at 5:45 p.m. On Sunday, Nov. 28, it will light the first light on its menorah to mark the first night of Hanukkah. Throughout the season, people can go ice skating (fees apply), take a free photo with Santa (Friday and Saturdays only), take a photo in front of the Christmas tree and menorah, shop at the Merry Makers Marketplace (Nov. 26-27, Dec. 17-18, 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.), or visit Jack Frost's Food Truck Forest (Friday and Saturday evenings). Kids can also board the Mesa Polar Express (stationary) to sing songs, eat cookies, and meet Santa. That happens Dec. 10, 11, 17, and 18 from 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Most activities are free. Ice skating is $10. Reservations should be made online and in advance. Food and drink are separate costs.

Holiday train at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Nov. 26, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022

Board the Paradise & Pacific Railroad for a short loop around McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, which has been decorated with thousands of lights and sculptures. Kids can also ride the carousel or grab a snack from the local shop.

The train runs nightly from 6 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include unlimited rides on the train and carousel for 90 minutes.

CitySkate opens at CityScape Phoenix
Nov. 26, 2021 - Jan. 5, 2022

After not opening in 2020 due to the pandemic, the ice rink at CityScape in downtown Phoenix will open for the season on Nov. 26, 2021. Due to the ongoing light rail construction around CityScape, the rink itself is located where the splash pad usually is — and is slightly smaller than previous years. However, it's still decorated for the holidays and has a large tree in the middle.

The rink will be open Nov. 26 - Dec. 16 from 5 p.m. - 11 p.m. and from Dec. 17, 2021 - Jan. 5, 2022, from 3 p.m. - 11 p.m. Admission is $13-$18 per person. Save $2 when you bring your own skates.

Sugarland in downtown Chandler
Nov. 27, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022

Larger-than-life candy sculptures, including lollipops, candy canes, gumdrops, and spilled hot chocolate with marshmallows will be placed at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park in downtown Chandler — the same place the city's iconic Tumbleweed Tree is — where people can take festive photos. Not far away, people can also walk along the Commonwealth Canal and through a tunnel of lights as Christmas music plays. This event is free.

Nov. 27 - Dec. 31, 2021

The City of Scottsdale lit its tree on Nov. 27, 2021, at the Scottsdale Waterfront, but it was be viewed until the end of the year. The event essentially launches a month of festive activities to promote the businesses, galleries, restaurants, and wineries in the area, including a free artwalk.

Las Noches de las Luniarias at Desert Botanical Garden

Chihuly in the Desert - Desert Botanical Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West
Dec. 3, 2021 - June 20, 2022

Dale Chihuly, a renowned glass artist and sculptor, will have some of his glass artwork on display at both the Desert Botanical Garden and Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home in Scottsdale. Chihuly's artwork was last showcased at the Desert Botanical Garden in 2013. This is the first time it will be showcased at Taliesin West. While not specifically a Christmas or holiday display, his artwork is considered by many to be a must-see display.

Chihuly's work will also coincide with the Garden's Las Noches de las Luminarias, which is a staple event during the holidays. Tickets to the Garden are $20-$40.

At Taliesin West, six of Chihuly's pieces will be installed. To see them, you have to book a 90-minute tour, which includes a tour of Wright's home and the glass sculptures. Tickets are $49 per person.

Holly Jolly Wonderland at Tempe Marketplace

Venture through a larger-than-life tunnel of red, lighted stars or take a selfie with giant lollipops and gingerbread men at Tempe Marketplace. Both sets are located around the holiday tree at The District, near H&M and Dave and Buster's. Near the Harkins movie theater is The Winter Cottage, where kids can take photos in front of a huge cottage made out of massive blocks.

All will be up through the end of the year.

Holidays at Desert Ridge Market

Similar to the festivities at Tempe Marketplace, Desert Ridge Marketplace also has a tunnel of lighted stars, hanging orbs, a 40-foot tree, and six Nutcrackers to take photos with. All will be up through the end of the year.

Westgate Entertainment District

Westgate in Glendale is also decorated for the holiday season. There is a large tree decorated near the AMC movie theater, as well as a small ice rink for kids and families to skate around. Skate rentals are $15-$19. Santa will also be available for photos on certain nights, and live music is booked during the weekend.