PHOENIX — Whether you have the in-laws in town for the holidays or are looking for a festive activity to do with the family, Phoenix is home to some extravagant light displays and festivals.
From drive-thru light shows to holiday train rides to a wild walk through the zoo, here are 16 of the top light displays around the Valley. Looking for over-the-top home displays? Stay tuned! We're working on that one next!
Do you have a spectacular at-home light display you want to share with everyone? Send an email to Josh.Frigerio@abc15.com with a photo of your display and address so we can add it to our map!
World of Illumination - Glendale & Tempe
Nov. 21, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
World of Illumination, formerly known as Illumination: Symphony of Light, is back for its third year in the Valley! This year, the drive-thru light show has moved from north Phoenix to Glendale's Westgate Entertainment District. It also returns to Tempe's Diablo Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Angels, with a newly-designed show, according to the owners. Each show is a mile-long course with two million LED lights, displays, and tunnels that have been synchronized to holiday tunes that play via the radio. The Glendale show features a large animated showman while the Tempe show's highlight is an LED tunnel, dubbed "Santa's Portal."
The Glendale display can be found at 6797 N 93rd Ave. near Glendale and 93rd Avenues just east of the shopping center. The Tempe display is located at 2200 W. Alameda Dr. near 48th Street and Alameda Drive. Admission is $22.99 per vehicle on weekdays (Monday - Thursday), $32.99 per vehicle on weekends and holidays (Friday - Sunday), and $40 per vehicle at the entrance.
Lights of the World
Nov. 22, 2019 - Jan. 12, 2020
Lights of the World is billed as one of the largest Chinese Lantern Festivals in North America. The show features 75 larger-than-life illuminated displays of popular landmarks, including the U.S. Capitol Building, Big Ben, Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Parthenon, and the Taj Mahal, as well as more festive backdrops with dinosaurs, zoo animals, pandas, and ocean creatures. There are also live shows, including a sea lion show (Dec. 19 - Jan. 12), carnival rides, crafts, and authentic food.
Admission to Lights of the World is $15-$18 per person. Parking at the Arizona State Fairgrounds is $10 (cash only). Carnival rides, crafts, and food are additional costs. Lights of the World is open Thursday - Sunday from 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Lights at the Farm (Vertuccio Farms)
Nov. 22, 2019 - Jan. 10, 2020
How long does it take to create and install a Christmas display with 2 million lights? 10,000 hours, according to Vertuccio Farms' website. Billed as the largest walk-thru light show in the Valley, Vertuccio Farms' "Lights at the Farm" boasts two million lights made up of tunnels and displays synchronized to music and spread across 10 acres. Some of the highlights include three ceramic elves, an 10-foot snowman, and a bubble Christmas tree. They also have reindeer, miniature golf, and a nativity scene.
Admission is $10 online and $12 at the gate. The hours are 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m., Sunday - Thursday and 5:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
Christmas at Schnepf Farms
Nov. 26, 2019 - Jan. 4, 2020
The owners of Schnepf Farms and World of Illumination partnered this year to create the "Illumination Express," a train ride at the farm that has now been outfitted with a million lights. It is part of the farm's annual Christmas event which also includes visits and photos with Santa, themed hayrides, ice skating, a 4D movie, and rides on the carousel, obstacle course, snow globe mini golf, and cookie decorating.
Christmas at Schnepf Farms runs nightly from Nov. 26 - Jan. 4, 2020. Tickets are $17 per person when bought online or $30 at the door. Rides on the train are $7 additional. Other than ice skating ($8) and the train ride ($10), all activities listed above are included with the price of admission, according to Schnepf Farms' website.
Christmas at the Princess
Nov. 26, 2019 - Dec. 31, 2019
Christmas at the Princess is one of the premier holiday events around the Valley! Board the Princess Express to see 4.5 million lights and lighted figurines around the Scottsdale resort's lagoon. Or visit the resort's Enchanted Plaza to see its four-story Christmas tree with 70,000 LED lights twinkle to 18 Christmas songs. Also in the plaza is a nightly animated show projected onto the resort's facade. They also have "S'moresland" with a Ferris wheel, polar slide, carousel, fire pits and s'mores-roasting kits (additional fee); an ice rink (additional fee), a Build-A-Bear pop up (additional fee). New this year is "Winterland," which will feature a 17-foot tunnel covered in white lights, an ice bar, igloo, live music, and cocktails.
There are a few different admission costs to pay attention to because admission includes parking at the resort. It is $55 per vehicle to self-park and $85 to valet park. Both include up to six activity wristbands, which include entrance to S'moresland and its activities, the Princess Express train ride, and the shows in the Enchanted Plaza. Individual wristbands, including those who get dropped off at the resort, are $30. Those who spend at least $75 at the resort's restaurants or bars will receive valet parking and up to six wristbands.
Here are the additional costs to know: ice skating is $25 per person and skate rentals are $7; the s'mores-making kits are $25; the Build-A-Bear workshop is extra; and food, drinks, and gifts are additional costs.
Phoenix Zoo Lights: Glow Wild
Nov. 27, 2019 - Jan. 19, 2020
Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo is one of the staple holiday traditions in Phoenix! People can walk along the zoo's trails and see two million lights and hundreds of animated and lighted animal figurines strung high in the trees and placed along the zoo's pathways, watch the "Music in Motion" show along the lake where lights are synchronized to music, ride a camel (extra fee), or see a shortened version of "Polar Express" in a 4-D Theater (extra fee). This year's theme is "Glow Wild."
One of the newest additions for 2019 is the "Wildlife Lantern Safari," where 60 illuminated animal sculptures -- monkeys, meerkats, African elephants, hippos, and lions -- have been placed along the Arizona Trail near the lion and rhino habitats. Other new displays include the "orangutan arch" along the bridge before the zoo's entrance and a 60-foot lighted tunnel that is good for selfies. This year's "Music in Motion" show features "Clocks" by Coldplay and "Deck the Halls Dub" by PumpYouUp.
Value tickets are $12.95 for members and $14.95 for non-members, and are available on Nov. 27-28, Dec. 1-5, 9-12, 16-19, and Jan. 1-19, 2020. "Any Night" tickets are $17.95 for members and $19.95 for non-members. The carousel, camel rides, 4D Theater, Stingray Bay, and Polar Slide are all additional costs, and vary between $2-$6. Visit PhoenixZoo.org for more information.
Rawhide Snowy Christmas
Nov. 28, 2019 - Dec. 22, 2019
Those looking for a taste of the Old West can head down to Rawhide Western Town in Chandler for its yearly Christmas experience. The town, themed after the 1880s, is outfitted with millions of string lights, garland, and other Christmas decorations during the holiday season. The Arizona Roughriders, Rawhide's stunt team, will perform. Santa stops by to help light the town's Christmas tree. There is also a nightly snowfall.
Rawhide is open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Admission and parking are free. Individual activities or shows are $5 per activity. An unlimited wristband is $15.
Nov. 29, 2019 - Jan. 11, 2020
Those looking for a free light display outside of the neighborhood should look to the West Valley where 1.6 million lights are strung throughout 16 blocks in downtown Glendale. The lights are turned on nightly from the end of November through the beginning of January. During the opening weekend, which runs Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29 & 30, from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m., there will be live entertainment, a holiday market, a children's snowfield, storytelling, the Home Depot Kids Workout, and a visit from Santa.
Free parking is available at Glendale Community College near 59th Avenue and Olive Avenue and a shuttle will carry people to downtown.
Fantasy of Lights Parade & Downtown Tempe Tree Lighting
Nov. 29, 2019
Another free holiday lights display to see in the Valley is the Fantasy of Lights Parade in downtown Tempe. Dozens of marching bands, dance groups, floats, and utility trucks outfitted with lights, decorations, and music will make their way down Mill Avenue and through Centerpoint Plaza. Mr. Claus also makes a yearly visit. After the parade, the city lights its Christmas tree in the center of the plaza.
The parade is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. near Mill Avenue and Third Street. The tree-lighting ceremony starts after the parade ends. For those who want to make an evening of it, there are plenty of restaurants and bars in the area.
Las Noches de Luminaria at Desert Botanical Garden
Nov. 29-30, Dec. 6-8, 13-15, 17-23, 26-31, 2019
The luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden are another holiday staple in Phoenix where 8,000 luminaria bags are placed along the trails of the garden's five trails. Lights are also placed in trees and along some of the garden's buildings. This year, the garden is also hosting the "Wild Rising by Cracking Art" installation, where 1,000 plastic animals, such as snails, penguins, wolves, have been placed around the garden.
Admission is $12.95 - $34.95 for non-members and $10.95 - $29.95 for members.
Zoomtown Lights at ISM Raceway
Nov. 29, 2019 - Dec. 31, 2019
Those looking for a unique way to see some holiday lights can head out to the race track at ISM Raceway in the West Valley. The drive-thru light display has more than 30 scenes and 50 miles of lights strung along a 1.6-mile course. There are light tunnels and animated motorsports-themed displays. You will even get to drive along pit road.
Admission is $25, Sunday - Thursday, and $30 on Friday and Saturday, and from Dec. 20-31.
Holiday Train Rides at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Nov. 29, 2019 - Jan. 19, 2020
Hop aboard the Paradise & Pacific Railroad at Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park to see some more than a million lights and lighted displays from a steam-powered locomotive. Train rides are held nightly from Nov. 29, 2019 - Jan. 19, 2020. Each ride is $5 and can be bought online or at the park. A $15 FastPass option is also available. They also have carousel rides ($3) and photos with Santa ($5).
The lights will not be on display on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Christmas, Dec. 25, and New Year's Eve, Dec. 31.
Ahwatukee Festival of Lights
Nov. 30, 2019 (kickoff party); lights remain on until early January
A mile-long stretch of lights along Chandler Blvd., between 24th Street and Desert Foothills Parkway, in Ahwatukee. There is no cost to see the lights; all you have to do is drive on by.
The Festival of Lights organization, which raises funds to support the light display, will hold its kickoff party on Nov. 30, 2019 from noon to 8 p.m. at Desert Foothills Park. There will be inflatables, rides, a beer garden, live music, corn hole tournament, and street fair. There is no admission fee to get into the festival, but there are costs for food, drink, and activities.
Scottsdazzle Sing-A-Long and Tree Lighting
Nov. 30, 2019
Head out to the Scottsdale Waterfront near Fashion Square Mall for Scottsdale's holiday tree lighting and kickoff to "Scottsdazzle," the city's lineup of seasonal events. The event starts with a sing-a-long of holiday tunes and culminates with the official tree lighting. The free event starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m.
Other events are planned throughout November and December, including a wine tour (Santa Wine Around), art walk (Gold Palette Artwalk), holiday concerts, and the holiday train ride at Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. View complete schedule.
APS Electric Light Parade
Dec. 7, 2019
Head to Central Phoenix for the 33rd APS Electric Parade, one of the signature holiday events in the Valley. This year's theme is "walking in a desert wonderland." Watch as dozens of marching bands, dancers, floats, and utility trucks all decked out with lights and holiday music make their way down Central Avenue. Susan Casper and Terri Ouellette, hosts of Sonoran Living on ABC15, will emcee the parade.
The free event starts at 7 p.m. near Central Avenue and Montebello Avenue. View parade route.
Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade
Dec. 14, 2019
Pack a blanket and some chairs and head out to Tempe Town Lake for the 20th Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade. Find a spot along the lake and watch as boats decorated with lights and other decorations slowly make their way along the lake. On land there will be a stage with live entertainment, a market with gifts and other items from local vendors, and a visit from Santa Claus.
There is no admission fee, though bring some extra money for food, drinks, and gifts. Entertainment starts at 4 p.m. The parade is scheduled to start at 7 p.m