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Top December events around the Valley

Posted at 9:59 AM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 11:59:08-05

Do you have family coming to town for the holidays and not sure how to keep them entertained?

From light displays to ice skating to visits with Santa, there is plenty going on around the Valley.

View our list of top December activities below:


  • CitySkate - Skate around the rink in the heart of downtown Phoenix. In 2018, the rink added a new copper "Unity Tree" that lights up. There is also a hot cocoa stand, weekend visits from Santa, and restaurants and shops nearby. More information. Cost to skate: $10-$30
  • Mesa Merry Main Street - Lace up the skates and go for a spin in downtown Mesa. Santa visits on Friday and Saturdays for free photos. There are food trucks for a bite to eat and a Christmas market with local vendors. More information. Cost to skate: $10
  • Westgate Entertainment District - Westgate's ice rink is located in the middle of Fountain Park next to its Christmas tree. Cost to skate: $10-$12.
  • Scottsdale Fairmont Princess - The Scottsdale hotel has a 6,000-square-foot ice rink lined with fire pits and benches. It's one of the amenities of its annual "Christmas At The Princess" festival. Admission is $55+ per vehicle. However, skating is additional. Cost to skate: $20-$25.


  • Mannheim Steamroller Christmas - The show will be at ASU Gammage on Dec. 8. Tickets start at $40. More information.
  • A Christmas Carol - Hale Centre Theatre in downtown Gilbert continues its tradition of producing Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Story." Shows run through Dec. 24. Some shows have sold out. Tickets start at $22. More information.
  • Miracle on 34th Street - The holiday musical will be at Arizona Broadway Theatre through Dec. 29. Ticket prices fluctuate with demand. More information.
  • Ballet Arizona's The Nutcracker - Ballet Arizona' will perform "The Nutcracker" alongside the Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall, Dec. 13-24. Tickets start at $27+. More information.
  • Cirque Holiday Spectacular - The LA-based group, Troupe Vertigo, returns to Symphony Hall with a holiday show. Tickets start at $25+. More information.
  • Ballet Etudes' The Nutcracker - The Gilbert dance school will put on The Nutcracker for its 32nd year. It will show at Mesa Arts Center, Dec. 7 - 16. Tickets start at $20. More information.
  • Elf: The Musical: Phoenix Theatre presents "Elf: The Musical," a musical based on the hit movie. It plays through Dec. 30. Tickets start at $30. More information.


  • Tempe Electric Boat Parade (Dec. 8) - More than a dozen boats decorated in lights will parade around Tempe Town Lake. It is the only time motorized boats are allowed on the lake. The parade starts at 7 p.m. More information.
  • Lights of the World - More than 60 large lantern displays, some holiday themed and others of popular landmarks around the world, will be on display at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. In 2018, the show has 65 new displays and a sea lion show. Also, new this year, the carnival rides and acrobat shows are included with admission, which ranges between $19-$25.
  • Christmas at the Princess - There is a four-story lighted tree whose color-changing lights are synched to holiday songs; S'moresland with s'mores kits, fire pits, a Ferris wheel, carousel, and a tub slide; a train that passes a lagoon surrounded with lighted displays and tunnels; a 6,000-square-foot ice rink and photos with Santa. Parking/admission is $55 and includes up to six wristbands for the festivities. Ice skating is an addition $20 per person. More information.
  • Illuminations Symphony of Light - Drive along a mile-long winding course under lighted tunnels and passed lighted displays all synced to holiday tunes. The music plays through the radio. There is a show in North Phoenix and; new for 2018, a second show in Tempe. The Phoenix show also has Holiday Boulevard, which is a market with food and drink vendors; Christmas activities, and an obstacle course. Cost is $29-$35 per car. Most activities along Holiday Boulevard have additional costs. More information.
  • Christmas in Color - More than 1.5 million lights, tunnels, trees and displays have been set up and lit along this mile-long course at Goodyear Ballpark. The lights have been synced to music that plays through the radio. Cost is $25-$30 per vehicle. More information.
  • Zoomtown Lights - A new drive-thru light display at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway) with 300 displays and three million lights. The course goes through the midway and vehicle tunnel that leads to the renovated infield. Cost is $25-$50 per vehicle. More information.
  • ZooLights - Walk around the Phoenix Zoo and look at more than a million lights. This year, Stingray Bay and the 4-D theatre are included with admission. The Music-In-Motion light show is synced to Lindsey Stirling's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."
  • Las Noches de las Luminarias/Electric Desert - The Desert Botanical Garden will be lined and illuminated with 8,000 hand-lit luminarias. This year also features Klip Collective's "Electric Desert," an immersive installation that combines music, projection and light. Cost is $30-$40. More information.
  • Glendale Glitters - More than 1.6 million lights have been spread across 16 blocks in historic downtown Glendale. On Dec. 14-15, there will be musical performances and entertainment. The lights will be on through Jan. 12. There is no admission cost. More information.
  • Rawhide Snowy Christmas - Rawhide is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during December and will have a nightly tree lighting, snowfall and visit from Santa. There will also be performances by their stunt team, and shops will be open. Admission is free. Parking is $5. Some kids activities may have an additional cost. More information.
  • Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park - Board the Paradise and Pacific Railroad and take a ride through lights and tunnels at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Cost is $5 per ride (fast pass is $15). There is also a carousel. More information.


  • Scottsdale Quarter - The shopper center will show "How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)," "Frosty the Snowman," "The Polar Express" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas" during in December. Movies start at 6 p.m. in The Quad. Admission is free. More information.
  • Arrowhead Towne Center - Watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Santa Clause, The Polar Express, and Elf at Arrowhead Towne Center's amphitheater. Movies start at dusk. Admission is free. More information.


  • Arizona Snowbowl - Hit the slopes at Flagstaff's ski hill. It is only a three-hour drive from Phoenix. What you need to know.
  • Sunrise Park Resort - Headed to northeastern Arizona? Grab some skis or a snowboard and hit the slopes at Sunrise Park Resort in Williams, Arizona. What you need to know.