It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle and forget to take time to enjoy it.
With so much going on in such a short holiday season, trying to decide what to do and where to go can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of holiday events throughout the Valley during the season, but there are a few fan-favorites that can’t be missed. Here’s a guide to a few of the most-loved holiday events to help make sure this season sleighs.
Scottsdazzle is Old Town’s signature month-long holiday extravaganza encompassing a multitude of activities and events designed to spread holiday spirit, whether people are out shopping, dining or celebrating.
Shoppers at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market have the chance to meet Santa himself from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, Dec. 3, 10 and 17. Prancer’s Puzzle Rides, a scavenger hunt around Old Town, can be booked throughout Scottsdazzle. Arts and crafts are covered, too, with the Holiday Painting Party on Dec. 11 and Merry Make and Take event Dec. 18.
Throughout the month, Scottsdazzle has a variety of shows, concerts and caroling. Guests can hop on the Holly Jolly Trolly to be transported to different shows on Dec. 3 or stroll along the canal to listen in on Dec. 3, 10 and 17. There will also be a Live Nativity scene at the Old Adobe Mission on Dec. 17.
Local businesses also get in the spirit, offering special holiday deals to dine, drink and shop throughout the season. Porters Western Saloon is even offering “Whiskey Tasting at the North Pole” in its new Christmas pop-up bar.
Some events require registration and have a cost to participate. For a full, detailed lineup of activities, visit scottsdazzle.com.
Carefree Lights Up
There’s something about watching that big tree light up for the first time that makes the eyes sparkle – no matter what age. This year, that magical moment is happening at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Get there early to hear the Bell Ringers and Carolers from the Desert Hills Presbyterian Church starting at 5 p.m.
After the tree lighting, the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion will light up with entertainment from local singers produced by local Carefree resident, Kevin Glenn. Rounding out the evening, the Cactus Kickers will bring festive cheer with their holiday dance numbers.
Cave Creek Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl
The Town of Cave Creek is hosting its first Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl Saturday, Dec. 3. This town-wide bar hop will begin at 6 p.m. at Mountain View Pub and end at The Roadhouse at midnight. Stops along the way include Local Jonny’s, Big Earl’s Greasy Eats, The Hideaway, Buffalo Chip Saloon and Harold’s Corral.
Of course, participants should bring out their ugliest Christmas sweater for a chance to win one of a few different costume contests with prizes. Bars will also offer drink specials, live music and plenty of festive fun.
There will even be two complimentary party buses running throughout the night to make the “crawl” a little easier.
Stagecoach Village Western Holidays
Western Holidays offers the community a family friendly holiday celebration Friday, Dec. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 11. The Yuletide Market will feature local artists, handcrafted holiday wares and other items perfect for the gift-giving season. There will also be holiday carolers, festival food, pet adoption, a beer and wine garden and other fun activities.
Guests can take a hot air balloon ride (weather permitting) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 with the “Holiday Balloon Glow.” Also on Saturday will be a Cowbells Crazy Christmas Hat Contest and live performance from The Crown Kings. There will even be a Christmas tractor parade Friday and Saturday night.
Children’s activities include singing, dancing, face painting, ornament making and many other activities. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be on hand for pictures and storytelling.
Admission is free with a toy or food donation to Operation Santa Claus.
The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle
The Nutcracker has enchanted children around the world for nearly 130 years. Now, families can experience the timeless holiday classic like never before. Just like the Nutcracker himself, this performance comes alive on a majestic scale.
This show is produced by the same group that has become well known for its Immersive Van Gogh and Immersive King Tut experiences, and attendees can expect the same incredible special effects and mind bending projections.
The Immersive Nutcracker shows started in mid-November and continue throughout December. Tickets are $30, are selling quickly and can be purchased online at Immersive-nutcracker.com/Phoenix.
It’s Christmas at the zoo – a combination of some of kids’ favorite things.
Zoolights have become a holiday tradition for many families, and the Phoenix Zoo boasts that this season is “bigger and brighter than ever before, with all new animal lanterns and light displays, an enhanced Santa experience and a brand-new music and light show.”
This event is already up and running and continues through Jan. 15. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online for a $5 discount.
Cave Creek Christmas Market – Christkindlmarkt
The Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures presents its 10th annual Christkindlmarkt – a traditional German Christmas market – in Frontier Town in Cave Creek, Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8.
The Christkindlmarkt brings cherished German and Austrian traditions to downtown Cave Creek with holiday entertainment, German and Polish cuisine, vendors and local artisans selling merchandise like candles and Christmas ornaments, and activities and entertainment for the whole family.
Guests can browse through traditional handicrafts, including handmade candles, knitted wears and ornaments. Enjoy traditional Christmas food and beverage specialties from Germany, including bratwurst and wieners, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, “Lebcake”-style gingerbread cookies, German Christmas cookies, hot mulled wine, hot apple cider, hot cocoa and German winter beer from Warsteiner.
Entertainment includes traditional Christmas music, a special appearance by the Christkindl and Saint Nikolaus with gifts for the children in attendance.
Chanukah in Carefree
In its sixth season, Chanukah in Carefree has menorah lighting and celebrations every evening at 5:30 p.m. during Chanukah. Enjoy presentation and the menorah lighting led by community leaders each night under the stars at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion.
Featured organizations include Temple Chai, Desert Foothills Jewish Community Association, Valley of the Sun JCC, Jewish Social Group of Cave Creek and Carefree and Phoenix Holocaust Association. Each night has different activities such as live musical performances, games, food and speakings on the meaning and values on Chanukah as well as the Holocaust.
This year, Chanukah in Carefree selected the Foothills Caring Corps to support through charitable giving.
More information about the holiday and a detailed schedule of events can be found at carefree.org/holidays-in-carefree.
The Longest Night Service at Desert Hills Presbyterian Church
The Christmas season is not always a happy time. It can remind us of loved ones or relationships we have lost. The sights and smells of the weeks approaching Christmas, rather than bringing joy and delight, can bring sadness and grief.
This Dec. 21 service provides an opportunity to worship God, who comes amid the pain known in everyday life. Understanding that it is not “what we remember” but “how we remember” that causes distress, this service is designed to help people build a memory of their deceased loved one that evokes love and gratitude rather than misery.
Glitter and Glow New Year’s Eve Party
Ring in the New Year with a celebration of epic proportions. Talking Stick Resort’s over-the-top New Year’s Eve party will be an unforgettable night. This spectacular soiree will feature hot music, multiple bars featuring specialty drinks, an unbelievable midnight extravaganza, party favors and more.
The event will have live entertainment by George Michael Reborn: A Tribute to George Michaels and Who’s Bad: A Tribute to Michael Jackson.
General admission is $150 and includes four drinks. Tickets can be purchased online at talkingstickresort.com. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. and the party goes until 1 a.m.
Did you see this article in our December print edition? If not, see what else you might have missed here. Be sure to check out the “Things to Do” tab online for more events and activities.