6 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in Phoenix

The desert city brings in piles of snow, an ice rink to downtown and some of the biggest light displays in the United States to get everyone in a festive spirit, despite an average daily high tempertature of 20 degrees Celsius.
 

Photograph from Getty Images.

1. ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo

When: November 21, 2018 to January 13, 2019

It’s one of the largest zoos in the United States and it goes big with its holiday lights. Millions of lights are swagged into canopies and shaped into animals to deck the pathways, trees, ponds and parks of the Phoenix Zoo. Sunset starts at around 5:30 p.m. so there is plenty of time to stroll the light display while it is dark. ZooLights also includes the Polar Slide, which is a 200-foot-long slide made of synthetic material that mimics the slippery feeling of ice. December 31 is Noon Year’s Eve when the zoo hosts a dance party, brings in 30 tonnes of snow to play in and a counts down to the Dung Beetle Ball Drop at noon.

phoenixzoo.org

2. CitySkate Holiday Ice Rink

When: November 23, 2018 to January 6, 2019

Take a twirl around the ice rink in downtown Phoenix. There is a giant, lit tree in the centre and a hot chocolate bar to warm up at. Santa is there on Saturdays and Sundays and there are special events like movie night on December 14. Skating is booked by blocks of time so the rink doesn’t get overcrowded. Admission includes skate rentals.

phxicerink.com

3. Phoenix Light Parade

When: December 1, 2018

This is the biggest single-day holiday event in Phoenix. More than 100,000 people line the streets of the 2.3-mile-long parade route to watch floats, marching bands and performance groups covered in lights walk by. In 2018, the theme is “Magic of the Holidays.”

phoenix.gov

4. Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden

When: December 1 to 23 and 26 to 31, 2018.

Trade in visions of pine trees for the holidays with visions of thousands of cacti — you are in the desert after all. The Desert Botanical Garden covers 140 acres with more than 50,000 desert plants. In December, it hosts Las Noches de Las Luminarias in the evening, which includes more than 8,000 hand-lit paper lanterns, thousands of twinkling lights, live music, storytelling and stargazing. This year, Klip Collective presents its garden installation, Electric Dessert, that uses light and music to transform the garden.

dbg.org

5. Lights of the World

When: December 6, 2018 to February 3, 2019

This light display is big. It’s so big that it is held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. There are more than 10 million lights and 65 displays that use architecture, sculpture, steel frames and LCD technology to create modern versions of traditional paper lanterns. It starts with the 53-foot-high Golden Castle and includes light displays of iconic buildings from around the world like the Taj Mahal in India, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and Big Ben in London. Light displays also include an ancient forest with dinosaurs, a panda garden and an LED fountain that shoots cascades of light 50 feet into the air. There are also carnival rides and acrobatic shows.

lightsoftheworldus.com

6. Arizona Science Centre Snow Week

When: December 26, 2018 to January 1, 2019

Snow has only been measured in Phoenix seven times and even then it was only an inch or less. But, there is one pocket of the city where there is a 100 percent chance of snow for one week each year. At the end of the year, the Arizona Science Center makes 75 tonnes of snow and covers its hill for Snow Week. Play in the snow and watch science demonstrations. When that gets too chilly, go into the science centre for ice-themed shows and activities.

azscience.org