Holiday lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park Source: Jenna McKone for Experience Scottsdale

There's No Place Like Scottsdale for the Holidays


Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in Scottsdale, the charming desert city that is transformed into a winter wonderland for friends, family and travelers alike. Explore outdoor holiday spectaculars like Scottsdazzle and Christmas at the Princess – found only in Scottsdale. Then experience many of Scottsdale's beloved shopping and dining destinations brought to life with holiday cheer. Perhaps the best part is that you can have your fun in the sun because Scottsdale is a desert oasis where year-round warm temperatures are the norm. Grab your friends and family because Scottsdale is the place to be this holiday season.

Christmas at the Princess characters at Christmas at the Princess
Source: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Holiday Activities for the Whole Family

You and your loved ones don't want to miss Enchant, an immersive and magical holiday destination at Salt River Fields. Wander through a village of tiny storefronts featuring local boutiques and artisan crafts, and try a delicious holiday treat along the way. Families with children will especially enjoy The Mischievous Elf, a joyous adventure through a dazzling maze of lights and displays.

When you are ready to hit the ice, lace up your skates and glide along the ice-skating trail; follow the path adorned with lights. Don't forget to stop off at Santa's Landing – the perfect moment for the young ones to get a picture with Santa. Speaking of young ones, check out Little Elves Play Place for festive activities for children ages 0-7. And be sure to plan ahead for special themed nights, including Paws n' Claus (guests can bring their furry friend), College Night (students wear college swag), and Military Night (honoring veterans and those who serve). Visit the Enchant website to purchase tickets and packages to this holiday festival for the whole family.

It wouldn't be the holidays in Scottsdale without Christmas at the Princess, a breathtaking transformation of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess into a magical wonderland under the mistletoe. Hop aboard the Princess Express, a train ride the whole family can enjoy. Along the way take in stunning views of light displays and lagoons steeped in decorations. Stop off at The Village where you can ride the Ferris wheel, take a sled down Snow Mountain or chill by the fire with s'mores and hot chocolate. New this year is Aurora Ice, a glacier-themed experience where guests step into an immersive world made of ice under the sparkling Northern Lights. And don't miss out on shows at the Enchanted Plaza, photo ops with Santa, Twinkle Town and so much more.

The Phoenix Zoo shines bright with ZooLights! The beloved holiday tradition returns this year with over 4 million lights and hundreds of sparkling displays centered around the main lake. New this year is a 200-foot-long light tunnel for you and your loved ones to stroll through accompanied by holiday-themed music and sounds. Also don't miss out on newly minted Wildlife Lanterns and the dazzling floating tree in the middle of the lake, featuring a synchronized music and light show. Make a stop at the s'mores station before the little ones snap a photo with our old pal Saint Nick.

Christmas at the Princess
Source: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Holiday Cheer for Adults

Kick off the Scottsdale holiday extravaganza with Scottsdazzle, a season-long shopping and dining spree in Old Town Scottsdale. Take in the eye-popping decor as you stroll locally owned stores and galleries for unique, handmade gift ideas. Pop into your favorite spots to check out Scottsdazzle deals on specialty gifts like Southwestern collectibles, fine art, gourmet foods, clothing and jewelry. The Native Art Market is a delightful shopping experience to find a one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone; or discover a gift basket of goodies at the farmers market. The fun doesn't stop once you've finished your shopping list. Scottsdazzle features over 45 events tailored to the season to get you into the holiday spirit. Must-do events include the Sing-Along and Tree Lighting Ceremony, Wine Aroma Therapy, Holiday Movie Night, Holiday Celebration at the Chef's Table, and more.

While you're merrily shopping along, stop off at one of the many tasty eateries or restaurants that celebrate the holidays in style. Sugar Plum Tea Party, a whimsical gathering for visitors and locals alike, features delicious treats and seasonal drinks. And the tea party adds a little extra fun with a special performance by Greasepaint Theater, a local theater group known for bringing unique and compelling theatrical experiences to the community. There are two times for the tea party on December 9 – grab your tickets here!

When the desert sun goes down the luminaria lights come up at the Desert Botanical Garden. Celebrate Las Noches de las Luminarias, a delightful evening where guests weave through luminaria-lit trails and enjoy live musical performances. Festive food and drinks are available to compliment your evening of fun. "Plus, experience Fernando Botero: El Maestro in the Garden and in Dorrance Hall, where a harmony of color and beauty come together in paintings, drawings and monumental sculpture," explains Desert Botanical Garden.

Las Noches de las Luminarias 2020 at the Desert Botanical Garden
Source: Jenna McKone for Experience Scottsdale

Plan Your Trip

A warm and sunny holiday season awaits you in Scottsdale. From enchanting holiday wonderlands for all ages to world-class boutique shopping and fine dining, Scottsdale is the holiday destination the whole family will enjoy. Visit the Experience Scottsdale website to plan your holiday extravaganza.

by Roger Porter

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