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What to Do in Arizona this Holiday Season

by Mary Melnick

Nov 15, 2023

© Courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism

Destinations / North America

Family travelers might want to think twice about Arizona as a destination for holiday travel. Destinations across the state offer unique and traditional holiday experiences. Here are just some to consider:



The Magical Christmas Journey at Verde Canyon | Nov. 24–Dec. 24

Your Magical Christmas Journey to the North Pole begins at Verde Canyon Railroad depot in Clarkdale. Here, meet Flurry, the bald eagle, and receive a lesson on “wing-flapping” before entering the miniature village of tiny houses. Children can grab their own pair of eagle wings to wear while soaring through the tiny Christmas town. Onboard the one-hour, round-trip train ride, elves and attendants entertain riders while serving specialty drinks. Once at the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus welcome you to their winter wonderland. While there, see Santa’s Workshop, Mrs. Claus’ Bakery, the Reindeer Flight School and the Ugly Sweater Factory.



© Courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism


North Pole Experience | Weekends Nov. 17–Dec. 24

Travelers can enjoy millions of beautiful holiday lights on display at Little America Hotel. Guests should also purchase tickets in advance for a journey of a lifetime to the North Pole Experience. Explore the magic of the holiday season at Santa’s workshop and toy factory, Mrs. Claus’ Bakery and Santa’s Sleigh. Enjoy family time with St. Nick himself. Additional activities include a trolley ride through Santa’s magic portal to the North Pole where kids can build toys with Santa’s elves, visit Santa’s top secret sleigh hanger and receive a teddy bear from Santa.



© Courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism


Mesa Temple Christmas Lights | Nov. 24–Dec. 31

The event draws more than 1 million visitors each year from across the country to experience the Christmas spirit on the temple grounds. As one of the largest-known volunteer-driven Christmas light displays in the country, this event has been a tradition since 1979. Guests can see hundreds of thousands of lights in a variety of colors on citrus, olive and palm trees, as well as the garden areas, flowers and more. Across the street at the Visitors Center, see a display of more than 100 international Nativity scenes representing the birth of Jesus Christ in all sizes and materials.



Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden

On select dates in November and December, guests enter the desert wonderland and enjoy a night filled with bright luminarias and twinkling holiday lights. The night also includes musical performances, entertainment and holiday surprises in the Garden’s iconic trails.



© Courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism


Scttodazzle | Nov. 25–Dec. 31

Enjoy a month-long celebration with unique events, décor, festive dining, shopping and more. Signature events include a Sing Along Tree Lighting Ceremony, holiday lights, Santa at the Farmer’s Market, Small Business Saturday, wine aromatherapy, piano shows, charcuterie classes, holiday movie night, mercantile market, Scottsdazzle Stroll, Ice It Up Cookie Decorating, holiday trivia, magic shows and more.



© Courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism


Enchantment Resort  – Red Rock Holidays

Located at the base of Boynton Canyon, Enchantment Resort’s holiday celebrations are ideal for families, couples or groups looking for holiday cheer. Events include Red Rock Ice Skating, a Tree Lighting Ceremony, Santa’s Workshop, Storytime with Mrs. Claus, Holiday Epicurean Classes, Winter Solstice Ceremony, Mandala Art and a New Year Manifestation.



© Courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism


LightsUp! A Festival of Illuminations at Tucson Botanical Gardens | Nov. 24–Jan. 7, 2024

This illuminated experience transforms the Gardens into a stunning holiday show featuring six distinct zones with their own unique color palettes. Visitors are led through more than 1 million lights, custom-built oversized installations and displays created by local artists.




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