A Victorian-style gazebo and building with Roman columns are decorated with bright Christmas lights, surrounded by bare trees
Prescott's Courthouse Plaza during the holidays (Credit: Michael Wilson)

Arizona Lights Up the Holidays

Arizona's holiday season gets a shiny boost with an array of lighting festivals and twinkling displays to delight individuals and families of all ages. Check the websites for individual dates and times.

Greater Phoenix Area

Fantasy of Lights Parade & Holiday Market, Tempe
Kick-off the holidays with a festive street parade, holiday market and live entertainment in downtown Tempe. Following the parade, the annual tree lighting ceremony starts at Centerpoint Plaza with special guest Santa, who is later available for photos. Tempe Community Action Agency will also be collecting unopened jars of peanut butter for its annual Peanut Butter Drive. Free. (Late November) downtowntempe.com/events/opening-night-parade

Boat Parade & Fireworks Show, Tempe
Since 1999, the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Town Lake features as many as 50 festively lighted boats of all sizes. Browse holiday vendors and enjoy yummy treats as the evening continues with a fireworks show. Free. (December) downtowntempe.com/events/boat-parade

Glendale Glitters Spectacular Weekend, Glendale
The nighttime sky over Murphy Park lights up with 1.6 million twinkling lights as part of this annual tradition. Opening night activities frequently include holiday entertainment, food, crafts, children's wonderland and snow, and horse-drawn carriage rides. Free. (December) visitglendale.com
Note: Due to COVID, the full event has been canceled for 2021. You can still enjoy lights downtown and at Catlin Court.

Las Noches de las Luminarias, Phoenix
Each night of Luminaria, the Desert Botanical Gardens come to life with the soft glow from more than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags, thousands of white twinkle lights, and unexpected views of familiar spaces. Walk along the garden paths and be entertained by the sights and sounds of nine entertainment ensembles. In 2021, the event shines extra bright with a stunning Chihuly in the Desert exhibit. $16.95 – $49.95; tickets must be purchased in advance. (Select dates in December) dbg.org/events/las-noches-de-las-luminarias-2021/2021-12-03/

Festival of Lights, Globe-Miami
Held at Besh-Ba-Gowah Archeological Park, this annual festival features 2,800 glowing luminaries atop ancient ruin walls to light the way for visitors to celebrate the magic of the season. Entertainment provided by the famed Yellow Bird Dance Group and other musical performances. Free. (December) globeaz.gov/visitors/besh-ba-gowah
Note: Due to COVID, there is a chance this event may be postponed or canceled. Please check the website for further details.

North Central Arizona

Electric Light Parade, Payson
This annual event travels down Historic Main Street, as a variety of businesses and families decorate floats, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and more to wish everyone happy holidays. Free. (early December) paysonrimcountry.com/lightparade

Courthouse Lighting & Ceremony, Prescott
Arizona's official Christmas City kicks off the season with a parade, followed by multiple seasonal activities and a lighting ceremony to cap off the evening. Activities include the Frontier Christmas Open House at Sharlot Hall Museum, Valley of Lights drive-thru display, and the annual Christmas Parade, which begins earlier at 1 p.m. Ceremonies are free. Activities may have a fee to participate. (early December) prescott-az.gov/event/67th-annual-courthouse-lighting

Candlelight Tours, Fort Verde State Historic Park
Enjoy the celebration of a Victorian Christmas with traditional candlelight tours provided by re-enactors dressed in period clothing. Park admission. (First three Saturdays in December) azstateparks.com/fort-verde

Southern Arizona

Winterhaven Festival of Lights, Tucson
The central Tucson neighborhood of Winterhaven adorns itself each holiday season with lavish lights and holiday décor. Tour the lights on a hayride wagon, bus trolley, a pedal-powered group bike, or on foot. The festival is free to attend, but donations are requested for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. (December) winterhavenfestival.org

Western Arizona

Boat Parade of Lights, Lake Havasu City
Decorated boats dolled up in their holiday best cruise through the Bridgewater Channel from Thompson Bay north, under the historic London Bridge, and back again. Spectators can gather along the channel to enjoy a night of bonfires and fun, the only time you'll see the Channel packed full of boats and boats in winter gear at night. Free. (early December) golakehavasu.com/Lake_Havasu_Christmas_Parade_of_Lights_2021

Dorothy Young Memorial Electric Light Parade: Celebrating Yuma Agriculture
Yuma's favorite holiday tradition returns! This all-ages event features marching bands, floats and vehicles decorated with beautiful Christmas lights. Free. (December) www.visityuma.com/events

About the Author

Arizona Office of Tourism

These articles are brought to you by the staff of the Arizona Office of Tourism, and occasionally local tourism organizations around the state.

Recommended Events