17 Magical Places to Celebrate Christmas in Arizona 2024

Where to celebrate Christmas in Arizona

Arizona Christmas: Want to celebrate Christmas in Arizona this year? Who wouldn’t when you consider that you have year round good weather and people in Arizona love to celebrate Christmas with tons of Christmas lights and holiday themed events.

This list of Christmas Getaway Ideas in Arizona has something for everyone – including snow! There are so many fantastic ideas from taking the Polar Express to celebrating Christmas in the Christmas City of Arizona. Keep reading for all the details.

Check out my post on the most Charming Small Towns in Arizona

17 Best places to visit for Christmas in Arizona

Flagstaff – a Winter Wonderland

Flagstaff transforms into a snowy paradise, perfect for those dreaming of a white Christmas in Arizona. My last visit during the holiday season was a delightful experience.

North Pole Experience/Flickr

The pine-covered slopes of the Arizona Snowbowl offered an exhilarating ski adventure. But what really captivated me was the historic charm of the Riordan Mansion, adorned with festive decorations.

Venturing to the “North Pole” aboard the Polar Express from nearby Williams was a magical journey, especially for families. Children’s eyes light up as they meet Santa and his reindeer in a whimsical setting.

The Winter Wonderland and Tree Lighting Ceremony is a highlight – a community event that marks the beginning of the festive season with music, lights, and cheer.

Don’t miss the unique opportunity to explore Flagstaff’s Nordic Center for cross-country skiing. The city’s downtown area, a picturesque historic setting, gets fully decked out in holiday attire, creating a festive atmosphere that’s both cozy and exciting.

The North Pole Experience is a must-visit, offering an immersive glimpse into Santa’s workshop and elf university – an unforgettable experience for kids and adults alike.

Check out my post on Where to Stay in Flagstaff

Sedona – where Red Rock meets White Snow

Sedona in winter is a sight to behold, with its iconic red rocks dusted in snow. I found the Festival of Lights at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village to be particularly enchanting.

Sedona in December
Sedona, arizona in december

The flicker of over 6000 luminarias along the pathways, coupled with live music and a visit from Santa, creates a heartwarming atmosphere.

Riding the Sedona Christmas Trolley is a festive way to see the town. The entire city sparkles with lights, making it a merry destination. While the luminarias are impressive, the natural beauty of Sedona’s red cliffs, especially around Bell Rock Path, is even more striking in the holiday season.

The city hosts various Christmas events, from intimate breakfasts with Santa to vibrant arts and cultural performances. For a different take on the holiday, explore Sedona’s stunning landscape through mountain biking, hiking, or jeep tours.

Live holiday shows like The Blazin’ M Ranch Christmas Show add to the festive spirit. The annual Breakfast with Santa at Sedona Hub is a fun, free event that includes pancakes, entertainment, and of course, a chance to meet Santa Claus.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Sedona

Phoenix – Holiday Buzz in the City

Phoenix, the largest city in Arizona, doesn’t disappoint during Christmas. My recent visit was filled with exciting activities.

The electric light procession along Central Avenue is a sight to behold, and ice skating at the city’s rink is a must-try experience. The city comes alive with various Christmas performances, from theaters to symphonies.

One of my favorite experiences was Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Strolling through the garden pathways illuminated by thousands of luminaries while enjoying live music and delectable food is truly magical.

The Phoenix Zoo also hosts festive celebrations, and the symphony and ballet present captivating holiday performances.

The Desert Botanical Garden, adorned with luminarias, provides a unique way to savor the holiday season. Another highlight is the CitySkate ice rink at CityScape, perfect for a memorable evening.

CityScape Phoenix/Facebook

Handel’s Messiah at the Phoenix Symphony, a Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail production, Ballet Arizona’s The Nutcracker performance, and ZooLights at the local zoo are all popular Christmas festivities in Phoenix. The CitySkate ice rink at CityScape in Phoenix is also lit up for the holidays and is a great way to spend an evening in the city.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Phoenix


Scottsdale is an Arizona gem, and during Christmas, it becomes a true winter wonderland. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is the star of the show, with its dazzling transformation into a breathtaking winter landscape, featuring over 4 million lights.

Visitors can enjoy ice skating, train rides, a Ferris wheel, and s’mores by the fire pit. Scottsdale also boasts top-notch golf courses and a vibrant culinary scene. You can savor a delightful meal at various restaurants, including the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Hotel Valley Ho, and more.

Scottsdale’s charming appeal extends to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Lights and the festive atmosphere of downtown. Whether you’re looking for unique gifts or simply enjoying the holiday spirit, Scottsdale has it all.

Scottsdale is a must-see for everyone visiting the Arizona metro area. Scottsdale, which is ranked in the top 100 best towns to live in, provides just about everything you could want. This is one of the best places to visit in Arizona, with everything from boutique shopping and exquisite eating to tourist attractions and resorts.

Christmas in Arizona

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Scottsdale and Things to do in Scottsdale plus my post on the Best Cafes in Scottsdale.

MesaMerry Main Street Magic

Just south of Scottsdale, Mesa welcomes the holiday season with Merry Main Street. This vibrant Phoenix suburb offers a delightful Christmas experience. Main Street comes alive with a four-story Christmas tree, ice skating, and Jack Frost’s Food Truck Forest.

Mesa’s holiday festivities include illuminated streets, Christmas trees, and public light displays. The Superstition Mall and the Fiesta Mall are festively adorned, offering fantastic photo opportunities with Santa. The Merry Main Street event is a highlight, featuring an enchanting Winter Wonderland Ice Rink and a visit to Santa’s Village.

Moreover, Mesa boasts the Arizona Lights in the Night drive-through light display at the Thompson Events Center. Don’t miss the Christmas lights at the Mesa Arizona Temple, open to the public and perfect for a festive stroll.

For more holiday fun, catch a performance of “The Nutcracker” or visit Lights at the Farm at Vetruccio Farms. Mesa, with its cheerful atmosphere and diverse Christmas events, is an excellent destination for families and friends to celebrate the season.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Mesa


Glendale truly shines during the holiday season, earning its nickname as the “Southwest North Pole.” The annual Glendale Glitters event illuminates the city with over a million lights, creating a festive atmosphere.


This historic town is transformed into a dazzling holiday spectacle, with a sixteen-block area adorned with lights. Visitors can enjoy a lighting ceremony, Santa visits, musical performances, and delightful cuisine. It’s a paradise for last-minute holiday shopping, with local stores offering unique gifts.

Downtown Glendale is the place to be, featuring one-of-a-kind items and horse-drawn carriage rides. The trees along the historic streets twinkle with lights, casting a magical spell over the city. A horse-drawn carriage ride is a charming way to explore the festivities.

Glendale Glitters is a must-visit for anyone seeking a festive and vibrant Christmas atmosphere. With its enchanting lights and lively ambiance, Glendale promises a memorable holiday experience for all.

Check out my post on Best Airbnbs in Glendale

Tucson – Southwestern Christmas Magic

Tucson, nestled in the Sonoran Desert, offers a Southwestern Christmas experience like no other. My recent visit to Tucson during the holiday season left me enchanted by the unique blend of desert beauty and festive traditions.

One of Tucson’s highlights is the Holiday Nights event at Tohono Chul Park. It’s a mesmerizing experience, walking amidst a million glittering Christmas lights while listening to seasonal music under the starry desert sky. The park’s serene beauty combined with the holiday spirit creates a magical atmosphere.

Tucson’s cultural scene also comes alive during Christmas. You can catch various versions of “The Nutcracker,” including a Southwest adaptation by Tucson’s Regional Ballet. The city hosts live nativity presentations, allowing you to immerse yourself in the Christmas story.

For a more adventurous Christmas, head to Reid Park Zoo and witness the glow of lighted animal sculptures. The Winterhaven Festival of Lights is a must-see event, with residents decorating their homes with elaborate light displays, creating a winter wonderland.

Tucson’s Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair is a vibrant winter event featuring over 200 arts and crafts exhibitors and numerous food vendors. It’s the perfect place to find unique holiday gifts while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

The desert landscape around Tucson provides a peaceful backdrop for the holiday season, and the mild winter temperatures are ideal for outdoor activities. Whether you’re exploring Saguaro National Park, hiking in the nearby mountains, or simply savoring the desert’s natural beauty, Tucson offers a one-of-a-kind Christmas experience.

Williams – Polar Express to Grand Canyon

Williams, a charming community located near the Grand Canyon, transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas, thanks to its famous Polar Express train ride.

Grand Canyon Railway/Facebook

As someone who has experienced the Polar Express magic, I can attest that it’s a heartwarming adventure for the whole family.

The journey begins at the Williams Depot and takes you through a moonlit forest, complete with elves and beloved characters from the story. Hot cocoa, chocolate chip cookies, and a visit to Santa’s Village are all part of the enchanting ride. On Christmas Eve, there’s an extra-special experience that adds to the holiday magic.

Williams also hosts an annual Christmas parade and tree-lighting ceremony in late November, kicking off the festive season in style. The town comes alive with holiday decorations, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

The Grand Canyon Railway in Williams offers an immersive Christmas experience, making it a popular Arizona Christmas destination. The resort is adorned with over 4 million lights every December, turning it into a stunning winter wonderland. You can even meet your favorite holiday characters, roast chestnuts over fire pits, and enjoy a ride on a Ferris wheel or carousel.

Williams is not just about the Polar Express; it’s a top-notch destination for golf enthusiasts and foodies. You can enjoy a round of golf under the Arizona sun and indulge in delicious meals at local restaurants, including the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Hotel Valley Ho, and more.

In conclusion, Williams is a place where Christmas dreams come true. The Polar Express ride and the town’s festive atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for those seeking holiday magic in Arizona.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Williams

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu City is known for being a great spot to party on the water, but it’s also a great place to celebrate Christmas.

Visit Lake Havasu City, Arizona/Facebook

Lake Havasu City, known for its vibrant party scene on the water, transforms into a mesmerizing Christmas destination during the holiday season. As someone who has witnessed the beauty of Lake Havasu’s Christmas celebrations, I can assure you it’s a unique experience.

One of the highlights is the London Bridge Resort, where you can go ice skating against the backdrop of the iconic London Bridge. Each year, Lake Havasu hosts the Festival of Lights, a spectacular event where over 500,000 lights illuminate the London Bridge. It’s a breathtaking sight to behold, and you can even take a midnight boat trip along the Bridgewater Channel to marvel at the illuminated buildings and water.

Walking beneath the gleaming London Bridge is a magical experience for families, and you can enjoy the Annual Boat Parade, where brightly adorned boats glide over the water, creating a picturesque scene.

Lake Havasu City offers a diverse range of holiday activities. You can attend the Lake Havasu Community Choir’s Annual Christmas Concert at the Lake Havasu Performing Arts Center & Little Theater. If you’re a fan of outdoor ice skating, the London Bridge Resort provides a delightful experience with twinkling lights and a pine tree backdrop.

English Village is another must-visit spot, where Santa typically makes an appearance in the evenings. Whether you choose to take a boat ride along the Bridgewater Channel or explore the local events and light displays, Lake Havasu City radiates with festive cheer during Christmas.

In conclusion, Lake Havasu’s unique blend of water-based attractions and shimmering Christmas lights by the London Bridge creates a magical holiday atmosphere that’s perfect for families and anyone looking for a distinctive Christmas experience in Arizona.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Lake Havasu

Lake Powell

When it comes to unconventional Christmas celebrations, Lake Powell offers a truly magical experience. As someone who has experienced the enchantment of a houseboat Christmas on Lake Powell, I can attest to its uniqueness.

Imagine spending the holiday season on a houseboat, surrounded by stunning panoramic views, with no need to worry about shoveling snow. Lake Powell, known for its breathtaking vistas year-round, provides an ideal setting for a different kind of Christmas celebration.

Lake Powell in December boasts milder temperatures, making it a comfortable escape from the winter chill. With boat traffic significantly lower than during the busy summer months, a winter adventure on Lake Powell offers a more peaceful and intimate connection with nature.

Temperatures in December average around 45 degrees, making it a pleasant choice for a family getaway. Instead of focusing on material presents, a houseboat Christmas allows you to cherish what matters most during the holiday season – quality time with loved ones.

Unlike the bustling summer season, December at Lake Powell means fewer crowds at vista points and on hiking trails. You’ll have the freedom to immerse yourself in the grandeur of the landscape, capturing the play of shadows and hues on the canyon walls as the sun rises and sets.

All shops, hotels, and restaurants operate during regular hours, making it convenient for last-minute gift shopping or dining with family. Plus, you’ll find an array of Native American jewelry, western attire, souvenir t-shirts, and Grand Canyon memorabilia to commemorate your unique Christmas adventure.

In essence, Lake Powell offers a tranquil and intimate holiday escape, allowing you to celebrate Christmas in a way that prioritizes family, natural beauty, and unforgettable experiences.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Lake Powell


Prescott is recognized as the “Christmas City” of Arizona.

Michael Wilson/Flickr

Prescott, aptly known as “Arizona’s Christmas City,” is a charming holiday destination that deserves a place on your Christmas travel list. As someone who has explored this festive city, I can vouch for the enchantment it offers during the holiday season.

The heart of Prescott’s Christmas spirit is the courthouse, where a spectacular Christmas light show and procession captivate visitors. The courthouse’s light display, set to the sounds of caroling in the streets, is a sight to behold. Luminarias and floats add to the magical atmosphere.

One of the city’s most beloved traditions is the Frontier Christmas at the Sharlot Hall Museum. This immersive experience educates visitors about historical Christmas customs, offering a glimpse into how locals celebrated the season in the late 19th century.

For those who enjoy dancing and mingling, the Christmas City Charity Ball is a highlight. With live music, delicious food, and a dance competition, it’s a spirited event that contributes to a good cause. You’ll even have the option to dress in period attire, adding a touch of authenticity to the festivities.

Prescott’s historic downtown square is a sight to behold during the holiday season, adorned with over one million twinkling lights. The lighting ceremony transforms the city center into a winter wonderland, and the festive ambiance is infectious. You can enjoy leisurely strolls, visit local shops for unique holiday gifts, and experience the joy of the season.

Beyond the dazzling lights, Prescott offers a plethora of Christmas plays, weekend carriage rides, holiday craft businesses, and other attractions that immerse you in the festive spirit. Whether you’re admiring the historic charm of the city or indulging in holiday-themed activities, Prescott’s reputation as “Arizona’s Christmas City” is well-deserved.

Prescott’s unique blend of tradition and holiday cheer makes it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic and spirited Christmas experience.

Grand Canyon

Around Christmastime, views of the Grand Canyon with a dusting of snow are quite stunning. During the summer, this national park is often crowded with families, but around Christmas, you may see a different aspect of the park and avoid the crowds. 

However, it is chilly in December, so dress warmly and prepare to spend the night in one of the lodge rooms. If your camper has a good heater, there’s also a park here where you can stay in an RV for your Christmas trip.

The Grand Canyon and its surroundings, including restaurants, are decorated for Christmas during the winter months. In the little desert villages, travelers may expect a lively ambiance as well as a laid-back vibe where visitors are unhurried and calm. 

Visitors can also enjoy the Grand Canyon’s shifting landscape and calm moments, such as the sun’s shadows and hues cast on the canyon walls as it rises and sets, and the contrast of light snow against the red cliffs.

All shops, hotels, and restaurants are open during regular business hours, making it ideal for picking up a last-minute gift or grabbing a bite to eat with your family. There’s also a great selection of Native American jewelry, western attire, souvenir t-shirts, and Grand Canyon DVDs to display or give back to family and friends.

Consider visiting at off-peak hours if you’ve ever stood in line to enter the Grand Canyon National Park or squeezed through a mob of people wanting to get a glimpse of the park’s majesty. There are no crowds at vista sites or on hiking routes during the Christmas season. 

Unlike during peak tourist season, when you may have to take the tram, you will have time to contemplate on the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, spend as long as you want to frame shots, and even drive across the park.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs near the Grand Canyon


To kick off the holiday season, the ancient town of Tombstone, Arizona holds a tree-lighting ceremony and caroling. The Allen and 5th Streets tree lighting are traditionally held at the end of November. 

Families can enjoy the annual Christmas light procession and ball, which support the Tombstone Children’s Fund. The Tombstone Tour of Homes takes you into more than a dozen historic homes and buildings to help you obtain a better understanding of the area.

Tombstone, known as “The Town Too Tough To Die,” is always a fun place to visit. The historic courthouse lights up with the sound of caroling in the streets, while luminarias and floats pass by. 

In the Historic Schieffelin Hall, it’s a night of dancing and mingling. It’s all for a good cause, after all. Period attire is optional, but why not try it? After a fun-filled evening of music and good old-fashioned Christmas cheer, refreshments will be given and a door prize will be handed.

Check out my post on the Best Hotels in Tombstone


Take a tour of Upper and/or Lower Antelope Canyon or visit the Glen Canyon Dam for a tour. Furthermore, Horseshoe Bend is a hike worth doing. You can also consider Lake Powell. At night, watch a movie. Restaurants are also a great alternative.

The greatest time to visit Horseshoe Bend is in the middle of the day when the sun is shining brightly. The Bend will be in the shade at sunrise. The Wahweap Overlook by Glen Canyon Dam is the best place in the area to see the sunset.

In December, there are no activities on Lake Powell. On a warmish day, people who own a powerboat may be out on the lake. 

The entire region of Page, Arizona, is densely populated with huge wildlife, which can be seen on the highways late at night. You won’t notice a large animal until it’s too late to avert a collision because the location is so dark. Thus, is not a good idea to drive at night.

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Page


Payson, Arizona, may be unfamiliar to you, but it is a great Christmas destination to consider for your holiday travels. A light parade with floats and carolers takes place on Main Street in this town. The electric light parade will take place, rain or shine, and will include a visit from Santa Claus. 

Before the parade, there will be family-friendly crafts, music, and food from local businesses. The Swiss Village Christmas lighting, which includes visits with Santa at the mall, is a popular annual event in Payson. Tonto Natural Bridge is also close by and well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

There are numerous Christmas Eve festivities in Payson, including Gospel Choirs, Brunch, Santa Claus Gift Distribution, and Christmas Dinners. People decorate modest Christmas trees in their homes, children sing Christmas carols, and families take a week off for Christmas and New Year to celebrate with people from all over the world. 

Aside from vacations, there’s still much to do! Discover some of the best Christmas events and activities in the area, and reserve your seats for delectable buffets, dinners, and gala nights! 

Make Christmas Eve a memorable one by participating in fun activities and events to prepare for the holiday!

Check out my post on the Best Airbnbs in Payson

Nicole LaBarge

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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