By Jill “MamaBug” Frier

It is the season for the wonders and magic of the holidays. Arizona brings its own special flavor to the holidays, with western scenes, cowboy Christmas celebrations, stunning luminaria displays, and unforgettable desert magic.

Nothing warms the heart on a cold evening like the glow of lights and luminarias, soft music, and holiday cheer. Here are a few places to make your holiday in Arizona one to remember. As with all events during the pandemic, please visit the venue’s website or call first to confirm details. Please also keep in mind COVID-19 safety precautions—mask up and don’t forget the hand sanitizer!

Prescott: A Frontier Christmas at Sharlot Hall
December 5, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
One of our favorite places to visit in Arizona is Prescott, dubbed “Arizona’s Christmas City” during the holiday season. The Annual Frontier Christmas at the Sharlot Hall Museum is a featured holiday highlight of Prescott, with luminarias, hand-made decorations, fresh-baked cookies and hot cider to welcome locals and out-of-town visitors. You can celebrate the holiday spirit and good cheer of the Old West on the Museum grounds, immediately following the Prescott downtown courthouse lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.

Phoenix: Las Noches de las Luminarias
Select days from November 27 – December 31, 5:30-9:30 p.m.
One of our favorite holiday traditions every year is visiting the Desert Botanical Garden to see Las Noches de las Luminarias. This year, there will be more than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags lining many of the trails throughout the Garden each evening. The lovely, twinkling pathways wind through the garden paths and lead to nine different musical entertainment areas, and dinner and warm refreshments are available each night. Las Noches de las Luminarias is a perfect event to celebrate the beauty and magic of the holiday season in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.

Tucson: Patronato’s Christmas at San Xavier
Details to be announced in mid-November
Twenty four years ago, Linda Ronstadt headlined the first Christmas concert at the Mission San Xavier, beginning a beloved tradition that now marks the beginning of Tucson’s holiday season. This signature series of concerts raises funds for Patronato, a nonprofit organization devoted to restoring and preserving the historic Mission San Xavier for future generations.

Flagstaff: a winter wonderland
A favorite winter destination, you haven’t celebrated an Arizona Christmas until you’ve experienced the holiday season in Flagstaff. With gorgeous weather, there’s a public movie series, photos with Santa, downtown shopping, tree lighting, ice skating, and more! Of course, keep in mind COVID-19 precautions, so don a mask before you stroll downtown for some hot cocoa and holiday fun. We recommend the staying at Little America Hotel to make your holiday adventure complete.

Phoenix: ZooLights! Together We All Shine
November 7, 2020 – January 31, 2021
The Valley’s most cherished holiday tradition is back with millions of twinkling lights, dazzling animal sculptures and the Wildlife Lantern Safari, featuring 66 creatures — polar bears, mammoths, peacocks and more, all aglow. And this year, there’s a NEW way to feel the magic. Cruise ZooLights, the drive-thru experience that is not to be missed. With expanded trails and new sights and sounds, ZooLights is bigger, brighter and better than ever. You can also walk ZooLights on select nights. Check the website for more details.

These holiday celebrations are just a few of the festive events that take place around our state, but all will make special holiday memories for you and your family while you celebrate the season.

Be sure to read for more information about celebrating the holidays in the unique, festive, truly Western spirit of Arizona.