The most wonderful time of the year just might also be the busiest.
Between theatrical productions of your favorite holiday films, ugly sweater parties, and Christmas light displays that put your own front-yard installation to shame -- forget going away for the holidays, you have enough to do here. Mark your advent calendars, people, because here are our 25 top picks for holiday events in metro Phoenix.
Central Avenue has frozen over for CityScape's CitySkate. The seasonal ice rink open from 11 a.m. to midnight now through Monday, February 2. Admission is $12 for adults and youth or $6 for military and children under five. Special events include Tuesday Theme Days, Learn to Skate Days with the Arizona Cowboys, and Adult Night every Saturday from 9 p.m. to midnight. For details, visit www.cityskatephx.com.
For some people there's Christmas, for other's there's Hanukkah, and for the rest of us, there's Phoestivus. The downtown holiday market will offer shopping from 100 local vendors, a beer garden, food trucks, live music, feats of strength, a Phoestivus pole, and a chance to air your grievances. Admission is free. Phoestivus runs from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18, at Phoenix Public Market. For details, visit www.phoestivus.com.
The holiday shopping continues at Frances for the annual handmade market, Crafeteria. Now in its ninth year, Crafeteria will feature more than 40 artists selling everything from jewelry and letterpress stationary to vintage clothing and leather goods. The free event will run from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, December 5, in the Frances parking lot. For details, visit francesvintage.com or call 602-279-5467.
Jackalope Ranch Bingo
Bingo is back, y'all. And just in time for the holiday season. From 7 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, December 11, stop by Crescent Ballroom for some free Jackalope Ranch Bingo. We'll be handing the mic over to the funny folks from The Torch Theatre who will in turn be handing out the prizes to you. For more information, visit Jackalope Ranch Presents Bingo with The Torch Theatre on Facebook.
The last night of Hanukkah is turning into one of the biggest parties of the season as Young Jewish Phoenix hosts its annual Mazelpalooza. The evening begins at 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 24, at Livewire, 7320 East Indian Plaza, Scottsdale. Mix, mingle, and dance with your fellow Jews as DJ Solomon spins his music all night long. Tickets are $25 until December 15, $35 until December 24, and $40 at the door. For tickets, visit the event page on Flavorus.
Everyone has a holiday story or two up their ugly Christmas sweater sleeve and come Tuesday, December 16, they'll be sharing them onstage at the Crescent Ballroom Lounge. The New Times writers will take to the stage at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and canned food donations will be accepted on behalf of St. Mary's Food Bank. For updates and details, follow Chow Bella.
Ugly Sweater Christmas Party
Practical Art is putting on its annual Ugly Sweater Christmas Party from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, December 5. The season soiree will give guests the opportunity to show off their most shameful holiday sweater for a chance at a $50 gift card, as well as enjoy food, drinks, shopping, and photo-ops. Admission to the party is free. For details, visit www.practical-art.com or call 602-264-1414.
Fall Movies in the Park: It's a Wonderful Life
Biltmore Fashion Park's ongoing Fall Movies in the Park series concludes on Friday, December 12, with the holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life. Grab a blanket, a warm jacket, and some hot chocolate and enjoy Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas film starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. Admission is free. Movie screening begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.shopbiltmore.com.
A Bloody Mary Christmas
Space 55's "holiday musical for people who hate the holidays and musicals" is back for a fifth year. A Bloody Mary Christmas tells the story of three Sun City ladies who drink, dance, and battle their evil home owner's association as it attempt to kick them out of their condo on Christmas Eve. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, December 4 through 19. Tickets are $15. Visit www.space55.org.
Visit Phoenix Zoo as it puts on the holiday light display to end all light displays. In addition to the 3.8 million lights and 700 displays that bring the park to life after dark, ZooLights offers all-ages activities including ice sculpting, camel rides, a Stingray Bay touch tank, a holiday-themed 4-D theater, and two music in motion shows. ZooLights is open from 5:30 to 10 p.m. now through Sunday, January 11. Tickets range from $10 to $18 depending on dates and membership. For details, visit phoenixzoo.org or call 602-286-3800.
Tumbleweed Tree Lighting Ceremony
The East Valley is getting electrified on Saturday, December 6, as the City of Chandler holds its Tumbleweed Tree Lighting Ceremony. Free festivities happening from 4:30 to 9 p.m. include a parade of lights, dance performances, an ugly sweater contest, and a tree lighting ceremony with Chandler mayor Jay Tibshraeny at Tumbleweed Park. For schedule details, visit www.chandleraz.gov.
Talking Stick Holiday Light Tour
If you're looking for lights in the Valley, save yourself the U-turns and buy a ticket for the Talking Stick Holiday Light Tour. This two-hour trolley tour till take passengers through the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Scottsdale, ad Phoenix for a glimpse at some of the best light displays in town. The trolley departs at 6:30 p.m. from the Courtyard by Marriott Scottsdale Salt River, 5201 North Pima Road, every Monday through Wednesday in December. For details, visit www.talkingstickarizona.com/play.
Tongue Tied's Fugly Sweater Christmas Party
Seems like your ugly reindeer pullover is going to get a lot use this holiday season. From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, December 6, at Apollo's Tongue Tied will be hosting its Fugly Sweater Christmas Party featuring prizes for the worst seasonal getup, an awkward family photo contest, giveaways, drink specials, photo-ops, and music by DJs Roya and Funkfinger. Cover is free before 9 p.m. and $5 for the rest of the night. For more information, visit the event on Facebook.
Arizona Broadway Theatre White Christmas
Don't just dream of a white Christmas, see it on stage with Arizona Broadway Theatre. Based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kane with music by Irving Berlin, this onstage production is geared to put audiences in the holiday spirit. Showtimes are 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, noon on Saturdays and Sundays, and occasional matinees on select weekdays throughout the month of December. Tickets prices range between $68 and $78. For more information, visit azbroadway.org.
Southwest Shakespeare Presents A Christmas Carol
Gather your spirits of Christmas past, present, and future and head to Playhouse on the Park for Southwest Shakespeare's production of A Christmas Carol. General admission is $42, students are $16.50, and children are $8. Showtimes are 7:30 Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays, December 4 through 20. For details, visit swshakespeare.org.
Frances Smith Cohen's Snow Queen
Center Dance artistic director Frances Smith Cohen delivers a fairy tale classic and a holiday tradition with a choreographed production of Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen, featuring music by Sergei Prokofiev. Showtimes are 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 and 5 p.m. Sundays, December 4 through 21, at Herberger Theater. Tickets are $14 for students, $23 for seniors, and $28 for adults. For more information, visit www.herbergertheater.org or call 602-254-7399.
28th Annual APS Electric Light Parade
It's a new year and a new theme for the APS Electric Light Parade. Holidays in Toyland will take over central Phoenix beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 6. The parade will move south on Central Avenue from Montebello to Camelback then east on Camelback to Seventh Street and south to Indian School. Admission is free and spectator space is based on a first-come, first-served basis. For details, visit www.phoenix.gov.
Winter is the West Valley's time to shine, literally. From 5 to 11 p.m. every night night now through Saturday, January 10, Glendale Glitters brings the city's historic downtown to life with 1.5 million lights spread across 16 blocks. This free spectacle feature specials events including Jingle Bell Rockin' Nights (Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6), Winter Wonderland Weekend (Friday and Saturday, December 12 and 13), and Spirit of Giving Weekend (Wednesday and Thursday, December 19 and 20). For details, visit www. glendaleaz.com/glitters.
Ballet Arizona Presents The Nutcracker
Arizona Ballet is bringing a time-honored tradition to Symphony Hall with the whimsical holiday classic, The Nutcracker. Performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. Sundays, as well as additional times on select dates December 12 through 28. Tickets range between $25 and $163. Visit balletaz.org for more information.
37th Annual Las Noches de las Luminarias
Desert Botanical Garden is aglow with its annual Las Noches de las Luminarias featuring 8,000 luminaria bags, hanging lights, and live music. Admission is $30 for adults ($25 for members) and $12.50 for children ($10 for members). Las Noches de las Luminarias happens from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, December 5 through 27, as well additional dates on holiday weeks. Visit www.dbg.org for more information.
The Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures is bringing its annual Christkindlmarket to Heritage Square from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 13, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 14. The German Christmas market will offer handmade gifts, such as toys, soaps, and ornaments, as well as live music, puppet theater, and specialty food and drink. Admission is free. For details, visit www.ac4gc.org.
Kierland SnoPro Ski Simulator
Westin Kierland is giving guests and visitors the chance to hit the simulated slopes this holiday season with a newly installed SnoPro Ski Simulator. The snow-free system will given already established skiers the chance to refresh there muscle memory on faux slopes as well as offer ski instructors for newbies. Thirty-minutes sessions, including boots, skis, and snowboards, are available from 5 to 8 p.m. and run $25 per person. Visit kierlandresort.com/celebrate-season-of-fun/.
7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe
A lot can happen in seven minutes: monologues, dance numbers, mime routines, plate spinning. . .Space 55's 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe is a showcase of hidden and local talents with each performance lasting only, you guessed it, seven minutes. The seasonal variety show starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 20. Tickets are $10. Visit space55.org for more.
5th Annual Holiday Pet Festival
Put your pooch in the holiday spirit with the 5th Annual Holiday Pet Festival at WestWorld of Scottsdale. The event will feature pet adoptions, fashion shows, shopping, exhibitions, contests, and tricks. The furry festivities run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 6. Admission is free and of course pets are allowed (provided they are on a leash or in a stroller (this is Scottsdale after all). Visit www.holidaypetfestival.com.
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Seven Days of Merry Melodies
Arizona Opera and Phoenix Theatre are teaming up to produce two shows across seven days this December. The first, Holiday Favorites from Stage and Screen, will feature Arizona Opera singers bringing classic holiday tunes to the Phoenix Theatre stage including White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street; while the second, Holiday Jazz Cabaret, will offer up some of bluesy renditions of seasonal songs like Silent Night and The Christmas Song. Showtimes for Holiday Favorite are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, December 18 through 20, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 21. Jazz Cabaret will perform at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, December 22 and 23. Tickets range between $25 and $40. Visit phoenixtheatre.com.