Christmas Eve is nearly upon us, and so is the influx of visiting family and friends who need to be entertained. Instead of sitting around the fire in awkward silence, why not check out some of the best activities Phoenix has to offer this holiday. They are also suitable for those looking to get some quiet time away from those aforementioned loved ones. Whether you're looking to unwind, have a good time, or get some last-minute shopping in, there are a vast range of events happening throughout metro Phoenix. We've got something for every type and for nearly every hour of the day, so no one feels left out.
Arizona Outdoor Sculpture Showcase
The Shemer Art Center and Museum in Phoenix will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Christmas Eve. Visitors can peruse eight different contemporary outdoor sculptures from artists like Kevin Caron, Jeff Downing, Shelby Larsonel, Hector Ortega, Charles Sliechter, and Joan Waters. The suggested donation price for the showcase is $7. Call 602-262-4727 for more information.
Visit Phoenix Art Museum
Those who will be staying in the Valley, or those who are visiting, will be able to visit the Phoenix Art Museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Current exhibitions include "The White Shirt According to Me. Gianfranco Ferré," "Flowers, Fruit, Books, Bones," "Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads: Gold," and more. Adult entrance is $15, but students with ID, children, and senior citizens can get discounted tickets. The museum gift shop will also be open for those who waited until the very last moment. Visit the museum's website for more information.
Art on the Avenue
For food, music, local art, and more this Christmas Eve, head over to Fountain Hills Farmers Market's Art on the Avenue between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Selections will include locally crafted pottery, stained glass, and jewelry by more than 40 Valley artists. Visit the market's website for more information.
Though we may not get actual snow this year, you can fulfill that ultimate holiday fantasy by ice skating in downtown Phoenix this Christmas Eve. CityScape has managed to once again bring a fully-functional ice rink to the desert and transform downtown into a cozy winter wonderland. Bring a date, a friend, or your family to the rink between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tickets, which cost between $8 and $15, can be purchased at the rink. Call 602-550-9561 or visit CitySkate's website for further details.
Believe in Magic Extended Sutra Flow
Unwind and find a moment — or 90 minutes — of relaxation with Sutra Studios at its Believe in Magic Extended Sutra Flow at noon. Reservations are required for the $15 session, which will be held at the studio’s midtown location. You can make a reservation here or call 602-253-9525 for more information.
For those looking to absorb some modern art this holiday season, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art will be open Thursday, December 24, from noon to 5 p.m. Current exhibitions include Kelly Richardson's video installations, Bruce Munro's Ferryman's Crossing, and Chris Fraser's Looking Back, which combines architecture and art. Admission is free. Visit the museum's website or call 480-874-4666 for more information.
Nutcracker at Phoenix Symphony Hall
Ballet Arizona is once again providing countless families with the tradition of seeing the The Nutcracker on Christmas Eve. The production will feature more than 150 performers, hundreds of costumes and the talented Phoenix Symphony. Plus, it received a glowing review by the New York Times. Tickets for the all-ages, 1 p.m. show run between $25 and $175. Visit balletaz.org for tickets and more information.
A Christmas Carol
The Arizona Theatre Company is working with the Herberger Theatre to put a unique twist on A Christmas Carol this year, and it promises to be an interesting show. One of the Valley's funniest actresses, Katie McFadzen, will put on a one-woman performance of the holiday classic at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Tickets range in price from $21.50 to $51. Reserve your tickets or find more information on the show here.
When the sun goes down on Thursday evenings, Phoenix Public Market turns into a haven for local shoppers, diners and socialites. This Christmas Eve is no exception. From 5 to 9 p.m., there will be more than 25 local vendors, chefs and musicians set up in the Public Market ready to mingle, sell and buy for Downtown Sundown. Admission is free. Check phoenixpublicmarket.com/openair.com for more information.
Stewart Hilligoss Holiday Lights
For those looking to bring younger family members around town on Christmas Eve, there will be a number of holiday light displays around the Valley. At 2203 S. Boca in Mesa, the annual Stewart Hilligoss Holiday Lights display will feature more than 55,000 lights and twinkling trees that blink in time to music. Admission to the light show is donation-based and goes toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and it will be open between 6 and 10 p.m.
The Space Between Sparkles
The latest temporary pocket park in downtown Phoenix is another great spot to catch some lights and general holiday cheer. Located at 517 N. 1st Street, visitors can unwind among trees, lights, and locally-crafted art by Monk3y Industries. Considering the park is decorated with solar-powered lights and salvaged trees, it's also the perfect spot to check out viable desert plant life and environmentally-conscious decor. Check the park's Facebook page for updates and more information.
Live Music at The Lost Leaf
Lost Leaf in downtown Phoenix boasts live music and performances nearly every night of the year, and will continue to do so this Christmas Eve. Local poetic jazz group Kinetic Catalyst will take the stage at 9 p.m. The bar, located in the heart of Roosevelt Row, will be open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. There's no cover. Visit www.thelostleaf.org for more information.
Rockarocke at Cactus Jack's
As the day turns into night and the holiday festivities start to become a little monotonous, you can shake things up a bit with some parties and late-night activities around town. Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee, for example, will hold its regular Thursday tradition of “Rockarocke” in which participants can belt out their favorites with a live band behind them from 8:30 p.m. to midnight this Christmas Eve. Call 480-753-4733 for more details.
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row
If you’re looking to dust off your boots this Christmas Eve, look no further than Whiskey Row in on Mill Avenue in Tempe. Beginning at 9 p.m., you can enjoy music by DJ Steel and drink specials that will make for a joyous and merry evening, and likely some interesting stories for the next day. Visit the bar's website for more info or to book a table.
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If you're getting really tired of the Christmas vibe, you may want to check out Mazelpalooza 2015 in Scottsdale. The annual event will feature food, drinks, and dancing, none of which will bear the likeness of Santa or any of his reindeer. The event will take place from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Livewire AZ. Tickets are $36. Visit the event's website for more details.
Spider Web's Rockin Xmas Eve at Rogue Bar
Dance your way into Christmas this year at Scottsdale's Rogue Bar. The all-day event will feature DJs and dance music, and is free to attend. Call 480-947-3580 for more information.
Ladies Night at Bar Smith
Bar Smith in downtown Phoenix will host an old-school hip hop dance party this Christmas Eve. Beginning at 10 p.m., DJs Fact135 and TrickyT will play all the classics in the bi-level bar. The best part: ladies get in free all night. Call 602-820-0017 to reserve a table or find more information.