The holiday season has us in its grip, so why not embrace and enjoy it? Along with the season come the seasonal celebrations. We’ve rounded up a list of December festivals that allow you soak up that holiday spirit. Many of these events also have holiday shopping as a focus so that you can have fun while you pick out those needed gifts for your treasured peeps.
At this annual visual arts festival, the streets of downtown Tempe get packed with nearly 400 booths of original art by artists chosen from around the U.S. Meet the artists and see work in 16 different media, including sculpture, photography, and wood. Live music, street performers, and food and beverage vendors add to the experience. The Kids Innovation Station offers the little ones a chance to engage in some hands-on art making. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visit www.tempefestivalofthearts.com.
Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary hosts this annual pet lover’s paradise that you and your furry friends can enjoy together. A variety of vendors provide the opportunity to shop for everything from pet treats to chewy toys. Activities are plentiful, too, including a pet fashion show, a pet trick contest, and a competitive Family Feud-style game. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.holidaypetfestival.com or 480-406-7301.
It’s the 20th anniversary of this celebration of Asian culture. This year's festival features arts and crafts, an Asian marketplace, culinary stations, and different contests – including poetry and dance. See a variety of traditional performances. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Visit www.aaaa-az.org.
Hosted by the Arizona Center for Germanic Cultures, this festival gives attendees the chance to purchase gifts by local artisans, including toys for kids and Christmas ornaments. Warm up with some authentic German and Austrian cuisine. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on December 5 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 6. Visit www.ac4gc.org.
Celebrate all things Scandinavian at this one-day festival highlighting fascinating elements of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, including traditional music and dances, hands-on crafts, and a special regional menu in the museum’s café. Admission is included with paid museum admission of $10 to $20. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.mim.org or call 480-478-6000.
The illuminated event is a nice excuse to take a scenic drive north. This marks 42 years of the popular arts spot, located on the banks of Oak Creek, glowing with more than 6,000 luminarias. Shop at the many specialty shops and galleries while checking out live musicians and dancers. Admission is free. Hours are 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visit www.tlaq.com or call 928-282-4838.
This festival aims to deliver a wintery experience, and it seems primed to do just that with 35 tons of snow, Santa Claus, fireworks, vendors for holiday shopping, and holiday music. On Saturday at 6 p.m., enjoy the APS-sponsored Electric Light Parade. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on December 11 and 12; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 13. Visit carefreechristmasfestival.com or call 480-488-2051.
At the fourth annual edition of the event, you can peruse the booths of 100 participating art vendors and cultural organizations. Shop for unique holiday items, enjoy live music, and satisfy your growling stomach with eats from several different food trucks onsite for the event. There will also be a beer and wine garden. Admission is free. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. on December 11 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 12 and 13. Visit www.phoenixfestivalofthearts.org.
Tucson’s busy Fourth Avenue between Ninth Street and University Boulevard is filled with more than 400 arts and crafts booths during this annual shindig. With more than 35 food vendors onsite, it’s as much of an eating extravaganza as it is a holiday shopping bonanza. Main stage and street performers offer entertainment, along with juggling, demonstrations, and a hands-on area for kids to make art. Admission is free. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Visit www.fourthavenue.org.
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Celebrate the holidays, and diversity, while you learn about different cultures from around the world at this festive happening. Different countries and cultures will have booths set up throughout the venue so that you can get a deeper look at their traditions. Santaland gives kids the chance to take their picture with the man in the red suit. Dancers and singers from around the Valley treat you to traditional performances. Admission is free. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit www.benevilla.org/festival-of-cheer or call 623-584-4999.
This annual holiday festival gives you the chance to shop for holiday gifts from work by local, regional, and national artists, in a variety of media. While you’re ogling artistic objects, you can enjoy live music throughout each day, including performances by James Reid, Los Thieves, Red Mountain High School Carolers, and Zubia Brothers. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 11 and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on December 12. Visit www.mesaartscenter.com or call 480-644-6500.