Best Arizona Family Holiday Events

The season is officially upon us! Holiday visions include twinkling, anticipation from children and many family traditions.

Even though the majority part of the state will see no white Christmas, Arizona offers the season many fun yuletide activities for families that is sure to put everyone in the Christmas spirit.
 Here are some of the fun events that gets families out exploring Arizona and celebrating the season.

Williams: Polar Express
A long time family tradition stable in the state, this magical ride on the Grand Canyon Railway to the North Pole, where Santa awaits with his reindeer is a great experience for families. Enjoy a reading of “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg while St. Nick mingles with the passengers, passing out jingle bells as he goes. If the timing is lucky, there might be snow! Before or after your magical train ride, enjoy downtown Williams, where the famous Route 66 brings back the 1950s. The diners, neon signs and classic cars send you back a half century.

When: 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on select dates through Jan. 6.
Where: Williams Depot, 235 N. Grand Canyon Blvd.
Admission: $31-$74, depending on the day.
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Flagstaff: North Pole Experience
This one of a kind, truly magical experience will leave your children in amazement as they get the opportunity to check out Santa’s workshop and help the elves build a toy. The highlight of the visit is the top-secret sleigh hangar and the delicious aroma and indulgences of Mrs. Claus’ cookies!

When: Through Dec. 28. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 4-8:30 p.m. Closed Dec. 4-6, Dec. 12 and Dec. 25.
Where: Little America Hotel, 2515 E. Butler Ave.
Admission: $33-$55, depending on time and day.
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Sedona: Tlaquepaque Tree Trail
A visit here will for sure leave you with stunning holiday decorating ideas. The 20-plus trees are designed and crafted by local creatively enhanced decorators. Makes sure to pick up the free trail map and check off each tree as you do not want to miss any of them.

When: Nov. 24-Dec. 2. From 10 a.m.-6 p.m., have your photo taken with Santa (for a fee).
Where: Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, 336 State Route 179.
Admission: Free
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Lake Havasu City: Ice skating at London Bridge
Where else are you able to sit on the beach during the day and ice skate by moonlight? This rink is not large in size, but you’re ice skating in the desert and it can’t get more beautiful than that. While you are in town, make sure you take a stroll under London Bridge, and enjoy the lights that outline its perfectly proportioned arches.

When: Nov. 24-Jan. 8. Hours are 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 5-11 p.m. Fridays, 3-11 p.m. Saturdays, 3-8 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays and Christmas.
Where: London Bridge Resort, 1477 Queens Bay.
Admission: $10, $8 for age 12 and younger for a 90-minute session.
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Jerome: Light up the Mountain
The old school feel and quaint arts colony of Jerome project a magical Christmas spirit with luminarias and thousands of multicolored lights.  Don’t miss Santa’s arrival at 3:30 p.m. when the Jolly Old Elf boards an antique fire engine for a ride where he will happily entertain the fantasies of all children. While in town, enjoy historical Jerome Grand Hotel, which is said to be one of Arizona’s most haunted hotels.

When: Nov. 25. The lighting ceremony starts at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., lights will be flipped on after a reading of ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Where: Upper park, First Avenue and Main Street.
Admission: Free.
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Yuma: Holiday Pageant & Friendship Tower Lighting
This holiday tradition includes draping Christmas lights upon 200-foot-tall Yuma’s Friendship Tower. The event includes all the holiday-event trimmings, including performances by local dance troupes and great of caroling.

When: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 25.
Where: Friendship Park, 1435 W. 34th St.
Admission: Free; a donation of non-perishable food is requested.
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Sedona: Holiday Tree Lighting & Santa Visit
Combine the magnificent red sandstone cliffs and the holidays lights and you have the makings for a very special holiday celebration. Tlaquepaque North hosts the lighting of a 20-foot Christmas tree, accompanied by live seasonal music and a visit with the jolly old elf who will visit with littles ones.

Nearby: Enjoy a day in Sedona. Explore the trails at Red Rock State Park ($7 admission) or stroll among the downtown shops.
When: 5-7 p.m. Nov. 25.
Where: Tlaquepaque North, 313 SR 179.
Admission: Free.
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Williams: Bearizona Wild Wonderland
The wildlife park lights it up for the holidays. A synchronized show with 250,000 lights is designed to dazzle! Combined with Story Time with Mrs. Claus, this holiday treat is not to be missed. An animal meet-and-greets, beverages and treats will for sure delight families.

When: 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays-Sundays from Dec. 1-17, then nightly Dec. 18-30. Closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Where: 1500 Route 66.
Admission: $14 for age 4 and older.
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Prescott: Courthouse Lighting and Ceremony
this annual December holiday tradition is a favorite of many. The season spirit will arrive to your family as you hold a hot chocolate and the lights fill Prescott’s Courthouse Square.

When: Dec. 1. The Christmas parade is at 1 p.m.; the lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m.
Where: Courthouse Square, 120 S. Cortez St.
Admission: Free.
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Wickenburg: Christmas Parade of Lights
Wickenburg’s annual holidays kickoff will bring you back to the traditional days of celebrating Christmas. Floats decorated by churches, youth groups, businesses and individuals give the parade a true vintage feel. Don’t miss the post-parade announcement of awards and enjoy cookies and hot cocoa as you watch.

Nearby: The Desert Caballeros Western Museum boasts one of the country’s premier collections of Western art. Which makes sense, given the area’s ranching history.
When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8.
Where: Historic downtown Wickenburg.
Admission: Free.
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Camp Verde: Fort Verde State Historic Park Candlelight Tours
Want to take it back to a Victorian Christmas experience? Camp Verde offers re-enactors in period costumes lead the way through the officers’ quarters decked out for a vintage Christmas experience. Families will learn what life was like pre-electricity as the re-enactors stay in character and are happy to answer questions about turn-of-the-century living.

When: 5-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8-9.
Where: Fort Verde State Historic Park, 125 E. Hollamon St.
Admission: $7, $4 for ages 7-13.
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Sedona: Festival of Lights
There’s something beautiful about the soft glow of luminarias that warms the holiday spirit. This isn’t the only festival that features luminarias, but simply, it is one of the best. Experience more than 6,000 of the glowing lights line walkways and balconies of Tlaquepaque. Make sure to put away your phone, park yourself in the courtyard and enjoy the carolers.

When: 3-8 p.m. Dec. 9.
Where: Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, 336 SR 179.
Admission: Free.
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