Five Family Events That Offer Holiday Fun

This time of the year provides plenty of great opportunities for family and friends to get together and enjoy the season. Fortunately for Arizona residents, there are four holiday events that are sure to help you get in the spirit.

APS Electric Light Parade
For more than three decades, the APS Electric Light Parade has been an event where families, neighborhood groups and businesses come together to celebrate the joy of the holiday season. 

The parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, start time is 7 p.m. 

The Parade will start at Central Ave. & Montebello Ave.
The Parade will end at 7th St​​. and Indian School Rd. *Parade run-time varies

Click here for more information on the parade.  

Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade
A beloved tradition in Tempe, the Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade has become an annual fixture for both locals and visitors. The event attracts 35,000 attendees each year by becoming a way that many people signify the start of the holiday season.

Entering its 24th year, the parade will be held on Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving.

The event will consist of a street parade that will travel through downtown and a boat parade on Tempe Town Lake. 

“It’s really a cherished event for many families that live here in Tempe as well as all over the state. It’s one that they’ve handed down from generation to generation. Some kids have grown up, and they’re now parents and are bringing their kids here. They have their own spots that they stake out early in the afternoon,” said Krislyn Powell, events manager for the Downtown Tempe Authority. 

The parade route will begin at Mill Avenue and Third Street, and will travel south on Mill Avenue to Seventh Street, move west on Seventh Street, north on Maple Street and end on Fifth Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Sarah Sellers, a Tucson nurse anesthetist who placed second at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Previous grand marshals have included Arizona State University mascot Sparky the Sun Devil and Amanda Borden, captain of the 1996 gold-medal-winning U.S. gymnastics team. 

Also included in this year’s parade will be the Marcos de Niza High School marching band, along with a caroling group from the New School for the Arts and Academics. 

The top parade entries have the opportunity to win $500 prizes in categories such as best use of lights, new entry, special effects, themed unit, music and most original unit.

In addition to the parade, the event will feature an area for letters to Santa, a market with holiday items and apparel, face painting stations and chances to meet and take photos with Santa. Local performers will also take the Centerpoint stage. 

Festive treats such as cinnamon almonds, snow cones, lemonade, kettle corn and cookies will be available for purchase as well.

Once the parade concludes, a lighting ceremony will be held at Seventh Street and Mill Avenue for the community Christmas tree in Centerpoint plaza.

Visitors are being asked to donate jars of peanut butter to the United Food Bank, with collection bins to be set up near the Centerpoint stage.

Details: The Friday, Nov. 23 event will begin at 6 p.m. in downtown Tempe. Free admission. Click here for  more information.


Mesa Turkey Trot

A growing tradition as become the Mesa Turkey Trot as families can start their Thanksgiving Day in an active way with the 50th edition of the event.

Participants can choose from a timed 5K, a timed 10K and a 1-mile fitness run/walk. The timed races have age categories ranging from under 12 to 70 and older.

With the event hosted by the Sertoma Club of Mesa, participants will receive t-shirts, finishers will be awarded medals and anyone who completes the 5K or 10K in less than 45 minutes will receive an “I Beat the Turkey” certificate. First-place finishers in each age division of the 5K and 10K will win gift certificates from Piefection. 

Registration and bib pickup start at 7 a.m. on race day. The event benefits local non-profit organizations and scholarships.

 Details: The event will be from 7-11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22 and will begin at Red Mountain Park, 7745 E. Brown Road, Mesa. Registration will cost $30 through Nov. 21 for 5K and 10K races, and increase to $35 on race day. $20 for fun run/walk through Nov. 21, $25 on race day. $5 off for children 12 and younger. For more information, visit



A month-long events series taking place that provides varying types of food, music, dance and artwork can be found in Scottsdazzle. Based in Scottsdale, the events help provide a boost of holiday cheer through its numerous events.

Starting with a tree-lighting ceremony and a holiday music singalong on Nov. 24, the Scottsdazzle opening festivities will take place at the Soleri Bridge and Plaza on the Scottsdale Waterfront.

The singalong will be led by MusicaNova Orchestra and 99.9 KEZ host Marty Manning as people can enjoy classics that include “Feliz Navidad,” “Joy to the World” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” 

From Dec. 1 to 22, varying holiday-related activities and festivities will take place. Some of those include a Christmas fiesta (Dec. 1), a ballet-themed night (Dec. 8), a Gold Palette ArtWalk (Dec. 13), and a wine and ale walk (Dec. 15).

In addition to the schedule of events, visitors can enjoy regular art and light installations to get even more in the spirit of the season.

Details: The tree-lighting ceremony and singalong will open Scottsdazzle on Nov. 24 from 7-9 p.m. Admission is free and will take place at Soleri Bridge and Plaza, 4420 N. Scottsdale Road.

Visit for the full schedule and pricing of events.


Sun City Arts and Crafts Festival

When it comes to holiday shopping, often times it is the more unique items made by local artists that carry more meaning and value than store-bought items.

Those interested in purchasing handcrafted gifts will have plenty of options to choose from at the Sun City Arts and Craft Festival, as 35 local arts and crafts clubs will sell one-of-a-kind gifts. Some of the items that will be available for purchase include stone and silver polished jewelry; stained-glass pieces; quilts; calligraphy items; paintings; photographs; pottery and leather, wood or metal crafts.

To take a break from the shopping, food trucks and entertainment can also be enjoyed at the festival.

Those in attendance will receive free raffle tickets for a chance to win prizes that include an overnight casino package, handcrafted items, two tickets to an upcoming concert and games of bowling or rounds of golf. 

Details: The festival will take place on Friday, Nov. 23 (8 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Saturday, Nov. 24 (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) at the Sundial Recreation Center, 14801 N. 103rd Ave., Sun City. Admission is free. For more information about the festival, visit

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