By Lauren Wong
With the holiday season right around the corner, get details on your favorite annual and new events. Mark your calendars, purchase tickets if necessary, and feel the joy of the festivities beginning around you. Here are some events to keep on your radar as you plan out the next couple months.
When: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Nov. 20
Where: Arizona Mills Mall, Tempe
Cost: Free admission
Shopping list in hand, stop by Arizona Mills for the Phoenix Holiday Market Extravaganza. Give back to the community by shopping locally from their 30 vendors. Browse this unique array of products while holiday music plays in the background. Test your luck in their giveaways, and don’t forget to snap a photo with Santa before leaving.
When: 5:30 – 10:30 p.m. Nov. 24 – Jan. 15 (select nights only)
Where: Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix
Cost: $20 per person, $16 per member
A community tradition for over 30 years, the Phoenix Zoo will be decked out for the holidays. Featuring over millions of twinkling lights, dazzling animal sculptures, and two Music-in-Motion Light Shows on their main lake, celebrate the season among your favorite animals. The Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater, will have a nightly Holiday Safari Animal Presentation, and community performances on select nights.
Russell Ronat, artist, will be showcasing his international traveling art exhibition that’s focused on wildlife conservation. Also, be sure to stop by the three-story Christmas Tree at the Crossroads Cafe while enjoying some favorite holiday treats. Walk through the Outer Tropics Trail, which will have more lights than ever before, and Zooville, to see the who’s-who of the zoo. Santa and his elves will be at Leapin’ Lagoon ready for pictures!
When: 6 – 9:30 p.m. Nov. 26 – Jan. 2
Where: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Scottsdale
Purchase tickets ahead of time and select your specific time block online for this limited capacity event. With your ticket you’ll get unlimited train and carousel rides, access to holiday photo pods, and a visit with Santa (available until Dec. 23). Hopping aboard the Paradise and Pacific Railroad will immediately transport you into a mystical winter wonderland. Equipped with lights and displays, this is the perfect family-friendly event to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Stop in the Hartley’s General Store for some refreshments, and check out the Model Railroad Building that will be open for viewing their tiniest trains. Don’t leave the park without a ride on the historic Charros Carousel!
When: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Nov. 27
Where: Scottsdale Quarter, Scottsdale
The annual Santa Social is back with its 2021 holiday schedule! From puppy adoptions, to special Christmas character appearances, and a holiday feature film, the whole day is packed with holiday festivities.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Puppy adoptions with Arizona Animal Welfare League
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Caricature artists
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.: Face painting
10 a.m. – 8 p.m.: Photos with Santa (cost applies)
4 – 6 p.m.: Kids Entertainment 6 p.m.: Official Holiday Tree Lighting (followed by the holiday feature film)
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 2 – 5
Where: The Madison Center for the Arts, Phoenix
Cost: $55 – $65
For four nights, The Magical World of Santa’s Circus will be performing in Arizona for the very first time. Bringing you this Christmas-themed circus, the Madison Center for the Arts will be decked out in Chrristmas decor with the goal of capturing the essence of Christmas. Be prepared to be amazed with impressive stunts as you watch this 90 minute show full of magic, illusions, comedy, and more.
Guests will get to meet their favorite Christmas characters and write a letter to Santa alongside Mrs. Claus. Snap a picture with Santa after the show!
When: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: Tempe High School, Tempe
Suzy Foundation, a non-profit organization that specializes in “helping to obtain assistive equipment for individuals with special needs,” is hosting the Holiday Arts and Craft Fair. The fair will offer a variety of handcrafted goods and 100% of the vendor fees will go to the Suzy Foundation. If you’re interested in being a vendor, you can fill out the 2021 Vendor Application online.
When: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Dec. 5
Where: Singh Meadows, Tempe
Cost: $5 – $10
Free for adults and kids under 12 months, purchase lunch at the cafe and snag one of the picnic tables to relax and enjoy your meal before taking part in this event’s variety of activities. From face painting to crafts, and a farmers market, there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy. Local vendors have the chance to showcase and sell their work at the boutique shopping market. Capture those picture perfect memories and take mini photos with Santa.
Presented by Enchanted Dream Parties, tickets come with reindeer food, goodie bags, and a raffle ticket. Be sure to stop by and feed the reindeer, and if you want hop on one for a ride!
When: 3 or 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix
Cost: $44 – $84
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their landmark album Christmas Eve and Other Stories, Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) is stopping in Phoenix for two shows during their 2021 Winter Tour. The 3x certified platinum album, which has now played to over 17 million fans across the nation, mixes in some rock to your traditional holiday music.
You can expect fan-favorites including “Ornament,” “Promises To Keep,” “This Christmas Day,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” and more. Doors will open an hour prior to showtime.
When: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Dec. 11
Where: Westgate Entertainment District, Glendale
Cost: $10 – $64.99
Coming back for it’s 6th annual year, everyone is invited to participate in the Santa Hustle. Whether you’re looking to set a new running record for yourself, or just want to go for a laid-back walk, this is a great event to look into. Beginning and ending at Westgate Entertainment District, all participants will receive a Finisher Medal, a Women’s or Unisex Cut Full-Zip Hoodie, a Santa Beard, and Santa Hat.
In the season of giving, the Santa Hustle has partnered with Glendale Firefighters Charities, “a local organization dedicated to serving Glendale neighbors in as many ways possible by supporting varied community causes and programs.” Virtual races are also available.
When: 10 – 11 a.m. Dec. 11
Where: Arizona Flower Market, Phoenix
Make your very own seasonal, holiday centerpiece with guidance and help from local designer, Brian Vetter. If you’re interested in displaying some of your own work this holiday season and don’t know where to start, be sure to register for this event. Vetter will guide you step-by-step through the design process of creating your very own floral arrangement. You’ll also get some insight on other easy ways to incorporate floral decor around your home.
Everything you need to craft your centerpiece will be covered in the $75 registration fee. You’ll also get some exclusive, free gifts. With 40 years of experience, Vetter is the Director of Arizona State Floral Association’s Master Florist Certification Program and a 5-time past president of ASFA. Get those creative juices flowing and bring home your own work to display this season.