If you are wondering where to go to watch Christmas lights in Arizona on your holiday this year, you are in the right place.
The main attractions of Arizona Christmas in all cities are the holiday light displays, parades, and many festival-special events.
While some Christmas lights in Arizona have a rich history that showcases the culture, traditions and heritage of the places, many are themed-based, quirky and exhibit the creative minds of talented artists and locals.
No matter which ones you prefer, you will have a fantastic time at all of these.
Plus, you can soak in the splendid holiday lights in Arizona for free, by strolling around, or even driving-thru, in the comforts of your car.
In this post, I have covered the best Christmas lights in Arizona, where to find them, and what to expect, for a fantastic trip with your kids this holiday.
BEST CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN ARIZONA
WORLD OF ILLUMINATION IN PHOENIX
Located in Phoenix, World of Illumination is the most prominent animated light show in the world, featuring nearly 2 million lights synchronized to holiday music.
If you only want to add watching one or two Christmas lights in Arizona on your holiday, this should be at the top of your list!
On this 25-minute drive-through event, you will pass through many fun attractions, themed characters and holiday lights including snowmen and snow angels as you drive through the tunnel.
Every year, you will witness different themes at different places, including Diablo Stadium, Desert Diamond Casino in Glendale, and the theme parks in the Phoenix metro area.
Wrap your cosy blankets, grab your hot chocolate and roll the windows to soak in the spectacle this holiday.
WATCH THE FABULOUS CHRISTMAS PARADE
Historic Downtown gets packed in the afternoon for the most coveted Prescott Christmas event, the fantastic parade, which has been the top highlight for over 40 years consecutively.
It is the show-stopper among all Christmas lights in Arizona which you should not miss.
Bring family, friends, blankets and chairs to the Annual Prescott Chamber Christmas Parade to see a long line of nearly a hundred festive floats, marching bands, and community groups of kids and pets parading through the streets.
The parade officially kicks off the holiday season.
Wait for your kids to meet and greet Mr. & Mrs. Claus following the parade.
Timings – 1 PM to 3 PM
SEE THE COURTHOUSE LIGHTING SPECTACLE
Prescott, one of the oldest cities in Arizona, is currently a modern town with a mining past that takes holiday celebrations seriously.
A Prescott Arizona Christmas is a magical Christmas indeed. But Christmas celebrations go back to the late 19th century in this beautiful city.
One of the top Prescott Christmas events is the annual Courthouse Lighting, a longtime tradition that draws thousands of people to downtown Prescott.
Every December, on the first Saturday, large crowds gather in the often-chilly night air as the spectacle unfolds.
The Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza is illuminated with thousands of lights, a tradition lasting over 60 years.
Watch the switch being flipped as the historical Courthouse radiates.
Along with the decorations on the courthouse building, dozens of trees around it are also lit up colourfully.
Although the Courthouse Lighting happens in early December, the decorations remain through mid-January, more than a month-long attraction in downtown Prescott.
Even if you do not attend the lighting event, be assured that the historic building looks nearly as magical on a random winter night.
Timings – 6 PM
GET INTO THE HOLIDAY SPIRITS AT GLENDALE GLITTERS
If you want more Christmas lights in Arizona near Phoenix, head to Glendale for the famous Glendale Glitters Festival, just 20 minutes drive away.
Glendale Glitters is known for its extravagant holiday block parties in the Southwest.
Glendale Glitters displays lights around Murphy Park in Historic downtown Glendale with a spectacular light display that will be illuminated each evening from 5 PM until 10 PM, as well as many festive and free holiday events.
Watch the annual Hometown Christmas Parade held usually on the first Saturday of December packed with hundreds of floats, lights, displays, and more.
Each Friday and Saturday in December, local acts will take to the stage for free holiday performances.
Bookworms like me should check out the fun LIBCON at the Velma Teague Library where you can meet comic book artists, cosplay groups, dozens of vendors, live performances, games, prizes and crafts for kids.
Enjoy a free night out with the family, and taste the local delicacies at the food trucks.
Spend the evening watching holiday classics and other movies.
Other celebrations include Winter Wonderland and Gingerbread Nights.
Every Friday and Saturday night until Christmas, the city features fun activities, concerts, food, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
ADMIRE THE LUMINARIA NIGHTS AT THE BOTANICAL GARDEN
One of the top things to do in Phoenix, The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the iconic Arizona landmarks home to diverse, vast varieties of desert vegetation and distinct wildlife.
Every holiday season in December, the venue hosts Las Noches de la Luminarias, a Southwestern-inspired tradition, creating a desert wonderland.
It is one of the most gorgeous Christmas lights in Arizona, a favourite among locals and visitors.
Stroll in the garden amidst thousands of stunning luminarias and twinkling holiday lights lighting the paths, basking in the glow of lights.
Plus, musical performances, entertainment and holiday delights line the Garden’s iconic trails.
You can also see sculptures adorning the landscapes, created by talented artists.
You can build an enchanted winter village at Webster Auditorium.
VISIT THIS ARTS AND CULTURE SHOPPING VILLAGE
Located on the banks of beautiful Oak Creek, Tlaquepaque is a year-round top attraction in the city, but it is known for its signature event during Christmas in Sedona.
This 50+ years old tradition featuring fantastic Christmas lights in Arizona is anticipated by locals and tourists alike as Tlaquepaque transforms into an even more enchanting winter wonderland.
The Tlaquepaque arts and shopping district has been the central attraction during Christmas in Sedona as the area comes alive with over 6000 luminaries.
These luminaries are icons for holidays in the Southwest, traditional paper-bag lanterns with candles set in sand.
Check out the arts and crafts village with shops where you can taste hot chocolates and Christmas cookies and shop for antiques.
The festivities begin after Thanksgiving, as the village basks in thousands of lights and kicks off the season with a Tree Lighting on Dec. 6.
Once the tree lights up, the festivities will begin with a visit from Santa, live music and other entertainment.
The Tlaquepaque Arts & Craft Village is one of Sedona’s most well-loved areas for its many boutiques and shops selling regional and hand-crafted goods.
Listen to choirs, and get your kids to meet Santa after the parade.
Opening hours – 11 AM to 7 PM
ENJOY ZOOLIGHTS WITH YOUR KIDS
ZooLights is one of the most prominent Christmas lights in Arizona and the Southwest.
And your Phoenix Christmas trip is incomplete without witnessing this spectacular event.
Approximately two-and-a-half million twinkling lights turn Phoenix Zoo into a magical winter wonderland.
Enjoy hot chocolate, apple cider, and munch on holiday snacks available at kiosks throughout the zoo amidst revelling in the festivities.
A yearly tradition for the entire family, the ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo gets decked up with animal lanterns, and all sorts of quirky, creative displays.
Stroll through the park and head to listen to live music, and light show, and a nightly snowfall.
In addition to the lighting, there are many special events and activities planned every year catering to kids, from elves to Dinosaurs and more.
And the best part is you can enjoy ZooLights by walking or driving through, depending on the night, so check the calendar.
Check the official website for exact opening dates and timings.
TAKE PART IN THE LARGEST LANTERN FESTIVAL
One of the fun events that you should not miss to experience Christmas lights in Arizona is the Lights of the World, the largest light and lantern festival in North America.
Head to the Arizona State Fairgrounds downtown to take in the dazzling holiday light displays in this lantern festival.
Inspired by the traditional lantern festivals of China, the event, which runs through the early New Year, features more than 10 million dazzling lantern displays highlighting different cultures and civilizations worldwide.
After admiring this magnificent display, have fun playing carnival rides and games, and enjoy daily performances, including acrobatics and live music.
WATCH THE BOAT PARADE ON TEMPE LAKE
Tempe Beach Park, one of the best lakes near Phoenix, attracts hundreds of visitors annually.
Home to the Fantasy of Lights Annual Festival, the lake transforms into a magical place for the glittering boat parade.
It is one of the unique Christmas lights in Arizona.
Held on Thanksgiving day(it is scheduled in Arizona you should check for December in 2023) on Mill Avenue, watch the dazzling display of over 40 floats, balloons, clowns, marching bands, and an appearance by Santa Claus himself.
Stay for the lighting of the giant decorated Christmas tree by Santa after the parade.
BE A PART OF THE WINTER WONDERLAND AND HOLIDAY PARADE
Kick off your holiday season in Downtown, known for its signature Flagstaff Christmas event – The Winter Wonderland, the official version in Arizona.
The historic downtown gets decked up brilliantly with thousands of dazzling holiday lights, seasonal shops, and activities perfect to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Not only is it one of the dazzling displays of Christmas lights in Arizona, but it is also a fun-packed venue for many family activities for you.
Be here on the first Saturday of December at 3 PM to see the colourful lights popping up across the streets.
Lots of live music, plenty of delicious Christmas desserts, drinks, and activities follow the light display.
Watch the lighting of the giant Christmas tree around 5:30 PM. It is followed by a visit by Santa, and you get to meet and greet him too.
Watch the holiday parade after the lighting to see hundreds of floats of different sizes and shapes, carol music, performance of street artists and more.
WITNESS THE FESTIVAL OF TREES
Flagstaff is blessed with abundant pine trees everywhere, adorned with beautiful light displays and decorations, amidst snow-capped mountains.
But one of the unique Flagstaff Christmas events you should not miss is the Festival of Trees at the famous landmark, Arboretum.
It is one of the best Christmas holiday lights in Arizona.
Among the most visited attractions in the city thanks to its 200+ acres of trails and 2,500+ native species of plants, ponds, wetlands and abundant wildlife, the festival is a winter bonus.
During the Festival of Trees, the Arboretum will showcase trees, wreaths, lights, and many other spirited displays created by the locals.
The festival of trees begins during Thanksgiving and runs until the first week of December. Check the exact dates and timings on their website.
Prices – $5 per adult, Children 5 and under – free
LIGHTS OF THE WORLD, TUCSON
Phoenix and Tucson both host this gigantic holiday celebration of both lanterns and traditional bulbs, one of the most spectacular Christmas lights in Arizona.
From iconic structures to tunnels, food trucks, carnival games and live music, you can easily spend many hours of the night revelling in the holiday spirits.
WINTERHAVEN FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, TUCSON
Each year, during the winter holiday season, the Winterhaven neighbourhood is illuminated by its Festival of Lights.
This Tucson neighbourhood is known for this Christmas light display for over 60 years and it is one of the best places to enjoy Christmas holiday lights in Arizona this year!
With themes ranging from traditional Christmas lights to celebrations of Hanukkah, you can see the diverse, quirky themes on display.
CHECK OUT THE NORTH POLE EXPERIENCE
A Christmas Adventure of a Lifetime, the North Pole Experience is probably among the top Flagstaff Christmas events.
Named Trolley Launch Station, it is located on Hotel Little America’s 500 acres of beautiful forest, decorated with more than a million Christmas lights, making it the perfect backdrop for this epic adventure.
Join your kids on a trolley ride through the magic portal to Santa’s massive workshop in the middle of the forest.
Once you arrive, you will attend a workshop with Santa!
Santa’s Workshop is a complete, hands-on experience for children and parents.
With the elves beside you, learn building toys and Santa’s Workshop secrets at this 8500-square-foot workshop.
Take a tour of Santa’s main factory floor, Santa’s Toy Hall of Fame, attend Elf University and visit with Mrs Claus.
Head to Santa’s Bakery for hot cocoa, snowman soup and cookies.
Don’t forget Santa’s mailroom and his top-secret “Area 47” Sleigh Hangar, featuring his famous sleigh, mission control centre, radar systems, and more.
End this 2 hours long thrilling adventure with a private family visit with Santa himself.
Opening dates – November 12 – December 24
CHRISTMAS AT THE FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS
If you are looking for a resort-style holiday, head to The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, one of the best destinations for Scottsdale Christmas.
The Fairmont’s Christmas at the Princess begins annually in mid-November and continues through the Christmas holiday.
The famous 6,000-square-foot ice skating rink, made with natural ice, offers a traditional winter experience surrounded by giant saguaros and other plants of the desert.
During the day, you can enjoy the sunshine at the Princess by lounging by the pool or playing golf on the adjacent course.
A row of brightly lit palm trees welcomes you to this colourful resort that hosts many fun activities and events every Christmas attracting thousands of locals and tourists.
The beautifully landscaped grounds of the Princess are decorated with over four million holiday lights.
You’ll love the brightly-lit trees, train rides, Ferris wheel, and roasting s’mores over a fire pit.
Funny characters come alive, which the kids love, ranging from a fishing Santa to the Grinch in its many ponds.
In the Princess Plaza, a gigantic, carol-singing Christmas tree towers in its outdoor courtyards, with the four-story tree decorated with over 65,000 LED lights!
Check with the resort for the annual schedule and admission price.
ENJOY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AT SALT RIVER FIELDS
Another drive-through holiday lights display is Enchant at Salt River Fields.
This drive-through light show features a 1.2-mile stretch of dynamic, festive lights twinkling to holiday tunes.
While driving the light route, listen to holiday songs in your own car on a designated radio channel.
For a fairytale experience, rent an open holiday carriage to escort you through the light show.
You will arrive at the Santa Village where you can watch a dazzling display of lights at the Holiday Light Theater.
Here, you can also shop for local handmade crafts besides munching on holiday snacks and drinks.
WITNESS SCOTTSDAZZLE HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA
One of the iconic Scottsdale Christmas events loved by the locals and tourists is the annual Scottsdazzle, celebrated by the City of Scottsdale.
Scottsdazzle is a month-long grand holiday celebration starting with a tree-lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving and ending on New Year’s Eve in Old Town Scottsdale.
Witness the Sing-Along & Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Scottsdale Waterfront on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The city’s unique Christmas tree, imported from Italy, is decorated with over one million lights, a spectacle on the Soleri Bridge.
You can buy tickets for special events in Downtown Scottsdale, from wine-tasting to bourbon-tasting events, canal concerts, and painting parties.
Art lovers should check out the public art installations by talented local artists at the holiday-themed Gold Palette ArtWalk.
Check out a live nativity scene reenactment at the Old Adobe Mission in Old Town Scottsdale.
Kids can meet Santa while you enjoy shopping at the festive farmer’s market for local specialities, and taste hot cocoa, coffee, and seasonal treats.
ADMIRE THE HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT THE RAILROAD PARK
One of my favourite Scottsdale Christmas events is the lighting at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
Primarily set up for children, the annual Holiday Lights display offers a fun experience for families and railroad lovers.
The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Holiday Lights event features train rides through a wonderland of holiday lights and displays on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad to the North Pole.
It usually opens in December and includes a tree-lighting ceremony.
After soaking in the brilliant lights on the train ride, let your kids continue the fun on Christmas carousel rides on the Charros Carousel, playing on slides and climbing structures and the Old West-themed play area.
Santa will also be at the park on Friday nights in December, along with live music and other entertainment.
Check out the model railroad displays at the museum in the train park. Drink hot cocoa from Hartley’s General Store.
Admission to the train park is free, while the train rides are $3.
MORE PLACES TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN ARIZONA
ATTEND THE STROLL IN THE GLOW FESTIVAL
One of the many popular Christmas lights in Arizona is the Stroll in the Glow Festival where you can see more than 65,000 colourful lights on the Avenue of the Fountains on the first Saturday of December every year.
Enjoy live music on the streets and a live nativity scene.
Wait for the visit from Santa Claus by fire truck.
You can even late night shopping thanks to dozens of shops open until midnight.
For more fun, check out Chill in the Hills skating rink to enjoy ice skating amidst stunning lighting.
The festival is free to attend.
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS IN HAVASU CITY
Lake Havasu City is one of the most popular places in the Grand Canyon State loved by water sports lovers, adventure seekers and families looking for fun holiday time.
Come winter, the city decks up to present one of the best Christmas lights in Arizona, the Festival of Lights.
With a history of over 20 years, the Festival of Lights is set up along London Bridge and the little village from late November until the first week of January.
You can even spot many boats lit up, sparkling in the water. Stroll in the little village for cute souvenirs, snacks, live music, and holiday rides for kids, along with meeting Santa.
GILBERT WATER TOWER
One of the best small towns in Arizona, Gilbert is a cute town to explore if you want a secluded location to enjoy a more intimate, laid-back holiday.
Check out one of the best Christmas lights in Arizona at the Gilbert Water Tower in the historic district.
This tower is illuminated with thousands of lights along with the neighbouring streets in the district with buildings boasting dazzling colourful lights.
Want a traditional experience? Ride in a horse-drawn carriage, and check out tasty holiday snacks and delicious local specials at the food trucks while listening to carols.
SEA OF LIGHTS
If you are looking to experience a unique type of holiday light in Arizona, head to Sea Life Arizona near Phoenix for the state’s largest and only underwater light.
Watch this spectacle, especially if you are traveling with kids as you’ll see a magical display of thousands of twinkling lights woven throughout the underwater wonderland.
AHWATUKEE FESTIVAL OF LIGHT
One of the most-awaited holiday events in Phoenix is the Ahwatukee Festival of Lights.
If you want a unique experience of admiring Christmas lights in Arizona, be there in Pheonix to watch an incredible kickoff party the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
It is free to visit with music, food vendors, and even a beer tavern.
Take your kids to fun carnival rides after hot chocolate and snacks.
ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AT ANTHEM
Do you know? The tallest Christmas tree in the United States can be found in Arizona.
This is a fantastic excuse to plan a trip to watch Christmas lights in Arizona this year, right?
Head to Anthem to the Anthem Outlet Stores to watch the largest Christmas Tree Lighting as the tree is adorned with twinkling lights of various colours and themes.
Plus, listen to Live music and indulge in holiday treats during the annual November ceremony. The entire holiday season is magical in Anthem with scores of people shopping, playing games, eating, and snapping pictures with Santa!
LIGHTS AT THE FARM
Vertuccio Farms, one of the best farms for pumpkin picking in Arizona in Mesa, continues to beckon families during the Christmas holidays.
Lights at the Farm at Vertuccio Farms is Arizona’s largest walk-through synchronized Christmas light show.
With over ten acres of festive displays comprising millions of lights, it is one of the most beautiful Christmas lights in Arizona to visit with your loved ones.
After driving through, relax by enjoying delicious food, with music. Then, rent skates and head to skating, and other family-friendly rides and games.
MESA TEMPLE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
One of the must-see holiday lighting extravaganzas in the United States, the Mesa temple is home to the best Christmas lights in Arizona.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors explore Mesa between Thanksgiving and New Year on these temple grounds, run by a large group of volunteers.
This event, continuously celebrating Christmas spirits for over 40 years, also showcases a nativity display, live music from local musicians, including carols, adding the traditional touch.
Tucson Botanical Garden is one of the city’s top things to do and is among the iconic landmarks in Arizona.
Spanning more than 5 acres and home to hundreds of thousands of distinct desert vegetation and wildlife, the garden hosts Wonderland every holiday, one of the prettiest displays of Christmas lights in Arizona.
For over a month in December, see the Tucson Botanical Garden glowing with millions of twinkling lights, including Luminarias lining the walkways, strung in trees, and live entertainment for more fun.