Flagstaff Christmas celebrations are the most anticipated not only in Arizona but from others holidaying in the US.
Christmas in Flagstaff is a magical time of year, and no wonder it is a top Arizona Christmas place.
Located at 7,000 feet surrounded by stunning giant Ponderosa pines, and being one of the places to receive over a hundred inches of snow, not only is Flagstaff one of the best places to enjoy snow in Arizona, but you can extend or combine revelling in Christmas celebrations in Flagstaff with your loved ones.
I love layers of snow as I am a fan of traditional white Christmas, so Flagstaff Christmas remains my absolute favourite!
With pleasant temperatures during the day and consistent Arizona sun and a white Christmas, it is no surprise why Flagstaff is one of the top holiday destinations in the USA.
In this post, I have covered the top Flagstaff Christmas events, attractions and activities with something available for everyone.
Check these winter guides to plan your Arizona holidays:
FLAGSTAFF CHRISTMAS EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
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 with 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
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.
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.
TAKE YOUR KIDS FOR A BREAKFAST WITH SANTA
Having breakfast with Santa is among the many fun things kids enjoy during the holiday.
And there are many places to do that as Santa is an essential part of Flagstaff Christmas celebrations everywhere.
The historic Weatherford Hotel in Downtown Flagstaff is a popular spot for breakfast with Santa, along with posing with him.
Reserve your tickets for a delicious hot buffet breakfast, along with music. Make sure to dress up for this fun event.
To purchase your tickets directly through the Weatherford Hotel check their website here.
Timings – 7 AM to 11 AM on select days throughout November and December.
HOP ON THE GRAND CANYON POLAR EXPRESS
Based on the adventures of the classic children’s book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, the Grand Canyon Railway will take you on a journey to the North Pole.
Only 40 minutes drive away, it is one of the best Flagstaff Christmas things to do, especially if you are with kids.
Every winter the Grand Canyon Railway’s Polar Express comes to life on a journey from the nighttime wilderness of Williams in Arizona, to the enchanted beauty of “the North Pole, Grand Canyon South Rim depot.
Here you will have Santa Claus and his reindeer waiting with a keepsake present.
Enjoy hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies while listening to this timeless story.
The ride lasts slightly over an hour, with the train leaving each night at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.
Tickets begin at $57 for adults and $38 for children if you book early, but worth getting on the trail for a unique family holiday spirit to enjoy a memorable winter holiday in Grand Canyon. Find out more details to book here.
TOTAL ROUND-TRIP TIME: Approximately 90 minutes.
HEAD TO ONE OF THE SKIING RESORTS
A fun activity for your family to laugh at and enjoy in winter sports.
Only fifteen miles and less than 30 minutes from Flagstaff, Arizona Snowbowl is one of the most popular resorts skiing in Arizona, located atop mountains formed by an eroded volcano millions of years ago.
It is a popular option for a day trip from Flagstaff and Phoenix.
Nestled in the majestic San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Snowbowl is known for its magnificent views of Humphreys Peak, the highest mountain in Arizona.
The weather at Snowbowl is pleasantly sunny, even during the winter. But notorious, unexpected snow storms lead to heavy snow quickly piling up.
Because of the cool weather and traces of snow still remaining, spring is also a popular time for skiing at Snowbowl.
The Snowbowl is also home to the only gondola in Arizona.
Also called Telemix, this lift combines eight-passenger gondolas, whipping you up 2,000 feet in just 7 minutes.
From the top, you will be treated to fantastic views of the valley below blanketed in snow.
From here, you can access the bowl area, glades, and all the intermediate runs.
Note that Weekends and powder days are generally crowded, and long queues for the lifts are common.
You can also hike along the diamond trails in the Upper Bowl.
With 777 acres of skiable terrain, this is the destination in the state you should visit if you’re serious about skiing in Arizona.
Considered by many to be the premier Arizona ski resort, its location at 11,500 feet makes for an epic ski experience since it boasts the best ski slopes in Arizona.
With five lifts serving 32 runs ranging from easy to complex, the Arizona Snowbowl is one of the most challenging ski areas in the West.
If you are a beginner or families with small children, head to the Hart Prairie Chair to enjoy a gentle slope with many wide-open spaces.
If you are a seasoned skier looking to up your game, head near the Humphreys Peak chair, the Grand Canyon Express or Sunset Chairs.
After you’ve made it up and down, head to the beautiful outdoor patio area, The Hart Prairie Lodge patio to relax.
Have your favourite drink amidst new fire pits, in your perfect lounging spot, soaking up the sun.
If you are serious about learning skiing, Arizona Snowbowl has an excellent ski school and is a perfect place to learn.
If you are over 13 years of age and new to skiing, Arizona Snowbowl has programs that will provide you with free or deeply discounted lessons.
Open to both skiers and snowboarders, Snowbowl also boasts a Terrain Park with rails and spines.
There are two mountain day lodges nearby with restaurants and lounges.
Usually on the weekends, the area becomes more bustling as ski races happen and live music and DJs play the latest hits, making it a fun holiday getaway.
You can even spend a night at the nearby base camp at Snowbowl, on the way up to the ski resort.
There are 18 cabins and six hotel-style rooms, Basecamp at Snowbowl is pet-friendly for a modest charge, and the on-site restaurant serves up hearty fare guaranteed to keep you going no matter how deep the snow.
Opening Months – Mid-November to Late May
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airport is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport about 20 miles away.
It will take around 3 hours on Interstate 17 and you will be treated to stunning views.
But note that the drive-up can be challenging on snowy days if you are driving. The road is filled with bends and steep, and chains are frequently required.
If you are visiting during January and February, on the weekends, a free shuttle runs from downtown Flagstaff every 20 minutes from two locations in town.
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.
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
WATCH LIGHTS AT THE STATION
Head to the station located in the historic downtown to watch the light display that runs from the Visitor Center to the corner of Route 66.
VISIT THE RIORDAN MANSION STATE HISTORIC PARK
The Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, one of the top attractions in the city beckons its visitors with its fantastic Flagstaff Christmas festive spirits.
Usually, live music and other special events are held during the holidays while the building twinkles with holiday lights.
GO FOR A CHRISTMAS FAMILY DINNER
Many restaurants sparkle during the holidays with many vibrant themed lights, but one of the fun things to do in these restaurants and hotels on your Flagstaff Christmas trip is to enjoy a delicious dinner.
The Little America Hotel is famous for its dinner in the beautiful Silver Pine Restaurant.
Enjoy a four-course meal with the best Christmas dessert options including Little America’s renowned bread pudding with rum sauce.
Or plan your Holiday 3-Course Dinner at Woodlands at the DoubleTree by Hilton Flagstaff, just off Historic Route 66.
It is best to book your table in advance. And don’t forget to dress for the event.
WHAT TO DO DURING CHRISTMAS IN FLAGSTAFF AZ
One of the popular Flagstaff Christmas activities loved by families is sledding.
From snow slopes in the forests to city parks with designated areas, there are many excellent opportunities for enjoying sledding in Flagstaff.
Play in the snow, make snowmen, and have snowball fights in Flagstaff’s snowy areas.
Relax and enjoy the views with hot chocolate or sitting by the bonfire.
Depending on your preference, you can head to any of these sledding areas.
Check my guide to Flagstaff sledding areas to plan your adventures!
LEARN ICE SKATING
A fun addition to Flagstaff Christmas celebrations is ice skating.
One of the west winter getaways, Flagstaff is a hotspot for snow lovers.
And the Jay Lively Activity Center allows you to experience all the winter sports, including being home to one of the top Arizona ice skating rinks, open throughout the year.
Located at the Northern Arizona University campus, it is the home stadium of The NAU Ice Jacks, the hockey team.
If you time it right, you can even plan to watch a game before or after having fun at one of the public skates any time of the week.
You can learn skating by attending the classes.
Head next to Snowbowl Ski Resort, one of the best ski resorts in Arizona for enjoying skiing and snowboarding.
You can easily plan a fun-filled, action-packed weekend by adding a stop at the Jay Lively Activity Center.
Prices – $7 per person
PLAN A DAY TRIP TO ARIZONA NORDIC VILLAGE
If you want to go beyond resorts for skiing in Arizona, Arizona Nordic Village is one of the famous places loved by outdoor enthusiasts.
Spending a night or two is the best way to experience a magical Flagstaff Christmas with your loved ones.
Located in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona Nordic Village features over 40 miles of groomed cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails.
You can even stay overnight at the yurt village overlooking stunning views of the surrounding forest.
The Arizona Nordic Village, with 40 kilometres of trails, is best known for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snow-biking.
Note that reservations for equipment rentals must be made by 3 PM three days before your visit.
Opening hours – 9 AM to 4 PM and 6 PM to 9 PM Fridays if conditions allow.
MAP OF FLAGSTAFF CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES
WHERE TO STAY?
✅ Little America Hotel Flagstaff – Just off I-40, this stunning hotel with an outdoor pool is located on 500 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest.
This hotel, with thousands of high-rated reviews, is popular among families and couples.
Free transport services to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport are offered during limited hours. Check out more details here.