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    "At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year." ~Thomas Tusser, 16th century


    November 2007 - January 2008

    Over 70 family-friendly holiday events in the valley and around the state.

    Do you know of any other holiday activities not listed here?
    Please submit the information on our contact form. Thanks!

    November 2 - January 12: RIDE THE POLAR EXPRESS.
    All aboard for this hour-long train journey from The Grand Canyon Railway in Williams to the “North Pole,” where Santa and his reindeer await your arrival. Snuggle up with some hot chocolate and cookies while listening to a reading of the children’s classic, The Polar Express. $26 adults, $14 ages 2-16. Call for times, 800-843-8724;

    November 15 - January 1: RED ROCK FANTASY OF LIGHTS.
    Head out to Los Abrigados Resort and Spa in Sedona to see more than a million holiday lights including 30 individual displays built by Arizona families. A Sedona holiday favorite, the Fantasy of Lights expects about 200,000 visitors this year. Proceeds benefit local charities. 5-9pm Sun-Thur, 5-10pm Fri-Sat (weather permitting). $6 adults, $5 seniors, $4 ages 4-12, 3 & under free. 800-521-3131;

    November 18 - December 26: WORLD’S LARGEST GINGERBREAD VILLAGE.
    More than 100 houses constructed of gingerbread and decorated with icing, candies, nuts, cookies and dried fruit in a winter wonderland that includes an electric train. Visit Santa on Nov. 25 from noon-2pm. Free. Prescott Resort Hotel lobby, 1500 Hwy 69. 800-96PINES or

    November 18 - December 29: THE HOLIDAY MARKET.
    Arts & crafts, carriage rides, music and photos with Santa. 6-9pm. Free. Market Street at DC Ranch, 20715 N Pima Rd, Scottsdale. 480-563-0019 or

    November 20 - December 15: SHAKESPEAREAN CHRISTMAS.
    By Southwest Shakespeare Company, this festive invention includes the words of Shakespeare, Elizabethan songs, beguiling characters and other merriment. ~$30, Mesa Arts Center, 480-644-6500,

    November 21 - January 6: SANTA’S WORLD THEME PARK.
    Santa and his crew will park their sleigh at Firebird Raceway, where visitors can experience a magical world of more than two million glittering lights, 50 breathtaking amusement park rides, a petting zoo and a 4,000-square-foot ice skating rink. Ride all the rides, see all the live shows, enjoy all the beautiful Christmas displays, lights, and attractions; all included in the $19.95 admission price. 20000 S. Maricopa Road, Gila River Reservation. For hours, times, and more info go to or call 1-888-PHX-SANTAS.

    November 22 - December 30: VALLEY OF LIGHTS.
    Located at Fain Park in Prescott Valley, a spectacular one-mile drive through nearly one million lights and more than 40 animated displays. 6pm-midnight, free. 928-772-8857;

    November 22 - January 1: ARIZONA CELEBRATION OF LIGHTS.
    A 2-mile drive featuring 300 displays with more than 5 million lights. 6-9 pm Sunday-Thursday; 6-10 Friday-Saturday. $12 per car; $2 discount with canned food or toy donation. Community Church of Joy, 21000 N. 75th Ave., Glendale. 623-561-0500;

    November 22 - January 6: ZOOLIGHTS.
    Visit the Phoenix Zoo after dark and see one of the Southwest’s biggest holiday light shows with more than 2.5 million lights. Walk through hundreds of lighted animal displays and take carousel, camel and wagon rides. Also, be sure to catch the dancing tree show. $8; 602-273-1341;

    November 23: APS FANTASY OF LIGHTS.
    Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe will be illuminated by thousands of sparkling lights and lighted displays, city tree lighting, fireworks, multiple live entertainment stages. Free; 5-9 pm opening night, 6 pm parade,

    Kids and families can enjoy hands-on activities, fun local entertainment, free visits with Santa, and the lighting of a holiday tree. New location: Cesar Chavez Plaza, 2nd Avenue between Washington and Jefferson streets, across from Phoenix City Hall. 3-8 pm, free,

    November 23, 24, 30, December 1: HOLIDAY NIGHTS AT TOHONO CHUL PARK.
    Visit Tohono Chul Park in Tucson during the Holiday Nights celebration when the park glows with more than half a million lights and luminarias. Feast on homemade holiday cookies and drink warm apple cider while you gaze at the lights and listen to local musicians. There will also be a one-of-a-kind ornament and holiday decoration sale, donated by local artists. 520-742-6455;

    Sister hunts under manger and over camel humps in her never-ending search for the magi’s gold. As she points out in her hilarious opening, “we know where the myrrh went and how the frankincense was used, but who’s the culprit who made off with the gold coins and left Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus in that lousy stable without any chance to upgrade to a suite?” In the midst of the search, Sister gives the class a history lesson about the origin of nativity sets, provides a line-by-line analysis of Christmas carols, directs a living nativity and offers up the best of holiday customs. Sister’s Christmas Catechism is bound to become a holiday classic. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, $38,

    November 23 - December 23: LAS NOCHES DE LAS LUMINARIAS.
    More than 6,000 hand-lit luminarias line the walkways at the Desert Botanical Garden during this month-long celebration. Enjoy Southwestern cuisine and entertainment each night. Las Noches de las Luminarias is a unique Southwest holiday tradition not to be missed. You must pre-register for this event. 480-941-1225;

    November 23 - December 31: COWBOY CHRISTMAS.
    Rawhide’s Main Street comes to life with entertainment and live music. Complete with a 100 foot tree and nightly tree lighting ceremony, guests are invited to enjoy festive stage performances at the Six Gun theatre, three nightly musical light shows, and it may even snow! Also marshmallow roasting and a visit to Santa's Stables to meet St. Nick and animals of the southwest in the pettin' zoo. Admission and parking are free. Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass, 5700 W. North Loop Road, Gila River Reservation,

    November 23 - December 31: ARIZONA TEMPLE CHRISTMAS LIGHTING.
    See hundred of thousands of lights illuminate the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple. Musical performances take place each night at 7 pm. 480-964-7164;

    November 23 - December 31: WILD WINTER NIGHTS.
    200,000+ lights at Wildlife World Zoo depict various zoo animals; several animal exhibits lighted including lions & tigers, reptiles, petting zoo; 5:30-9 pm, $6. 623-935-9453,

    November 23 - January 1: LAKE HAVASU FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS.
    More than one million lights illuminate Lake Havasu City during this annual festival at the London Bridge. Free; 800-242-8278;

    November 23 - January 7: HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT PIONEER VILLAGE.
    A new and exciting light show like no other in the Valley will light up the night with millions of lights and the largest 3-dimensional light displays ever seen in the Southwest, including a dancing trees show featuring synchronized lights and music. To put visitors in the holiday spirit, there will also be tempting treats and warm drinks for those who attend the walk-through display. 6-10 pm nightly, 3901 West Pioneer Road, just off I-17 north of Carefree Hwy. General Admission $7, under 3 free, discounts available for groups of 50 or more, 602-216-2461;

    November 23 - January 19: GLENDALE GLITTERS SPECTACULAR.
    Glendale’s own American Idol Jordin Sparks will appear at Glendale Glitters Spectacular on Friday, November 23 to help flip the switch to illuminate a twelve-block section of historic downtown Glendale with more than 1.5 million lights! Jordin will also carry out the Glendale Glitters tradition of reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Opening nights (Friday & Saturday November 23-24) include holiday entertainment, food, crafts, children's wonderland with Santa and snow. Murphy Park, 5-10 pm, free, 623-930-2299;

    Nothing is quite like the Victorian Christmas Ball. Gentlemen in suits and uniforms of the 19th century. Ladies in hoopskirts. Red, green and gold. Joy. Smiles. Laughter. Dancing. Caroling. Giving of gifts. Rejoice! $25 for adults, $20 for those under 21;

    November 24 - December 30: COUNTRY CHRISTMAS.
    Featuring train rides, hay rides to Santa's Deer Farm, bon fires, chestnuts roasting on the open fire, fresh cut Christmas trees, and more. The train takes you through Winter Wonderland where it will snow on you. 10am to 8pm Saturdays and Sundays at Schnepf Farms, 24810 Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek. $5 admission; train rides will be an extra $2.00 once the sun goes down due to the light display. 480-987-3100;

    Approximately one million lights on display throughout the grounds of Little America Hotel in the woodlands of Flagstaff. On opening night, the hotel offers complimentary cider and cookies, holiday music performed by local choirs and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. 800-435-2493;

    November 26 - January 6: POLAR EXPRESS IMAX 3D EXPERIENCE.
    Now showing at the Arizona Science Center. Visit for tickets and showtimes.

    November 29 - December 2: CHRISTMAS POPS CELEBRATION.
    Phoenix Symphony Hall conductor Lawrence Golan leads The Phoenix Symphony and Chorus in these delightful concerts featuring sing-alongs, favorite carols, and a special appearance by the Desert Bells handbell choir. Thursday’s concert begins at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday concerts begin at 8 pm, with Sunday’s matinee beginning at 2 pm. Tickets are priced from $20-$74;

    November 30 - December 2: CHRISTMAS ARTS & CRAFTS FESTIVAL.
    Take to the streets of Old Town Yuma during the three-day Christmas Arts & Crafts Festival. Visit more than 75 booths selling gifts and decorations, and enjoy food and live entertainment. 10 am - 3 pm; free. Don’t forget to stop in at the Yuma Art Center to see the Gingerbread Village. 928-782-5712;

    November 30 - December 16: CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.
    Charlie Brown tries to find the holiday's true meaning. Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 8355 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria 623-815-7930. Friday: 7:00 pm, Saturday: 1:30 pm & 7:00 pm, Sunday: 1:30 pm. $20; $14 for students,

    November 30 - December 23: A WINNIE-THE-POOH CHRISTMAS TAIL.
    Based on A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories, this musical is a beloved story celebrating friendship and holiday spirit. Patrons can bring an unwrapped toy to benefit the Operation Noah holiday toy drive for hospitalized children. Valley Youth Theatre, 525 N. First St., Phoenix, (602) 252-8497. Friday: 7:30 pm, Saturday: 11:00 am & 1:30 pm, Sunday: 12:30 pm & 3:00 pm. Also 4:00 pm Dec. 15 and 22. $18,

    The biggest attraction in the annual APS Fiesta of Light series of holiday events. The theme for the 2007 parade is “Holiday Lights, Starry Nights” and will again feature a dazzling display of lights on everything from elaborate floats to marching bands. Central Avenue at Montebello (just south of Bethany Home Road), 7 pm. The parade will head south on Central to Camelback, where it will turn east to 7th Street, where it will turn south and end at Indian School Road. The parade is a rain or shine event. Info: 602-262-4627 or 602-534-FEST.

    December 1: LUMINARIA RUN.
    Enjoy a beautiful luminaria-lit evening through the quiet streets of rustic Cave Creek. 4-mile run; 2-mile fun run/walk; kids dash; first event starts at 4:45 pm. 602-769-0848;

    The Foothills Christmas Pageant celebrates the nativity with a live performance under the stars, out in the desert. Community volunteers make it happen – rehearsing the choir, lighting roadside luminarias, providing hot cocoa and cookies – while bringing to life a staged re-enactment of the nativity scenes and events. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on. Saturday & Sunday at 7:30 pm, Spur Cross Ranch, Cave Creek. Presented by the Foothills Community Foundation;

    Come out to the Courthouse Plaza in the center of Prescott and take part in the annual lighting festivities. 928-443-5220;

    December 1 - 23: A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
    Spectacular Holiday Musical at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. Dickens' classic story of redemption and hope is ingeniously re-imagined in this perennial favorite. Celebrate the "spirits" of the holidays with the entire family. Sure to warm the hearts of children of all ages. Enjoy fun activities before the 2 pm show on Saturdays;

    December 1 - 23: SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL.
    Back by popular demand! Follow Horton the Elephant as he befriends the tiny Whos of Whoville, promising to protect them against all odds because “a person’s a person no matter how small.” This energetic Broadway musical works brilliantly for little ones who know and love the Seuss stories and for the rest of us who will delight in the sheer spectacle of the show. $25 for adults; $20 for children/seniors/students,

    December 1 - 23: HOLIDAY SKIES PROGRAM.
    Evening presentations at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff discuss the mythology and science of winter skies over Arizona as well as the Star of Bethlehem. Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 5:30-9:30 pm; 928-233-3211;

    December 1 - 23: ZOO LIGHTS.
    Twinkling lights, jingle bells, Santa Claus, holiday decor, music, refreshments, and even light falling snow on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo;

    This massive American-arts and-crafts log cabin, built by timber baron brothers Timothy and Michael Riordan, puts on its best dress of holly and holiday ornaments for the month of December. Celebrate Christmas in traditional fashion by touring the Riordan's historic home festively decorated in turn-of-the-century style with wreaths, garlands, greenery, and a towering fir tree trimmed with old-fashioned ornaments. Historic quilts loaned by the Coconino Quilter's Guild will also enliven the Mansion's interior. Guided tours include glimpses of folklore and traditions of Christmas, both past and present. Reservations recommended. Closed Christmas Day. 928-779-4395;

    Experience hands-on art making as a family in this free, first Sunday program for kids 6-12 years and their adult companions. Celebrate Maria Luisa Tena's El Nacimiento in La Casa Cordova and make your own mixed media take-home nativity scene, Sunday at 1:00 pm in the main lobby of the Tucson Museum of Art;

    December 5 - 23: CHRISTMAS AT LOST CANYON.
    Little Sally Johnson is hoping for the perfect Christmas party but it isn't easy in old time Arizona. An original musical for Kindergarten and up at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. 10am Wed-Fri; 10am & 2pm Sat, 2pm Sun. For reservations call GAPT at 602-262-2050;

    December 7: HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE.
    Features reduced admission to the Rosson House Museum and the Phoenix Museum of History with strolling carolers dressed in authentic 19th Century costume, children’s crafts, spiced cider, and festive holiday lights. The Rosson House will host the Step Back performers whose portrayals of the Rosson Family give a glimpse of life in 1895 Phoenix. This event takes place from 5-9 pm at Heritage & Science Park, 115 N. 6th St. Tickets will be available at the Carriage House Gift Emporium. For more info please call 602-261-8948;

    Free food, Christmas carols, live nativity, Christmas Story, etc. 6:00 pm both evenings at Deegan's Barn in New River. All are welcome! Map and more info on the church website:

    December 7 - 8: 25th ANNUAL BOAT PARADE OF LIGHTS.
    Bring your family to camp at Lake Havasu State Park to view the Annual Parade of Light Boats or just bring your family to Windsor Beach for the parade scheduled for approximately 7 pm on both nights. More than 50 boats festively decorated with Christmas lights and decorations will pass under the London Bridge Channel as the parade tours the lake. A great many viewing areas are accessible from Lake Havasu State Park including Windsor #4 area (but please no pets or glass). Lake Havasu State Park provides camping at a rate of $14 per vehicle per night, but no electric hook-ups are available at this time. For more information visit or call Lake Havasu State Park at 928-855-2784. During the day regular park fees of $9 per vehicle apply.

    December 7 - 9: LUMINARIA NIGHTS.
    Listen to madrigals and classical music as you stroll through 2,000 luminarias at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Sip on hot cider and taste tamales, empanadas and holiday cookies on your way to visit Santa. 520-326-9686;

    December 7 - 9: A SOUTHWEST NUTCRACKER.
    Join the Tucson Regional Ballet and The Tucson Symphony Orchestra for a performance of The Nutcracker, Southwest style. This full-length ballet, an original production that places the story in 1880s Tucson, features guest dancers from the San Francisco Ballet. Performances take place at the Tucson Music Hall. 520-791-4101;

    December 7 - 27: THE NUTCRACKER.
    Ballet Arizona presents this annual holiday favorite for 24 performances at Symphony Hall. 602-381-1096;

    Fort Verde State Historic Park will host a Victorian Ornament-Making Workshop and Living History Presentations from 10 am - 2 pm. Workshops may require additional fee for supplies in addition to the regular entrance fee to the park. For more information call 928-567-3275. Located at 125 E. Holloman Street in Camp Verde, Arizona, 928-567-3275,

    1-4 pm at the Kannally Ranch House, Oracle State Park. Make a decorative wreath using natural plant material gathered at the park. $10 workshop cost includes park entrance fee. Space is limited, reservations required, 520-896-2425;

    See up to fifty lighted boats parade through Tempe Town Lake and listen to live entertainment at Tempe Beach Park. Kids will enjoy the fifty tons of snow trucked in for the event. 480-921-2300;

    The community is invited to bring presents and thank the children and spouses of Arizona's deployed military troops and the families of police officers and firefighters who were severely injured or died in the line of duty. 10 am - 4 pm, Bell Canyon Pavilions, NW Corner, I-17 and Bell Road, Suite #1240. Sponsored by the Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis;

    In this cherished tradition, more than 6,000 luminarias line the courtyards and pathways of Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village to showcase the season’s sights and sounds including holiday dancers, musicians, carolers and a living nativity with live animals. One night only, 3 pm to 8 pm; 928-282-4838;

    Sixty tons of snow will be piled high on the lower field in three separate areas for ages 10 and up, 5 to 9 years old, and under 5 years of age. Wagon rides, pony rides, Santa tent with photo opportunities, super slide, swing ride, bounce houses, and simulated roller coaster ride will add to the excitement. Wristbands are $10 with Anthem ID/$20 without Anthem ID and allow unlimited fun at activities above. 4-9 pm; free for children 3 years and under, and adults accompanied by children. Hot air balloon rides (tethered) are an additional $10 charge. For additional information, call the event hotline at 480-460-5052.

    Watch an old-fashioned parade wind through the streets of downtown Tucson and see the tree-lighting ceremony, enjoy food and drink, and listen to live entertainment at Armory Park. 520-547-3338;

    December 8 - 9: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
    The Sonoran Desert Chorale presents “Home For the Holidays,” a musical tribute to the season featuring musicians from the Southwest Brass. The December 8 performance will be held at First United Methodist Church in Mesa, and the December 9 performance at Valley Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley. 480-820-2764;

    December 8 - 15: THE QUILTMAKER’S GIFT.
    Come celebrate Cookie Company's holiday tradition now in its sixth magical year! Experience the timeless, heart-warming tale of a greedy king with a knack for receiving who learns that giving fills the heart with so much more. The perfect holiday musical for ages 5 and up! Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell, 602-254-2151

    Join members of the ASU Organ Studio and Goldman Professor of Organ Kimberly Marshall for a holiday organ concert at the ASU Organ Hall. The 150-seat Organ Hall fills up fast, so buy your tickets early! 480-965-6536;

    Featuring Dan Young and friends, 6:30 pm, free admission, Desert View Bible Church, Carefree Hwy. & Central Ave.,

    December 14: PARADE OF LIGHTS.
    Saddle up and ride out to the 12th annual Wickenburg Parade of Lights. At 6:30 pm it starts at Wickenburg Christian Academy on Yavapai & Madison Street (staging from 5:30 pm-6:15 pm) and ends at “The Little Red Schoolhouse” near Bashas’. 800-942-5242;

    The Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park and the Tombstone Restoration Commission present the Annual Lighting of the Luminarias on Friday, December 14th. “Las Posadas,” which means lodging or inn, uses luminarias or farolitos, depending on your tradition, as a way of symbolically lighting the path for Mary and Joseph on their procession to find shelter. The Mexican tradition evolved from 16th century Spanish missionaries. They lit bonfires along the roads and churchyards to guide people to Midnight Mass on the final night of the celebration of “Las Posadas.” To honor this tradition, and ring in the festive holiday season, about 225 small brown paper sacks filled with sand and a candle will be set out and lit on the portico, front and side walls, for this one-night event at the Courthouse. The Courthouse will close at 5 pm and reopen at 6 pm on Friday, December 14th. Inside, visitors will be greeted by Victorian decorations, warmth and good cheer. Tombstone Restoration Commission is providing finger foods, sweets and beverages of the season for all, while supplies last. The Valley Union High School Chorus from Elfrida, Arizona will greet visitors with seasonal songs from 5:45-6 pm outside the courthouse, and sing again from 6:30-7 pm inside the building. In addition, an ensemble of the Old Arizona Brass Band will offer period holiday music from 6 to 6:30 pm and 7 to 7:30 pm. There is no cost to enter the park during the Lighting of the Luminarias. The Park Entrance Fee during regular park hours is $4 per person for ages 14 and up (there is no charge for children aged 13 and younger). Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park is located on the corner of Toughnut and 3rd Streets in Tombstone, Arizona, two blocks off Highway 80. For more information about the Lighting of the Luminarias, please call the park at 520-457-3311; (I’ve also seen this event listed for December 20-21, so call ahead to verify which day it is .)

    Take to the streets of downtown Florence and watch a festive holiday light parade followed by the Main Street Festival. Round out the evening with food, fun, games and a chance to get your picture taken with Santa. 520-868-4835;

    December 14 - January 5: HOLIDAY LIGHTS.
    Ride the train through more than 100,000 sparkling lights and holiday displays at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale (excluding December 24 & 25). Santa will be on hand until December 23, so get your Christmas list ready. 480-312-2312;

    December 14 - 15: LIVE NATIVITY AND PETTING ZOO.
    See live actors and animals depicting the scene at the manager the night Christ was born, during this free event. A small gift will be given to each car visiting the Live Nativity. Also included will be a bonfire, hot chocolate, coffee, cookies, petting zoo, and crafts. Drive by or stop and visit on Friday and Saturday, 6:30-8:30 pm, Boulder Mountain Christian Church, 9390 E. McLellan Road, Mesa; 480-986-0006,

    December 14 - 16: PILGRIMAGE TO BETHLEHEM.
    Beginning at 2:30 pm, the exquisite streets of Tlaquepaque in Sedona will be transformed into the town of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. This free community event is a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ child. Watch the pilgrimage as it unfolds, as Mary rides through the streets on a donkey, accompanied by Joseph. The interactive performance includes shepherds, street vendors, Magi, angels, and live animals. In addition to this exciting musical production is an Ancient Bethlehem Market created with all the details. It features street vendors with their wares, Roman soldiers, scribes, prophets and beggars. The Christmas Concert and Live Nativity, which will begin at 5:00 pm, is also free and seating is available on a first-come basis. For additional information about this faith-based community theatre production, visit the website at or call Director Jane Alden at 928-300-3968.

    December 14 - January 5: AUDUBON CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT.
    For over a hundred years, people have gathered together during the winter holiday season to count birds. For many people, this is an annual tradition that has passed from one generation to the next. In the process, they have created a vast pool of bird data that is the most comprehensive available for mid-December to early January. If you are a beginning birder, you will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. If your home is within the boundaries of a Christmas Bird Count circle, then you can stay home and report the birds that visit your feeder or join a group of birdwatchers in the field. If you have more than one local count, they will probably be conducted on different dates within the CBC season. You can pick the most convenient date, or participate in more than one count. For complete details, visit

    Riordan Mansion State Historic Park celebrates a Riordan Christmas Tradition from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday, Dec. 15 with a free Christmas party. There will be Christmas Crafts in the Visitor Center for children to make and take home. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there as well. Enjoy musical performances by Suzuki violin students, the Adult Handbell Choir from Trinity Heights United Methodist Church, and the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy Choir. The day's events will also feature a lecture on Christmas Traditions. The performances and visitation to the Michael Riordan wing on this day are free to the public. Regular fees apply for tours of the Timothy Riordan family home. This event will also commemorate Arizona State Parks' 50th anniversary. There will be a celebration with dignitaries and a cake cutting at 10:45 am. 50th Anniversary displays will include educational booths and activities for children. Riordan Mansion located next to NAU in Flagstaff on Riordan Road. For more information call Riordan Mansion State Historic Park at 928-779-4395;

    December 15: HANDEL’S MESSIAH.
    The Symphony of the Southwest and the choirs of Mesa Community College combine for a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Mesa Arts Center Ikeda Theater. $18-43; 480-644-6500;

    Desert Bells International Christmas Concert, December 15th @ 2pm & 7pm; December 16th @ 5pm, Camelback Bible Church, 3900 E. Stanford, Paradise Valley, AZ. Tickets $20 adults in advance; $25 day of concert. $15 kids/seniors in advance; $20 day of concert. Call 602-494-7464 for more info.

    The Salt River Brass plays holiday favorites at a Sunday matinee performance at the Chandler Center for the Arts. Warm up your vocal chords and be ready to chime in during the holiday-sing-along. 480-782-2680;

    December 16 - January 5: VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS.
    Visitors to Fort Verde State Historic Park can glance into the past to see how Victorians celebrated the Christmas season in the frontier during the late 1800s. Garlands of pine and other local greens decorate the buildings and Christmas trees wear handmade decorations unique to frontier life. Fort Verde State Historic Park is located at 125 E. Holloman Street in Camp Verde, Arizona, 928-567-3275,

    Celebrate the season with the annual lighting of the luminarias at the Tombstone Courthouse. Music, refreshments, and good cheer will help revelers get in the holiday spirit. 520-457-3311; (See also December 14; call ahead to verify which day it is.)

    December 22 - 24: LUMINARIA LIGHTING.
    See thousands of flickering luminarias line the streets of downtown Fountain Hills and along the shores of Fountain Lake. 480-837-1654;

    December 23: FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS.
    Celebrate the holidays at Besh-ba-Gowah Archaeological Park in Globe and see 1,400 luminarias light the ruins. Native American storytellers and dancers add to the festivities. 928-425-0320;

    December 26 - 30: HOLIDAY STAR FEST.
    Lowell Observatory will celebrate the holidays with a Star Fest. This special event will feature numerous telescopes set up for viewing. 5:30-9:30 pm; 928-233-3211;

    December 26 - 31: HOLIDAYS AT THE HEARD MUSEUM.
    Bring your visiting relatives to the Heard Museum for a Southwestern treat. Throughout the week, the museum features performances and demonstrations by American Indian musicians, dancers, and artists. This event is included in general museum admission. 602-252-8848;

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Important Note: Dates, times, and activities are always subject to change. Before attending events, please be sure to confirm fees, days and times.

    These pages are a continuous work in progress.
    Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen


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