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Holiday Happenings in the East Valley

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Holiday Happenings in the East Valley

As the end of the year creeps in like a hint of cool fall air, there are many upcoming events to look forward to coming up near Eastmark to get you in the holiday spirit for the remainder of 2021.

The first holiday event is coming up right on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2021. One of Arizona’s oldest running events, the Mesa Turkey Trot, is hosting a 10k and 5k this year at Red Mountain Park in Mesa. The race kicks off at 8am on Thanksgiving Day for the 10k and 5k runners.

Proceeds from the race benefit several local organizations such as Sequoia School for the Deaf, Mountain View Wrestling Club, Boy Scout Troop 451, United Food Bank, and more. They are also taking COVID precautions including a staggered starting line, mask requirements when social distancing isn’t possible (masks are voluntary on the actual run assuming social distance will be kept), and limiting spectators and exhibits, who are asked to not attend this year. Advanced registration is available online now and ranges from $25-$10 depending on what race you register for. No race day registration will be available.

Another great FREE event in Mesa is Merry Main Street which also kicks off over Thanksgiving weekend and is sure to get you and your family in the holiday spirit. Located in Downtown Mesa, the Annual Merry Main Street runs from November 26, 2021 to January 1, 2022. Attractions include a nearly four-story tall Christmas Tree to be lit to kick off the celebration at 5pm on November 26, the Mesa Christmas Market, and the Jack Frost Food Truck Forest on Fridays and Saturdays.

Like in years past, there will be a 5,000 square foot ice skating rink that will be open daily just outside of City Plaza. Tickets for the ice rink can be purchased online starting November 8 for $10 for a one-hour skating session and skate rental. Merry Main Street will also have free visits with Santa on Fridays and Saturdays and Santa’s sELFie Village, where you can create a special holiday card photo.

A special market, Santa’s Merry Maker Marketplace, will also take place on select weekends (November 26 & 27 and December 17 & 18) featuring a variety of vendors, artisans, makers, and more. New this year at the Merry Main Street is Mesa’s Menorah, a 12-foot Menorah that will have 1 light added nightly beginning at the start of Hannukah, November 28 and run through December 6.

Mesa Polar Express is another attraction at the Merry on Main Street event. A special Light Rail car has been transformed into the magical trail, where riders will sing songs, enjoy cookies, and maybe even catch a glimpse of Santa himself! Find out more on the Merry Main Street website.

Two farms near Eastmark will also be putting on spectacular holiday events. First, Vertuccio Farms in Mesa will be hosting its 3rd Annual Lights at the Farms event beginning November 19 and running through the new year, January 2, 2022. They will be open 5:30pm to 9:30pm Monday through Thursday and 5:30pm to 10:00pm Friday through Sunday.

At Arizona’s Largest Walk-Thru Synchronized Light Show you can make your way through the dazzling lights, larger-than-life lighted displays, tunnels of lights synchronized with popular holiday music. The farm also has a skating rink that is made from “NHL grade” synthetic surface and a special Red, White, & Blue tribute area for all active duty, retired, and fallen military personnel. Tickets for admission range from $12-$15 per person and skating tickets (including skate rental) are $10.00 additional and can be purchased online in time slots. Discount tickets are also available if purchased early. If tickets are sold out online, you can still purchase tickets any night at the gate and friendly pets are also welcome. Check out the farm’s website for more details.

The second local farm event will be at the Christmas at Schnepf Farms – A World of Illumination at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek. This event runs from November 24 to December 31, 2021 from 5:30om to 10:00pm each day (and is even open on Thanksgiving!). There will be many attractions to enjoy, including glow-in-the-dark mini golf, bonfire smores, visits with Santa, a Christmas carousel, and holiday eats and treats.

You can also hop aboard the Illumination Express light train presented by World of Illumination, try Santa’s reindeer hayride, where you can visit the reindeer and feed them a treat, or take a crack at the Christmas obstacle course, the world’s largest inflatable Christmas obstacle course. There will also be a Christmas movie area and pinecone and cookie decorating areas. Tickets are cheaper when you purchase them online; $15 for admission online and $17 at the door. The Illumination Express train ride is an additional $10 and obstacle course (unlimited use) is an additional $7.

Another FREE outdoor festival is in Tempe and promises to help you in the search for the perfect holiday gift. The Tempe Festival of the Arts will showcase over 350 artists from around the country and will run December 3, 2021 to December 5, 2021 from 10:00am to 5:30pm. After COVID forced cancellations of this bi-annual event, they are back in full swing this December with everything from ceramics, digital art, jewelry, metalwork, painting, photography, and sculptures. There will be plenty of interactive, kid-friendly programing for little ones to explore. Kids Block is a hands-on interactive block for young artists that also features student works from around the Valley. Another cool feature of this event is Chalk-A-Lot Street, where a group of local professional chalk muralists will create a special art walk experience and you can watch as they develop their chalk murals. The event will also feature food trucks and snacks. Parking and more info can be found on their website.

Queen Creek is also hosting a FREE event the weekend of Saturday, December 4, 2021. The Queen Creek Holiday Festival and Parade will be from 2pm to 7pm that afternoon, and attendees can expect to see craft vendors, food vendors, live local entertainment, activities, photos with Santa and more. It will also feature a parade at 3:30pm and tree lighting ceremony at 6:00pm. It is a great way to get out into the community and ring in the holiday spirit. Check out more info as it is released on their website.

Finally, an array of different theater and live performances will be back in action this year and some of the local theaters near Eastmark are featuring some classics. “A Christmas Carol” will be running at Hale Theater in Gilbert from November 26 to December 24 and tickets can be purchased online. Another holiday classic, Ib Andersen’s “The Nutcracker”, will be running at The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall from December 10 to 24. Also in downtown Phoenix, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” will be running at Herberger Theater Center on Saturdays and Sundays from November 13 to December 24 and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas Eve And Other Stories will be performing at the Phoenix Suns arena on one night only, December 5, 2021 with two showings at either 3pm or 7:30pm. Lastly, closer to Eastmark in downtown Mesa, the Salt River Brass Presents “Home for the Holidays” at the Mesa Arts Center will be performing. They will play holiday classics such as “The Nutcracker Suite”, “Sleigh Ride”, “O Holy Night”, and “Carol of the Bells”. The performance will be on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 3:00pm and tickets range from $16-$25.

There are some amazing local holiday events coming up in the next couple of months, and it is the perfect time to make memories with family and friends.