Holiday Light Displays Near Eastmark
There’s nothing more magical during the holiday season than the beauty of the sparkling lights. The Valley is putting on an array of unique events this holiday season for families to enjoy.
The first holiday light event near Eastmark that is coming up is a uniquely Arizonan holiday tradition in Downtown Chandler, the Tumbleweed Tree Lighting Ceremony and Parade of Lights. This decades-old tradition centers around the Tumbleweed Christmas Tree, which is made up of about 1,000 thistle bushes (aka tumbleweeds) that are attached to chicken wire to give the shape of a traditional Christmas tree, then painted white and adorned with glitter and lights. The ceremonial tree lighting will take place this year on December 4, 2021 from 4:30pm to 9:00pm with the Parade of Lights running down Arizona Avenue from Frye Road to Erie Street starting at 6:45pm until 8:00pm. The tree lighting usually follows the parade. This event is free and more information on parking and more can be found online.
Another one of the Valley’s more unique holiday events in Tempe is the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade and Fireworks Show. This free event will be Saturday, December 11, 2021 from 4:00pm to 9:00pm at Tempe Town Lake and Tempe Beach Park. The event opens at 4pm again with local handmade holiday booths and food vendors. The boat parade kicks of at 6:00pm and will showcase boats of all shapes and sizes decked out in festive holiday light displays. The fireworks will go off at 8pm and the event concludes by 9:00pm.
In Gilbert, the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch (located near Higley and Guadalupe) will come alive with a holiday glow called Riparian After Dark for one week only. Starting Friday, December 10 through Sunday, December 19 from 5:30pm to 9:00pm you will be able to stroll around the walkways of the nature preserve while thousands of holiday lights and displays illuminate the night sky. The preserve will also feature local food and drink vendors serving holiday treats. Tickets are required for entry on a specific day and time slot and they must be purchased in advance online for $2 each.
Each night of Riparian After Dark, the nature preserve will be hosting donation drives throughout the week. From December 10 and 11 the Town of Gilbert will be collecting new sock and bath towel donations on behalf of local shelters in the area. On December 12 and 13, a nonprofit organization called ONE.N.TEN will be collecting new sweaters and sweatshirts for its LQBTQ youth and young adults that the organization serves. December 14 and 15 will host AZCend who are collecting canned foods and peanut butter for those in need in the community. On December 16 and 17, House of Refuge will be collecting donations that help homeless families with transitional housing and support services. They are in special need of diapers and baby wipes. And finally, on December 18 and 19, the Town of Gilbert will be collecting dog food and leaches, collars/harnesses for the Friends of Maricopa County Animal Rescues.
There will be several special events in the East Valley and beyond this holiday season that showcase drive-thru interactive holiday light shows for the whole family. First, is the Holiday Light Experience at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. This 1.2-mile drive-thru light show runs from November 19, 2021 to January 1, 2022 and will have more than 5 million lights on display as you ride through the experience from the warmth of your own car, listening to holiday music. They also have a Magical Carriage Ride experience, where you and your family can experience the lights up close in one of 2 carriages for either 2-4 guests or 4-6 guests and includes 3D glasses. At the conclusion of the dazzling light route, Santa’s Village awaits with warm hot chocolate, snacks, gifts, and Santa himself. Tickets can be purchased online and are only needed per car, not per person. Pricing for general admission ranges depending on the day from $35-$45 per car, $45-$55 for Fast Pass entry, $300-$325 for the small carriage and $350-$375 for the large carriage.
Another drive-thru light experience is the World of Illumination, which has two locations this year in both Tempe and Glendale. The Tempe edition will be at Tempe Diablo Stadium from November 17, 2021 to January 2, 2022 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. The theme this year in Tempe is Reindeer Road, where you’ll dash through the mountainous terrain and make your way through the ice-peaked forests to Santa’s Workshop. You’ll see reindeer, snowmen, and toys along the way through the North Pole with 2 million lights on display. There will also be synchronized music to the lights display on the 1-mile-long voyage.
Glendale’s edition of the World of Illumination will be at the Desert Diamond Casino from November 12, 2021 through January 2, 2022 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Their theme this year is Candy Rush, so expect to see gigantic gingerbread villages, sugar plum fairies, and a multitude of sweets as you drive through the mile long trail.
At both locations, your family can also take part in the magical 3-D Treasure Hunt, where you can use the 3-D glasses to spy images within the lights and see if you can spot them all. You must purchase tickets online in advance of attending the event, and one ticket includes unlimited passengers in the vehicle (no limos, buses, or RVs). Weekday General Admission is $39.99 and weekend General Admission is $49.99 and 3-D Treasure Hunt Glasses (4 pack) can be added for an additional $12. Visit each location’s website to secure tickets.
Just outside of the East Valley area, there are also some family friendly events in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area. ZooLights has been a Phoenix staple at the Phoenix Zoo for 30 years and the event will be running from November 24, 2021 to January 15, 2022. Millions of twinkling lights will be on display, as well as amazing animal sculptures and two music-in-motion light shows on the main lake. There will also be a Holiday Safari Animal Presentation each night at 8pm and 9pm at the Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater, as well as art installations, a three-story Christmas tree at Crossroads Café, and Santa and his elves will be ready for photos at Leapin’ Lagoon.
This year, they are offering 2 ways to enjoy ZooLights; a drive-thru option called Cruise ZooLights on select dates (November 29 & 30 and December 6 &7) and a walk-thru option on the other weeknights and weekends. The walk-thru experience is $20 per person for non-members ($16 for zoo members) and children 2 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased online and are valid on any of the walk-thru nights between November 24, 2021 and January 15, 2022.
On the reserved Cruise ZooLights nights, times are sold in two-hour time blocks and cars in line are first come, first served within those blocks. The time blocks for both sets of days are Early Bird: 5:30pm to 7:30pm or Night Owl: 7:30pm to 9:30pm. Pricing is $75 per vehicle for non-zoo members ($60 for members) and other snacks and souvenirs can be added on online before the event.
Another Phoenix holiday light event is Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Phoenix Botanical Garden. This event has live music performances and thousands of hand-lit luminarias and a special art installation this year called Chihuly in the Desert. General public can get tickets for the event December 7-23 and 26-31 and tickets are for sale online for $50 for adults and $19 for children 3-17. Masks are required for attendees.
In Scottsdale, the Princess Hotel is putting on another family-friendly event. This event, in its 12th year, will run this year from November 16, 2021 to January 2, 2022. Hoping to showcase the magic of Christmas, the resort will transform into a wonderland with over 6 million lights and festive holiday décor. Their Enchanted Plaza features a colorful light show, in addition to an ice-skating rink, s’mores station, and of course, a Santa photo area and more. The Lagoon Lights and Princess Express Trains will amaze as you are taken around the resort’s lagoons to catch a glimpse of swans floating in the water, a buccaneer pirate ship, a mermaid and perhaps even the Loch Ness monster all while gilding through a 17-foot-long infinity tunnel with changing-colored lights. Packages include overnight stays at the hotel, dining packages, or a la cart options available online.
There are a few local neighborhoods around Eastmark as well that are known for their elaborate holiday decorations and animated light shows. For example, Christmas on Comstock in Gilbert (off of Elliot and Higley) is known for its holiday light show amongst the neighbors (they were even featured on ABCs “The Great Christmas Light Fight” in 2015). Each home is decorated down the block with lights that coordinate to music you can listen to as you drive down the street, or you can park walk through the display. This event is free, and they also use the occasion to raise money for charity if you are able to give. The lights usually run each year from 6:00pm to 10:00pm Monday through Thursday and 6:00pm to 10:30pm on Friday through Sunday through December 30.
Finally, what would a holiday lights list be without mentioning Christmas City: Prescott, Arizona. Located just over 2 hours away from Eastmark, the Courthouse Plaza in Prescott is known for its Christmas ambiance around this time of year. The town puts on a month-long Christmas celebration that this year will kick off on December 4, 2021 starting at 1pm with the Annual Christmas Parade, complete with holiday music, floats, and holiday cheer. Following the parade at 6:00pm is the Annual Courthouse Lighting, which lights up the historic downtown area with a million lights. It’s a great ambiance with chillier weather to get you in the holiday spirit.
With all the magical light displays coming up over the holiday season, surely everyone in the family will be feeling festive!