Even without a sprinkling of snow on the ground, the spirit of the season comes alive during Christmas in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The city fully embraces the holidays with dazzling displays, plenty of Santa sightings and family-friendly fun. Despite the warm temps, there are even a few real ice rinks around town to skate under the twinkling lights and celebrate the most magical time of year.
Bundle up, grab your little elves and find out if you made the naughty or nice list at one of these festive Scottsdale Christmas events.
Christmas at the Princess, Scottsdale
A jaw-dropping 300,000 people visit the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess every holiday season, to experience the legendary Christmas at the Princess.
This iconic event transforms 65 acres of the luxury property into a winter wonderland, thanks to 7.5 million sparkling lights including two miles of it which are strung around the four-storey high Enchanted Plaza tree.
The annual extravaganza is like the next best thing to Disneyland at Christmas, where the lobby drips with festive decor and more than a hundred cozy fire pits for roasting s’mores are scattered around the property.
There’s even an Alpine Skate Trail and 6,000 square foot ice rink—one of a handful of places in Arizona you’ll see a Zamboni!
Little ones love arts and crafts, the ice slide and amusement park which includes a glittering 95-foot-high ferris wheel, the Princess Express holiday train which winds through the resort, and the chance to snap a selfie with Santa.
Mom and dad can enjoy festive drinks in the apres ski-styled lounge, kick back in a VIP area like the igloos while the kiddos skate nearby, or bundle up and head into the Aurora Ice Lounge where everything is carved from ice and illuminated by the ‘Northern Lights.’
Don’t miss the colourful light shows in the Enchanted Plaza at the main entrance, which are timed to Christmas classics.
Christmas at the Princess 2023
Dates: November 17-January 6
Hours: 5-10 PM Monday-Thursday, 4-11 PM Friday-Sunday (4-11 PM daily starting December 15)
Pricing: $35 per person, free for guests aged 3 and under. Admission is complimentary for those dining at one of the Fairmont Princess’ restaurants, as well as guests staying overnight at the Fairmont who also get VIP Express Passes.
Globe Guide tip: Christmas at the Princess gets packed, so visit on a weekday for less crowds.
Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden
Hand-lit luminarias cast a soft glow at Las Noches de las Luminarias, which is one of the most enchanting and romantic Christmas events in Scottsdale.
Light trails guide guests along the pathways, winding past towering cacti and desert succulents in the Desert Botanical Garden which is lit up with twinkling lights.
Warm up from the crisp winter night around one of the outdoor fire pits, sip on Christmas cocktails and gather around for one of the many musical performances taking place in the garden, from carollers to Spanish guitar duos.
Globe Guide tip: There’s also a great restaurant on site called Gertrude’s, which serves up desert-themed cocktails like a cactus cosmo and Mojave mojito.
Las Noches de las Luminarias
Dates: December 8-9, 15-16, 19-23, 26-30
Hours: 5:30-9:30 PM
Pricing: $39.95/adult, $16.95/youth, discounts available for members
Seasonal splendour takes over Old Town Scottsdale at the aptly-named Scottsdazzle, a month-long celebration that kicks off by lighting a 40-foot-tall tree.
Located along the waterfront, the main plaza is decorated with sparkling lights and holiday decor like a giant snowman, and there’s live entertainment on the main stage at this free, fun event.
Surrounding eateries and boutiques offer special holiday discounts, and there are dozens of special events leading up to Christmas. Those include a holiday movie night, scavenger hunt, a Sugar Plum tea party, duelling pianos, a North Pole-themed whiskey tasting, cookie decorating, centrepiece making, and of course a chance to meet Santa.
Be sure to drop by Scottsdazzle if you find yourself in Scottsdale for Christmas!
Dates: November 25-December 31
Hours: All day
Pricing: Free, though there is a fee for some events
Enchant Christmas is an easy outing with the kids, where you’ll find a light maze and towering tree instead of the bases that are usually on the pitch at the Salt River Fields baseball stadium.
Grab a festive cocktail served in a blinking light bulb, then wander around the concourse to nibble on sweet treats like candy canes and do some holiday shopping.
The highlight of Enchant is a light maze, where guests weave through the colourful display trying to track down the eight toys that a mischievous little elf misplaced.
There’s also a real ice skating trail (again, a rarity in Arizona!) with rentals available, and Santa’s Landing in the Enchant Village where you might get to meet the jolly fellow and Mrs. Claus.
Dates: November 24-December 31
Hours: Varied, see exact times here
Pricing: $27/adult, $22/kids. VIP packages available.
Globe Guide tip: Time your visit for one of the special theme nights, like Ladies’ Night with add-ons like Paint Nite, Ugly Holiday Sweater Night and Paw n’ Claus when pets are welcome.
More ways to celebrate Christmas in Scottsdale
Some of the best Christmas lights in Scottsdale are found at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Hop aboard the Paradise & Pacific Railroad for a fun train ride, and admire the dazzling light displays.
Dates: Most nights from November 24-January 7
Hours: 6-9:30 PM, with staggered entry times
Pricing: $15, $10 on select weeknights (includes train and carousel rides)
Head to the acclaimed Musical Instrument Museum to learn how different cultures celebrate the season at “’Tis the Seasons: Holidays at MIM.” Get into the seasonal spirit with themed-activities like Kwanzaa storytelling and a music-making workshop, alongside performances from bands and carollers.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
- 20 fun things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona
- 5 tips for visiting the markets during Christmas in Europe
- Unexpected and unique things to do in Phoenix, Arizona
SHARE THE PINSPIRATION! CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO PIN:
This post may contain affiliate links, which Globe Guide receives compensation for at no additional cost to you.