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It wouldn't be Christmas without twinkling light displays that brighten up the darkest winter nights and fill our hearts with joy. Phoenix is a great place to celebrate the season with its holiday lights and events galore. So choose the most appealing light show, drive-thru, or train ride, and hurry up for Christmas in Phoenix, as the season is mostly over by early January.
ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo (November 7, 2020–January 31, 2021)
Phoenix Zoo is considered by many to be a favorite holiday destination, as it hosts one of the largest lighting displays in the Southwest. Millions of lights go on nightly at 5:30 pm and shine through 10:30 pm. ZooLights traditionally features lighted animal sculptures and a Wildlife Lantern Safari complete with 66 glowing animal lanterns. Music, light shows, and artist performances are also on the program. A general walk-thru ticket is $20 per person, whereas drive-thru admission is $75 per vehicle. The last entry is 9:30 pm.
World of Illumination: Rockin' Christmas in Glendale (November 6, 2020–January 3, 2021), Arctic Adventure in Tempe (November 14, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Another must-see is the World of Illumination, labeled the world's largest drive-thru animated light show. In Arizona, it occurs at Tempe Diablo Stadium, just east of Phoenix, 6 miles (10 km) south of the zoo, and also at Westgate Shopping District in Glendale, about 16 miles (26 km) northwest of downtown Phoenix. Each show has a different theme. So choose one and set off to explore a mile-long corridor illuminated with millions of lights synced to your favorite Christmas tunes. On Monday–Thursday, the admission is $29 per car. On weekends, the price is $39. The light shows run nightly from 6 pm through 10 pm.
Glendale Glitters (November 25, 2020–January 9, 2021)
The city of Glendale also hosts Glendale Glitters, families' favorite holiday tradition in the valley. The show features more than 1.7 million lights on display across 16 blocks in historic downtown. Glendale Glitters is named the largest free Christmas lights show in the state. Yes, the admission is free. So walk or drive around the area as long as you wish. The show usually kicks off with a lighting ceremony and runs every night throughout the season from 5 pm through 10 pm.
Christmas at the Princess (November 20–December 31, 2o2o)
For the ultimate family holiday, head out to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort. This gorgeous place that kindles the Christmas spirit is located some 23 miles (37 km) northeast of downtown Phoenix. For Christmas at the Princess event, the resort's lagoons are lit up with 5 million dazzling LED lights. You can either walk around or better yet, take a ride by one of the two Princess Express Trains and enjoy the glowing infinity tunnels, pirates' ships, and mermaids. Additionally, you can watch light and music shows in the Enchanted Plaza. No visit is complete without ice skating in the desert, roasting marshmallows, making s'mores, and visits with Santa. The standard admission is $60 per car, including self-parking, and $15 per rideshare or walk-up guest. Note that many activities have separate fees.
Holiday Train Rides at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (November 27, 2020–January 3, 2021)
There's another place offering glittering train rides, with better proximity to downtown Phoenix—McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. Here you'll immerse yourself in more than a million Christmas lights while riding a steam-powered locomotive of the Paradise & Pacific Railroad. The lights will shine from 6 pm through 9:30 pm. Apart from the holiday train, there will be a historical Charros Carousel and traditional Christmas refreshments such as hot cocoa. The admission is $15 and includes both train and carousel rides and access to the photo pod. Kids aged two and younger enter for free. Note that the park is closed on December 24, 25, and 31.
Regardless of numerous Christmas light events, you can always browse Phoenix's area at your own pace and see how locals decorate their neighborhoods. Who knows, maybe you'll discover a stunning home display masterpiece that will outshine all the rest.