Holiday Happenings in Tempe, Arizona

Posted on: November 6, 2012

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I can hardly believe it, but the holidays are practically knocking at our doors! It’s time to start planning all the fun festivities, and what better place to get started than in Tempe! There are several holiday happenings in Tempe to get you in the spirit this time of year. Here is a list of my favorites:

Tempe Fantasy of Lights - The Tempe holiday season kicks-off with the Tempe Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade on Saturday, November 24 at 6 p.m. The festive parade includes a variety of holiday themed floats, live bands and marching units. The parade’s finale features Santa Claus, the star of the show. After the parade, he’ll visit with children and hear their wishes, so bring your kids, grand kids  nieces and nephews. Enjoy the cheerful atmosphere a little longer at one of the many restaurants on Mill Avenue or stay for dessert after the parade.

The Tempe Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade continues the celebration in Tempe on Saturday, December 8. Held on Tempe Town Lake, the unique boat parade will delight the audience with an assortment of brightly lit boats of all sizes. A spectacular fireworks show follows the boat parade. Santa will arrive at Tempe Beach Park at 6 p.m. and the parade will begin at 7 p.m. Attendees usually choose to gather in the adjacent Mill Avenue District for dinner before or dessert after this fun family-friendly event.

Las Noches de las Luminarias - Celebrate one of Arizona’s most unique holiday traditions, the Desert Botanical Garden’s 35th Las Noches de las Luminarias, December 7-30. The Garden will be aglow with more than 8,000 hand lit luminarias and thousands of white twinkle lights. Stroll through the illuminated garden pathways and listen to the sounds of hand bells ringing and Dickens Carolers while enjoying a cup of hot apple cider or hot chocolate. Ten musical groups will perform nightly throughout the Garden and a tasty selection of food and beverages are available for guests to purchase to keep warm and cozy all evening long.

ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo - Experience the Phoenix Zoo in a whole new light this holiday season. ZooLights will be held November 22, 2012 through January 6, 2013 from 6-10 p.m. nightly. The ever popular ZooLights features more than 3.5 million glowing lights and 600 glimmering animal light sculptures. New this year, Music in Motion is a dazzling light show like no other.  The show will feature “Wizards in Winter” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, synchronized to 15,000 lights including floating light tubes, dancing trees, a 24 foot shimmering sphere and 3D butterflies. Music in Motion can be viewed from several locations around the lake.

Snowfall in the Desert - Tempe Marketplace will kick off the holiday season Wednesday, November 21 at 6 p.m. with the lighting of a 60 foot tree and a holiday ice skating performance. Then at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. it will magically snow! Enjoy free “Arizona-style” ice skating November 23 – 25 in front of the Holiday Tree for children 5 and older. If you miss opening night, you can see “Snow What Fun” nightly snowfall from November 21-December 24 at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. by the District stage. The eight minute snowfall, brought to Tempe Marketplace by MagicSnow, features flakes of snow that families will be able to touch and play with. The artificial snow, made up of 90% water is non-toxic, non-staining, eco-friendly, non-allergenic and dissolves upon contact. After reveling in the blizzard of fluffy snowflakes, shoppers can also enjoy all the great entertainment, dining and shopping options found at Tempe Marketplace.

Holiday Sand Castle - For the second year, Arizona Mills is celebrating the holidays “desert-style” with a larger than life Holiday Storybook Sand Castle. The eye-catching sand castle offers a unique spot to take photos, meet Santa Claus, or simply enjoy the magnificent work of art. The castle is built inside Entry 4 so guests can meet the sculptors and to see the art come to life. Construction of the castle began on October 29 and will be completed on November 9, just in time for Santa to arrive.

Tempe Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade

Tempe Fantasy of Lights Opening Night Parade


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