10 Things to do in Phoenix at Christmas

From the city lights to the surrounding snow-capped peaks, Phoenix offers many attractions during the Christmas season. Here are the best things to do to discover the holiday spirit in the state capital.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

10 min read

10 Things to do in Phoenix at Christmas

Christmas Decorations Wonderland |©Al_HikesAZ

Christmas is one of the best times to visit Phoenix, mainly because you can discover the state capital with mild weather in the heart of the city and wintry temperatures in the surrounding areas. In addition, you can also marvel at the decorations and lights of the eve and visit some of the best Christmas markets.

Some of the best things to do in Phoenix during Christmas include taking hot air balloon rides, touring the Desert Botanical Garden's Luminous Nights, watching the lighting of the giant Christmas tree at Arizona Mills Mall and taking a trip north of the state to discover the snow-capped peaks.

1. Visit the Phoenix Christmas Markets

Phoenix Public Market|©Adam Patrick Murray
Phoenix Public Market|©Adam Patrick Murray

Phoenix is a perfect destination to immerse yourself in the magic of the holiday season. One of the highlights of this time of year are the Christmas markets held in the city. These flea markets offer an enchanting and festive experience that you won't want to miss.

At these sites you'll find yourself surrounded by twinkling lights, enchanting decorations and joyful music. Stalls display a wide variety of handcrafted goods, from unique gifts to handmade holiday decorations. You'll find products such as handmade jewelry and hand-knitted sweaters, giving you the opportunity to get special gifts, especially for the little ones if you plan to visit Phoenix with children.

In addition to shopping, Phoenix's Christmas markets, such as the Heard Museum and Phoestivus, also offer a wide variety of delicious food and drink. You'll have the opportunity to enjoy holiday culinary specialties such as gingerbread cakes, hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies. You'll also find options to enjoy savory foods, such as street food stalls with delicious local dishes.

Christmas markets are also the perfect setting to enjoy live entertainment. From caroling choirs to dance performances, you'll always find exciting options to watch and listen to. You can browse the stalls on a walking tour or even on a bike tour, while enjoying festive music and interactive activities for the whole family.

Book an ATV tour in Phoenix

2. Take a balloon ride tour in Phoenix

hot air balloon on the ground|©AlliedPRA Arizona
hot air balloon on the ground|©AlliedPRA Arizona

Taking a balloon ride tour in Phoenix during Christmas is a unique experience that will allow you to discover the lights of the city from a whole new perspective. As you soar in a hot air balloon, you will appreciate the magnificent decorations and twinkling lights that adorn the streets of Phoenix during the holiday season.

The balloon ride offers you a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, where twinkling lights and festive colors create a magical atmosphere. As you slowly ascend in the balloon, you can admire the beauty of the Christmas decorations on the buildings, the illuminated streets and the decorated trees, especially if you plan to do this activity at night in Phoenix.

In addition to the spectacular views, the balloon ride will also give you a sense of peace and serenity as you float silently above the city. It is a relaxing experience that will allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and enjoy a moment of tranquility as you gaze at the beauty of the Christmas lights from above.

At the end of the balloon ride, you will be able to take back unforgettable memories of your holiday experience. The combination of the thrill of the balloon flight and the beauty of the city lights create a magical experience that will make you feel the Phoenix Christmas spirit in all its splendor.

Book a balloon flight in Phoenix

3. Take a getaway to Northern Arizona for a snowy Christmas.

people in the snow|©John and Jean Strother
people in the snow|©John and Jean Strother

A Christmas getaway to Northern Arizona for a snowy experience is an enchanting option that will allow you to discover a dreamy winter landscape. This region offers a variety of picturesque destinations that become even more magical during the holiday season.

One of the most popular places to visit is Flagstaff, known for its mountain scenery and cold weather. During the Christmas season, Flagstaff becomes an ideal destination to enjoy activities such as skiing and snowboarding at nearby ski resorts, as well as strolling through its charming historic downtown adorned with Christmas lights.

Another interesting plan is to visit the Grand Canyon, which takes on an even more breathtaking beauty when covered in snow. You can enjoy hiking snowy trails with spectacular views or even take a sleigh ride. In addition, nearby hotels and lodges offer holiday dinners and themed events so you can enjoy a memorable Christmas in the midst of natural grandeur, just as you can if you visit Antelope Canyon.

You also can't miss the Petrified Forest National Park, where you can enjoy the unparalleled beauty of the snow-covered petrified logs. This unique place allows you to walk among ancient fossils while admiring a winter landscape that transports you to another era.

Join an Antelope Canyon tour from Phoenix

4. Attend the lighting of the giant Christmas tree at Arizona Mills Mall.

Arizona Mills|©MORPHEUS_MX
Arizona Mills|©MORPHEUS_MX

Attending the lighting of the giant Christmas tree at Arizona Mills Mall in Phoenix is a tradition that fills every family with joy and excitement during the holiday season. This annual event marks the official start of the festivities and creates a festive atmosphere that is not to be missed.

The giant Christmas tree is located in the heart of Arizona Mills Mall, and its lighting marks a special moment for everyone in attendance. With a height of nearly 40 meters and dazzling decorations, this tree becomes an iconic symbol of the eve in the city.

During the lighting ceremony, families gather to enjoy a variety of festive activities. From Christmas choirs to dance performances, there is entertainment for every taste. In addition, a visit from Santa Claus is one of the most exciting attractions for children, who have the opportunity to deliver their letters and take pictures with him.

This activity is part of a magical moment that unites the community in a spirit of celebration and joy. This event creates lasting memories for all families and is the perfect starting point to enjoy holiday shopping at the mall during your December visit to Phoenix.

5. Visit the WestWorld Christmas Fair in Scottsdale

Christmas Arch|©Albert A T
Christmas Arch|©Albert A T

Visiting the WestWorld Christmas Fair in Scottsdale is an experience that will immerse you in the magic of the holiday season. This annual event, which opens during the first few days of December, offers a wide variety of activities and attractions that delight children and adults alike, making it a must-see destination during the holidays.

When you arrive at the WestWorld Christmas Fair, you'll find yourself surrounded by twinkling lights, festive music and the delicious aroma of culinary delights. Food booths offer a selection of holiday dishes and treats that will delight visitors, with menus ranging from freshly baked cookies to hot chocolate.

The fair also features a craft market where you can find unique gifts and handmade holiday decorations. From handmade jewelry to ornaments for the tree, you'll find something for everyone. In addition, you can enjoy live music and dance performances that fill the atmosphere with joy and enthusiasm.

One of the main attractions of the Christmas Fair is the horse-drawn sleigh ride, which will allow you to enjoy a magical tour of the place. You will also find games and interactive activities for the little ones, where you will have the opportunity to meet Santa Claus and give him your Christmas wishes, making it one of the best activities to do with children in Phoenix.

6. Attend the Christmas Mass at St. Mary's Basilica

St Mary's Basilica Phoenix|©Jim Arnone
St Mary's Basilica Phoenix|©Jim Arnone

Attending Christmas Mass at St Mary's Basilica in Phoenix is a spiritual and moving experience that allows the faithful to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. This majestic church becomes a place of gathering and worship during the Christmas season, where the community gathers to honor Christmas Eve.

The Christmas Mass at St. Mary's Basilica is a special event that combines traditional liturgy with festive elements. The interior of the church is filled with Christmas decorations, from the Christmas tree to candles and nativity scenes, creating a sacred atmosphere filled with reverence.

During the Mass, the faithful join in prayer, song and reflection, recalling the message of hope that Christmas brings. Christmas music and choirs fill the basilica, creating an atmosphere of solemnity and joy at the same time.

Christmas Mass at St. Mary's Basilica is an opportunity to connect with the community and live the faith in an environment characterized by the Catholic influence of the area, generated in large part by Mexican immigration.

7. Get to know Sedona's Christmas Decorations

Christmas Lights|©Susan Smith
Christmas Lights|©Susan Smith

If during your trip to Phoenix in December you want to visit one of the most picturesque nearby towns in the region, you can not miss Sedona, which during Christmas is characterized by its decorations that worship the holiday season. This southwestern U.S. city is transformed into a magical setting, where streets and buildings are adorned with lights and garlands.

As you stroll through the streets of Sedona, you'll marvel at the creativity and care that goes into the holiday decorations. Stores, restaurants and art galleries are dressed with twinkling lights, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Even trees and bushes are decorated with festive ornaments, adding a magical tint to the city's natural beauty.

One of the most emblematic places to appreciate Christmas decorations is Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, a complex of stores and galleries. There, the facades take on a festive air with multicolored lights, while inside, you'll find art and craft exhibits that are perfect for finding unique and special gifts.

In addition to the decorations, here you can enjoy live music concerts, light festivals and parades that fill the streets with joy and holiday spirit. You'll even find horse-drawn carriage rides and visits from Santa Claus, making this time of year a special time for all ages and making Sedona one of the best places to discover on a full-day excursion from Phoenix.

8. Visit Mesa during Merry Main Street and go ice skating

Christmas Lights, Main Street Plaza|©Ken Lund
Christmas Lights, Main Street Plaza|©Ken Lund

Visiting Mesa during Merry Main Street is a festive experience that will soak you in the holiday spirit of the region. This annual event transforms downtown into a magical place filled with lights, music and themed activities. One of the most exciting attractions on Merry Main Street is the outdoor ice rink, where you can skate and enjoy fun times amidst the festive atmosphere.

The ice rink at Merry Main Street offers an enchanting experience for all ages. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced skater, you can glide across the ice surface while enjoying the holiday music and twinkling lights that decorate the surroundings. It's a perfect activity to share with family or friends, creating special memories during the holiday season.

In addition to the ice rink, Merry Main Street also offers a variety of attractions and entertainment for all tastes. You can enjoy live concerts, festive parades and light shows.

You'll also find food and beverage stands where you can enjoy delicious snacks, hot drinks to keep the holiday spirit going while you enjoy the activities, and in Mesa you can opt for some of the best desert hikes from Phoenix.

9. Tour the Luminous Nights at the Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden|©Mike Vosburg
Desert Botanical Garden|©Mike Vosburg

Touring the Luminous Nights at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden during Christmas is a fascinating experience that will immerse you in a world of magical lights and colors. This annual event transforms the garden into a nighttime spectacle filled with artistic illumination and festive decorations.

As you walk through Luminous Nights you will find yourself surrounded by a dazzling array of luminous installations and illuminated sculptures. The pathways become a magical maze of lights, with each step revealing new shapes and surprising designs. From glowing trees to illuminated animal figures, every corner of the garden comes alive with dazzling beauty.

This event also offers interactive activities and live entertainment for the whole family. You'll enjoy musical performances, dance performances and the opportunity to create memories with holiday-themed activities. In addition, you'll find food and beverage booths where you can savor delicious bites and hot beverages while enjoying the festive atmosphere.

During your visit , you can stroll among the twinkling lights and glowing sculptures, and feel the magic of the holiday season amidst the natural beauty of the desert and a nighttime tour of Phoenix.

10. Take a picture with Glendale's giant Christmas tree.

Holiday Lights|©█ Slices of Light ✴ █▀ ▀ ▀
Holiday Lights|©█ Slices of Light ✴ █▀ ▀ ▀

Taking a picture with the Glendale Giant Christmas Tree in Phoenix is an experience that will transport you to the heart of holiday magic. This iconic tree stands majestically in downtown Glendale, filling the air with joy and holiday spirit.

The Glendale Giant Christmas Tree is a breathtaking sight, with twinkling lights and dazzling decorations that create a dreamlike atmosphere. Having your picture taken next to this towering tree is a perfect way to capture the spirit of the season and create lasting memories.

The tree is located in a central location in Glendale, surrounded by stores, restaurants and holiday attractions. You can take the opportunity to explore the area, enjoy holiday shopping and savor delicious snacks and warm beverages while soaking in the festive atmosphere.

In addition to being a perfect spot for a holiday photo, Glendale's giant Christmas tree is also the setting for special events and activities. There you can find live concerts, light shows and other themed activities that will add excitement to your visit.