Here are our Top 25 picks for December!
DECEMBER 1 TO DECEMBER 22
Rawhide is the ultimate holiday destination. All month, the western attraction will be decked out in holiday décor and lights. Entertainment includes visits from Santa, and tree-lighting ceremonies each Friday to Sunday. Visitors can drop off letters to the man with the bag and enjoy a nightly snowfall.
Rawhide Western Town and Event Center, 5700 W. North Loop Road, Chandler, 480.502.5600, rawhide.com, 5 to 10 p.m., free.
TO JANUARY 19
The Phoenix Zoo’s annual holiday celebration goes wild this year. See the zoo’s glowing animal displays in a new light with a wildlife lantern safari, as well as millions of sparkling lights, food and drink, live reindeer and a polar slide. Grab your tickets online for a $1 discount.
Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, 602.286.3800, phoenixzoo.org, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., $14.95-$19.95.
The Sound of Music
DECEMBER 1 TO DECEMBER 31
The Valley is alive with the sound of music! The inspiring Rodgers and Hammerstein musical follows a nun named Maria who goes to stay with the Von Trapps, and finds herself in an enchanting romance with a family she never imagined, tackling battles that seemed far away. Don’t wait to grab tickets—they’re going do-re-mi-fast.
Phoenix Theatre, 1825 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, 602.254.2151, phoenixtheatre.com, times vary, $41-$138.
Lights of the World
DECEMBER 1 TO DECEMBER 31
Pack your bags and head down to the state fairgrounds for a cultural holiday celebration in the vein of age-old Chinese traditions. With a technology twist, the Lights of the World lantern festival features 75 exhibitions showcasing landmarks from around the world.
Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix, 602.252.6711, bit.ly/2CxyfIK, 5:30 to 10 p.m., $12.60 adults, $10.50 kids.
“Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”
DECEMBER 5 TO DECEMBER 15
The iconic editorial by Francis P. Church comes to life in this heartwarming play for the whole family. In 1897, 8-year-old Virginia wonders if Santa really exists or not after a series of unfortunate events hit her family. Meanwhile, a newspaper editor struggles to face the holidays with his job on the line. A little Christmas spirit is about to bring the two together in a way they never expected.
Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa, 480.644.6500, mesaartscenter.com, times vary, $15.
Greyson Chance skyrocketed to notoriety when his sixth-grade performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” went viral, earning him a visit to “Ellen” followed by YouTube fame. Nearly 10 years later, he’s come into his own pop, funk, electric sound with his sophomore album “Portraits.”
The Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, 602.296.7013, therebellounge.com, 7 p.m., $15.
Home Alone in Concert
DECEMBER 6 TO DECEMBER 8
What happens when your family forgets you during vacation, burglars set their sights on your house, and you’re only 8 years old? The beloved holiday blockbuster comes to life in a new way this year, hitting the big screen alongside John Williams’ score performed live by the Phoenix Symphony and chorus.
Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second Street, Phoenix, 602.495.1999, phoenixsymphony.org, times vary, $25-$98.
Las Noches de las Luminarias
DECEMBER 6 TO DECEMBER 31
The Desert Botanical Garden glows with the light of 8,000 luminarias every weekend as part of their enchanting holiday celebration. Visitors can stroll through the trails, enjoy live music and storytelling, and snack on hot dogs and chili at the garden’s restaurant.
Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, 480.941.1225, dbg.org, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., adults $34.95 and $12.95 kids 12 and younger.
Tumbleweed Tree Lighting
The Tumbleweed Tree Lighting is an annual fixture for the Chandler community. Each year, the city flashes its glow especially bright for an evening of ceremony, musical performances, a parade and pictures with Mr. Claus himself.
Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 178 E. Commonwealth Avenue, Chandler, 480.782.2000, chandleraz.gov/tumbleweedtree, 4:30 to 9 p.m., free.
PJs in the Park
It’s a holiday double feature this month at Civic Space Park. Shimmy into your finest pair of pajamas and grab the blankets for “The Polar Express” and “Elf” under the city stars. Bring the family and stick around for hot chocolate, snacks and festivity to spare.
Downtown Phoenix, 1 E. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.495.1500, dtphx.org, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., free.
Scottsdale Wine Fest
Feeling the holiday blues? Come wine about it with your friends at the Scottsdale Wine Fest, featuring pours from Babe, Kim Crawford, Sonoma-Cutrer, and more than 20 other wineries. Tickets include tastings and giveaways.
Wasted Grain, 7295 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, 480.970.0500, scottsdalewinefest.weebly.com, 2 to 6 p.m., $20-$30.
Electric Light Parade
The APS Electric Light Parade has been sparkling through Downtown Phoenix streets for more than three decades. Bring the blankets and the family to celebrate with the rest of the city with spectacular floats, music and an abundance of lights.
Central and Montebello avenues, Phoenix, phoenix.gov/elp, 7 to 9 p.m., free.
DECEMBER 8 AND DECEMBER 9
Live 101.5 is in the giving mood this holiday season with a two-night, all-star lineup. A who’s who of pop music will bring the seasonal spirit to downtown Phoenix, with the first night set to feature Why Don’t We, Loud Luxury and Bryce Vine. Jon Bellion, Louis Tomlinson and MAX will take the stage for night two.
The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren Street, Phoenix, 480.659.1641, thevanburenphx.com, 8 p.m., $62.
No one has had as big of a year as Ariana Grande. The “Thank U, Next” singer brings the second leg of her global “Sweetener Tour” back to the Valley for another round of self-love, slow jams and high ponytails. Rumor has it, she might even dust off the oversized hoodie for a few festive cuts from fan-favorite LP “Christmas & Chill,” as well.
Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2000, talkingstickresortarena.com, 7 p.m., $45.50-$400.
DECEMBER 12 AND DECEMBER 19
The German tradition of Christmas markets — with the spirit of “Seinfeld’s” Festivus — comes to Downtown Phoenix in this all-inclusive December celebration. Featuring more than 200 local vendors, a special Phoestivus Ale, reindeer and a hipster Santa, the two-night market is free fun for the whole fam.
Phoenix Public Market, 721 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, 602.253.2700, phoestivus.com, 5 to 10 p.m., free.
A Drag Queen Christmas
Why spill the hot chocolate when you can spill the tea? Drag queens from VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” present as spicy of a seasonal show as ever, filled with wild performances from show favorites. Last season’s hilarious and over-the-top Nina West hosts the show.
Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, dragfans.com, 8 p.m., $38.50-$53.50.
BS Movies: “Gremlins”
Believe it or not, “Gremlins” is a holiday film! What starts as one boy’s quirky Chinatown pet ends up threatening the whole town when it transforms into a pack of evil gremlins. BS Movie presents a special screening at FilmBar, featuring a live podcast, trivia and prizes.
FilmBar, 815 N. Second Street, Phoenix, 602.595.9187, thefilmbarphx.com, 8 p.m., $9.95.
12 Bars of Christmas Crawl
Don your finest holiday onesie, Santa suit or ugly sweater for this bar crawl through Old Town Scottsdale, making stops at El Hefe, Bottled Blonde, Wasted Grain and more. Participants will receive a Santa hat, souvenir cup and drink specials, but it is BYOHC: Bring your own holiday cheer.
Old Town Scottsdale, 7340 E. Indiana Plaza, Scottsdale, 480.970.1112, xmasscaz.eventbrite.com, noon to 8 p.m., $16.
Whether it’s jamming to the recently reunited My Chemical Romance or bopping to new Panic! At the Disco, there’s a little emo in everyone. Celebrate with your people at this dance party featuring special Emo Nite merch, drinks, live performances and your favorite moodiest jams.
Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, emonite.com, 9 p.m., $15.
DECEMBER 14 TO DECEMBER 22
Delight in “The Nutcracker,” courtesy of the Ballet Etudes company, which is presenting this holiday classic for the 33rd year. Follow Clara on her magical journey as she encounters mice, enchanting dance numbers and of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy. The production even uses Tchaikovsky’s original score.
Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa, 480.644.6500, mesaartscenter.com, times vary, $28-$32.
Holiday Jazz and Wine at the Garden
Take your special someone out for a snazzy evening stroll as the Japanese Friendship Garden sets the mood for an evening of drinks, jazz and nature. With happy hour prices on wine, beer, sake, as well as charcuterie boards and soulful musical, it’s the perfect mood for a holiday date night—or solo selfie by the waterfall.
Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, 1125 N. Third Avenue, Phoenix, 602.274.8700, jazzandwine2019.bpt.me, 4 to 7 p.m., $7-$10.
Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K and 5K
Hot cocoa feels different after a 9-mile run through the brisk morning air! Get started on that New Year’s resolution early with either the 5K or 15K, in support of Make-a-Wish. Finishers receive a special chocolate-shaped medals and plenty of sweet goodies on the other side of the finish line.
Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, 1700 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, hotchocolate15k.com, 7 a.m., $49-$69.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas:” Live on Stage
The classic Charlie Brown special comes to life in a new touring production. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang learn about the reason for the season when they have to produce their own Christmas play. Featuring beloved Christmas carols, as well as music from the original show, it’s a must-see for fans and families alike.
Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 4 p.m., $43.50-$65.
Zoppé: An Italian Family Circus
DECEMBER 26 TO DECEMBER 29
The Zoppé Italian Family Circus swings through Chandler with a new show, featuring astounding acrobatics, equestrians and Nino the Clown. The one-ring circus is rooted in the Italian tradition and is presented on the grounds in a 500-seat tent for an authentic and fun experience for all ages.
Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Avenue, Chandler, 480.782.2680, chandlercenter.org, times vary, $24-$45 for adults, and $15-$40 for kids.
DECEMBER 30 AND DECEMBER 31
The biggest dance party in the state returns to ring in the New Year! Taking over Rawhide for a night of drinks, dancing and clean starts, this year’s event is stacked with a killer lineup of EDM faves including Diplo, Dillon Francis, Skrillex and Zeds Dead.
Rawhide Event Center, 5244 S. 48th Street, Chandler, 480.502.5600, decadencearizona.com, times vary, $119-$789.