Christmas: 15 Things to Do in Phoenix for the Holidays

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15-things-to-do-in-phoenix-arizona-for-christmasphoto credit: Jolie Anne Photography

We’re avoiding traveling this year and sticking close to home for Christmas. I polled my local friends and came up with this list of 15 things to do in the Phoenix area for the holidays. From Santa sightings in Arizona to the best holiday lights, this list has something for everyone (even the Grinch of the family). Can’t wait to cross some of these fun events off our winter bucket list. Know of a fun holiday event that’s not on the list? Email us at and we’ll add it!

Something my family looks forward to every year is our Santa mini session with Jolie Anne Photography. There are no lines and the kids get personal, one on one time with the big guy. After the photos are snapped, the kids receive a gift from Santa and a cookie. These sessions sell out fast, so make sure to follow Jolie Anne Photograph on Facebook for info about next year’s Santa mini sessions. The Santa at the sessions is the BEST and so great with the kids, which keeps us going back year after year. This is our 3rd year and has quickly become something that we look forward to. This year, Santa had a staring contest with my 6 year old and snap chatted with my 3 year old. You just can’t get that quality time or memories at the mall!


1. Visit ZooLights, Let it Glow! and experience millions of lights, a three-story lighted tree, hundreds of glimmering light displays, lakeside Music-in-Motion shows and more! 

2. Have breakfast with Santa, play in snow and make a gingerbread house at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

3. Play in snow, ride a horse drawn carriage and enjoy an outdoor skating rink at Westgate Entertainment District.

4. Head to Glendale Glitters, the stunning display of 1.5 million lights will illuminate sixteen blocks of Historic Downtown Glendale, making it the largest free holiday light display in Arizona.

5. Plan a date night at the Desert Botanical Gardens for Las Noches de las Luminarias. The garden will be decorated with more than 8,000 luminarias and thousands of white twinkling lights. 

6. Ride the open-car train around the park and enjoy holiday displays at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

7. Only a short road trip away, take a trip to the North Pole on The Polar Express


8. Head to the Deer Valley Airport for a Santa Claus Helicopter Sighting

9. Build toys with the elves and enroll in Elf University at the North Pole Experience.

10. Visit the tallest tree in Arizona at the Outlets at Anthem, standing 80 feet.

11. Enjoy the light displays, desert ice skating rink and more at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

12. Have a breakfast pizza with Santa at the California Pizza Kitchen at Desert Ridge

13. See Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy dance on stage at Phoenix Ballet’s The Nutcracker

14. Catch the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert at the Gila River Arena.  

15. Book a Santa mini session with Jolie Anne Photography, of course!


Jolie also does maternity, newborn, children, family, lifestyle and commercial photography. If you are in the valley and looking for a photographer, visit Jolie Anne Photography. How will you be celebrating the holidays this year?

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Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Welcome to See Vanessa Craft! I’m Vanessa, an MSSW and mom of two in Arizona, and I’m happy you’re here to get inspired with me. It’s my mission in life to spread creativity through crafts, recipes, travel and more in order to live a life well lived.