List: Holiday events around the Valley and Arizona

An old Polar Express train machine adorned with Christmas lights at Williams Station (Arizona) on Route 66 traveling along historic Route 66 in Arizona. (Photo by Joaquin Gomez Sastre/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

COVID-19 may be here this holiday season, but that doesn't mean the typical events have to be canceled. 

Whether you're looking for an activity for the whole family to do or you want to enjoy festive libations and treats, there's plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Christmas season.

Christmas at the Princess

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has been hosting its holiday event every year for the past 11 years.

The resort transforms into a winter wonderland where parents can take their children for a night of fun.

Not only does the Princess boast that they put up 5 million lights, but they also offer plenty of activities like ice skating, roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, taking a ride on the train, character appearances, and of course, socially distanced photos with Santa. 

Many of the areas like the rinkside fire pits have been expanded to promote physical distancing, the rides are sanitized after every turn, and there is plexiglass dividing each train car.

Christmas at the Princess goes from Nov. 20 to Dec. 31. Tickets must be purchased in advance.


The popular holiday tradition at the Phoenix Zoo will continue, but this year, they're also offering Cruise ZooLights, a way for families to safely drive around and still enjoy the lights. 

ZooLights added about 500,000 to 750,000 more lights for the cruise experience. There are also new trees lit up and the all-new Wildlife Latern Safari featuring 66 animals.

If guests are not in their car, they're required to wear masks and face coverings whenever social distancing is not possible. If you're in line or in designated face-covering areas, guests must mask-up. 

The zoo recommends getting tickets ahead of time as the cruise and walking portions are on select nights. There will be only 500 tickets sold for cruise nights.

Tickets cost $75 for non-members per vehicle and $60 for members per vehicle. Tickets for the walk-through portion are $20 per person for non-members and $16 per person for zoo members.

ZooLights is open from Nov. 7 to Jan. 3, 2021 from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

World of Illumination

The world's largest drive-thru animated light show is back for the 2020 holiday season.

World of Illumination, which features hundreds of displays, returns to Glendale and Tempe, and people can enjoy the displays from the safety and comfort of their car.

"We are using state-of-the-art technology to synchronize the lights to music, to create a more immersive and give you that wow factor," said Yakie Urman, Co-Founder and CEO of World of Illumination.

Urman and his team spent a whole year developing the designs, and then bring the concept to life. People can follow along with the music by tuning in with their car radio.

According to Urman, the display in Glendale has a "rocking Christmas" theme, featuring a 500-foot musical tunnel that is all synchronized to music. In Tempe, the display has a different theme.

"In Tempe, we'll have our Arctic Adventure Theme Park, and we will feature everything about the North Pole, so you will see arctic animals from polar bears to penguins. You'll see Eskimos to igloos," said Urman.

Tickets cost $29 a car on weeknights, and $39 a car on weekends and holidays. Tickets are online-only.

World of Illumination in Glendale runs from Nov. 6 to Jan. 3, 2021. The location in Tempe runs from Nov. 14 to Jan. 3, 2021. 

Musical Tunnel at World of Illumination

Christmas at Schnepf Farms

Christmas at Schnepf Farms is kicking off for the second year in a row and the farm has been transformed into a winter wonderland with COVID-19 safety as the top priority.

The farm offers many family-fun happenings like train rides and hayrides, cookie decorating, an inflatable obstacle course, glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, and a visit from Santa Claus. For the adults, there are seasonal foods, a beer and wine garden, and holiday shopping.

As for safety and mitigation efforts, there is hand sanitizer or hand washing stations available at every ride and food area, the various shops will limit the number of people allowed inside, there is additional cleaning by staff, and the occupancy has been capped at about 40% capacity. 

Tickets are $15 online and $17 at the door, however, the farm's owner, Mark Schnepf, urges all guests to purchase in advance online as they're expected to sell out. Other activities like the train ride and obstacle course are an additional expense.

Christmas at Schnepf Farms goes from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day.

Ho Ho Holiday Drive-Thru Fair Food

Are you craving some deep-fried goodness this holiday season? You're in luck because the Ho Ho Holiday Drive-Thru Fair Food event will be selling treats for two weekends in December.

Some of the items being sold are gingerbread funnel cakes, candy cane cotton candy, deep-fried eggnog, and fresh cinnamon rolls. And yes, there will also be turkey legs, according to a news release.

Customers can enjoy the food from Dec. 10-13, and the following weekend from Dec. 17-20. 

Hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Everyone must enter from 19th Avenue and Monte Vista. 

Tumbleweed Tree

Looking for something a bit different to take fun holiday photos in front of? Check out downtown Chandler's Tumbleweed Tree.

Since 1957, the Tumbleweed Tree has been a staple in the Arizona city. A big difference this year is that an in-person lighting ceremony won't be taking place due to COVID-19 restrictions, but there will be a virtual ceremony.

From Nov. 28 to Dec. 22, you can enjoy the tree along with several other holiday events like s'more making, pictures and a farmers market.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Located in the heart of Scottsdale, the park is happy to continue offering train rides and holiday lights this year, but with COVID-19 safety protocols to keep everyone safe.

Tickets are $15 and include entry for an hour, train and carousel rides and access to a photo garden. Children two years old and younger get in free.

The event runs from Nov. 27 to Jan. 3, 2021, 6-9:30 p.m. Check the website for dates before you go, as some dates will be blacked out.

A Christmas Carol

"A Hale Holiday Classic! Our spectacular, heart-warming version of Dickens’ classic tale of redemption is magically brought to life on the Hale Stage," the event's website says.

The presentation runs through the holiday season and tickets cost between $36-$50. 

More information can be found here.

Santa Saturdays

From noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, you can catch Santa rockin' around Glendale's Westgate Entertainment District in a shiny, red firetruck.

You can take photos with him for free, socially distanced of course.

Santa can be found on Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 12, and 19.

Click here for more information.

Vertuccio Farms’ Lights at the Farm

Enjoy more than two million twinkling lights at the 25-acre farm in Mesa, synchronized to holiday tunes, all while COVID-19 safe and socially distanced.

There will also be ice skating, a 10-foot snowman and a life-sized nativity scene.

Capacity will be limited and prices for entry vary on what you're wanting to do at the farm and when you're going.

Making the holidays even sweeter, dogs on leashes are welcome to join in on the fun!

Polar Express Train Ride

All aboard! If you're planning on heading up to northern Arizona, near the Grand Canyon, you'll have the chance to catch a ride on the Polar Express at the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel.

Take about a 90-minute trip on the train, leaving at either 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Enjoy hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies while aboard.

Ticket prices vary on age and when you're planning to board the train. You can find more information here.