Merry and Bright: Valley glows with holiday lights this season

By Summer Aguirre

With the holiday season comes many festive, colorful lights, and the Valley isn’t lacking any shine this year.

From Waddell to Gilbert, families all over Maricopa County can enjoy millions of lights glimmering on displays of snowmen, candy canes, reindeer and Christmas trees. Be sure to put on warm scarves and gloves for these wintery adventures.

Arizona Lights in the Night

To kick off the holiday season, look no further than this annual drive-thru light show.

Guests can cozy up in their cars while traveling through a sparkling expanse of over 1 million vivid lights synchronized to popular holiday tunes. For a different perspective, one can meander through the lights aboard the new VIP trackless train.

“Arizona Lights in the Nights is the Valley’s premier drive-thru light show that’s perfect for families and friends looking for a fun way to celebrate the holiday season,” says Allen Thompson, Arizona Lights in the Night operations manager, in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to this memorable holiday experience.”

A portion of the proceeds will benefit local children’s charities to help brighten the holidays.

WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Thursday, January 5

WHERE: Thompson Event Center, 1901 N. Alma School Road, Mesa

COST: Tickets start at $39.95 per vehicle, VIP train rides are $150 to $250 depending on the reserved night


Christmas at the Princess

A beloved holiday tradition in Scottsdale going on its 13th year, Christmas at the Princess is a perfect way to celebrate the most wonderful time of year with loved ones.

Several highlights of the 65-acre winterscape include 6.5 million lights, two outdoor ice skating rinks, two festive train rides, sledding mountain, entertainment plaza and bustling holiday towns with rides and shopping, complete with Santa and his friends in attendance.

There is also a new Chateau Champagne retreat ideal for date nights, and VIP fire pits and igloos.

This year’s Christmas at the Princess supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a charity partner.

WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday through Wednesday, December 14, 4 to 11 p.m. nightly through Monday, January 2

WHERE: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale

COST: General admission is $20 without a car, $80 with self-parking and $120 for valet, free for hotel guests


Desert Farm Lights

Get lost in West Valley’s first winter dreamland.

With a cup of hot cocoa in hand, guests can enjoy a million holiday lights illuminating the interactive Desert Lights Walking Trail and a half-acre candy cane maze. There are also plenty of festive bounce houses, a giant gingerbread slide and super-sized games, with an assortment of food trucks featured nightly for a bite to eat.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without Santa, who will be present for photos every Thursday through Sunday evening.

WHEN: 5:30 to 10 p.m. nightly through Sunday, January 1

WHERE: Justice Brothers Ranch, 14629 W. Peoria Avenue, Waddell

COST: Early bird pricing starts at $17 for adults, $13 for children ages 2 to 12


Enchant at Salt River Fields

For its launch in Scottsdale, Enchant is inviting families to embark on a journey to a 10-acre winter paradise.

“Our designers have been working hard all year to create a fantastic story and creating some of the most fun lighted elements to highlight our debut at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick stadium, where we can’t wait to introduce Enchant with more new friends and families,” Enchant Christmas founder and CEO Kevin Johnston says in a statement.

Sponsored by the Hallmark Channel, the enchanting village will feature a walkable light maze, ice skating trail, Santa visits, live entertainment, dining, a festive shopping marketplace and more. As the topper to the holiday experience, a 100-foot Christmas tree will stand tall at the center of the grounds.

WHEN: Starting at 6 p.m. nightly through Sunday, January 1

WHERE: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale

COST: Tickets start at $34 for adults and are $20 for children, ice skating is $18 for all ages


Holiday Nights in Lights

Families can visit The Wigwam for a holiday experience featuring a magical lighted trail through the resort, with princesses dressed in their winter gowns singing carols.

After a stroll on the holiday path, one can enjoy various local entertainment, train rides and s’mores and hot chocolate on the lawn.

The festivities support Goodyear Fire Department charities as they spread the holiday cheer to local families. Those who donate unwrapped toys receive a free hot chocolate and cookie at Wigwam Bar.

WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays through December 23

WHERE: The Wigwam, 300 E. Wigwam Boulevard, Litchfield Park

COST: Free admission


Lights at the Farm

To get into the holiday spirit, Vertuccio Farms will sparkle with 10 acres of more than 3 million lights synchronized to festive music that all ages will enjoy.

The fifth annual walk-thru light show will also feature ice skating, miniature golf, pony rides, a petting zoo, a pallet maze and lots of games. A 30-foot-tall cornstalk Christmas tree will provide an eye-catching photo op for families and friends alike.

To complete the holiday experience, winter treats such as hot cocoa, fudge, cookies, pancakes and popcorn will be available at vendors. There will also be a rotation of food trucks offering a variety of meal options.

WHEN: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Friday, December 30

WHERE: Vertuccio Farms, 4011 S. Power Road, Mesa

COST: $15 entry Sunday through Thursday, $18 entry Friday and Saturday, children ages 2 and under are free, ice skating is $8 per 30-minute session



Railroad Park Holiday Lights

Hop aboard the Paradise & Pacific Railroad for a fun way to experience the bright holiday lights and displays around the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

After their ride, families can take a spin on the park’s historic Charros Carousel and warm up with a cup of hot cocoa from the general store. To top off the holiday experience, they can also meet Santa and his elves up until December 23 before they have to prepare for Christmas.

WHEN: 6 to 9:30 p.m. nightly through Friday, December 30

WHERE: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, 7301 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale

COST: $15 per person


Riparian After Dark

After the sun goes down, the Riparian Preserve shines bright with holiday lights. This light show gives those who appreciate nature the opportunity to experience the preserve at nighttime with a holiday twist.

Taking a stroll around the grounds, one can encounter thousands of illuminating lights and displays of reindeer, Christmas trees and more at every turn.

Food and drink vendors from across the community will be on-site to serve guests holiday treats.

WHEN: 5:30 to 9 p.m. nightly Friday, December 9, to Tuesday, December 20

WHERE: Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert

COST: $5 per person


World of Illumination

The world’s largest drive-thru animated light show is popping up at three locations in the Valley for the 2022 holiday season, bringing more magic to local families.

“World of Illumination is thrilled to be adding a third location to the Valley of the Sun,” CEO Yakir Urman says in a statement. “As we expand into yet another venue, we also push the boundaries of what is technically and creatively possible to give our guests the most epic holiday experience imaginable.”

At each destination, spectators will find a different mesmerizing road trip: the new vibrant jungle expedition in Glendale, a sweet candy wonderland in Tempe and a musical-themed escapade in North Phoenix.

WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. nightly through Sunday, January 1

WHERE: Candy Rush at Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe; Enchanted Safari at Desert Diamond Casino, Glendale; Rockin’ Christmas at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, North Phoenix

COST: Tickets begin at $39.99 per car



A twinkling adventure awaits at the Phoenix Zoo for one of the Valley’s favorite annual holiday light expeditions. Animal lanterns will be illuminated by millions of lights decorating a walk-thru expanse of the zoo grounds.

One can also encounter the prehistoric ages at the Dinosaurs in the Desert landscape, as well as nightly entertainment and visits from Santa.

New to this year’s attractions is the lake light show, which will take guests on a trip around the world — there may even be snow falling nearby at Monkey Village.

WHEN: 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. nightly through Sunday, January 15

WHERE: Phoenix Zoo, 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix

COST: $35 general admission and $30 for members online, children ages 2 and under are free


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