Families and Kids

Things to do in Tempe during the holidays

Spend the holidays in Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona is one of the best spots to celebrate the magic of the holiday season. It’s not a snowy winter wonderland, but there are all kinds of festive events and activities that will get you in the holiday spirit. Whether you are looking for a fun date night idea or fun for the whole family, spending the holidays in Tempe offers endless possibilities.

Downtown Tempe

Located between College Ave. and Farmer Ave., University Dr. and Tempe Town Lake, Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 355-6060

Downtown Tempe is a sight to be seen during the holidays. Trees are strung with holiday lights, and festive and fun events are held throughout the season. Downtown Tempe is the heart of this college town, where you will find tons of restaurants, bars, gift shops, specialty stores and more! For all there is to see and do this holiday season, visit the Downtown Tempe holiday website.

Second Sundays on Mill
Dec. 10 | Mill Avenue

Grab gifts for the entire family at Second Sundays! Second Sundays on Mill brings a monthly local market — featuring a fantastic selection of Arizona-made goods and gifts — to Downtown Tempe. The event includes street performances, live music, outdoor fitness classes, games and other activations. 

Menorah Lighting
Dec. 7, 2023 | Ragsdale-MLK Park (formerly 6th Street Park)

Head to Downtown Tempe for this special holiday event at the second annual Menorah lighting ceremony at Ragsdale-MLK Park (formerly 6th Street Park), presented by Downtown Tempe Authority and ASU Chabad.

Arizona Theatre Company: Scrooge!
Dec. 8-30, 2023 | Tempe Center for the Arts

Enjoy the holiday musical extravaganza Scrooge!, created by Oscar- and Grammy-winning and Tony-nominated composer Leslie Bricusse. This enchanting show based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is filled with memorable and impressive songs the likes of which Bricusse wrote for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Set to be an annual tradition, Scrooge is perfect for the whole family.  

Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Town Lake
Dec. 9, 2023 | Tempe Town Lake

Light up the night and be dazzled this holiday season at Tempe Town Lake on Dec. 9. The Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade at Tempe Town Lake is the Valley’s most unique holiday event and celebrated tradition. Enjoy holiday shopping, festive eats and treats, a dazzling boat parade featuring boats of all shapes and sizes and a spectacular fireworks show.

Movies on the Field: The Polar Express
Dec. 16, 2023 | ASU Mountain America Stadium

Bring a blanket, sit on the grass and enjoy your favorite holiday movie, The Polar Express. Drink hot chocolate (plus extra marshmallows) as Mountain America Stadium prepares for the holiday season with this family movie.

Tempe & Beyond

World of Illumination
Nov. 15, 2023 – Dec. 31, 2023 | Tempe Diablo Stadium

Experience “The world’s largest animated drive-through light show” at World of Illumination. Climb aboard your cosmic sleigh with your host Shiny the Star on a mystical holiday invasion that is out of this world. This mile-long journey features millions of colorful lights and enchanting holiday music— a must see treat for the entire family.

Christmas at the Petersen House
Dec. 9-10, Dec. 16-17, 2023 (Saturday and Sunday Only) | Petersen House

Come and experience a unique Christmas tradition at the Petersen House Museum in Tempe! The museum, which is a Victorian gem of the valley, will be decorated in a high style that showcases its Danish heritage. You can take advantage of free self-guided tours of the historic house, enjoy light refreshments, entertainment, and fun activities. Don’t forget to check out the pop-up Museum Store to get some holiday shopping done! Admission is free, and you don’t need to register beforehand.

Little Cholla Holiday Market
Dec. 14 | Culdesac Tempe

Visit the Little Cholla Holiday Market at Culdesac Tempe to support local businesses. Enjoy food trucks, themed activities, and programming in one convenient location.

Caribbean Christmas 5K at Tempe Beach Park
Dec. 16, 2023 | Tempe Beach Park

Gather your loved ones and head to Tempe Beach Park to experience a tropical holiday vibe at the annual Caribbean Christmas 5k Run/Walk on December 16th! This is a unique opportunity to enjoy a Caribbean-themed event with good company, lively music, enthusiastic volunteers, and all the perks of a first-class race.

Phoenix Zoo

455 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85008 | (602) 286-3800

Nov. 22, 2023-Jan. 14, 2024

ZooLights at The Phoenix Zoo, the Valley’s most cherished holiday tradition, is back with millions of twinkling lights, all-new animal lanterns and light displays, an enhanced Santa experience and a brand new music and light show! PLUS, guest entry to ZooLights includes admission to Dinosaurs in the Desert, the not-to-be-missed dino-mite experience!

Desert Botanical Garden

1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix, AZ 85008 | (480) 941-1225

Las Noches de las Luminarias
Nov. 24-Dec. 30, 2023 (select dates)

Experience the simplicity and beauty of Las Noches de las Luminarias this holiday season with 8,000 flickering luminarias and twinkling lights throughout the Desert Botanical Garden. Enjoy an evening filled with sparkling luminarias, musical performances, entertainment and holiday delights that line the Garden’s iconic trails for a picture-perfect night.

Find your Shopping Nirvana in Tempe

Tempe Marketplace

2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 966-9338

Whether you’re looking for a place to experience the magic of the holidays or find the greatest gifts, Tempe Marketplace is the place to meet up and have fun with friends and family this holiday season.

Holiday Tree Lighting and First Snowfall
Nov. 22, 2023
Get in the spirit of the holiday season with the lighting of Tempe’s brand new 50-foot Christmas tree on Wednesday, Nov. 22, from 7-9 p.m. With live snowfall and a visit from Santa Claus himself, this event has something for the entire family.

Adults can Sip & Stroll with drinks from the Dave & Buster’s mobile bar and enjoy samples of cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate from Cinnaholic. Snap a free picture with Santa and enjoy a live preview performance of Scrooge! The Musical from Arizona Theatre Company.

12 Days of Snowfall
Dec. 13 through Christmas Eve
Watch as snow magically falls from the sky, transforming Tempe Marketplace into a winter wonderland – Every night at 7 & 8 p.m. starting December 13th through Christmas Eve, near the District Stage. Make your very own Arizona snowmen and snow angels and enjoy the magic of snow in the desert only at Tempe Marketplace.

Community Performances
Watch live performances this November and December at the District Stage with tributes to your favorite holiday classics. Get ready for appearances from Arizona Theatre Company, The Nutcracker, local gymnastics, Cheer teams and more.

Sip & Stroll
Put a holiday spin on your Sip & Stroll experience this winter. Enjoy a cocktail from one of seven participating restaurants and stroll the district to experience all the holiday décor, music and snow.

Arizona Mills

5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Tempe, AZ 85282 | (480) 491-9700

Arizona Mills is the state’s largest family entertainment and outlet shopping destination, with more than 185 stores at savings of up to 70% off every day, plus great dining and entertainment options. Be sure to check out Arizona Mills on Black Friday (November 24th) for fantastic discounts throughout the mall, including stores like Nike Clearance Store, Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret/PINK, Adidas Clearance Store, Bath & Body Works Outlet, Nautica Factory Store anHelp brighten someone’s Christmas by bringing an unwrapped gift to Arizona Mills.d more! Visit the Arizona Mills website for extended holiday hours.

Santa Photos
Nov. 22 – Dec. 24, 2023
Celebrate the ultimate holiday tradition at Arizona Mills with The Santa Photo Experience! Enjoy an unforgettable moment with Santa, capture the memories and make this season special. Secure your spot today!

The Salvation Army Christmas Angels
Nov. 15 – Dec. 21
Help brighten someone’s Christmas by bringing an unwrapped gift to Arizona Mills.

Holiday Bricktacular! At LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Arizona
Dec. 1, 2023 – Jan. 1, 2024
Get in the holiday spirit with LEGOLAND® Discovery Center! Join LEGOLAND® for Winter Family Fun, including holiday LEGO® big builds, meet and greets with LEGO Santa and Gingerbread man, special holiday décor throughout the attraction and more!

For another holiday treat, get an exclusive meet and greet with the LEGO® Gingerbread Man, Gingy, and decorate delicious gingerbread cookies. You can add this fun experience to any ticket during LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Arizona’s Holiday Bricktacular, which takes place from December 1st to January 1st.

Celebrate the holidays with Santa at AZ Mills
Celebrate the holidays with Santa at AZ Mills

Sea of Lights! At SEA LIFE Arizona
Dec. 1, 2023 – Jan. 1, 2024
Shell-ebrate the season at SEA LIFE Arizona’s ‘Sea of Lights’ holiday light spectacular! Enjoy a dazzling walk-through holiday light exhibit alongside our thousands of sea creatures including sharks, stingrays, sea turtles and more!

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