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  • Writer's pictureDiana Brandt


As one of the best and brightest places to celebrate the holiday season, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is set to be more magical and more spectacular than ever. This iconic, AAA Five Diamond resort transforms into a winter wonderland in the desert during its annual Christmas at the Princess festival, November 22 – December 31, 2017, glistening with a four-story musical tree, Desert Ice skating rink, Princess Express trains, Lagoon Lights, plus holiday characters, new shows and attractions including Santa’s Secret Headquarters. Here are highlights of the six-week celebration:

• Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony – November 22, 2017 Family holiday entertainment begins in the Enchanted Plaza at 6 p.m., with musical performances, Ice Den skaters and the tree lighting. The Desert Ice skating rink, Lagoon Lights, Princess Express Train and all other attractions also open that evening until 9 p.m. The tree lighting event is open to the public and the price for admission/self-parking that evening is a suggested donation of $25 to Cox Charities benefitting the #LoveUp Foundation for children in foster care. The resort is also accepting new unwrapped toys, gifts for teenagers and household items for young adults graduating out of the foster care system.

• Holiday Characters Checking-in are the resort’s holiday friends: the lovely Princesses Angelica and Noel, a huggable yeti named Shivers and the squishable Graham, a walking s’more, plus Peppermint Penguin and Selfie Elfie each bringing their own special charm from the North Pole. All can be met throughout the resort and they come together for a Christmas character farewell in the Enchanted Plaza every evening at 9 p.m.

• New! Santa’s Secret Headquarters Santa spends time in his new Secret Headquarters mapping his flight plans, time zones and toys, where the young and young-at-heart can write their wish lists, learn the secret elf pledge and have their photo taken with him nightly throughout the season. Various photo packages are available.

• New! Copper Canyon Village Light Show Located at the resort’s Western town, Copper Canyon, guests enjoy an all-new light show synchronized to holiday music at the new Amazing Christmas Visions Tree. Show dates are Dec, 1-3, 8-10, 15-31.

• New! The Build-A-Bear Workshop Pop-Up Shop at S’mores Land is where dreams and stuffed animals are made at an interactive bear- and reindeer-creating station, complete with holiday fashion accessories and a “sweet heart ceremony” where guests choose a red satin heart, make a special wish and place it safely inside their stuffed animal. Price for the Build-A-Bears start at $12. -more- 2017 Christmas at the Princess Festival 2/2/2

• Santa Cares Photo Experience – November 26 & December 4 Santa’s Secret Headquarters welcomes children with all spectrums of special needs to a photo environment supportive of their sensory, physical and developmental needs. The event takes place prior to public hours from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., in a comforting, physically accommodating setting designed to lessen behavioral triggers associated with this bustling time of year. With the purchase of a photo package, the family also receives four photo greeting cards.

• Paw-sitively Christmas – December 2 Guests capture holiday photos of their pets with Santa in his Secret Headquarters, along with the resort’s Canine Ambassadors, Bixby & Gibbs from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

• S’mores Land: Polar Glide Ice Slide Frosty’s Ferris Wheel & New Build-A-Bear Pop-Up Shop At S’mores Land, families can visit the s’mores-loving character Graham at his home, roast marshmallows around the campfire, take an icy slide down the newly-expanded four lane Polar Glide, a whirl on the Christmas Carousel or a twirl on the Frosty’s Ferris Wheel, now with 15 gondolas seating up to six passengers. The Build-A-Bear Pop-Up Shop rounds out the fun. (S’mores kits and bears are additional.)

• Enchanted Plaza Musical Tree & Animated Holiday Light Show Custom-designed for the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, the resort’s Christmas tree has 80,000 LED lights that “twinkle and dance” to 18 holiday songs in Princess Plaza, appropriately named Enchanted Plaza for the holidays. The musical tree plays from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. nightly throughout the season, while the lit palm trees lining the plaza are synchronized to complement the tree’s music. During the day, this stunning fourstory tree is a visual experience, with dozens of glistening snowflakes and a five-foot snowflake tree topper. Add to that, a high-definition, one-of-a-kind animated video show features five delightful holiday scenes set to music and projected against the resort’s façade. This five-minute show plays promptly on the hour from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly in the Enchanted Plaza.

• Desert Ice Skating Rink Made with real ice and surrounded by picturesque saguaros, skaters experience magical snowfalls beneath a star-filled Arizona sky. The 6,000 square-foot rink is open to the public nightly throughout the festival. The price is $20 per person and $5 for skate rental. For the ultimate VIP experience, luxury rink-side fire pit tables with s’mores and blankets are available for evening sessions and include valet parking. For reservations and price information, please call (480) 585- 2694 or email

• Lagoon Lights With the addition of 1.5 million lights this season, the resort shines with 4.5 million LEDs. Visitors enter the festivities through a 17-foot long infinity tunnel with ever-changing colors from special RGB LED bulbs, capable of 256 million color combinations. They can then stroll or ride the Princess Express Train through the majestic Lagoon Lights, a lit fantasy land to see graceful swans floating on the water, a buccaneer pirate ship, a whale, dolphin, mermaid, Nessie the 30-foot Loch Ness Monster, 14-foot poinsettias, rocking horse, a candy cane forest and more. Throughout the resort, 280 trees are wrapped in lights, many draped with icicles and snowflakes. Visitors will also see a 20-foot snowman, elves peeking around trees, a giant walk-through ornament as well as families of singing trees, singing snowmen and singing reindeer. Guests will also see glowing butterflies and hibiscus in Ironwood Circle near the Sonoran Landing Pool and lit reindeer on the forest lawn by Bourbon Steak. -more- 2017“Christmas at the Princess Festival 3/3/3

• Princess Express Trains Guests board either of two Princess Express Trains nightly for a ride around the Lagoon Lights. Overnight hotel guests receive a priority boarding pass; non-hotel guests require general festival wristbands to ride.

• Nativity Garden Light Show The resort’s Fragrance Garden becomes the Nativity Garden, where an 88-foot-long narrated Nativity light and music show tells the story of Christmas. Seating is provided for the 10-minute program. Shows begin at 5 p.m. and occur every 10 minutes until 9 p.m., nightly throughout the festival.

• Menorah Lighting A nightly menorah lighting with latkes and applesauce takes place in the resort lobby through Hanukkah, 5:30 p.m., December 12-20, 2017. To celebrate, the Lagoon Lights also features a 25-foot menorah, a 4-foot dreidel and 4-foot gelt.

• The Ice Den Scottsdale Presents “Magical Moments on Ice” Guests will enjoy watching skaters from the Ice Den showcasing their talents to holiday music at the Princess’ Desert Ice rink. The shows features youngsters from the Coyotes Skating Club of Arizona, is choreographed by the Ice Den skating staff and is sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating. Please visit the resort’s website for performance dates and times.

• Seasonal Dining Experiences Memorable dining experiences range from Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak (where kids 12 and under eat free) to Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar and La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval, with special seasonal menus, Thanksgiving and Christmas ballroom brunches and New Year’s Eve festivities.

• Breakfast with Santa & Friends – December 23 Not to miss is a wonderful and whimsical pajama party breakfast, 9 noon, hosted by Mrs. Claus and Fairmont friends Princesses Noel and Angelica, Peppermint Penguin, Shivers the Yeti, Selfie Elfie and Graham the s’more, plus DJ Jingle, reindeer games, a Legoland Discovery Center play area, photos with Santa in his Secret Headquarters, a special daytime skating session, access to S’mores Land and chances to win great prizes such as an American Girl doll. $75 Adults; $50 Children ages 3-12; Children two and under eat free. Reservations are required by calling (480) 585-2694.

• Kringle’s Korner & Holiday Shopping The Christmas Shoppe at Kringle’s Korner is a charming boutique offering wintery wear such as hats, scarves, mittens and pajamas for the whole family, along with seasonal décor, hand-painted collectible ornaments and snow globes, Princess Express train whistles, blinking novelties, Selfie Elfie and Elf on the Shelf toys and gourmet sweets. The resort is the perfect place for holiday shopping with unique items in Maverick for men, Anna J women’s boutique or health and beauty items at Well & Being Spa’s Community Market.

• Let It Glow at Well & Being Spa Sparking at the spa, holiday pampering includes “Mistle-Toe” pedicures, peppermint manicures, s’mores body treatment and creating customized moisturizers and scrubs at the Sugar ‘n’ Spice Aromatherapy Blending Bar. Spa-goers can spend the day relaxing with full use of the facilities, including the exercise classes, steam room, Swiss shower, whirlpool rooftop pool and waterfall grotto.

• Toy Donation Drop-Off The tree lighting ceremony kicks off the annual Fairmont Scottsdale Princess toy drive, this year supporting the #LoveUp Foundation. The resort is a drop-off location November 22 - December 22, 2017. Anyone wishing to make a donation can pull right up to the front drive/porte-cochere, where a bellman is happy to assist. -more- 2017 Christmas at the Princess Festival 4/4/4

• Admission Pricing Christmas at the Princess is open to the public. General admission is complimentary for hotel guests who also receive express VIP access to the rides and attractions. General admission/parking for non-hotel guests is $55 per vehicle for self-parking valid up to six people. Valet/general admission is complimentary when dining at any of the resort restaurants (Bourbon Steak, La Hacienda, Ironwood American Kitchen or Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar) with a $75 spend, up to six people. General admission includes access to Enchanted Plaza with the four-story musical tree, Enchanted Plaza video show, a walk-through experience of 4.5 million Lagoon Lights, the Nativity Garden, S’mores Land and the Copper Canyon Village Light Show. For guests not staying at the resort, ride sharing or walking in, wristbands are $20 per person to ride the attractions including the Princess Express Trains, Polar Glide, Frosty’s Ferris Wheel and the Christmas Carousel. Skating, photos with Santa, shopping, dining and spa are priced separately. Wristbands can be purchased at convenient kiosks throughout the resort.

• Cox Charities Benefitting the #LoveUp Foundation The Christmas at the Princess festival offers several ways to support the community through Cox Charities and this year’s recipient, the #LoveUp Foundation. #LoveUp, a movement created by nationally-syndicated radio personalities Johnjay and Rich, is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading love, kindness and support to children living in the foster care system. A portion of proceeds from the tree lighting event, Desert Ice skating and the Princess #LoveUp vacation package, along with the toy drive, benefit #LoveUp.

• Princess #LoveUp Holiday Vacation Package The best way to experience Christmas at the Princess and give back to the community: this package includes overnight accommodations with a $50 daily resort credit, a private holiday character meet-and-greet, express VIP access to the rides and one-hour early access to designated festival attractions. Prices start from $199 per room, per night, plus taxes and resort fees. A portion of every package benefits the #LoveUp Foundation. For more information on “Christmas at the Princess,” please call (480) 585-4848, toll-free (866) 540-4495 or visit The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is located at 7575 East Princess Drive in Scottsdale.

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