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  • JulesAZ

Things To Do This Holiday Season

OK, someone tell this year to slow down. (Actually, on second thought, keep going, 2020!). It’s almost Thanksgiving, and then it will be December before we know it which means the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's are all still to come, and even though it’s not exactly the most traditional year, a few annual holiday events are back for you to partake in plus some new ones. Cue the ugly sweaters, hot chocolate, boots and scarves! It’s time to get into the holiday spirit with our quick list of things to do this winter.

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel is putting on its “11th Christmas at the Princess” from Nov. 20 to Dec. 31. Every year, the resort transforms into a true winter wonderland with festive decorations and over 5 million sparkling LED lights. Family-friendly activities include roasting marshmallows and making s’mores, getting a photo with Santa Claus, meeting other holiday characters and taking a ride on the Princess Express Trains to view the magical lagoons and infinity tunnel with ever-changing colored lights. There’s also holiday-themed gifts at the Christmas Shoppe and treats to grab including cookies from Mrs. Claus herself. The cost of admission is $60 per vehicle or $15 a person for rideshare and walk-up guests. Tickets must be pre-purchased online. Christmas at the Princess has been reimagined to keep everyone safe and appropriately social distanced. On the trains, there is now plexi-glass dividing each train car for safety. Masks are required in all areas including outdoor spaces for all guests over 6 years of age. They may be removed while dining or drinking in an area with appropriate social distancing or while taking family photos with appropriate social distancing. Capacity will be reduced to 40 percent, and hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the grounds. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel is located at 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale; 480.585.4848;

ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo is also back, the annual tradition of twinkling lights, dazzling animal sculptures and the Wildlife Lantern Safari featuring 66 creatures all aglow. Indulge in your favorite holiday treats including kettle corn and hot cocoa and buy gifts for loved ones. Tickets are $16 per person for zoo members and $20 for non-members. Visit up through Jan. 31. There’s additionally a new way to see all the magic — Cruise ZooLights. Now you can enjoy the festivities from the comfort of your own vehicle on designated cruise nights. It’s $60 per car for zoo members and $75 per car for non-zoo members. The zoo is taking appropriate safety precautions and is requiring that face coverings and masks be worn at all times in line and in designated areas and that social distancing be employed whenever possible. There’s 25 percent less capacity, and turnstiles letting guests in will be staggered. Hand sanitizing stations will be placed around the park, and if you’re getting a photo with Santa, the entire experience will be contactless. The Phoenix Zoo is located at 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix; 602.286.3800;

Christmas is being celebrated at Schnepf Farms for a second year in a row, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31. Visit Santa’s Reindeer, take a ride on the Illumination Express Train Ride, decorate cookies or assemble a toy in the Toy Shop. There will also be showings of holiday movies, Santa’s reindeer hayride, glow-in-the-dark mini golf and more. Don’t forget the beer and wine garden for adults plus holiday eats and treats like bonfire s’mores. Tickets are $15 online or $17 at the door. There’s a separate charge for the train ride, obstacle course and ice skating. There will be a limited number of people allowed in the indoor shops plus hand sanitizer and hand washing stations near every ride and food area. Schnepf Farms is also trying to go as cashless as possible, so make sure to bring a credit or debit card if you have one. Schnepf Farms is located at 24810 S Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek; 480.987.3100;

There’s another drive-thru experience coming to Arizona in the form of World of Illumination’s Arctic Adventure being held at Tempe Diablo Stadium through Jan. 3. It’s a mile-long extravaganza featuring nearly 2 million lights with attractions like the 32-foot tall Sunny the Snowman, surfing penguins, snow-mobile riding polar bears, igloos and Eskimos. It’s a storybook adventure for kids of all ages in radiant living color and larger than life. You’ll hear your favorite holiday music too, plus Santa will be stopping by on select Mondays. World of Illumination is also putting on Rockin’ Christmas at Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale during the same time. You’ll see everything from life-sized musical notes to retro Santa spinning it old school. It’s the world’s largest drive-through light show and is truly stunning. Online reservations are required for both events, and it’s $29 plus taxes and fees per vehicle on weekdays and $39 plus a vehicle on weekends. Tempe Diablo Stadium is located at 2200 W Alameda Drive, Tempe; 480.350.5205; Westgate Entertainment District is located at 6751 N. Sunset Boulevard, Glendale;

Holiday lights are still going on this year at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park with a few changes to keep everyone safe. You can hop on board the Paradise & Pacific Railroad plus take a spin on the historic Charros Carousel and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa from Hartley’s General Store. Opening night festivities take place on Nov. 27 with a tree lighting ceremony with Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, and you can continue to visit through Jan. 3. There are one hour blocks at 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. with nightly rides reduced to 50 percent capacity. The park will only be accessible to those who have purchased tickets during each specific time block, but visitors can ride the train and carousel as many times as they’d like during that hour. Face coverings are required whenever social distancing can’t be maintained, and there’s unfortunately no Santa this year. Tickets are $15 per person with free admission for children 2 years old and younger and must be purchased online. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is located at 7301 E Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale; 480.312.2312;

More holiday lights can be seen at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. There’s a 1.2 mile drive thru light experience featuring more than 5 million lights, and you can tune in to hear holiday songs on a designated FM radio signal. The event is happening from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, and prices are per car only. During weekdays, a regular ticket is $35.99 when purchased online (there’s a $5 price increase at the door). On weekends, it’s $45.99 a car when purchased online (or $5 more at the door). There’s also tickets available for holidays, fast pass, VIP and limo and bus entry. There’s additionally a special celebration on the first night of Hanukkah on Dec. 10 where the lights will turn blue and white. Salt River Fields is located at 7555 N Pima Road, Scottsdale; 480.270.5000;

Mesa’s Merry Main Street is back for its sixth year, from Nov. 27 to Jan. 2. The nearly four-story Christmas tree will be decorated and glowing each night, and there’s the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink with a maximum of 50 skaters allowed at a time plus masks provided. Kids can visit with Santa for free in the SELFie Village beginning on Fridays and Saturdays starting on Nov. 28. All visitors need to wear face coverings while waiting in line. Hand sanitizer stations will be placed around the ice rink, and public seating will be limited. It costs $10 for one-hour of skating including a skate rental. Merry's Christmas tree and Santa visits are located at 1 N MacDonald Drive, Mesa. The ice rink is located at 20 E. Main Street, Mesa;


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