“Oh, the weather outside is fright…er, delightful.” Ah, the paradox of the holiday season in Tucson. We golf under sapphire skies and sip Peppermint Starbucks in our shorts. But do we secretly yearn for the smell of spruce boughs laden with new-fallen snow? Nahhh. We don’t even own a snow blower, and there’s plenty of winter festivity right here in the Old Pueblo.
So, without further ado, here are 12 Holiday Happenings Only in Tucson:
1. Winterhaven Festival of Lights (December 10 – 25, drive-through on Dec. 26). This central neighborhood has been going all out for the holiday season with houses bedecked with themed light displays since 1949. This year you can experience the festivity by hayride, Arizona Party Bike, or on foot. Bring cans of food to donate to the Tucson Food Bank.
2. Boys’ Chorus at San Xavier (December 13 – 15). Christmas at San Xavier del Bac is a concert series at the 19th-century mission featuring the Tucson Boys’ Chorus and the Sons of Orpheus Men’s Choir, as well as individual performers. With limited seating in the iconic mission, the intimacy, setting, and acoustics guarantee a memorable holiday experience. Tickets go fast.
3. Elf’d at the Gaslight (through January 1). Escape the crowds at the mall. Enjoy beverages, pizza, and popcorn with the whole family as Dudley the Elf tries to find the Christmas spirit.
4. Fiddler on the Roof at ATC (through December 31). Tradition! This 50th Anniversary celebration of the classic musical is the perfect way to raise your cup to family, to life, to joy.
5. Local Fairs and Markets. Holiday sales and craft fairs abound in Southern Arizona. Check out the four-day antique and collectibles sale Gather: A Vintage Market on St. Mary’s from December 8 – 11; the Fourth Avenue Street Fair with local artisans and children’s activities from December 9 – 11; and the Tucson Arts and Crafts Festival at Oracle Plaza showcasing local, unique art from December 9 – 11.
6. Holiday Nights – a Million Lights! at Tohono Chul (from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., the first three Fridays and Saturdays in December). Take a pause from the holiday stress. Stroll paths sparkling with over a million twinkling lights while musicians entertain throughout the gardens.
7. Zoo Lights (from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., December 7 – 23). The tradition continues with animal-themed light displays, hot chocolate, and the chance to donate toys to a family in need.
8. Botanical Gardens Luminaria Lights (First two weekends in December). Walk a path lit with traditional luminarias and enjoy the trees decorated with thousands of twinkling lights. Each night features performances with local musicians, dancers, and school groups.
9. Gospel Rescue Mission, Jewish Family Services, and other local charities (Events and giving ongoing throughout the holidays). Participate in a toy drive or holiday meal. Create baskets of food and necessities for families in need. Remind your kids what’s important by volunteering and giving back to our community during the holidays.
10. A Southwest Nutcracker (December 10 – 11 at the TCC Music Hall). Introduce the next generation to this Tchaikovsky classic, complete with pugnacious mice, a gallant prince, and toys come to life. Featuring the Tucson Symphony and the Tucson Regional Ballet.
11. Snow at La Encantada (Fridays and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. until December 18). Homesick for Vermont? Gather in the center of La Encantada shopping center for a delicate, cascading “snowfall,” while sipping some Williams Sonoma hot chocolate.
12. Tucson Symphony Orchestra: Magic of Christmas Holiday Pops Concert (December 17 – 18 at the TCC Music Hall). Enjoy your favorite holiday songs and carols along with beloved classical pieces and dances. Caution: there may be snow and sing-alongs.
Copyright 2016 Andy Courtney Properties, Ltd.