Get everyone out of the house and into the holiday spirit with a tour of the most dazzling lights in town. From the warmth and safety of your car, turn your radio to some cheerful tunes and drive through one of these five winter spectacles in the West.
World of Illumination’s Enchanted Safari, Glendale
Just 13 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix, a host of animals from near and far dance across the sky and swim past every night from November 23 to January 1. Along a mile-long drive, this animated show is a sight and sound spectacle with life-sized creatures, Christmas trees, and millions of colorful lights. Online reservations are required. World of Illumination also has a Candy Rush display in Tempe with a gigantic gingerbread village and Rockin’ Christmas in North Phoenix with Santa running the tunes. Tickets from $39.99 per vehicle.
Even the animals are in the holiday spirit at the Phoenix Zoo. This event promises colossal dinosaurs in addition to displays throughout the Wildlife Lantern Safari, Forest of Uco Village Lights, and Polar Park, where you can find s'mores stations and take photos with Santa (reserve your photo time in advance). Kettle corn, hot chocolate, and souvenir photos are available. This year, a new light show happens over the lake every 15 minutes. The zoo is open for exploring on foot on select nights in November, December, and January. Tickets are $25 for zoo members and $30 for general admission if you purchase in advance.
Ahwatukee Foothills Festival of Lights, Phoenix
Cacti and other desert foliage glow with a million white lights during the Ahwatukee Foothills Festival of Lights, a free display that stretches nearly two miles along the Chandler Boulevard medians. The landmark started in 1995 as a community-powered and -funded initiative when a developer in the area discontinued the festive lighting. The lights turn on in late November and turn off the first week of January. To donate or learn more, visit the nonprofit’s website.
Glittering Lights, Las Vegas
In a city known for its glowing neon signs, you can get lost looking for the best displays during the holidays. But this 2.5-mile stretch through the grandstands of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is by far the most glorious, and it’s only 10 minutes from downtown. The drive-through experience features more than 5 million twinkling lights strung over your pathway and 500 seasonal displays, including a nativity scene with live actors. The experience is open from November 10 until January 8. Tickets from $29 per vehicle. Season passes and fast passes to skip the line are also available. Purchase tickets online or upon arrival.
Christmas in Color, Salt Lake City
Listening to carols on the radio is one thing, but listening to them while they’re synchronized with a flashing light show is another. Load up your car with the kiddos and flip your radio to the designated station for this mile-long extravaganza with dancing snowflakes, trees, snowmen, and 1.5 million lights in the Utah State University Bastian Agricultural Center. It’s open from November 18 to January 1, but closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas night. Tickets cost $35 per vehicle and a portion of the proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.