In most states, summer ushers in festival season. But Arizona becomes the life of the party from November to February, when balmy temps and holiday fêtes put everyone in a celebratory mood.
At this smorgasbord of fiestas, you can savor holiday lights, hoop dancing, birdwatching, ropin’ and ridin’, historic parades, and more.
Festival of Lights and Boat Parade of Lights, Lake Havasu City
Festival: November 24-January 7; Parade: December 9
In this proudly over-the-top pair of galas, English Village and London Bridge Resort glisten with more than 500,000 lights that reflect in the rippling water. On the first day of the free festival, swimmers race across the Bridgewater Channel, striving for the right to switch on the lights that turn the town’s English Village into scenes from a Hallmark holiday movie. During the boat parade, pontoons and yachts ablaze with blinking lights and decor galore cruise under the London Bridge.
Las Noches de las Luminarias, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix
November 24, 25; December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 19-23, 26-30
During this quintessentially Southwestern holiday celebration, visitors stroll among 8,000 luminarias as carolers, folk singers, Latin bands, and Native American storytellers entertain throughout the glimmering garden. This year, don’t miss the Fernando Botero: El Maestro exhibition, showcasing paintings, drawings, and monumental sculpture from the recently deceased Colombian artist known for his whimsical, voluptuous characters.