28 Tucson holiday festivals, events and markets to check out this season

28 Tucson holiday festivals, events and markets to check out this season

Zoo Lights

Even the trees get into the act, forming lighted arcs over the walks on the opening night of Reid Park Zoo Lights.

With the holidays just around the corner (seriously, how is the year almost over?!) here are some events you'll want to check out before we all ring in the new year.

Shop for some locally-made gifts, play in some snow, check out those twinkle lights and maybe even start a new Tucson holiday tradition with the people you love.

El Nacimiento

Maria Luisa Teña and the nativity scene she has spent 30 years creating at Casa Cordova at the Tucson Museum of Art November 27, 2007. Jeffry Scott/Arizona Daily Star. 138093.

Tucked away in the Tucson Museum of Art's historic La Casa Cordova, El Nacimiento is an elaborate Nativity scene that will make your jaw drop. You'll spot Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and characters from other Bible stories among the 800-piece set.

Maria Luisa Teña created the exhibit that has been on display in Tucson since 1978.

When: Casa Cardova is open during museum hours. Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.

Where: Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.

Cost: Get a ticket for the entire museum. $12 general admission, free for kids under 12. Free the first Thursday of the month from 5-8 p.m. and the second Sunday of the month for Arizona and Sonora, Mexico residents.

Lights of the World Tucson

Combine 6 million LED lights, carnival rides, Chinese acrobatics shows, sea lions, stingrays encounter, artisan vendors, food and you get the new-to-Tucson Lights of the World. Tickets include all rides and shows. Artisan vendors and food will be available for purchase.

Find more information here.

Where: Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way (in the east parking lot)

When: Nov. 8-Jan. 2, 2018, Tuesday-Sunday, 5-10 p.m.

Cost: $19.99 in advance; $24.99 once the festival starts; kids age 3-and-under get in free. Active military and first responders get free admission on Tuesdays with ID.

Combine 6 million LED lights, carnival rides, Chinese acrobatics shows, sea lions, stingrays encounter, artisan vendors, food and you get the …

Tucson Museum of Art's Holiday Artisans Market

Tucson Museum of Art’s Holiday Artisans Market.

More than 100 vendors will be at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block for a weekend of shopping fun this November. And this year, the market has expanded to La Cocina

Items available for purchase include a large selection of ceramics, glass, jewelry, paintings, prints and more.

Find more information here

When: Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 17-18, 2018, 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Where: Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.

Cost: Event is free to attend, bring money to shop.

Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic 5K and 1.5 Mile Fun Run

The course is a grass and dirt with hay bales and water jumps. Shoes, "turkeys" and pies will be awarded to winners and runners-up. Break the course record and win prize money. This year the pot is $350 for women and $450 for men.

Find more information here.

Where: Reid Park, Ramada 10

When: Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, 8-10:30 a.m.

Cost: $12-$30.

Enchanted Snowfall at La Encantada

Hang out by a 28-foot-tall Christmas tree and watch snow fall in the courtyard.

There will also be music, local entertainment and Mexican hot chocolate provided by Blanco Tacos + Tequila

Find more information here.

When: Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23-24, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, Dec. 7-8, Dec. 14-15, Dec. 21-22, 2018. Snow falls at 6 p.m. and again at 6:45 p.m.

Where: The La Encantada courtyard at 2905 E. Skyline Drive

Cost: Event is free.

Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair at Reid Park

Local artist Ardis Jones points some of the amusing items including signs by Golleet Lonabaugh who owns Geetiques during the Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair at Reid Park. Lonabaugh features many one-of-a-kind boutique items for the home as well as wearable art.

This holiday fair hosted by Tucson's Parks and Recreation draws in more than 140 vendors from all over the Southwest to sell one-of-a-kind handmade items. 

Find gifts, enjoy food, and watch some unique performances.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018,  from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Reid Park, west of the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center

Cost: Free to attend.

Made in Tucson Market

Artwork by Creative Kismet

Meet Tucson artists and get a glimpse at their creative process at this local-only market happening just around the corner of Fourth Avenue.

Find more information here.

When: Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: 7th Street, between 4th and 5th avenue

Cost: Free to attend.

Luminaria Nights at Tucson Botanical Gardens

More than 2,500 candlelit luminarias and 20 Korean lanterns line the walkways of Tucson Botanical Gardens for an enchanting night stroll. 

Enjoy performances by local musicians, dance acts, and school groups. Food and drink will also be available for purchase.   

Find more information here.

When: Friday-Sunday, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Dec. 7-9, 2018, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way

Cost: $18 general admission, $9 for kids, $12 for Tucson Botanical Garden members and $6 for their kids.

Tohono Chul's Holiday Nights

Lights line the trails at Tohono Chul Park Holiday Nights in Oro Valley on Dec. 5, 2015. Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star

Millions of twinkle-lights and music take over the Tohono Chul gardens for select evenings this holiday season.

Take a walk through the grounds as local musicians and artists perform. There will also be telescopes provided for stargazing, a holiday sing-a-long, and of course, Santa. 

Find more information here.

Where: Tohono Chul, 7366 N. Paseo Del Norte

When: Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 30-Dec. 1; Dec. 8-9; Dec. 15-16, 2018 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Cost: $16 general admission, $3 for kids under 12, and $12 for Tohono Chul members.

14th Annual Tucson Tamale and Heritage Festival

Celebrate the rich tastes, smells and variation of tamales from the Southwest and Mexico with live music and tamales contest. 

Find more information here.

Where: Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Free to attend.

Cultivate Tucson Holiday Market

Spring Winders, left, owner of Heliotrope, helps customer Becky Tsang look over a selection of her jewelry at the winter 2016 Cultivate market.

Cultivate Tucson's second pop-up market of the year is happening just in time for the holiday shopping season.

More than 50 local vendors will be there selling cool items including: jewelry, art, clothes, pottery and one-of-a-kind finds.

A percentage of the market's proceeds will go to Make Way For Books.

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: All Saints Building,  415 S. 6th Avenue

Cost: Event is free to attend, but you can purchase tickets to get access to the market early. Find information for that here

Oro Valley Holiday Festival of the Arts

Karen Cutlip, right, and her daughter Brit Weiland, look over some hand-painted personalized Christmas ornaments at the 2015 Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair at Reid Park.

Shop from more then 150 vendors and enjoy more than 30 local performances in Oro Valley.

There will also be a tree lighting event and a "Tuba Christmas" holiday play-along for the kids.

Find more information here.

Where: Oro Valley Marketplace, 12155 N. Oracle Road

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free to attend.

Marana Holiday Festival & Christmas Tree Lighting

The Christmas tree, as well as the surrounding trees, come alive for the crowd at the lighting ceremony during the Marana Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting, Saturday, December 3, 2016, Marana, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Come see Santa, watch live performances, and enjoy the biggest Christmas tree light show in Southern Arizona.

There's also going to be real snow to play in and a chance to do some holiday shopping at their market.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, 3-8 p.m.

Where: 11555 W. Civic Center Dr, Marana

Cost: Event is free.

Winter Art Festival at Cat Mountain Station

Listen to some live music while you shop at the Cat Mountain Station's Winter Art Fest.

Vendors at the fest will be selling a variety of artistic pieces including jewelry, iron works and photography.

Find more information here.

When: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Cat Mountain Station, 2740 S. Kinney Road

Cost: Event is free.

Fourth Schmourth Handmade Market

If you're looking for an alternative to the hustle and bustle of the the giant holiday markets, check out Fourth Schmourth for unique gifts.

There will be Tucson artists and vendors selling a bunch of cool stuff in an intimate home setting.

Food trucks will also be there serving up some eat and drink, including beer.

Find more information here.

When: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: 3008 E. Eastland Street, across from Reid Park

Cost: Event is free to attend.

Reid Park Zoo Lights

Youngsters take in the surrounding lights over one of the main walkways on the first night of this year's Zoo Lights at Reid Park Zoo, Wednesday, December 7, 2016, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Enjoy a night at the zoo with beautiful twinkle-light decorations and animal sculptures. Santa will be there as well as live entertainment, food and snow to play in.

Find more information here.

When: Dec. 6 to Dec. 23, 2018, 6-8 p.m. With encore nights from Dec. 26 to Dec. 30.

Where: Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Ct.

Cost: $10 for adults, $6 for kids ages 2-12. Reid Park Zoo members get $2 off admission.

Fourth Avenue Street Fair

Mary Hudson carefully makes her decision while looking to buy just the right wind spinner from American Windspinners on the opening day of the 2017 Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair in Tucson.

This is Tucson's largest street market of the season with more than 400 vendors from all over the world and 500,000 visitors — you're sure to find something for everyone on the gift list.

There's also plenty of food and family-friendly entertainment, so make a day of it.

Find more information here

When: Friday-Sunday, Dec. 7-9, 2018, 10 a.m. to dusk.

Where: Fourth Avenue, between Eighth Street and University Boulevard.

Cost: Free to attend, bring money for food and shopping. 

Post Farms Christmas Festival

Ride the Christmas train to see Santa, holiday light displays, jumping pillows, petting zoo, Christmas story time, great food and hot chocolate.

Find more information here.

Where: Marana Pumpkin Patch, 14901 North Wentz Road

When: December weekends 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 2018, from 5-9:30 p.m.

Cost: $8 per person plus tax.

Winterhaven Festival of Lights

A visitor strolls past an illuminated snowman during the 2017 Winterhaven Festival of Lights.

Every holiday season, the whole neighborhood of Winterhaven is transformed into a lit up wonderland.

Plus there will be food trucks, hot chocolate and fake snow. 

Find more information here

When: Dec. 8 to Dec. 26, 2018, from 6-10 p.m. every day.

Where: Neighborhood is located near Fort Lowell and Country Club. 

Cost: Free. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona will be collecting food and money at the event.

Holiday Market at Tucson Village Farm

Alex Atkin, instructional specialist and farm manager of the Tucson Village Farm, pulls more vegetables from the acre of crops at the Tucson Village Farm for customers on Nov. 15, 2014.

Shop for handmade gifts and seasonal produce at Tucson Village Farm's Holiday Market. You can even pick the veggies yourself if you want to!

Enjoy soup, bread and hot cocoa by a cozy campfire.

Find more information here.

When: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, from 4-8 p.m.

Where: Tucson Village Farm, 4210 N. Campbell Ave.

Cost: Event is free.

Christmas at San Xavier

Experience Christmas in Southern Arizona's 18th-century landmark, a treasure of Spanish mission architecture and Baroque art. The Sons of Orpheus and Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus will perform. Fun fact: Linda Ronstadt headlined the first Christmas concert in the mission.

Find more information here.

When: Dec. 11-13, 2018, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Where: Mission San Xavier del Bac, 1950 W. San Xavier Road

Cost: Tickets are $100, and they go fast, so be prepared. For $250 you can go to a reception at the Arizona Inn and be transported to the San Xavier for a special performance on Dec. 10.

Las Posadas

Students from Carrillo Elementary School carry the Nacimiento as they perform Las Posadas at the Presidio San Agustin, 196 N. Court Ave.

Carrillo Elementary students dressed as angels carry a nativity through the Barrio Viejo neighborhood as part of the procession dramatizing the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary.

This Las Posadas event, which also includes food and entertainment, has been a Tucson tradition since 1937.

Find more information here.

When: Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. Food and gathering beings at 5 p.m. and procession starts at 7 p.m.

Where: Carrillo K-5 School, 440 S. Main Ave.

Cost: Free. Bring money for food.

Tucson Regional Ballet's "A Southwest Nutcracker"

The Tucson Regional Ballet will perform “A Southwest Nutcracker”. 

Be transported to Tucson in the 1800s with a southwest version of "The Nutcracker", complete with dancing rattlesnakes, cavalry and coyotes. 

The Tucson Symphony Orchestra will also be providing live music for the performances.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018 at 2 p.m.

Where: Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.

Cost: Prices start at $32. There are also group rate tickets available. 

Downtown Parade of Lights

Lighted parade floats, above, head east on Pennington during the 23rd Annual Parade of Lights.

Feel the holiday cheer with a fun parade of lights in downtown Tucson. You'll see dancers with lit up dresses, Santa, cool cars and much more. This year's event includes live entertainment, food trucks and a snow play area.

Find more information here

When: Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018

Where: Downtown Tucson

Cost: Free to attend.

Arizona Wildcats basketball holiday tickets

University of Arizona basketball games during the winter break break have a festive feel and it's easier to get tickets. This year, the holiday ticket pack contains one admission to Baylor (Dec. 15), Colorado (Jan. 3) and Utah (Jan. 5). 

Find more information here.

When: Thursday, Dec. 15, 2018, at 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m., and Jan. 5, at noon.

Where: McKale Memorial Center, 1721 E. Enke Drive

Cost: Packs start at $120.

Tucson Storytellers: Holiday Stories

Adiba Nelson tells her tale for the Storytellers Project, at the Tucson Museum of Art, Wednesday, Sept. 26.

We host a live storytelling event with the Arizona Daily Star several times a year. Join us to hear first-person stories from six community members about their own holiday experiences, from funny mishaps to heartwarming memories. 

Find more information here

When: Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. Check in at 6 p.m. Stories from 6:30-8 p.m.

Where: The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway

Cost: $10 general audience, $5 student. Get tickets here

We host a live storytelling event with the Arizona Daily Star several times a year. Join us to hear first-person stories from six community me…

48th Annual Ramon's Miracle on 31st Street

Abraham Almonte, 4, left, receives a gift from Santa Claus during Ramons Miracle on 31st street.

More than 15,000 kids are expected to attend this year's toy giveaway and meet Santa at the Casino Del Sol's AVA Amphitheater. This celebration will also include, food, music, entertainment for the family and face painting.

To donate toys to kids who need help this holiday season, call Ramon Gonzales at 520-971-8271, or drop off your donation at 2019 W. Ajo Way.

Find more information here.

Where: AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road.

When: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cost: Free to attend.

Rooftop Santa show

Santa Claus throws candy out to the audience from the rooftop during the annual Poet's Square Christmas Pageant. 

Santa Claus climbs a midtown roof and showers the audience with candy during the an annual holiday show that features residents of Poet Square and Peter Howell neighborhoods.

There will also be treats, hot cocoa, and chance to take photos with Santa.

When: Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Peter Howell Neighborhood, 4218 E. Irving Circle

Cost: The event is free, but attendees are encouraged to bring nonperishable food to donate to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News