Winterhaven Festival of Lights

Mike Crowder, right, and his wife Vilma Reynoso pause hand-in-hand to enjoy a fully-decorated tree during the first night of the 67th Annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. 

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 at Tucson Museum of Art

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. .

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 and it has been on display in Tucson since 1978.

Find more information here.

When: Casa Cordova is open during museum hours. Tuesday-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: $12 general admission, free for kids under 12. Find more ticket information here.

Free admission 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

With six million LED lights, carnival rides, Chinese acrobatics shows, and music performances, Tucson Lights of the World is a lantern festival that glows at the Kino Sports Complex all holiday season.

Find more information here.

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

When: Open Oct. 24, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020, Tuesday-Sunday, 5-10 p.m.

Cost: $17.99 adult admission, $14.99 for children 2-12.

Tucson Museum of Art's Holiday Artisan Market

The TMA Holiday Artisans Market is a three-day event.

More than 100 vendors will be at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block for a weekend of shopping fun. Items available for purchase include a large selection of ceramics, glass, jewelry, paintings, prints and more.

Find more information here

When: Friday-Sunday, Nov. 22-24, 2019, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

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

Wee Winter Wonderland at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Children examine a handcrafted winter scene at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.

Have yourself a teeny little Christmas at the Mini Time Machine Museum. More then a dozen miniature scenes depicting holidays from around the world and throughout time will be on display.

Find more information here.

Where: The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, 4455 E. Camp Lowell Drive

When: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 through Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. Open museum hours, Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Monday and major holidays.

Cost: $10.50 adult admission, $7 youth admission. Get $2 off per ticket if you buy them early, find more pricing info here.

Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic

This grass and dirt course is full of fun hay bales and water jumps obstacles. 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. 28, 2019, 7-10:30 a.m.

Cost: $15-$30.

Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair at Reid Park

Shoppers walk around the various vendors during the annual Holiday Arts and Craft Fair in Reid Park.

This holiday fair hosted by Tucson's Parks and Recreation draws more than 160 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-Sunday, Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, 2019, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

Cost: Free to attend.

O'odham Made It Market

Ha:l is a Tohono O'odham winter squash that reaches maturity around the month of November. I spotted these for 65 cents a pound at the San Xavier Co-op Farm store, 8100 S. Oidak Wog. 

Shop one-of-a-kind handmade clothing, jewelry, art and more. 

There will also be a farm-to-table food sale, activities for the kids and live music by the Mumsigo Family.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: San Xavier Co-Op Farm, 8100 Oidak Wog

Cost: Event is free to attend

Parade of Lights and Festival

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

This downtown Tucson holiday tradition is celebrating its 25th year by moving the event to the Thanksgiving weekend.

It all kicks off with a tree-lighting ceremony, live music, food and other family activities. It's followed by the parade — where you'll see dancers in lit up dresses, Santa, cars, holiday lights and more.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, festivities start at 4:30 p.m., parade begins at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Downtown Tucson

Cost: Event is free to attend

Enchanted Snowfall at La Encantada

Pretend snow will appear every Saturday evenings at La Encantada.

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

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

Find more information here.

When: Every Saturday, Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, 2019. 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.

Made in Tucson Market

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

Find more information here.

When: Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: Free to attend.

Luminaria Nights at Tucson Botanical Gardens

More than 3,500 candlelit luminarias and 20 Korean lanterns line the walkways of Tucson Botanical Gardens for an enchanting night stroll. 

Enjoy live music performances, pretend snowfall in the gardens and a poinsettia pavilion.

Find more information here.

When: Friday-Sunday, Dec.6-8 and Dec. 13-15, 2019, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way

Cost: $18 general admission, $9 for kids ages 4-17, $12 for Tucson Botanical Garden members and $6 for their kids.

Tohono Chul's Holiday Nights

Visitors take in live music with lights strung all overhead during the 2018 Holiday Nights at Tohono Chul.

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, Dec. 6-7; Dec. 13-14; and Dec. 20-21, 2019, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Cost: $16 general admission, $5 for kids ages 5-12, and $12 for Tohono Chul members.

Cultivate Tucson Holiday Market

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

About 50 local vendors will sell one-of-a-kind items including: jewelry, art, clothes, pottery and other interesting finds.

A percentage of the market's proceeds will go to the Casa Alitas Program.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Event is free to attend, but you can purchase tickets to get access to the market early from 8-10 a.m.. Find information for that here.

Arroyo Cafe Holiday Radio Show

David Fitzsimmons, left, and his Arroyo Cafe Players.

Join cartoonist Dave Fitzsimmons and friends for a live taping of the Arroyo Cafe Holiday Radio Show.

Funds from the show will go to benefit Casa Alitas, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, HIAS and Arizona Public Media.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, 1 p.m.

Where: The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress Street

Cost: $20 general admission

15th Annual Tucson Tamal and Heritage Festival

Green corn and red beef tamales from El Campireño during the 2017 Tamal and Heritage Festival at Casino del Sol. 

Celebrate the rich tastes, smells and variation of tamales from the Southwest and Mexico at the Casino Del Sol's tamal festival. There will be live music, market, and tamal contest. 

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road

Cost: Free to attend.

Marana Holiday Festival and Christmas Tree Lighting

Come see Santa, play in 25 tons of real snow, watch live performances and enjoy the biggest Christmas tree light show in Southern Arizona.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, 3-8 p.m.

Cost: Event is free to attend

La Fiesta de Guadalupe

The DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun houses thousands of paintings, lithographs and sketches from Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia. 

The DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun's festival returns this year with lots of music, dancing and food.

Take in the beautiful desert landscape and enjoy performances by mariachi bands, folklorico dancers and Yaqui Deer Dancers. Local food and art vendors will also be here.

Find more information here.

When: Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, 6300 N. Swan Road

Cost: Event is free to attend.

Ballet Tucson's Sugar Plum Tea

Join the Tucson Ballet for a magical tea time, featuring live music from the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and harpist Christine Vivona, performances by Tucson Ballet and characters from The Nutcracker.

There will be a holiday boutique and silent auction.

Find more information here.

Where: Tucson Marriott University Park, 880 E. 2nd Street

When: Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at 1 p.m.

Cost: $75 per person

Fourth Avenue Street Fair

Mary Hudson looks for a wind spinner on the opening day of the Fourth Avenue Street Fair on Friday.

This is Tucson's largest street market of the season with hundreds of vendors from around the world and 500,000 visitors — and this year the market is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Find more information here.

When: Friday-Sunday, Dec. 13-15, 2019

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

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

Holiday Festival of the Arts and Oro Valley Tree Lighting

Karen Cutlip, right, and her daughter Brit Weiland, look over some hand-painted personalized Christmas ornaments during a 2015 holiday fair. 

Shop from more then 150 vendors and enjoy performances by local musicians and students. 

There will also be a tree lighting ceremony on Saturday evening, complete with Santa and carolers. 

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tree lighting festivities Saturday, Dec. 7, 2-6 p.m.

Where: Oro Valley Marketplace, 12155 N. Oracle Road

Cost: Free to attend.

Post Farms Christmas Festival

The Marana Pumpkin Patch transforms into a holiday wonderland, complete with a Christmas train, twinkly lights, story time and visits from Santa. 

There are also some farm favorites, including a petting zoo, jumping pillows and baked goods for sale.    

Find more information here.

When: December 2019 weekends: Dec. 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, from 5-9:30 p.m.

Where: Marana Pumpkin Patch, 14901 North Wentz Road

Cost: $10 per person plus tax.

Reid Park Zoo Lights

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

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

Find more information here.

When: Thursday, Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, 6-8 p.m. With encore nights from Thursday, Dec. 26 to Monday, 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 $3 off admission.

Christmas at San Xavier


#ThisIsTucson in your inbox

cactus love

Sign up to our weekly newsletter and never miss out on things happening in Tucson

Weekend Planner: This Tucson Newsletter


Experience Christmas in this Southern Arizona 18th-century landmark, a true treasure of Spanish mission architecture and Baroque art. The Sons of Orpheus and Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus will perform.

Find more information here.

When: Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 10-12, 2019, check here for showtimes

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

Cost: Tickets start $100, and they go fast, so be prepared. 

The Very Merry Holiday Sing-A-Long Spectacular at The Loft Cinema

All we want for Christmas is to have a rockin' good time at The Loft's Holiday Sing-A-Long.

Watch clips from your favorite holiday movies, television specials, music videos and other festive finds.

Come dressed in your best Christmas costume for a chance to win a prize and participate in the Kooky Christmas Costume Parade. 

Also, if you bring an unwrapped toy donation for Casa de los Niños  you'll receive half-off admission into the event.

Find more information here.

When: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

Cost: $12 general admission, $10 for Loft members

Las Posadas

Nayeli Romero, in red at left, Iris Lee and Jasmine Gomez sing with the crowd and other students from Carrillo K-5 Magnet School outside the ceremonial house to accept Joseph and Mary for the 82nd Annual Las Posadas Celebration walk through the streets of Barrio Viejo, Friday, December 14, 2018, Tucson, Ariz.

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. 13, 2019. Food and gathering begins at 5 p.m. and procession starts at 7 p.m.

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

Cost: Event is free to attend. Bring money for food.

Vail Jingle Trail 5K and Santa's Little Helper 1K

Have jolly time taking on the Cienega High School cross country course and treating yourself to some music and refreshments. 

The first 400 finishers of the 5K will receive a handmade ornament. Participants of the Santa's Little Helper 1K run will get a goodie and ribbon.

Find more information here.

Where: Cienega High School, 12775 E Mary Ann Cleveland Way, Vail

When: Dec. 14, 2019, at 8:45 a.m.

Cost: 25$ and a new unwrapped toy to participate in the 5K, $20 and a new unwrapped toy for the 1K 13 years and older, $15 and a new unwrapped toy for the 1K under 12 years.

Winterhaven Festival of Lights

A young visitor strolls past a large, illuminated snowman near Candy Cane Lane.

Each year, folks from the Winterhaven neighborhood decorate their houses with bright lights and elaborate holiday displays for the whole city to enjoy. And this time, the annual Tucson tradition is celebrating its 70th anniversary. 

There will be food trucks, hayrides, hot chocolate, fake snow and of course, the Wishing Tree. 

Find more information here

When: Saturday, Dec. 14 to Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, from 6-10 p.m. every day.

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

Cost: The festival is free to attend, however it's also a fundraiser for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona — bring money and food donations and drop them off on your way in. 

Tucson Regional Ballet's "A Southwest Nutcracker"

Artificial snow falls around dancers as they work on their performance during a dress rehearsal for the Tucson Regional Ballet's production of Southwest Nutcracker at the TCC Music Hall, Wednesday, December 12, 2018, Tucson, Ariz.

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. 14, 2019, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m.

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

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

Tucson Storytellers: Holiday Stories

Patrick Cunningham talks about the lessons he learned playing Santa Clause during the Arizona Daily Star's Tucson Storytellers event at the Loft Cinema on Dec. 17, 2018 in Tucson, AZ.

#ThisIsTucson hosts 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. 16, 2019, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Brother John's Beer, Bourbon and BBQ, 1801 N. Stone Ave.

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

It's a Wonderful Life at the Fox Theatre

Watch the classic film "It's a Wonderful Life" at the beautiful and historic Fox Theatre.

Find more information here.

When: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 23, at 2 p.m.

Where: Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress Street

Cost: $7 general admission, $5 for seniors and active military, free for Fox members and kids under 12

Holiday Parade at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet

The Tanque Verde Swap Meet was founded in 1975 has about 750 vendors on 30 acres at 4100 S. Palo Verde Road.

The Tanque Verde Swap Meet is celebrating the holidays with a festive parade, featuring decorated floats and Santa.

Be sure to bring some money so you can do a little shopping while you're there.

Find more information here.

When: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Tanque Verde Swap Meet, 4100 S. Palo Verde Road

Cost: Event is free to attend.

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 attend this toy giveaway and meet Santa every year at the Casino Del Sol's AVA Amphitheater. The celebration includes, 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.

Find more information here.

Where: AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road.

When: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cost: Free to attend.

The Polar Express at the Fox Theatre

Take a ride aboard the Polar Express with a screening of the 2004 film at the Fox Theater.

Join Kit's pajama party an hour before screening where you'll be able to meet a train conductor, get your ticket punched, participate in story time and hang out with Santa.

Find more information here.

Where: Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress Street

When: Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, showtimes at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Cost: $7 general admission, $5 for seniors and active military, free for Fox members and kids under 12