In fact, a number of Tucson holiday traditions are still happening — with COVID-19 modifications, of course. Because Arizona is continuing to set daily records for new coronavirus cases, these events are virtual or outside.
As always, physical distance, wear a mask, and double check with event organizers as things can change quickly. A nightly curfew will be in effect within the City of Tucson from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., expiring the morning of Dec. 23. Pima County also has a voluntary curfew.
Patronato's Christmas Concert at Mission San Xavier
This popular Christmas concert series at Mission San Xavier del Bac is going virtual this year. For a donation of any amount, you can get a link to a 33-minute concert by the Tucson Boys and Girls choirs and award-winning soloists. The digital concert also includes drone footage of the church's interior art and closed-to-the-public spaces, according to press materials. The concert will be available on demand through the month of December.
Visit patronatosanxavier.org for more information or to purchase the link to the concert.
ZooLights: Holiday Magic
Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court, is decked out for the holidays with thousands of twinkling lights. The zoo has also added a North Pole Village, where kids can meet Santa Claus from a distance. The zoo is limiting visitors, so you'll have to reserve your tickets online. Admission slots are available at 5:30 and 7 p.m. through Dec. 23. Encore nights are Dec. 26-30, but Santa will not be present. Tickets are $11 general admission, $9 for seniors, $7 for children. Zoo members receive a $3 discount. Some nights have already sold out, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance.
For more information, visit reidparkzoo.org.
El Nacimiento at the Tucson Museum of Art
Even though El Nacimiento is currently closed, #ThisIsTucson is teaming up with the Tucson Museum of Art to virtually give you a more in-depth look at this Tucson treasure and the larger role of the Nativity in art. El Nacimiento is an elaborate Nativity that fills an entire room in the museum's historic Casa Cordova with intricate scenes from the birth of Jesus and other stories from the Bible. We'll learn about El Nacimiento from Kristopher Driggers, the museum's curator of Latin American Art, on Facebook Live 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 17.
For more information or to join, visit this Facebook event.
Nutcracker Story Time with Ballet Tucson
Rather than go a Christmas without the Nutcracker, settle in for a virtual story time with Rogue Theatre's Joseph McGrath, who will narrate the famous ballet. The virtual story time will include footage from Ballet Tucson's stage production of the Nutcracker. Tickets may be purchased through Dec. 16. Then, families can enjoy the event between Dec. 17-31. Certain tickets enter supporters into a holiday raffle that features a range of prizes, according to press materials. Tickets start at $10.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit nutcrackerstorytime.eventbrite.com.
Wanderland at Tucson Botanical Gardens
Explore pathways lined with more than 3,000 luminarias, more than a dozen large Korean lanterns and colorful LED lights at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Enjoy holiday music and hundreds of poinsettias. Plus, kids can leave letters for Santa in a special mailbox. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $8 for kids ages 4-17. Children 4 and under are free, and discounts are available for members, seniors, students and military. You can reserve a 5:30 or 7 p.m. admission time through Jan. 3.
For more information or to reserve tickets, visit tucsonbotanical.org.
Holiday Storytelling Spectacular
The Arizona Daily Star's Storytellers Project is hosting a virtual storytelling night about the holiday season. The stories — all told by Tucsonans — will address everything from yearning and disappointment to Santa Claus and growing up. And, by the way, this storytelling night is not appropriate for kids who still believe in the magic of Christmas. You can watch the virtual event 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 16. Admission is free.
For more information and to register, visit storytellersproject.com/city/tucson.
For more than 80 years, Carrillo K-5 School has hosted a festival that commemorates the journey Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem in search of a place for Mary to give birth to baby Jesus. Part of that festival includes an annual procession through the streets with kids dressed up and singing, says magnet coordinator Robert Villanueva. Although no procession can happen this year, the school is gathering over Zoom to share photos and videos from past years, along with recent recordings of traditional songs sung by the school's students. The virtual event is open to the public and free at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 19. If you want to support the school, you can order the Birria Dinner Plate at Rollies Mexican Patio from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. the day of the event. Four dollars of every plate sold goes toward the school.
For more information, along with the Zoom link, visit the Carrillo K-5 Communication and Creative Arts Magnet Facebook page.