The annual courthouse holiday light display in downtown Prescott, Arizona

In 1989, Governor Rose Mofford named Prescott, Arizona “Arizona’s Christmas City.” With an attractive 4 season climate (including cooler temperatures in December and a slight possibility of snow!), historic Victorian architecture, and a whole lineup of festive holiday activities, Prescott claiming the Christmas title comes as no surprise!

During the holiday season, Prescott is most well known for their extravagant lighting ceremony at the Yavapai County Courthouse. As part of the city’s biggest event, 100 trees are sparkling with nearly a million colorful holiday lights. 2022 marks the 68th lighting, which kicks off on December 3rd with a parade, a reading of the Christmas Story, and holiday carols.  Even if you can’t make it to the opening ceremony, you must plan a time this holiday season to stroll around the festive grounds of the plaza. The lights stay up until mid-January, so you have plenty of time to plan a visit.

The beautiful holiday light display at Prescott Arizona's downtown courthouse
Beautiful holiday lights at the Yavapai County Courthouse in downtown Prescott, Arizona
Walking through hundreds of beautifully lit trees at the annual holiday light display at Prescott Arizona's Yavapai County Courthouse

Other seasonal holiday events occurring late November through the New Year include: Wild Lights at the Heritage Park Zoo, Christkindlmarket, “the World’s Largest Gingerbread Village at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center,” The Valley of Lights drive-thru holiday spectacular at Fain Park, various Christmas plays, holiday craft fairs and bake sales, and much more!

Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo

Prescott, with a population of just 40,000, offers more of a small town feeling that most of Arizona, complete with a historic downtown, charming old homes and buildings, an abundance of local shops and restaurants, and dozens of community events spread throughout the season. These combining factors led Prescott to be known as the best place in Arizona to celebrate an old fashioned Christmas!

Christmas tree and courthouse lights in downtown Prescott, Arizona

Although just under a 2 hour drive from Phoenix, Prescott (situated at an elevation of 5400 feet) luckily does not share the same crazy hot weather. In fact, the city is known for its’ desirable 4 season climate, one that includes both mild summers and winters. Thus, it is no surprise that both retirees and 2nd home owners flock here. Winter highs are typically in the 50’s with the occasional chance of snow due to the low (often freezing) nighttime desert temps.

Take a look at a few of the must attend holiday events

Holiday Light Parade

This year marks the 20th year of the popular holiday lights parade, taking place along the streets of historic downtown. So much effort is put into this lively 2 hour parade, which features illuminated floats, cars, and trucks. Many local businesses really go all out with the lights, creating the ultimate festive setting. The brisk nighttime temps (be sure to wear a hat, gloves, and scarf!), enthusiastic mix of locals and tourists, and bright lights really create an enjoyable holiday setting. This year’s parade, held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, kicks off the holiday season. Prescott’s Holiday Lights Parade is definitely an event to put on your calendar! Stay updated on times/dates for next year’s parade and other holiday events by visiting the Prescott Downtown website.

A few of the memorable floats from past year’s

The Holiday Lights Parade in Prescott, Arizona

The Holiday Lights Parade in Prescott, Arizona
The Holiday Lights Parade in Prescott, Arizona
The Holiday Lights Parade in Prescott, Arizona
The Holiday Lights Parade in Prescott, Arizona

Wild Lights at Heritage Park Zoo

Each year, Prescott’s quaint Heritage Park Zoo hosts a spectacular holiday zoo lights event known as Wild Lights. The zoo is very small (just 10 acres!), yet still houses a diverse range of animals (a black bear, tiger, mountain lion, Mexican wolf, coyote, lemur, bobcat, and a variety of birds and reptiles are a few of the notable zoo animals you will come across). Heritage is not your typical zoo: all the animals here have been rescued.

Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo

A variety of specialty and seasonal events including Wild Lights give locals and guests the opportunity to see the zoo in a new light throughout the year. Wild Lights features an attractive layout of lights and various holiday and animal themed wire displays. In addition to enjoying the colorful lights, you may even see a few animals out! We were able to see most of the animals aside from the black bear and a few of the cats. It’s pretty dark, however, volunteers are around to help shine a light to help you out!

Take a look at a few of the unique displays from recent year’s Wild Lights celebration

Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo
Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo
Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo

If you are from a big city, you may be a bit dissapointed in the display. While it may not be as extravagant as what you are used to, it’s pretty enough to warrant a visit. Walking the grounds of Heritage will not take more than a half hour or so. However, if you happen to be visiting Prescott this holiday season, it’s definitely worth visiting as it’s affordable and quite peaceful (no big crowds like the big city zoos!). Grab a hot cocoa in the visitor’s center and enjoy a leisurely stroll around this attractively decorated, yet not overdone zoo lights event. It’s a great little holiday activity that doesn’t cost a lot and will not take up your whole night.

More fun light displays at Wild Lights

Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo
Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo
Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo
Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo
Wild Lights at Prescott's Heritage Park Zoo

2022 Dates: Wild Lights runs on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm-9pm, from November 25th-December 31st.

Valley of Lights

One of the top Prescott holiday traditions to check out this season is the amazing Valley of Lights drive-thru holiday light spectacular. This gorgeous 1 mile pathway of lighted tunnels and displays in Fain Park is the must see in town. It’s one of the best drive thru light displays I’ve ever seen, and best of all, it’s completely free!

Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona

From your warm car, you will slowly make the trip through this Christmas wonderland. Bring with a to go cup of hot chocolate to make it even more Christmasy. Along the mile long journey, you’ll see plenty of your favorite characters including the Grinch and the Peanuts gang. Santa and his reindeer are here too. Add in a bit of local charm such as cacti and cowboy displays and you have a bit of everything! A really unique display – a job well done! The best part by far is driving through the beautifully decorated tunnels. Prescott’s Valley of Lights is one holiday event you can’t miss! After all, it’s free, peaceful, and most of all, festive!

A cute soldier points you in the right direction so you won’t get lost. From the highway, you will be able to see the large soldier.

Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona

Take a look at a few great scenes from recent year’s displays

Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona
Valley of Lights in Prescott, Arizona

2022 dates: Valley of Lights runs from Thanksgiving December 30th from 6pm-1opm.

“The World’s Largest Gingerbread Village” at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center

In the lobby of the Prescott Resort and Conference Center, you will find some beautiful holiday decorations, most notably the impressive gingerbread village display. The attractive annual display features 100 or so diverse works of gingerbread art, from a unique media inspired creations to artistic houses that resemble local businesses around town.

World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona

Although the display is quite large, it’s not the largest gingerbread village, despite the title. That award goes to the 1102 piece gingerbread set up at the New York Hall of Science in Corona by artist Jon Lovitch. His creation has landed him a spot in the Guinness World Record for largest gingerbread village many years in a row.

Take a look at a few of the talent houses on display in recent years

World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona
World's Largest Gingerbread Village in Prescott, Arizona

Prescott Resort’s Gingerbread Village is free of charge to explore. It is open 24/7 for holiday viewing up until New Year’s. Be sure to also check out the beautiful holiday tree!

Christmas tree at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center

Have you ever attended any of the mentioned holiday activities in Prescott? What other holiday related events would you recommend?