2020 Holiday Activities for Kids in Scottsdale

By local contributor
Christina La Porte

As if the sunny days and mildly chilly nights aren’t enough reason to head to Scottsdale during the holidays, our resorts and attractions pull out all the stops to transform into winter wonderlands sure to cheer even the most Grinch-y members of the family – from tykes to teenagers.



This holiday extravaganza returns to Old Town with a host of activities for the whole family – all creatively reimagined to accommodate social distancing. Highlights include Letters to Santa at the Old Town Farmers Market (bring your letter pre-printed from home to drop in the special mailbox and receive a reply from Santa by old-fashioned mail!), Holiday Movie Nights and storytelling sessions at The Dazzle of Historic Old Town.

Dates: Nov. 27, 2020 – Jan. 1, 2021
Times: Vary by activity – see website for details.




One of the area’s most cherished holiday traditions, ZooLights, returns this season with millions of twinkling lights, dazzling animal sculptures and the new Wildlife Lantern Safari, featuring 66 creatures — polar bears, mammoths, peacocks and more, all aglow. Stroll through the Phoenix Zoo to meet Santa and his elves at Leapin’ Lagoon; watch the Music-in-Motion Light Show on the lake, choreographed to Trans-Siberian Orchestra; indulge in kettle corn and hot cocoa; and more. Plus, this year, there’s a new way to feel the magic with Cruise ZooLights, a drive-thru experience also not to be missed!

Dates: Walk-Thru: Select nights Nov. 7, 2020 – Jan. 31, 2021; Cruise: Select nights Nov. 12, 2020 – Jan. 28, 2021
Times: 5:30-10:30 p.m. (last Walk Thru entry 9 p.m.; last Cruise entry 9:30 p.m.)



fairmont holidays

Celebrate the splendor of the season at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, where holiday festivities and an enchanting winter wonderland are found at the 11th Annual Christmas at the Princess. The fun starts with the four-story, musically animated Christmas tree, aglow with 70,000 LED lights that twinkle to the tune of holiday songs, before moving towards the 6,000-square-foot Desert Ice Holiday Rink. Other holiday highlights include S’mores Land, complete with the Christmas Carousel and Frosty’s Ferris Wheel; Winterland igloo rentals; and the Princess Express Train ride, which takes families on a whimsical ride through the lagoons twinkling with more than 4.5 million LED lights.

Dates: Nov. 20 – Dec. 31, 2020
Times: Vary based on attraction; see website for details.



holiday train

This event’s centerpiece is the Paradise & Pacific Railroad, which takes visitors on a mesmerizing ride of holiday lights and displays. This 5:12-scale train is an exact replica of the Colorado narrow gauge railroad and features three steam locomotives, two diesel engines and one electric engine. Before or after the train ride, hop aboard the historic Charros Carousel or delight in an ice cream cone at Hartley’s General Store. New this year, to adhere to safety protocols, the event will feature limited-capacity, one-hour blocks at 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. nightly and rides will be loaded at 50% capacity.

Dates: Daily from Nov. 27, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31)
Times: 6–9:30 p.m.



verde canyon train

Embark on a magical train ride from Verde Canyon to the North Pole this December. The Christmas-themed experience features a miniature village at the train depot for even the tiniest tots to explore and a train ride with open-air viewing cars that will pass through a “magical” tunnel before stopping at the North Pole. Once there, children will delight in viewing more than 15 buildings, including Santa’s Workshop, Mrs. Claus’ Bakery and the Reindeer Flight School, to name a few. Letters children have written to Santa will be delivered to the big man himself, who will board the train for the return trip. 

Dates: Thursdays – Sundays Dec. 4-24, 2020
Times: Trains depart at 5:30 and 7 p.m.



Christmas Segway

Hold onto your antlers for the 8th annual Christmas Lights Scottsdale Segway Tours! The lights in Old Town Scottsdale are bright and dazzling at night, and the memories made with family are sure to last a lifetime. Don helmets with reindeer antlers, sip hot chocolate at the halfway point and enjoy holiday tunes while cruising downtown streets dressed in holiday cheer. (Note: Must be age 12 or older to ride).

Dates: Daily Dec. 1-30, 2020 (except Dec. 24)
Times: 6 p.m.


To plan your Scottsdale holiday getaway, click here!