Back in December 2007, Sedona Monthly featured a cover story about all of the unique holiday events that take place in northern Arizona. Every December since that issue, we’ve received e-mails requesting that we do the same type of story again. We aren’t big on repeating ourselves, but the masses have spoken. Here’s a rundown of 12 of the best Christmas and New Year’s celebrations that are sure to put some cheer in your heart. Old favorites such as the Festival of Lights and Pinecone Drop are back, along with some new traditions such as the Model Railroaders display and the dancing Christmas lights in Cornville. Each year, we find it’s these community events that make the holiday season memorable. Take a break from the frantic shopping sprees and never-ending housework, and hop aboard the Polar Express with your child or grab your scarf and wander through Red Rock Fantasy. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did. December in northern Arizona is a great time to be reminded of the wonderful aspects of small-town living. Happy Holidays, everyone.
Annual Holiday Tree Lighting & Santa Visit
The Sedona Main Street staff isn’t joking when they say the Annual Holiday Tree Lighting at Orchards Plaza in Uptown Sedona is the perfect place to feel small-town spirit and community. Join Mayor Rob Adams and the Canyon Singers for caroling and the official lighting of the 17-foot tree. At 5:30 p.m., Santa Claus will arrive in historic Sedona firetruck No. 1, ready to pose for pictures and hear children’s wishes. Entertainment will be provided throughout the duration of the event, and past performers have included Big Park Community School’s garage band, who played holiday favorites using recycled materials as instruments. Hot drinks will also be served. The event is sponsored by the Sedona Main Street Program, City of Sedona and Sedona Chamber of Commerce. After the tree lighting, take some time to wander Uptown Sedona and shop locally for all your holiday gifts. The tree will remain in place until early January so everyone can enjoy the its festive presence throughout the holiday season. – Kristina Remy
Annual Holiday Tree Lighting & Santa Visit, Dec. 3, 5-7 p.m. Free. Orchards Plaza, 254 N. SR 89A in front of Orchards Bar & Grill in Uptown (928-204-2390) www.sedonamainstreet.com.
Pilgrimage to Bethlehem
Head over to Tequa Festival Marketplace, and be prepared to step back in time 2,000 years. Potter’s Hand Productions will be hosting its 7th Annual Pilgrimage to Bethlehem, an event that features an interactive Bethlehem market and living nativity. The faith-based community theater invites everyone to this free event, which includes more than 100 costumed characters and hours of entertainment. The event begins at 2:30 p.m. with the sound of a shofar announcing the marketplace’s opening. Participants will be able to peruse the market alongside soldiers on horseback, the three wise men and even Mary and Joseph. While in the marketplace, be sure to trade your shekels for a scroll with your name on it or try some of the dried fruits and nuts from one of the Bethlehem vendors. Then, at 4:30 p.m., take a 30-minute break before the show, which begins promptly at 5 p.m. The play will be a musical culmination telling the story of the birth of Christ and the events surrounding it. Seating is limited and warm clothing is recommended. – Kristina Remy
Pilgrimage to Bethlehem, Dec. 17-19. Bethlehem marketplace is open 2:30-4:30 p.m.; live performance at 5 p.m. Free. Tequa Festival Marketplace, 7000 SR 179 in the Village of Oak Creek (928-300-3968) www.pottershandproductions.com.