At Home for the Holidays

Continued (page 3 of 3)

Dec. 8, 2007

Festival of Lights

It’s truly a magical moment when the bell tower at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village chimes 5 p.m. and thousands of people, from children to retirees, longtime locals to first-time visitors, light 6,000 luminarias throughout the Old World village’s cobblestone walkways, courtyards, terraces, and patios. Luminarias, brown paper bags each containing a single candle and weighted with sand, originated in New Mexico as a way to guide the spirit of Christ into homes. Tlaquepaque started its own Festival of Lights 34 years ago. At the event, choirs, jazz ensembles, carolers, dancers, and local musicians play throughout the village, Santa Claus listens carefully to kids’ wishes, and shops keep their doors open late for holiday shoppers. A nativity with live animals will also be on display. Of course, plenty of cups of hot cider are also on hand. Each year, the American Cancer Society sells special luminarias in remembrance of cancer victims and to honor survivors of the illness, with proceeds benefiting research to find a cure.

Festival of Lights
Dec. 8, 3-8 p.m. Free admission. Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village,
336 Hwy 179 (928-282-4838;

Dec. 14, 2007

Pilgrimage to Bethlehem – Tlaquepaque

For three afternoons in December, Tlaquepaque becomes a Bethlehem village of Roman soldiers, shepherds, dancing gypsies, sheep, donkeys, and goats. This year, Potter’s Hand Productions, a Sedona faith-based community theatre organization, stages its fourth annual Pilgrimage to Bethlehem, featuring 100 costumed actors and a market in Plaza del Norte where visitors can “purchase” scrolls, fruits and nuts, flowers and weavings with shekels handed out at the market entrance, or try their hand at ancient games. Don’t be surprised if a beggar, soldier, or shop owner approaches you, speaking “Bethlehemese.” Keep an eye out for Mary riding through the streets on a donkey led by Joseph. Once the market closes, a musical interpretation of the story of the birth of Christ takes place along Calle Independencia with a 30-person choir and living nativity.

Pilgrimage to Bethlehem
Dec. 14, 15, and 16, 2:30 p.m. The Christmas Concert and Live Nativity begins at 5 p.m. Free admission. Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, 336 Hwy 179 (928-282-4838;

Dec. 15, 2007

Santa Comes to Town on the Train

If you missed Santa in Flagstaff on the fire truck, here he is again, coming to town this time on the BNSF Railway for Flagstaff Toys for Tots. Family-oriented entertainment and free hot chocolate and cookies starts at 3:30 p.m. in Heritage Square; at 5:30 p.m., a decorated and lit train engine pulls up to the BNSF office at San Francisco St. and Route 66 with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Santa’s helpers riding the front rail (holding up train traffic along the heavily-trafficked train tracks for about 20 minutes). After a greeting from the mayor, Santa and Mrs. Claus board a horse-drawn carriage (the reindeer seem to be off again) and head to Heritage Square where they listen to kids’ Christmas wishes. Members of the U.S. Marine Corps. – founders of the Tots for Tots program – will be on hand. Last year’s event drew 3,000 people, many of whom brought a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots, helping the organization deliver 75,000 toys to needy children in northern Arizona. Look for drop-off points in Flagstaff all this month, or bring a toy to Heritage Square during the celebration.

Santa Comes to Town on the Train
Dec. 15, entertainment begins at 3:30 p.m. and Santa arrives at 5:30 p.m. Free admission. Heritage Square and the BNSF office in downtown Flagstaff (928-779-0384;

Dec. 31, 2007

Pinecone Drop and Flagstaff Block Party

Times Square it isn’t, but then again, New York doesn’t have a Pinecone Drop. It takes place at 10 p.m. (for families with kids who just can’t stay awake until midnight) and again at 12 a.m. at the Hotel Weatherford. The first drop took place on New Year’s Eve 1999 and the crowd of spectators has grown each year. The 70-lb., 7-foot-tall ’cone is made of a wire frame, aluminum petals, and lots of lights (originally, it was a garbage can filled with sand and decorated with ponderosa pinecones). It takes about ten seconds for it to descend three stories to the street while a big crowd cheers from below, spraying silly string, blowing horns, and shaking noisemakers. Bands take over Heritage Square starting at 8 p.m. and the restaurants and bars lining Aspen Ave. and San Francisco and Leroux streets fill with college kids, families from all over northern Arizona, and tourists. The streets are closed to cars for the event. And do bundle up; don’t kick off 2008 with a cold!

Pinecone Drop and Flagstaff Block Party
Dec. 31; 10 p.m. and midnight. Free to attend.
Hotel Weatherford, 23 N. Leroux St. in downtown Flagstaff

MORE SEDONA HOLIDAYS: Tlaquepaque luminarias, happy holidays, Sedona style, Southwestern holiday decorating, a Sedona Halloween, holiday shopping in Sedona, best northern Arizona seasonal celebrations, Sedona holiday happenings, romantic Sedona Valentine’s Day

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