December Events Not to Miss in Tucson

When looking for a lot of land to build your new home on, knowing what the area is so important. Every city has its own culture, and Tucson is no different. Despite being located in a desert terrain, the city has more than enough to offer. Here are some great December events you won’t want to miss in Tucson.

Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Festivals – December 1

One of the main events of the holiday season is the Tree Lighting Ceremony in Marana, just north of Tucson. The community brings in 20 tons of real snow, a 40-foot Christmas tree, and live musical entertainment to kick off the holiday season. After the very first night, the crowds dissipate, but you can still catch the show during December until New Year’s Eve. No need to worry about parking, there’s plenty!

Luminaria Nights – December 1-3, 8-10

The Tucson Botanical Gardens uses thousands of luminarias, also known as traditional Southwestern paper lanterns, to transform the gardens into a December wonderland. The paper lanterns rim the pathways, and twinkle lights outline the trees. Hand-made ornaments bob on tree branches while enchanting live music fills the air. This is a beautiful way to experience the season.

The Zoolights at Reid Park Zoo – December 5-30

Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo makes the most of the holidays and decks out in twinkle lights, animal sculptures, and nightly entertainment. Santa Claus makes frequent visits, and guests can enjoy cookies and hot chocolate. While the zoo animals aren’t usually present for the holiday festivities, guests may be able to ride a camel. Finally, while in the winter wonderland, you may even get the opportunity to experience snow falling.

The Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair – December 7-9

One of the biggest arts and shopping events in Tucson, the Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair has been a tradition for 48 years and attracts over 500,000 guests a year. The street fair boasts more than 200 vendors, and the street itself is crowded with musicians and street performers. Additionally provided is a children’s area with a hands-on art pavilion helps to entertain the little ones. This fair offers an ideal place to find unique art pieces, making for perfect gifts in time for the holidays.

Tucson Marathon – December 8

Tucson hosts a number of Tucson Marathons at the beginning of the holiday a season. Choose between Holualoa Tucson Marathon, Marathon Relay, or Damascus Bakeries Half Marathon. Known as one of the most beautiful marathon courses in the country, the course winds through the Sonoran Desert with mostly downhill paved roads. The course is also USATF Certified and can be used for a Boston Marathon qualifier.

The Winterhaven Festival of Lights – December 8-26

This year is the 69th annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights. Since 1949, the neighborhood of Winterhaven has hosted the festival of lights nearly every year. The mature Aleppo pines are dressed up in twinkling lights and the surrounding homes set up stunning holiday displays. Since it’s a neighborhood event, there is no real parking, and the streets are close to car traffic throughout the event. Viewers can opt for a tour via trolley, wagon, or party bike ride, or viewers can walk through the neighborhood.

A Southwest Nutcracker – December 15 & 16

Experience the classic of The Nutcracker with a southwestern flair. The Tucson Regional Ballet presents the same magical story but from the setting of Tucson in the 1880s with coyotes, rattlesnakes, and so much more. The performance also features the Tucson Symphony Orchestra as well as lovely sets and amazing costumes.

Parade of Lights & Festival – December 15

The parade of lights weaves through Tucson’s downtown area with a host of twinkle lights and holiday cheer. You can expect to enjoy festive and colorful floats with a variety of themes from historical to cultural. While the parade celebrates the holiday, it’s not surprising to see Baile Folklorico dancers and mariachis as a part of the occasion. This is a tradition that shouldn’t be missed.

Arizona Bowl – December 29

The annual football festival is one of the best ways to finish off the holiday season. With kick off around 11:15 AM on Saturday, this post-season college football game will have a team from the Mountain West and the Sun Belt conferences. Watch the Arizona Bowl on CBS Sports Network or attend the game in person.

Tucson offers so many events for the month of December that there’s truly something for everyone. Whether you’re already a local or planning to be a local, take advantage of Tucson’s celebrations of the holiday season with Southwestern flair.

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