Christmas at the Princess and 3 more Arizona hotels' holiday celebrations bring the cheer

Michael Salerno
Arizona Republic

Most months, you'll find more cactus than pine or fir trees in metro Phoenix. But by the time Halloween ends, a lot more spring up.

Not all are real, but these trees' arrival is a signal that Christmas is coming. 

Several Arizona hotels have light displays, festivals and other events that are open to the public, including Christmas at the Princess, the nationally known celebration at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

Events like these, from the elaborate to the modest, are designed to inspire Christmas cheer. Here's how you can celebrate the holidays at Arizona hotels in 2022.

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Christmas at the Princess

Where: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 Princess Drive.

When: 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 4-11 p.m. Fridays-Sundays from Nov. 18-Dec. 13. 4-11 p.m. daily from Dec. 14-Jan. 2.

The experience: One of the nation's most acclaimed holiday travel experiences, Christmas at the Princess is back for its 13th year. 

The Desert Ice Skating Rink returns to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess as part of the hotel's "Christmas at the Princess" season celebration.

Signature attractions return this year, including two 6,000-square-foot ice skating rinks — Desert Ice and Alpine Trail — rides on the Princess Express Train to see the 6 million lights that give the resort a festive glow and places for sweet treats like cookies and s'mores.

New this year are the adults-only Chateau Champagne experience, where people can enjoy desserts and alcoholic drinks while relaxing around a fire pit; the Ultimate Santa Experience, where people can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus and participate in an Elf Academy; and Christmas Quest Bubble Wand, where an RFID-activated wand guides people on an interactive scavenger hunt.

While the holiday cheer will last through Jan. 2, don't hesitate if you want to see Santa. He'll be there Nov. 18-Dec. 24.

Admission: Free for hotel guests. For the general public, admission is $80 with self-parking and $120 with valet parking and includes four wristbands, or $20 per person if not parking a car. Some attractions, like ice skating and photos with Santa, cost extra for general admission guests. 

Hotel guests who spend at least $75 at a Princess restaurant can get half off valet parking, which includes four wristbands for the event. Groupon also has a deal, 25% off admission with self-parking on select dates.

Details: 800-344-4758,

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Holiday Nights in Lights

Where: The Wigwam, 300 E. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park.

When: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23.

The experience: The Wigwam's annual holiday lights tradition, held over four Fridays leading up to Christmas, offers a chance to stroll the resort grounds and enjoy the lights display while carolers sing Christmas songs. Previous years' displays included a saguaro cactus topped with a Santa hat and a tractor carrying a Christmas tree.

After seeing the lights, people can indulge in s'mores and hot chocolate at the resort's Litchfield Lawn.

Admission: Free. Refreshments cost extra, but people can get a free hot chocolate and cookie at the Wigwam Bar by donating an unwrapped toy as part of the hotel's toy drive supporting United Goodyear Firefighter Charities.

Details: 866-976-6894,

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The Tipsy Grinch

Where: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, 7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road, Scottsdale.

When: 4-11 p.m. Dec. 3-4, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25 and 28-31.

The experience: Described by resort staff as a pop-up holiday experience, the Tipsy Grinch is a cocktail bar inspired by the Dr. Seuss book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and its film adaptations.

Guests will notice "over-the-top holiday decor" like a Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling. They'll also have a chance to drink holiday-inspired craft cocktails and dine on house-made pretzels and churros. Guests must be 21 or older.

Admission: Free. Food and drinks will cost you; a portion of the proceeds from drink sales will support the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving more than 30,500 acres of Sonoran Desert land in Scottsdale.

Details: 480-444-1234,

Lights at the Farm 2022:Skating, pony rides and 3 million lights set to music

North Pole Experience

Where: Little America Hotel, 2515 E. Butler Ave., Flagstaff.

When: 7:50 a.m.-9 p.m. on select dates from Nov. 12-Dec. 24. See the schedule at

The experience: For an hour and a half, families can feel like they've been transported into Santa's Workshop. The Little America Hotel, a short drive from Route 66, bills itself as the "departure station" for the trolley ride the experience is based on, leading guests through the behind-the-scenes magic that powers Santa's Christmas cheer.

The North Pole Experience, now in its 14th year, offers guests a look at Santa's toy factory where they can build toys with Santa's elves; Mrs. Claus's bakery for hot cocoa and mini doughnuts; Elf University (where elves are trained to become Santa's helpers) to earn an honorary elf diploma; and the top-secret hangar where Santa keeps his sleigh.

Guests can meet Santa, who will give each child a teddy bear.

Admission: Daytime tours are $48 for adults and $42 for ages 18 months to 17 years in November, and $58 for adults and $52 for children in December. Nighttime tours are $55 for adults and $48 for children in November, and $65 for adults and $58 for children in December.

Details: 480-779-9679,

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Reach the reporter at Follow him on Twitter @salerno_phx.

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