Looking for the best place in Arizona to experience a little Christmas magic this year? There’s only one place to go and that’s the iconic Fairmont Scottsdale Princess! Each year, the AAA Five Diamond resort transforms into a winter wonderland during its annual Christmas at the Princess festival. (This year, it runs from November 22 – December 31.) Expect to see a four-story musical tree, an ice skating rink in the desert, trains, lights, holiday characters, and spectacular shows. There are so many fun events planned for all ages throughout the six-week celebration. Here are just of few of my favorites:
- Head to the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony– Kick off the holiday season at 6:00 p.m. on November 22 with the lighting of this magnificent tree! There will be plenty of fun to be had until 9:00 p.m. This evening of entertainment isn’t just a fun family tradition; it’s also a fabulous fundraiser for a great cause. The event is free with a suggested donation of $25 to Cox Charities benefitting the #LoveUp Foundation for children in foster care. The resort is also accepting new unwrapped toys, gifts for teenagers and household items for young adults graduating out of the foster care system. How awesome is that?!
- Visit Santa’s Secret Headquarters – Don’t take the kids to see Santa just anywhere this holiday season. Take them to the Princess, where they can see how Santa spends time mapping out his flight plans and time zones. Kids can write their wish lists, learn the secret elf pledge, and have their photo taken with Santa nightly throughout the season. (Children with special sensory needs can visit Santa on November 26th or December 4th instead, from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
- Watch the Copper Canyon Village Light Show – Head over to the resort’s Western town, Copper Canyon, to enjoy a light show synchronized to holiday music. (Show dates are Dec, 1-3, 8-10, 15-31.)
- Roast Marshmallows in S’mores Land – Children will love roasting marshmallows around the campfire, sliding down a four-lane Polar Glide, riding the Christmas Carousel and Frosty’s Ferris Wheel!
- Visit the Build-A-Bear Workshop Pop-Up Shop – Take the kids to the reindeer-creating station at S’mores Land, complete with holiday fashion accessories and a “sweetheart ceremony” where they’ll choose a red satin heart, make a wish and place it safely inside their stuffed animal. (Prices start at $12.)
- Bring Fido to Paw-sitively Christmas – Take photos with your pets and Santa on December 2nd from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Skate at the Desert Ice Skating Rink – Skate on real ice, surrounded by picturesque saguaros! The 6,000 square-foot rink is open to the public nightly throughout the festival. The price is $20 per person and $5 for skate rental.
- Wander through the Lagoon Lights – Walk through a 17-foot long infinity tunnel full of color-changing lights, capable of 256 million color combinations. You’ll see swans, pirate ships, mermaids, poinsettias, a candy cane forest, and much more on the tour!
- Ride one of the Princess Express Trains – Instead of a walking tour, you can ride one of two Princess Express Trains nightly around the Lagoon Lights. (Overnight hotel guests receive a priority boarding pass; non-hotel guests need general festival wristbands to ride.)
- Take in the Nativity Garden Light Show – This time of year, the resort’s Fragrance Garden becomes the Nativity Garden, where a light and music show tells the story of Christmas. (Shows begin at 5:00 p.m. and run every 10 minutes until 9:00 p.m. nightly throughout the festival.)
- Watch the Menorah Lighting - A nightly menorah lighting with latkes and applesauce takes place in the resort lobby through Hanukkah (Festivities start at 5:30 p.m. from December 12th through the 20th.)
- Have Breakfast with Santa –Take the kids to this super fun pajama party at 9:00 a.m. on December 23rd, where they’ll hang out with Santa and Mrs. Claus and tons of other holiday characters! DJ Jingle will be spinning tunes; there will be plenty of reindeer games, and even a Legoland Discovery Center play area! Enter to win awesome prizes, like an American Girl doll. (This event costs $75 for adults and $50 for kids 3 to 12. Children two and under eat free. Reservations are required by calling (480) 585-2694.)
Parking for non-hotel guests is $55. To avoid paying for parking, use that $55 toward dinner at one the resort’s incredible restaurants. Valet parking is complimentary when dining at any of the resort restaurants. I highly recommend you do this, we always have dinner at La Hacienda (our fave restaurant) and get the complimentary parking.