Light up your life
The simple bag of sand with a candle has undergone some upgrades, but luminaria displays remain a part of Arizona’s warm holiday tradition.
Luminarias are among the simplest holiday decorations, yet they’re among the most elegant. Nothing says Christmas in the Southwest quite like their gentle flickering glow.
The simple bag of sand with a candle inside has undergone some upgrades to keep up with the times – some people use fire-resistant bags or batterypowered candles – but the luminaria remains a part of Arizona’s holiday tradition.
Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is probably the biggest and bestknown display of luminarias in Arizona, but there are other events throughout the state where you can get
in on the tradition.
Here are some of Arizona’s nicest luminaria displays.
Phoenix: Las Noches de las Luminarias
The Desert Botanical Garden will be illuminated up with more than 8,000 luminaria bags as guests walk along the pathways and see the lights throughout the garden. Visitors also can take in the vibrant “Electric Desert: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective.” There will be live performances and great photo opportunities.
Details: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 1-23 and 26-31. Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. $34.95$39.95; $15.95 for ages 3-12; free for age 2 and younger. dbg.org/events.
Gilbert: Riparian After Dark
Experience the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch after dark, when about 800 luminarias will line the walkways. There also will be live entertainment, refreshments and more decorations. Each night Gilbert partners with a local nonprofit agency to help people in need, so donations are encouraged. See the website for the partner organizations and their needs for each night.
Details: 5:30-9 p.m. Dec. 8, 14-15 and 21-22. Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch Lake, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. Free. 480-503-6871, www.gilbertaz.gov.
Sedona: Festival of Lights
This lively holiday celebration features musical entertainment, a visit from jolly St. Nick, free cider and 6,000 flickering luminarias adorning the courtyards and walkways of Tlaquepaque shopping village. Specially designated luminarias to honor cancer survivors can be purchased in Patio del Norte.
Details: 3-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, 336 State Route 179, Sedona. Free. tlaq.com.
Tucson: Holiday Nights at Tohono Chul
A million lights drape saguaros, ocotillos and paloverde trees while luminarias guide visitors along pathways through the park. Seasonal music adds to the festive atmosphere, food is served in the Garden Bistro and shops are open for those looking for special gift items.
Details: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 14 and 15. Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens & Gallery, 7366 Paseo del Norte, Tucson. $16, $3 for age 12 and younger. 520-7426455, www.tohonochulpark.org.
Tucson: Luminaria Nights
Tucson Botanical Gardens will glow with more than 2,500 candle-lit luminarias and more than 20 Korean lanterns. Enjoy musical performances each night, and sample seasonal food and drink at Cafe Botanica as well as at some of Tucson’s most popular food trucks.
Details: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 8-9. Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. $18, $9 for children. tucsonbotanical.org.
Tonto National Monument
Hike along the Lower Cliff Dwelling trail as luminarias flicker in the evening. Bring water and a headlamp or flashlight. Wear sturdy shoes and warm clothes.
Details: 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Tonto National Monument, 26260 State Route 188, Roosevelt. Free. 928467-2241, www.nps.gov/tont.
Flagstaff: Luminaria Stroll
The sidewalks of charming downtown Flagstaff will be lined with thousands of luminarias for this third annual event. Members of the Master Chorale of Flagstaff will be out caroling.
Details: 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18. Downtown Flagstaff. Free. 928-2752655, www.downtownflagstaff.org.
Luminaria Nights at Tucson Botanical Gardens. TUCSON BOTANICAL GARDENS
Las Noches de las Luminarias display at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.