It’s that time of year again. As fall gives way to winter, most of Arizona embraces the cooler temperatures and respite from our sweltering summers. In Prescott though, where summers are more temperate, winter brings more than just relief. Here winter brings hopes for snow and snow days, and, more importantly, anticipation for the holiday season. For anyone with plans of traveling to experience winter at its finest, there's no better place to celebrate Christmas than Prescott, Arizona's Christmas City.
Saturday December 7th brings Prescott’s signature holiday events, which take place throughout the day at the Historic Courthouse Plaza. The city's 37th Annual Christmas Parade kicks off the day at 1 PM. This year's theme, "An Ugly Sweater Christmas." Visitors will enjoy marching bands, floats, and costumed actors. The charming restaurants in Downtown Prescott offer some of the best food in Northern Arizona and a chance to warm up before the Annual Courthouse Lighting Ceremony later that evening.
Now in its 65th year, the Courthouse Lighting Ceremony has grown immensely from its first year, when only a single side of the Courthouse was decorated. As a city whose identity is rooted in its history, Prescott has gleefully embraced the tradition. The image, and in this case the reality, of townspeople filling the village square to celebrate is a slice of Americana that resonates with nostalgia for a simpler time—a time which did not exist for most big cities as it did here.
For visitors looking for an experience that’s more Western than Rockwell, Sharlot Hall Museum offers their annual Frontier Christmas Open House from 6-8:30 PM following the Courthouse Lighting Ceremony. Guests will find themselves immersed in Christmas past as they traverse the Museum grounds surrounded by luminaries and hand-made decorations. Throughout the celebration guests can enjoy hearth-baked cookies, hot tea, and cocoa as Living History interpreters regale them with tales and traditions of Prescott’s pioneer Christmas history. Admission to the festivities is $5, and free children 17 and under.
If you are unable to visit that weekend, we invite you to join us Friday, December 13th for the Acker Night Musical Showcase. Acker Night, as locals know it, is a partnership between local businesses and local musicians. Boasting over 100 performers in over 100 shops, participants extend their hours and fill the streets of Prescott with music to benefit the performing arts. Funds raised on Acker Night provide scholarships for music lessons, instruments, and local youth performing arts programs. This year visitors will have the convenience of avoiding Downtown parking with a shuttle that runs back and forth to nearby Augie’s Restaurant.
More than just a celebration of Christmas, the month of December is a celebration of community in Prescott. Volunteers staff the parades and museums, while events like Acker Night raise funds to benefit local youth. In that same spirit, The Prescott Resort and Conference Center hosts The World’s Biggest Gingerbread Village. This annual village showcases over 100 houses. Local businesses, schools, and families purchase the “lots” in the village with the proceeds benefiting Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters. Although free to attend 24/7 through the first of January, donations are accepted.
Our neighbors further south in Wickenburg will be joining in the festivities with a uniquely Western flair when they host a Cowboy Reception and their 31st annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering on December 6th and 7th. The reception will be hosted at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum on Friday the 6th and features appetizers and refreshments. The featured poetry performance will take place the next evening at the Wickenburg Community Center. Limited tickets are available for the Reception and more information about these events can be found on their website.
The following Friday, December 13th, will feature the 25th Annual Christmas Parade of Lights “Out Wickenburg Way!” Over 30 decorated and illuminated floats will make their way through downtown Wickenburg to historic Stone Park where they’ll be handing out cocoa, hot cider, and cookies to visitors and awards to the best decorated floats. Santa will also be in attendance to hear Christmas wishes from the little ones.
With the celebration continuing throughout the month of December, there’s always something to experience in Arizona’s Christmas City. The coming weeks are filled with live performances, holiday themed music, and even a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. If you visit, and decide to stay, Dorn Homes offers a number of thriving communities throughout Prescott and the Quad Cities area. Scheduling an appointment is as easy as talking to an Online Home Advisor today.