This Arizona City Is Decking the Halls This Season With Festive Events and Experiences
The holidays are here, and no place celebrates this sentimental season quite like the city of Phoenix, Arizona. With its own holiday traditions that turn the desert landscape into a cheerful seasonal retreat, around here, it really does feel like the most wonderful time of the year. From festive feasts and elegant pre-fixe buffets to happy holiday markets, dazzling light shows, and pop-up Santa bars, we’ve rounded up some of the best holiday happenings to help you plan your Arizona adventure this winter.
Unpack Your Bags at the Arizona Biltmore
One of the most glamorous escapes in the southwest, the Arizona Biltmore is hosting an array of holiday activities this season to delight you and the ones you hold dear. From elaborate Thanksgiving spreads to festive pairings of champagne and caviar, this stunning resort knows how to throw a gorgeous gathering worthy of the name Waldorf Astoria. Experience all of the holiday cheer with the added bonus of a desert climate—which means you can enjoy outdoor activities like swimming and golf to burn off the pumpkin pie. The resort is also home to seven climate-controlled swimming pools for a dip, a sumptuous on-site spa for winter wellness rituals, and a handful of restaurants for an alfresco meal under the stars. To sweeten the deal, guests can enjoy 40% off stays of three days or more throughout the winter season to keep the celebration going!
Raise a glass with your loved ones at the Arizona Biltmore’s exclusive Champagne & Caviar Lounge. Start your seasonal soiree with a pairing of premium Petrossian caviar and a beverage of bubbly. Hosted in the Tea Room each week (starting Nov. 18 and running through January) this lounge will offer an intimate look at an iconic Champagne house each week, including Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Laurent-Perrier, as presented by a master sommelier. Elevated bites (think lobster salad and foie gras) and sweet treats are also on hand to please the palate. Make a reservation for a more intimate affair, or plan a group gathering for 50-60 friends.
Stroll through Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden this December—illuminated by a star-spangled sky and thousands of dazzling twinkle lights to set the seasonal scene. During the Las Noches de Las Luminarias festival, musical performances fill the air with timeless, toe-tapping tunes, while festive fare and delicious drinks will keep you fully fueled for your leisurely lap through the gorgeous gardens. Make an evening out of it and sit down for a farm-to-fork dinner at on-site Gertrude’s Restaurant, featuring craft cocktails and casual cuisine (like hearty burgers and savory salmon) to be enjoyed on the patio or in the cozy dining room.
Brunch at Otro Cafe
Settle in for a cozy brunch at Phoenix’s Otro Cafe, a friendly neighborhood Mexican-fusion eatery that serves up everything from crowd-pleasing breakfast burritos, street tacos and huevos rancheros to Korean fried wings and traditional brunch staples like avocado toast, flapjacks and inventive egg dishes with barbacoa and chorizo. Wash down the flavor with a classic mimosa or a Bloody Mary, or stay south of the border with a tangy margarita or sweet sangria.
Get yourself on track to begin the New Year with renewed goals and intentions. For one evening, you’ll have the chance to celebrate the winter solstice with an array of soothing self-care rituals at the Arizona Biltmore’s rejuvenating Tierra Luna Spa. Immerse yourself in a gentle Cacao ceremony, a guided sound bowl meditation and some healing Reiki to reset your energy and flow. A free-write journaling session followed by a round of B12 shots and marvelous mocktails will have you feeling like your best self, just in time to unwind in the luxurious spa or stroll through the peaceful Sol Garden.
Sippin’ Santa Pop-Up at Bitter & Twisted
Prepare for Christmas overload when you step into this winter wonderland (with a desert twist) at the popular Phoenix cocktail bar, Bitter & Twisted. Decked out in dazzling twinkle lights and full-on Santa core, this place gives Christmas a tiki twist with fun cocktails (look out for seasonal flavors like pumpkin pie) served in kitschy Santa mugs and reindeer shot glasses, as well as a full menu of bar snacks and savory eats. Ho ho ho!
Looking for the perfect way to spot Santa’s sleigh making its way through the midnight sky on Christmas Eve? Practice your star-spotting skills and sharpen your eagle eye with a special stargazing tour hosted by Stellar Adventures. Head into the heart of the Sonoran desert at dark, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can embark on a guided celestial tour. Gaze through the galaxy and observe millions of twinkling stars and the planets at play with the assistance of high-tech telescopes and night vision viewing devices. Explore the craters of the lunar landscape and learn how to identify a nebula—or even Rudolph’s blinking red nose.
Back for its annual appearance, the Phoestivus Holiday Market transforms Phoenix into its own North Pole for one weekend. Grab your favorite people and have a holly, jolly cup of cheer (in the form of local Phoestivus ale) while perusing the stalls and displays of local wares, eats and crafts from the city’s finest artisans and creators. Score unique trinkets, gifts and stocking stuffers for everyone on your list—naughty and nice! Sing along to your favorite holiday tunes and enjoy fun photo ops to document your experience on the ‘Gram.
Holiday Dinner Under the Stars at Renata’s Hearth
The Arizona Biltmore is home to some of the best culinary concepts around, and you’ll want to book your holiday feast at Renata’s Hearth—the resort’s seductive, Latin-inspired restaurant this season. Renata’s will celebrate Christmas Day with an a la carte menu of decadent dishes, such as espresso-rubbed pluma steak in cauliflower puree and pan-roasted duck breast plated with dulce de leche chile sauce and parsnip puree. Families can share house-smoked ham served with a trio of salsas and tortillas and smoked and braised Wagyu beef cheek prepared with sherry, fideo and broccolini in a zesty preserved lemon aioli. To round out the meal, guests can indulge in braised collards with aji amarillo cream, spiced Marcona almonds and crispy patatas bravas.
Based in Los Angeles, Kandace has spent the past ten years in the fashion and lifestyle space, and recently in entertainment at Sony Pictures Studios. She has a Masters in Journalism from Emerson College and has studied in Paris, Firenze, and Washington DC, beginning her career as a style editor and tastemaker for NBC. She is an internationally award-winning filmmaker, having studied screenwriting for film and television at UCLA, and her work has been celebrated around the world, in cities like London, Nice, New York, and Montréal. Paying homage to her French heritage, she is also the creator of The Chic American--a style and culture editorial destination for Francophiles, dedicated to the art of living an elevated, French-inspired lifestyle.