It’s a busy time of year, but worth the effort to find time between shopping, parties and cookie baking to explore magical East Valley holiday events. These festivities also provide an opportunity to celebrate with visiting relatives or guests and a reason to get out of the house and enjoy our unbeatable winter weather! Here’s a city-by-city rundown of some of our favorite holiday traditions.
  1. In Mesa, the Mesa Arts Festival is the premier place to find original works of art for holiday gifts. This FREE event features live entertainment showcasing local and national talent on two stages, live artist demonstrations, a family activity area and culinary delights.
Dec. 9 and 10, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Mesa Arts Center. Visiting the Mesa Temple is one of the most festive things you can do this holiday season in the East Valley
  1. Also in Mesa, a yearly tradition for many Valley families is a trip to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Mesa Temple Garden Lights. It’s a spectacular exhibit featuring hundreds of thousands of holiday lights, a nativity scene and special nightly musical performances. Hundreds of volunteers donate thousands of hours to create and maintain the display. Not to be missed – FREE.
Nov. 23-Dec. 31, open nightly from 5-10 p.m., 525 E. Main St., Mesa
  1. The Red Mountain United Methodist Church in Mesa offers a Christmas Musical Drama by very cute and very personable preschoolers on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4:30 p.m. It’s FREE and open to the public—don’t miss this joyful event!
Dec. 10, 4:30 p.m., 2936 N. Power Rd., Mesa.
  1. Chandler kicks off their holiday season with a unique Tumbleweed Tree Lighting Ceremony. Nearly 1,000 tumbling tumbleweeds are collected each year and attached to a 25-foot tall wire frame. Then, the tumbleweeds are sprayed with 25 gallons of white paint, 20 gallons of flame retardant and dusted with 65 pounds of glitter. The tree is later adorned with approximately 1,200 holiday lights that give it a spectacular look, day or night.
Dec. 2, 4:30-9 p.m. at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park in Downtown Chandler. Parade at 7 p.m. and tree lighting at 8 p.m. Free. The Chandler Holiday tree shines bright for all to see during the holiday season, and you won't want to miss it!
  1. Enjoy Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve After Darkevent on two weekends in December. See the preserve come alive with a wonderful holiday glow from hundreds of luminaries reflecting off the lake. This beloved bird-watching spot and nature preserve will be the location to hear school choirs, carolers and other live holiday entertainment. Reindeer (pony) rides and light refreshments are available for purchase.
Dec. 8, 9, and 15, 16, from 5:30-9 p.m., 2757 E. Guadalupe Rd. in Gilbert. Each night of the event, the Town of Gilbert will be partnering with a non-profit organization to help collect items to help support their organization. See the link above for suggested donations.
  1. In Queen Creek, don’t miss Schnepf Farms’ Winter Wonderland featuring eco-friendly ice skating, train rides, hayrides, Breakfast with Santa and more. A family farm since the late ‘60s, Mark Schnepf served as the Town of Queen Creek’s first mayor for 11 years.
Dec. 1 – Jan. 5, see site for times, closed Christmas Day; 24810 South Rittenhouse Road in Queen Creek.  These lights shine bright during the holiday season in the East Valley, and you'll want to make sure you see them! Additional Events: Several local churches and community centers including Central Christian http://www.centralaz.com/mesa, Living Word Bible http://livingwordonline.com/, East Valley JCC and others offer FREE holiday and Chanukah concerts and events. Check their websites for seasonal updates. Interested in more tips for East Valley living or new homes in the growing Mesa Gateway, Arizona corridor? Sign up at http://cadenceaz.com/contact/