This holiday season, residents are once again invited to escape to a southwest winter wonderland at the annual Carefree Christmas Festival. Now in its eighth year, this entirely free event offers merriment and entertainment, December 11-13, in the scenic Town of Carefree.
All activities are centrally located in the Carefree Desert Gardens, 100 Easy Street, and run from 10am-9pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10am–5pm on Sunday.
Spectators line the streets for the festival’s signature Electric Light Parade and its brilliantly decorated floats. Other spotlight events include a dazzling evening fireworks display.
Families will appreciate the expansive Kid’s Zone that provides entertainment for all ages, including 35 tons of real snow, a snow slide, Santa’s Grotto, train rides, night time carriage rides and other amusements.
This year’s event features live music performances by the Salvation Army Brass Band, Kelso Brothers holiday jazz group, Dickens Carolers, as well as community church choirs.
Other performances include theater acts from the Desert Foothills Theatre including a traditional live nativity scene where families are invited to have their photos taken with the cast of “The Holy Night,” including Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus and Pepper the Donkey.
Throughout the weekend, local dance troupes will take center stage at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Choreographed productions will be performed by the Adage Dance Company, AZ Dance Group and the Radio City-worthy, Desert Cactus Kickers.
On Sunday, attendees are invited to dress their pets in their holiday best and participate in the pet parade and pictures with Santa. Hosted by Foothills Animal Rescue (FAR) pet adoptions will be available on site.
This dazzling annual event has grown into a Northeast Valley holiday tradition. Additional highlights include a lighted holiday village with daytime and late night shopping, and vendors with homemade confections and delicious seasonal fare.
Carefree’s four-acre desert botanical gardens provide a stunning backdrop for the event. The winding paths showcase thousands of exotic plants and cacti that are illuminated for the festivities.