It’s the time of year for family, traditions, gathering for a meal, baking cookies, shopping, playing the in the snow and more. Flagstaff is a great place to be over the holiday season. Here’s a list of some of the fun activities available this year. Check the Daily Sun's Community Almanac each day for updates or go to our interactive calendar at www.azdailysun.com.
Festivus: Thanksgiving-New Year. Festivus is about a safe and sane holiday season that fully embraces having fun, but doing so without spending a lot of money. Festivus includes walks, snowshoe treks, workshops and more. A few of this year’s Festivus events are here. For a complete calendar, call Jack Welch at 928-714-0504. Note: during the snow season we never expect anyone to drive through bad weather to participate. There's always another day.
- Thanksgiving Walk: Thursday, Nov. 24: 1 p.m. A total of four miles walk from the dog park parking lot on Thorpe Road in Thorpe Park.
- Black Friday Walk: Nov. 25, 9 a.m. About 3 total miles as we explore the proposed FUTS route in Picture Canyon. Expect to also see signs of wildlife, Flagstaff's only waterfall, native American ruins, petroglyphs and a beautiful canyon inside the Flagstaff city limits.
- Willow Bend Gift Making: Dec. 3, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 Sawmill Road. Park at the police department. Create your own handmade gifts out of natural and reusable materials. Activities include recycled holiday cards, flower press ornaments, bookmarks, bottle cap
- Salve Making Adult Workshop: Saturday, Dec. 10, 9-11:30 a.m. Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 Sawmill Road off Lone Tree Road. Two salve making processes will be demonstrated. Both are effective and easily made at home. Registration is required at 928 779 1745. Cost: $25.
- Cold Weather Hat Competition: Tuesday, Dec. 13, 9 a.m. About 3 total miles of walking, but before we get started on our trek we'll take the time to judge the many different and unique winter hats being worn by those present. Once judged we will crown one of you the "Festivius Fedora Champion of 2016" and your award will be a "Goat Ropers Cap of Esteem and Less Glory" plus the opportunity to milk a local goat. No alpacas, camels or surly elephants allowed to participate.
- New Year’s Day Downtown Clean-up: Jan. 1, 9 a.m. Meet at MIX Restaurant at Heritage Square. We'll have a raffle of a few interesting items and then start the clean up with the goal of finishing by 10 a.m. Dress warm, bring gloves and a good attitude.
The North Pole Experience: NPX starts by taking families on a trolley ride through the magic portal to Santa’s massive workshop in the middle of the forest. Once you arrive, Santa’s Workshop is a complete, hands-on experience for children and parents. Families work side-by-side with the elves, building toys and learning all of Santa’s Workshop secrets. They receive access to Santa’s main factory floor with soaring toy slides and ceilings, attend Elf University, visit with Mrs. Claus and enjoy cookies and snowman soup in the bakery. Don’t forget Santa’s mail room, his personal office, and his top-secret “Area 47” Sleigh Hangar, featuring his famous sleigh, mission control center, radar systems and more. Families end the approx. 1 hour and 35 minute workshop experience with a private family visit with Santa. All children will receive a surprise special commemorative teddy bear from Santa himself. Tickets are $32-$55 at or northpoleexperience.com. Santa’s Trolley Launch Station is located at Little America Hotel. Reservations: 888-469-8819.
Polar Express: The classic children's book by Chris Van Allsburg comes to life on the Grand Canyon Railway's journey from the nighttime wilderness of Williams to the enchanted beauty of "the North Pole,” where Santa Claus and his reindeer are waiting with a keepsake present for every good boy and girl. Enjoy hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies while listening to this timeless story. The ride lasts a little over an hour, with the train leaving each night at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., as well as select days that feature a 3:30 p.m. matinee departure. $25-$55. For reservations call 1-888-848-3511 or visit thetrain.com.
Sledding: The whole family can play in the snow, make snowmen and have snowball fights in several of Flagstaff's fun, snowy areas. Head to a designated snowplay area to take advantage of amenities like restrooms and hot beverage sales. A list of great sledding spots can be found at flagstaff.com/sledding. Wherever you go, please be sure to comply with the Leave No Trace outdoors ethic.
Riordan Mansion holiday tours: Beginning after Thanksgiving and all through December, celebrate Christmas in a traditional fashion by touring the Riordans' historic homes decorated as they would have been 100 years ago with wreaths, garlands, greenery and a towering fir tree trimmed with hand-made ornaments. Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is open Thursday through Monday at 10:30 a.m. Guided tours of the mansion begin at the top of each hour with the first at 11 a.m. and the final tour starting at 4 p.m. Riordan Mansion is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the winter. Visitors are encouraged to call for reservations at 928-779-4395.
Flagstaff Festival of Trees: Fridays and Saturdays, 3- 8 p.m., Sundays, 4-7 p.m. This magical holiday festival is in its second year, in partnership with the Flagstaff Arts Council, and has proven a wonderful tradition for the whole family. Showcasing donated and decorated trees, lights, wreaths and other beautiful displays created by the local Flagstaff community on display inside the historic Walter Reichart house, all to be raffled on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Arboretum. This year with an additional light festival held in the courtyard at the Arboretum so you can enjoy the majestic winter garden outside, then come warm up inside with some hot cocoa, cider, wine and cookies while browsing the stunning trees up for raffle. A full schedule of exciting events each weekend includes a choir performance, photos with Santa, and more. Adults $8, ages 6 – 18 $5, children 5 and under free. TheArb.org.
Sleigh rides: Enjoy a magical 45-minute to one hour ride that circles through Coconino National Forest and back to our Cowboy Cookin in the old barn and warm up by the fire. Grab some complimentary hot chocolate or apple cider and relax or play in the snow. Total experience time is about an hour and the cost for adults is $45 and $35 for children (2 and under are free). Also available is a sleigh ride with a steak dinner for $75 for adults with a rib-eye steak dinner, $70 for adults with a grilled chicken dinner, and $55 for children who can choose a hotdog or hamburger. The stables are located four and a half miles east of Flagstaff on Lake Mary Road and Wildlife Drive. For more information or reservations, visit historichitchinpoststables.com or call 928-774-1719.
Bearizona Wild Wonderland: This family friendly event allows visitors to enter the park after normal operating hours and takes place in the Fort Bearizona walk through portion of the park only. Guests will enjoy the lights and sounds of the season while strolling through the beautifully lit pine trees that are synchronized to traditional Christmas music. After Storytime, kids of all ages can take a photo with Mrs. Claus. Stay warm by the outdoor fire pit and purchase s’mores to roast and toast to your delight. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in December until Dec. 19, then every evening through Dec. 31. Closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Doors open 5 p.m. Light Show Begins 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Program Animal Meet & Greet 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Mrs. Claus Storytime 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Doors close 8 p.m. Bearizona.com.
Snowbowl: Flagstaff’s ski resort sits at 9,500 feet above sea level, 14 miles outside of town. Snowbowl’s projected opening day was Nov. 18. The resort offers 777 skiable acres with 40 runs (with beginner, intermediate and advanced options). Seven chair lifts ferry skiers and snowboarders to their desired runs. Visitors can take lessons and enjoy the lodge. The resort is now making snow and is installing six-person high-speed chairlift. For information and snow conditions, visit arizonasnowbowl.com.
Nordic Village: The Arizona Nordic Village features groomed trails for recreationists with cross-country skis, skate skis, fat tire bikes and snowshoes. Located in the Coconino National Forest 15 miles from downtown Flagstaff, the ski area’s four cabins and eight yurts will be open for day use and overnight glamping. Visit arizonanordicvillage.com for snow conditions and more information.
Jay Lively Ice Rink: 1650 N. Turquoise. Public open skating is held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-4 p.m.; Wednesdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30-7 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30-8 p.m.; and Saturdays from 1-4:30 p.m. Skate rental $4. Admission $3:50-$6.75.
It's Elemental: The popular fine craft exhibition showcases works of art by the finest craftspeople in Northern Arizona. The annual juried show features jewelry, ceramics, glasswork, wood, furniture, fabric, sculpture and more. The 2016 exhibition is slated for Nov. 15 – Dec. 17, Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Coconino Center for the Arts, 2300 N. Fort Valley Road. Admission is free. For information see flagartscouncil.org.
Light-A-Life: Flagstaff Mall, 4650 N US Highway 89. Although this time of year can be difficult for families that have recently had a family member or friend pass, there are plenty of opportunities to find peace. Vista Hospice will be accepting donations. Donations totaling more than $25 will receive a free, hand-crafted porcelain ornament. We will also have our pet tree to remember our furry companions as well. annual LIght-A-Life Memorial Ceremony to honor the memory of our loved ones that have passed, yet live on in our hearts and memories will be Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. This ceremony will include the sharing of blessings, music, and the reading of loved one's names. For more information, call 779-1227 or visit vistahospice.org.
Holiday Movies at the Orpheum: These free family friendly events will include movies, crafts and time with Santa. Crafts provided by FACTS/FUSD. Santa will be available for pictures the first hour after doors open. Nov. 26: Home Alone 2. Dec. 3: A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. Dec. 10: The Polar Express. orpheumflagstaff.com.
Holiday Dinner: Patrons enjoy an evening of choral holiday music performed by the NAU choirs and vocal jazz ensembles. The Dubois ballroom is transformed into a winter wonderland where guests enjoy a three-course dinner and music. Dec. 1-4. The cost per person (including children) is $70 and tickets must be ordered through advance mail order only. Contact Choral Studies Office at 928-523-2469 to receive a brochure.
Native Arts Festival: Dec. 1, 4-8 p.m. Twin Arrows Casino Resort , 22181 Resort Blvd. Come out and meet local talented Native American artists and shop for the holidays. 928-856-7120.
A Christmas Story: Theatrikos (Doris Harper-White Playhouse), 11 W. Cherry Ave. Humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher, and even Santa himself. All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the leg-shaped lamp; school bully Scut Farkas; the boys' experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost; and so much more. Dec. 2, 3, 8 ,9 ,10, 15, 16, 17, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 10, 11, 18, 2 p.m. A select group of local writers will share a special holiday memory with audiences before each show begins. 928-774-1662. theatrikos.com.
NAU Clay Club Holiday Sale: Dec. 2, 3-8 p.m. Ceramics Complex, 1919 S. Lonetree Road. A wide range of functional and sculptural ceramic work made by students and faculty will be for sale at affordable prices. A portion of proceeds are used for student scholarships. 928-699-8984. nau.edu/cal/art/news-and-events/.
First Friday Artwalk: Flagstaff businesses stay open until 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month to feature the work of local artists. Many stops feature music and refreshments. Artwalks will be held Dec. 2 and Jan. 6. See flagstaffartwalk.com for a list of participating businesses.
Winter Wonderland: Dec. 3. Flagstaff Aquaplex, 1702 N. Fourth St. Beginning at 6 p.m. admission to the Aquaplex will be free for holiday crafts, festive music, free pictures with Santa and cookies. At 5:30 p.m., Santa Claus and Mayor Nabours will travel on fire truck to Heritage Square to light the Christmas tree. Then at 6:15 p.m., Santa will arrive at the Aquaplex for visits and pictures. We will allow free admission to the facility until 8:30 p.m. flagstaff.az.gov/recreation. 213-2300.
Breakfast with Santa: Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Orpheum Theater, sit with Santa for breakfast, which will be served at 9 a.m. This breakfast is limited to the first 50 people and is $10 a person. After breakfast take pictures with Santa, join him in singing Christmas songs, and enjoy the crafts. The doors will open again at 10 a.m. for the free showing of a holiday movie.
Jingle Bell Shop: 5-8 p.m. Downtown Flagstaff. On Dec. 20, from 5-8 p.m., enjoy live music in downtown businesses as you wrap up your holiday shopping. It's also December Locals Night and the Luminaria Stroll.
The Nutcracker: The Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra and NAU Communtiy Music & Dance Academy Ballet Troupe will present Tchaikovsky's classic holiday adventure Dec. 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m., at NAU Ardrey Memorial Auditorium. A sparkling party, a dramatic battle, and a whimsical journey to the Land of Sweets are all brought to life through captivating choreography and one of the greatest symphonic scores ever written. Tickets are available at 523-5661. For more information, visit flagstaffsymphony.org.
The Lollipop Concert: A treat for the kids, the annual Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra’s Lollipop Concert, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m., is an abridged version of The Nutcracker. As children leave NAU’s Ardrey Memorial Auditorium, they are given a lollipop by a Symphony Guild member. This event sells out annually. Call 523-5661 for tickets. Adult tickets are $10, children are free.
Sing Along With Santa: Dec. 10, 2 p.m. A free concert for Northern Arizona families presented by Master Chorale’s chamber choir, the Arizona Mountain Chorale, and two choirs from the Flagstaff Youth Chorale, the Pine Tones and Dolce Cantando. Hear familiar holiday songs, sing your favorite carols, and see Santa Claus, too! Kinsey Elementary School, 1601 S. Lone Tree Road. Visit masterchorale.net for more information.
Christmas Party for Kids: Dec. 10, 9-11 a.m. Riordan Mansion. Join Santa and Mrs. Claus for the annual Christmas party. Mrs. Claus will read stories and the real Santa will be on hand to hear Christmas wishes. There will be cookies, cider and crafts and Pie the Belgian Draft Horse will be on hand for carriage rides. Free. 928-779-4395.
Luminaria: Every year the Coconino Estates neighborhood hosts a luminaria and live nativity event. Dec. 11, 6 p.m. Visitors can walk or drive through the neighborhood and enjoy the holiday decorations. Drivers should enter on Bonito in front of Marshall Elementary School and follow the path along until the end, exit on Meade. Plan to turn off your headlights and go 5 mph so everyone can see everything. The best way to experience the luminaria is on foot. Park at the school’s parking lots and walk the route.
Christmas in the Mountains: Dec. 11, at 3 p.m., at NAU’s Ardrey Memorial Auditorium. See and hear Master Chorale’s annual holiday extravaganza featuring festive music for choirs, brass, percussion, and organ complete with special lighting and holiday decorations. Hear holiday favorites sung by the Arizona Mountain Chorale and our guests, the Madrigals and Troubadours from the Flagstaff Youth Chorale. NAU’s Harold M. Harter Memorial Handbell Choir, led by bellmaster Joanna Richards, will also share festive selections to get you in the mood for the holidays. Tickets are $20; seniors $18; students $8; children 12 and under free. Tickets at ticketing.nau.edu.
Holiday Brew and View: 8 p.m. Orpheum Theater, 15 W. Aspen Ave. Dec. 12: Bad Santa. Dec. 19: Elf. $5. orpheumflagstaff.com.
The Nutcracker Suite in Modern Bare Feet: New special effects, and updated choreography, new cast members and other surprises are in store. Enhanced contemporary costumes, a cast of over 50, and aerial dance. This annual Flagstaff tradition uses music by Peter Tchaikovsky with some contemporary versions inserted among the traditional, and new choreographic interpretations lending a fresh look to this classical favorite. Beautiful backdrops of the San Francisco Peaks bring this holiday favorite home to Flagstaff and will send you home with the holiday spirit! Performances are Dec. 16-17, 7:30 p.m., 11 a.m. matinee on the 17th at the Coconino High School Main Auditorium. Tickets: $16 general, $12 child-student at brownpapertickets.com/event/. Call 774-3937 for more information and tickets or visit canyonmovementcompany.org.
Seasonal Sounds of Children: Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m. the Flagstaff Youth Chorale performs their annual winter concert. All of our choirs will be performing traditional and non-traditional holiday classics. Come ring in the season with holiday songs! This event is free to the public. Donations will be accepted. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, 16 W. Cherry Ave.
Snowflake Festival: Dec. 17, 1-4 p.m. Come downtown for a fun family-friendly event! Start your day at the Orpheum Theater, where the Downtown Business Alliance is showing a holiday movie. Come to the Historic Train Station, where children can get photos with Santa (free on your own device, $2 for a framed Polaroid) from 2-4 p.m. There will be crafts and games, and a performance by carolers from NAU from 1-2 p.m. We also have a donation bin for new, unwrapped toys to donate to Toys for Tots.
Luminaria Stroll: 5-8 p.m. Downtown Flagstaff. Stroll the streets of downtown on Tuesday, Dec. 20, as we light up downtown with luminarias for the first time ever.
Great Pinecone Drop: Watch as the 6-foot tall, LED lighted pinecone suspended from the top of the Weatherford Hotel is "dropped" to mark the new year. The free Great Pinecone Drop will have two lowerings: one at 10 p.m. and one at midnight on Dec. 31.
Flagstaff Polar Plunge: Take a dip into upper Lake Mary from the boat dock at high noon on Jan. 1 to welcome in the new year. Park anywhere in the lot but you have to walk down the concrete boat dock to the start point. Spectators welcome! Please wear rubber sandals as there may be fish hooks lurking on the bottom of Lake Mary. Signed Certificate of Participation awarded to everyone who takes the plunge. Please bring a can of food or two for the Flagstaff Food Bank and Family Food Center. 774-5776.