Thursday December 1, 2016
It’s that time of year again. As fall gives way to winter, most of Arizona embraces the cooler temperatures and relief 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.
This year the festivities began on Saturday, November 26, 2016 with the 21st Annual Holiday Light Parade where 36 floats illuminated the night sky. Entries ranged from school marching bands to local businesses with an assortment of ATVs, cars, and flatbed trucks all festively adorned in Christmas lights. Each was judged on their use of lights, originality, and appearance. Win or lose, the participants enjoyed an After-Parade Party and Bonfire at Mile High Middle School Field.
This Saturday brings Prescott’s signature holiday events, which take place throughout the day at the Historic Courthouse Plaza. The city's 34th Annual Christmas Parade kicks off the day at 1 PM. 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 62nd 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 an experience that’s more Western, Sharlot Hall Museum offers their annual Frontier Christmas Open House from 6-8:30 PM following the Courthouse Lighting Ceremony. Find yourself immersed in Christmas past as you traverse the Museum grounds surrounded by luminaries and hand-made decorations. Throughout the celebration you can enjoy hearth-baked cookies, hot tea, and cocoa as Living History interpreters regale you with tales and traditions of Prescott’s pioneer Christmas history. Admission to the festivities is $5, and free to Museum members and children 15 and under.
If you are not in town this weekend, we invite you to join us Friday, December 9th for the Acker Night Musical Showcase. Acker Night, as locals know it, is a partnership between local businesses and local musicians. Boasting over performers in over 100 shops, downtown businesses 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.
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.
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.