Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Illuminating the Holiday Spirit: Phoenix plays host to two beautiful luminary events in December.

Nov 24, 2015 07:53AM ● By By Martin Miron

A luminaria is a small paper lantern, commonly a candle set in some sand inside a paper bag, used during the holidays, especially on Christmas Eve.

Phoenix will play host to two different luminaria events this month. Las Noches De Las Luminarias will take place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., December 10 to 13, 16 to 23 and 26 to 31 at the Desert Botanical Garden; and the Willo Historic District will stage its own local celebration.

At the Desert Botanical Garden on each night of Luminaria, the Garden comes to life with the soft glow from more than 8,000 hand-lit luminaria bags, thousands of white twinkle lights and Bruce Munro’s vibrant works of art. As guests walk the paths with a warm cup of cider, the sounds of handbells ringing and mariachis singing will remind them of what the season is all about.

The glowing lights along rooftops, patio walls and front doorpaths to the front door create a holiday welcome. The Desert Botanical Garden adopted this Southwest tradition to delight members and their guests. Volunteers and staff got to work on the new idea, putting in hundreds of hours of bag-folding, cooking, baking and craft-making.

In 1986, so many people turned out that it was decided to control the sale of tickets. Limited attendance helped preserve the beauty of the event and created a more intimate atmosphere.

The Willo Historic District dates back to 1929 and contains homes that were designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. They hold their own local luminaria traditional display every year from December 22 to 24. Willo Historic Neighborhood Association President Marilyn Rendon says, "Our annual Luminary event is another way for our neighbors to strengthen ties with each other.” The luminaries are placed at dusk within the district and visitors can walk or drive through the area for an enchanting holiday look at this historic neighborhood.  


Desert Botanical Garden: tickets are $30 adults, $12.50 age 3 to 12 and under 3 free, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway. Visit Willo Historic District: Free.

Top photo:  A pathway is illuminated at the Desert Botanical Garden as part of Las Noches De Las Luminarias (Photo by Desert Botanical Garden). Second photo:  A home displays luminaries in the Willo Historic District (Photo by Chris Norton).

Upcoming Events Near You