For an old-fashioned Christmas, complete with holiday lights, hot chocolate, parades and carolers, community performances and holiday arts and crafts, Prescott has it all. Designated as "Arizona's Christmas City" by former Governor Rose Mofford in 1989, activities and celebrations start in late November, and are capped off by the popular "Boot Drop" on Whiskey Row on New Year's Eve.
On Saturday, November 28, the 20th Annual Holiday Light Parade will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Courthouse Plaza. With more than 80 entrants by local businesses, church groups, schools and bands, the parade ends with all the floats on the field at Mile High Middle School with a large bonfire, live music and reindeer races for the kids.
"The Magic of Christmas" is the theme of the 33rd Annual Christmas Parade, on Saturday, December 5th at 1:00 p.m. in Downtown Prescott. With approximately 100 entries, the parade is loaded with family fun with floats, horses, bands and of course, Santa Claus.
After the excitement of the parade, another long-running Prescott holiday tradition – the Courthouse Lighting – will begin at 6 p.m., December 5th, on the Courthouse Plaza. The 61st annual lighting event will feature a retelling of the story of the first Christmas, along with the singing of Christmas carols by local schoolchildren. The highlight of the evening is the annual lighting ceremony of thousands of lights on more than 100 trees on the Courthouse Plaza – a truly beautiful spectacle.
Sharlot Hall Museum also will open its doors to celebrate a "Frontier Christmas Open House" beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 5th. Luminaries, hand-made decorations, hearth-baked cookies, hot tea and cocoa entice locals and out-of-town visitors to celebrate a full dose of holiday spirit and good cheer at the museum.
Ring in the New Year with The Whiskey Row Boot Drop, and annual tradition in Prescott, this year Thursday, December 31st from 6:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Historic Whiskey Row. A six foot illuminated cowboy boot will be lowered from the Palace Building Flagpole at 10:00 p.m. (to coincide with the New York City Ball Drop) and midnight. Fireworks will occur at midnight, and the event will include live music and food vendors.
The Acker Musical Showcase on December 11th features three hours of music beginning at 5:00 p.m. as more than 100 downtown businesses host musical groups of every genre. This free evening event is entirely run, supported and performed by volunteers, and is the primary fundraising event for art and music scholarships.
One of the highlights of any trip to Prescott is shopping and dining in its downtown, which sprang up around the courthouse square. One-of-a-kind restaurants, small specialty shops and bars fill the square, including the historic "Whiskey Row" along Montezuma Street.
The Yavapai College Performing Arts Center has several musical performances planned during December, including a Christmas Instrumental Concert by the Yavapai College Music Department, as well as the Prescott POPS performing "Home for the Holidays."
Prescott is home to several museums besides Sharlot Hall, as well as art galleries featuring many examples of the thriving arts community in the area. The Smoki Museum concentrates on American Indian art and cultures. The Phippen Museum features art of the American West. The Fort Whipple Museum, which served as a tactical base of the U.S. Cavalry from 1864 to 1882, offers exhibits on frontier medicine, Army weaponry, the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and maps, photographs and memoirs of soldiers stationed at the fort.
WildLights is an annual holiday display of lights at Heritage Park Zoo, 1403 Heritage Park Road, Prescott. Beginning Friday, November 27, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through January 2, 2016. Visitors can walk the grounds after dark, enjoying more than 20,000 lights, the animals, holiday music, warm refreshments, and holiday-themed activities.