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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Tucson activities to help you get into the holiday spirit

Noor Haghighi
Tucson locals and visitors drive up Mt. Lemmon to enjoy cooler weather and nature. Annually, the mountain typically sees a few days of snowfall, including nearly 100 inches last season, according to the National Weather Service.

With Tucson’s 80-degree temperatures dragging into November this year and blue skies all around, it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit when you’re walking in a desert wonderland.

For those looking to get a little more festive as the New Year approaches, here are five activities you can do to get you in the mood for the holiday season.

Take a walk through Winterhaven

If you were to ask any local Tucsonan for their recommendation on a holiday activity, chances are they would say “go to Winterhaven.”

This year marks the 74th annual Festival of Lights, where almost the entire Winterhaven neighborhood is transformed into a bright, festive scene that is visited by thousands of people every year.

The festival is also one of the most important events of the year for the Community Foodbank in Tucson. Last year, attendees donated $57,336 and 42,016 pounds of food.

This local favorite will be open for visitation from Dec. 9-25 from 6-10 p.m. and is free of charge for entry. For those who don’t want to view the lights on foot, you can also reserve a ride on the Winterhaven Hayride, Arizona Party Bikes or Winterhaven Trolley Tour.

Every year around the end of the festival season, the neighborhood also reserves at least one night for passing through by driving your own car rather than walking.

Learn how to support the Community Food Bank and more through

Visit the Cookie Cabin on Mt. Lemmon

For those looking for some breathtaking views and colder temperatures, a trip up Mt. Lemmon is a great way to escape the city while still being a short distance away from campus.

Mt. Lemmon, usually about 20 degrees cooler than it is down in central Tucson, is only about an hour drive from campus. At the top of the mountain lies a lodge located in Summerhaven called the Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin, which serves giant cookies the size of a dinner plate, large scoops of ice cream and freshly made pizzas.

“The coolest part is that people come up, and they’re all just having a blast,” Samantha Beal, the general manager of the Cookie Cabin, said. “People are getting a hot cocoa or a hot cider. Then they’re getting a giant cookie or a pizza, and it becomes this cool family atmosphere.”

Hot temperatures can make it challenging to get into the holiday spirit. However, Tucson is still home to many festive activities to get you in the mood. (Xavier Urias)

Cookies tend to cost about $8 each, a scoop of ice cream is $3 and a slice of pizza is $9 (or you can get a whole pie for $35). Beal said that crowds tend to flock to the cabin during snow days. However, the lodge is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

Whether you take a trip up the mountain for a calming drive or a delicious treat, you are sure to see some amazing views and escape to some much colder weather.

Another plus is that Mt. Lemmon sees snowfall every year.

Attend the Downtown Parade of Lights

The Downtown Parade of Lights will return for the 29th annual year on Dec. 16. Be sure to arrive early to grab a spot as the parade starts at 6:30 p.m., but there will be live entertainment, food trucks and vendors at Armory Park beginning at 4 p.m.

The website says the best views of the parade will be along Stone Avenue between Broadway and 17th Street or along 6th Avenue between Broadway and 13th Street. Parking for the parade can be found at many parking garages downtown. However, more information can be found on the parade website.

The Parade of Lights will be honoring this years Grand Marshall Dante Lauretta, a regents professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona. Lauretta is the leader of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return mission, and the parade website says they would like to thank him for his research and contribution to the sciences and hopes the Tucson community will help honor his dedication to the future through scientific research.

See the Gaslight Theater’s “A Small Town Christmas”

Tucson’s iconic Gaslight Theater will be having Gaslight’s “A Small Town Christmas” as their annual holiday show this year from Nov. 9 through Jan. 7. The theater will be offering complimentary popcorn at the show along with a dinner menu featuring award-winning pizza and a variety of salads, sandwiches, finger foods, a full-service bar and ice cream treats.

“A Small Town Christmas” is set in the 1960s in the middle of the United States. The melodrama follows Rolinda Porter and her father as they try to save their family record shop from going out of business during the holiday season. According to the show’s description, Rolinda hopes to bring the Christmas spirit back to the town and save the town itself from a problem of another kind.

Adult tickets before tax are $27 each, but the theater offers a discount for children, seniors, students, military, veterans and first responders.

All of the shows put on by the theater are written and directed in-house. This script has been used for a few decades. However, the theater makes sure that popular shows are put on at least five years apart so that audiences are always seeing something new.

“Most of the time, you know you’re not going to see something you’ve already seen, at least for a very long time,” Gaslight general manager Heather Stricker-DeBenedetti said.

The show is meant for people of all ages and is a very interactive experience for the audience.

“In a melodrama show, we like to yay the good guys and boo the bad guys,” Stricker-DeBenedetti said. “The big thing that our owner likes to hit is that you can always feel safe bringing your little kids to any of our shows. There’s not going to be any content that’s not family-friendly.”

Check Out Enchanted Snowfall at La Encantada Enchanted Snowfall will return to the La Encantada Courtyard this year from Nov. 24 to Dec. 23. The event will be held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6-7:45 p.m.

The event features complimentary hot chocolate courtesy of Blanco Tacos & Tequila, live entertainment from local groups and faux snow for families to enjoy, which falls at 6 p.m. and again at 6:45 p.m.

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