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2018 Santa Sightings: Where to Catch the Big Guy in the Valley

Posted on: November 25th, 2018 by Taryn Jeffries No Comments

I realize we‘re not even into December yet, but I know that with kids there is extra planning that needs to take place, especially when you’re trying to capture precious memories. That being said, I wanted to make sure you had ample time to carve out some all important face-time with Santa. Whether you (or your littles) are on the Naughty or Nice list, you‘re not going to want to miss out on these Santa sightings!

2018 Santa Sightings in the Valley

2018 Santa Sightings in the Valley

6th Annual Snowy Christmas at Rawhide Western Town and Event Center
Rawhide announces its sixth annual Rawhide Snowy Christmas kicking off Thanksgiving and running nightly every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from now through December 23rd!
You’ll be greeted with a festive atmosphere thanks to the over one million holiday lights beginning at 5pm every weekend night. The best part, admission is free! (A $5 parking fee may apply.) Be sure to check out the Arizona Rough Riders and their impressive cowboy stunts. The big guy (Santa, duh!) will make an appearance at the tree lighting ceremony at 6pm on Main Street and you’ll want to keep your eyes on the skies as a light snowfall is in the forecast. Make sure your tiniest friends get their letter to Santa written out before you come so they can drop it off at Rawhide’s post office. We have it on good authority that every letter gets answered! You’ll also want to bring a camera to capture those sweet moments between Santa and your tiny friends.
If that’s not enough, there are a ton of other fun family activities happening during the holiday season. Kids can help Santa paint his sleigh to make sure it’s looking sharp for the big night. Maybe decorating gingerbread cookies are more your style, they’ve got that going on too.
All these activities are sure to work up an appetite. You can grab a churro sundae or flavored kettle corn and the new Sonoran Snack Shack. If you need to take a breather head over to the Town Grill or the Honky Tonk bar for a bite and a beverage. Before you leave, be sure to stop by Rawhide’s General Store and Sweet Sally’s to pick up some unique gifts and stocking stuffers that can’t be found anywhere else.
*Some events require purchase of wristband to participate.

10th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony featuring AAWL’s Holiday Bazaar

10th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony featuring AAWL’s Holiday Bazaar
Celebrate the annual tradition of the lighting of the 20-foot Christmas tree with live music, holiday-inspired cuisine & cocktails, kid’s activities and complimentary photos with Santa and Nutcracker Ballerinas on November 27th. Bring your furry loved ones for the new Pet Marketplace along with specialty boutique shopping from more than 30 local vendors with 30% of the proceeds supporting the Arizona Animal Welfare League.

Uptown Plaza holiday celebration

Uptown Plaza
This December get in the holiday spirit with a little help from Uptown Plaza! Every Saturday before Christmas (December 1, 8, 15 and 22) from 10am until 1 pm, guests can take pictures with Santa and hand off the gift-wrapping hassle to our pros. There will also be hot cocoa and apple cider to sip while shopping, graciously provided by Elly’s Brunch & Café. The photo opp with Santa and gift-wrapping are complimentary with proof of $50 or more in purchases at Uptown Plaza. With 26 retailers and restaurants that shouldn’t be much of a challenge. Guests can also opt to donate $10 to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Angels for a photo with Santa. Santa’s set is designed by Ryan Durkin of Modern Manor, a vintage furniture showroom that specializes in mid-century modern pieces from the 1940’s-1970’s.

Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade

Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade
On Saturday, December 8th, bring the family and watch in awe while the reflective waters of Tempe Town Lake come alive in a dazzling display of nautical holiday cheer, as a procession of festively decorated boats of all shapes and sizes cruise through the waters starting at 7pm. Now in its 19th year, the Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade presented by Domino’s Pizza features glistening, floating parade units, on-site food vendors, beer and wine concessions, a Holiday Market for easy gift shopping, live music and Selfies with Santa. Once again, the Downtown Tempe Authority will be collecting jars of peanut butter for United Food Bank in their efforts to out-do last year’s record numbers, and attendees are encouraged to help them surpass their goals. The event is free to attend.

Breakfast with Santa at Rico's American Grill

Breakfast with Santa at Rico’s American Grill
A personal family favorite, the Breakfast with Santa event at Rico’s American Grill is a must for families of believers! Santa, Mrs. Claus and Yote-the-Coyote all make their way around the dining room creating plenty of memorable photo opps and magic. Mrs. Claus is at the ready for story time after the littles spend a little time decorating their own cookies to take home. On top of all of that fun is a hearty breakfast buffet complete with made-to-order omelets, homemade biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict, a French toast bar and more. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 800-947-9784. Breakfast with Santa runs December 15th, 16th, 22nd and 24th with a 9am and 11am seating. The event is only $35.95 for adults and $21.95 for guests 10 and under (not including tax or gratuity) and includes a complimentary professional photo with Santa.

Breakfast with Santa at Kitchen West
Photo Credit | Joanie Simon

Breakfast with Santa at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch
Kick off the holidays by delivering your wish list and getting pictures with Santa while enjoying a delicious breakfast in Kitchen West Restaurant on December 15th. Enjoy a host of breakfast classics for the whole family and a morning of Christmas festivities. The Scottsdale’s Breakfast with Santa is from 9am to 12pm. The cost is $34 for adults, $17 for children ages 5-12, and complimentary for kids under five (prices do not include sales tax and 20% gratuity).

Here’s hoping you get your time in with the big guy to make sure you’re on the nice list!

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance wirter, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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