If you're seeking a small-town, old-fashioned holiday experience this year, with parades, carolers, community performances and holiday arts and crafts, then Prescott is the place for you.
Designated as "Arizona's Christmas City" by former Arizona Governor Rose Mofford in 1989, Prescott lives up to its reputation by hosting several spectacular events for the holidays beginning at the end of November and running through to New Year's Eve.
Sponsored by the Prescott Downtown Partnership, the Annual Holiday Light Parade begins at 6:00 p.m. on November 29, and features floats festively and creatively decorated with lights, holiday music, and even Santa to kick off the holiday season.
The main events include the 32nd Annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 6, with the theme of "150 Years of Christmas Memories" at 1:00 p.m., followed by the 60th Annual Lighting Ceremony from 4:00-6:30 p.m. at the Yavapai County Courthouse, one of the many structures in town on the National Register of Historic Places.
The lighting ceremony includes a reading of the Christmas Story and Christmas carols performed by students from local schools. At the end of the program, the lights are turned on, which is truly a spectacle to behold. Elm trees around the historic courthouse sparkle with the holiday colors of red, white, green and blue.
Following the lighting ceremony, nearby Sharlot Hall Museum will open its doors to celebrate a "Frontier Christmas" from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., as its Living History interpreters revive the spirit of Christmas past at this annual celebration with reenactments, pioneer crafts, food and hot beverages.
The Acker Musical Showcase on Friday, Dec. 12, features three hours of music 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 was created to fulfill the wishes of benefactor and Prescott resident James S. Acker, who lived from 1865-1955.
The Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary provides a unique and up-close experience with animals visitors may see nowhere else, and children ages 3-12 get in free from December 21 to December 27. Most of the animals were rescued from the wild or from inappropriate captive situations, and include a tiger who came from a zoo in Nebraska that lost its permits, an American Black Bear who came to the sanctuary as a cub when his mother was illegally shot by a hunter, and a mountain lion who was confiscated through a joint effort between the sanctuary Arizona Game and Fish, after she was found being kept illegally as a pet in Arizona.
To end this amazing holiday season, the 4th Annual Boot Drop will begin at 6:00 pm on December 31 on Historic Whiskey Row. This family-friendly event will include a small carnival with a ferris wheel, carousel, carnival games, and food and beverages. An eight foot illuminated boot will be dropped from the flagpole on the Palace Restaurant & Saloon at 10:00 p.m. and Midnight followed by fireworks.