Close up Gingerbread house with Holiday lights backdrop

Christmas in Carefree

Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Town of Carefree

Living in the desert can mean redefining Christmas images of jolly sleighs, jingle bells and snowflakes gently falling in winter wonderlands—but that’s not a bad thing in the Town of Carefree.

Thanks to the efforts of a few busy elves at the town offices, there’ll be a full slate of holiday celebrations during the three weeks leading up to Santa’s big day, complete with real snowball fights, live holiday music and even the jolly old man himself. Better yet, while this year’s events include all the best winter classics, they’re also full of signature touches unique to Carefree.

The colors, shapes and beauty of the North Valley are unlike those found anywhere else, standing out like precious gems in the stunning jewelry box that is the Sonoran Desert. During December, they serve as a backdrop to the glitter, tinsel and shimmer of holiday cheer, making Christmas in Carefree truly special.

All of the events are centered in downtown Carefree at 101 Easy Street, home of the iconic Carefree Sundial, Carefree Desert Gardens and the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion.

As if the enchanting setting wasn’t enough, there is fantastic entertainment and great things to experience to delight all the kids—from ages 1 to 92—including an official tree lighting at the Carefree Sundial featuring the Phoenix Boys’ Choir, Cactus Shadows High School Jazz Band and a visit from Santa; real snow to play and a human snow globe in at the Carefree Snow Village; a locally sourced Carefree Christmas Market; a 35-foot alpine slide; gingerbread build-offs; a new daytime community parade; fireworks; and so much more!

Among the experiences, Carefree Desert Garden will be aglow with more lights and memories than ever this year. Commemorative luminaria used to light pathways in the four-acre garden take on new meaning as tributes to special events or cherished memories. They are available for $10 per bag, and proceeds will benefit local charities.

Then there’s the entertainment, taken to a whole new level this year.

Special appearances by Beatles tribute band, Marmalade Skies; local celeb singer and songwriter Ryan Sims; and comedienne and actor Jill Kimmel, little sister of late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel are all part of the fun.

Veterans and first responders will be the focus of Kimmel’s performance. She will pay special tribute by performing a comedy show just for them. Cost of admission to the show will be an unwrapped toy, which will be donated to the annual Foothills Food Bank Toy Drive, and delivered to very special kids by Rural Metro firefighters.

It’s a month of fun that’s nothing short of magical.

“We anticipate this event becoming one of the most attended and revered holiday traditions in the Northeast Valley,” said Carefree Mayor Les Peterson. “We look forward to seeing it grow and evolve, year after year.”

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