Make Holiday Memories! Arizona’s Best Festival of Lights Returns to Tucson
- The BEST place to see Holiday Lights in Arizona
- The Winterhaven Festival of Lights began in 1949
- More than 60,000 people visit Winterhaven every year
Winterhaven Presents the Festival of Lights
I can't remember the first time my family drove to Tucson's Winterhaven neighborhood for the Annual Festival of Lights. It became an annual tradition about the time my kids were old enough to walk.
The Winterhaven Festival of Lights began in 1949. Inspired by a similar display in Beverly Hills, California in the 1930s, CB Richards, the founder of Winterhaven, bought the first set of Christmas lights which he donated to the neighborhood.
Winterhaven's Long History
Winterhaven's annual light festival is the longest-running neighborhood festival of its kind in the country. It's been held continuously for more than seven decades and has only been dark for two years since its inception.
The first time was during the 1970s energy crisis when the residents of Winterhaven voted to stay dark to conserve power. And as you may have guessed, the second time was in 2020 when COVID shut everything down.
Visiting Winterhaven Over the Holiday
The residents of Winterhaven turn their street-facing yards into creative holiday displays and the community hands out awards in various categories.
The annual displays come and go, but some residents go all out. We've experienced snow machines, light, and music displays that sync up, and one year a cellist played live music for everyone passing by.
Tucson Electric Power is an annual sponsor of the neighborhood tradition.
According to WinterhavenFestival.org, the Festival is free to attend...[but they ask] everyone to bring a donation of food or money, all donated to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
What to Expect if You Go to Winterhaven
Most visitors walk around Winterhaven in this self-guided tour, so be sure to wear good shoes and dress for the weather. We've had years with hats, scarves, and mittens, and others where we left our coats in the car.
If you're not up for walking, you can take the tour on a hayride wagon, a bus trolley, or a pedal-powered group bike. The cost varies depending on which option you choose. Advance reservations are recommended. See the website for links.
They often have places to purchase hot and cold beverages, plus food and snack trucks.
Dates and Times of the Winterhaven Festival of Lights
The Winterhaven Festival of Lights opens on December 9th and runs nightly from 6pm to 10pm through Christmas on December 25th. Gather your friends and family and start making holiday memories this season!
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