Brighten Your Holiday Season By Celebrating Throughout December
There is no place like the desert during the holidays. This year’s lineup of festivities and celebrations enhance the glowing spirit and joy of the season. From city-wide celebrations and time-honored traditions to new and exciting seasonal events to enjoy, we hope you have a joyous, safe, and fun holiday experience across the Coachella Valley.
Coachella Valley Holiday Celebrations Brighten Up the Desert
Taking Place Throughout the Month
Communities around the Coachella Valley are planning to hold holiday celebrations, kicking off another magical season in the Greater Palm Springs Area. See what’s happening across desert cities below.
The City of Palm Springs is set to ring in the holiday season with an official tree lighting ceremony on Friday, December 2nd at Francis Stevens Park from 4:30pm to 6:15pm. This ceremony will feature special guests who will join the Palm Springs City Council in lighting the city’s tree for the first time this year. The tree lighting will take place at 5:15pm sharp, with free cookies and hot cocoa, caroling, children’s craft activities, and visits with Santa, creating a fun atmosphere for everyone. Check out the City of Palm Springs website for more information.
Desert Hot Springs
The City of Desert Hot Springs invites you to its festive celebration on Saturday, December 10th. This nighttime holiday parade and carnival will step off at 5:45pm with the parade, featuring a bright display of floats, performers, marching bands, and more, illuminating the city. The parade route will start at Palm Drive and Mission Lakes Road and will end at Palm Drive and 2nd Street. In addition to the electricity of the holiday parade, there will be free carnival rides, free cotton candy and face painting, food vendors, live music, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus to bring the warmth of the season and create a fun holiday atmosphere for all. Visit the City of Desert Hot Springs website for more details.
Check out North Pole Village at Snow-Fest, making a flurry in Civic Center Plaza in Cathedral City on Wednesday, December 7th. This marvelous holiday celebration delivers the magic of a Hollywood holiday movie set, featuring a North Pole Village filled with festive cheer, Santa Claus, cookies, a choir performance, holiday music, and more. Additionally, a tree lighting ceremony will take place at 6pm, illuminating the city’s 30’ tree. At 8pm, close the evening by taking your kids to Town Square Park for the 20,000 candy cane giveaway. Visit the Snow-Fest website for more information.
Enjoy holiday festivities throughout the month at The Gardens on El Paseo. Merry Movie Nights bring the holiday magic of the silver screen to the Center Lawn each Saturday, starting November 26th with a screening of the holiday comedy Elf, followed by Prep and Landing (12/3), The Grinch (12/10), and wrapping up on December 17th with The Santa Clause 2. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for kids 3-16, and children under 2 are free. Full details can be found at The Gardens on El Paseo website.
On Saturday, December 3rd, the Big Man himself, Santa Claus, will be taking photos with kids and hearing their wildest Christmas wishes. For a donation of $20, benefitting Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, you will get to chat with Santa and receive a 4” x 6” photo of the visit in a holiday frame. This event is by reservation only so be sure to get your tickets in advance.
Furry family members can join the holiday fun at Paws ‘N Claus, taking place Saturday, December 10th. Bring your dogs and/or cats for a special meet and greet with Santa. Pets should be on a leash and/or in a light-weight carrier, and up-to-date on their vaccinations. There is a $20 cost, with all benefits going to Bianca Rae Foundation. This event is also by reservation only so plan ahead.
In addition to the planned activities at The Gardens on El Paseo, lift your holiday spirits with a trip to see Santa at The Shops at Palm Desert (formerly the Westfield Palm Desert mall). Make your reservation in advance to get your wish list in and snap a photo with St. Nick. Santa will be available at Santa’s Sleigh in Center Court on the lower level starting November 25th through December 24th at various times throughout the day. In addition to traditional photo ops, don your ugliest Christmas sweater and get your family’s photo taken with Santa on December 7th, 14th, and 21st, from 4-7pm. The cost is $33.99 for photos taken through November 30th, with the price going up to $39.99 in December. Make your reservations and learn more on Santa’s page on the mall’s website.
Delight in traditional and unique seasonal activities at the inaugural Indian Wells Winterfest, taking place at Indian Wells Golf Resort. Known for its incredible golf courses, hit the driving range and putting green for a holiday-inspired “Shots in the Night” golf experience nightly through the New Year. Up to 6 participants can enjoy an evening of fun for $65. In addition to golf-oriented holiday activities, break out your ice skates and sail around the freshly laid ice-skating rink, also running through January 1, 2023. Make reservations and book times for the holiday edition of “Shots in the Night” and ice skating in advance.
Celebrate the season by joining the City of La Quinta for its tree lighting ceremony at the La Quinta Civic Center on Friday, December 2nd from 6-8pm. In addition to the tree lighting, there will be a flurry of festive activities and fun, including live music, pictures with Santa, rides around the Civic Center on the light-up holiday train, cookies, refreshments, and more. Visit the City of La Quinta’s website for the full details.
Keep the holiday spirit alive by heading to La Quinta on Saturdays starting November 26th through December 17th from noon to 6pm for Gingerbread Lane at Old Town Artisan Studios. The 3-acre Old Town Artisan Studios campus is transformed into Gingerbread Lane with a ton of seasonal activities, cookies, cider, and more, all set to the backdrop of a magical display of garland, tinsel, lights, and a 17-foot tree. The event is free and open to the public so be sure to stop by and check it out.
The City of Indio’s tree lighting ceremony will be held on Thursday, December 1st, at 5pm. This free event is held at 100 Civic Center Mall, between City Hall and the Indio Public Library. Visit the City of Indio’s website to get more information.
Art on Main Street
November 26th and December 10th
Art on Main Street comes back to Old Town La Quinta for the fall and winter season, starting November 26th from 10am – 4pm. This cherished desert tradition features over 100 artists showing off their creativity through a variety of mediums, including paintings, jewelry, photography, ceramics, mixed media, textiles, sculptures, wood work, and more. Taking place in one of the desert’s most romantic locales, you can enjoy the art show and grab a bite to eat at a surrounding restaurant. As the city says, come for the art and stay for the day!
For more information on Art on Main Street, check out the City of La Quinta’s website.
The 30th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade
Celebrate the holidays at the always dazzling 30th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade on Saturday, December 3rd, starting at 5:45pm along North Palm Canyon Drive. This incredible tradition attracts thousands of people to Downtown Palm Springs to enjoy a brilliant and festive display. This year’s Community Grand Marshals are Don Wardell, Bianca Rae, Chief Andrew Mills, and Alison Martino.
Known for creative floats with twinkling lights in a wide palette of colors, marching bands, dancers, and giant balloons, the Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade is a truly one-of-a-kind winter celebration that inspires the holiday spirit inside all of us.
For more information on the 30th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade, including the route map, the parade’s history, and more, visit the event website.
The 30th Annual Indio International Tamale Festival
December 1st through the 4th
The 30th Annual Indio International Tamale Festival spices up your weekend at Miles Avenue Park (82524 Miles Avenue) in Indio. This year’s edition has been expanded to 4 days, starting Thursday, December 1st and concluding on Sunday, December 4th. This popular annual event is known as the World’s Largest Tamale Festival, celebrating the rich culture and heritage of the tamale. Hundreds of thousands of visitors venture to Indio every year to savor delicious tamales and other food, excellent brews, and incredible December desert weather.
Planned entertainment for this year includes a giant lineup of live music, traditional Folklorico dancing, “the world’s biggest bounce house,” luchadores (wrestling), a car show, mariachi performances, carnival rides, roller skating, and more. Of course, thousands of delicious tamales will be available, along with other exciting alternative food options and shopping.
New to this year’s festival is Mercadito de Noche, a night market taking place Thursday and Friday night from 5-10pm. These night markets will include food, rides and entertainment, festive holiday lighting, and more. Mercadito de Noche promises to be a wonderful experience that will take full advantage of the desert’s perfect evening climate.
For more information on the 30th Annual Indio International Tamale Festival, check out the festival website.
Magic of Lights at Empire Polo Club
Through January 1st
Make some hot cocoa, grab your favorite holiday treats, and pile into the car to enjoy Magic of Lights at Empire Polo Club. This drive-through experience brings your favorite holiday characters and scenes to life in brilliant fashion. Crawl through the polo grounds and soak in the displays, including digital animation and cutting-edge LED technology.
Tickets are available in advance online for a discount. In addition to “standard” tickets (for regular vehicles), there is a limo/party bus option as well. However you choose to enjoy this inaugural seasonal celebration, be sure to reserve early and enjoy!
30th Annual WildLights at The Living Desert
Through December 30th
The 30th Annual WildLights celebration brightens your evening at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, taking place select nights through December 30th. Wild Lights has been recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Light Displays by USA Today.
Featuring over a million sparkling lights, WildLights includes nighttime animal viewing, live music and more. Special seasonal events include visits with Santa Claus, s’mores making stations, and tons of photo ops. Additionally, the highly popular model trains will be decked out for the season, a favorite among guests both young and young at heart.
For more information on the 30th Annual WildLights, check out The Living Desert’s website.
The Festival of Lights at Mission Inn
Through January 6th
The Festival of Lights at Mission Inn in Riverside lights up one of Southern California’s most beloved historic hotels. This annual holiday tradition has been voted Best Public Lights Display by USA Today and embodies a festive spirit with a haul of delightful seasonal goodies sure to cheer and delight all in attendance. Visitors enjoy a dazzling light display counting over 5 million holiday lights, 200 animated figures, appearances by Santa Claus, the world’s largest man-made mistletoe, freshly fallen snow, horse-drawn carriage rides, scrumptious holiday treats, and more. Entrance to the light display is free, with other activities and treats available for purchase.
For more information on the Festival of Lights at Mission Inn, check out the hotel’s website.
Snowtopia at the Palm Springs Air Museum
Head to the Palm Springs Air Museum to experience Snowtopia, a Winter Wonderland experience for the whole family. Santa and his friends will be stationed at the museum to greet kids, to go with a playground, 40 tons of real snow, hot chocolate, crafts, s’mores, and other fun activities. Snowtopia runs from 5:00 to 8:30pm, December 20th through the 23rd. Tickets are limited each day so be sure to reserve in advance.
New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Celebrate the New Year across the desert with parties taking place across the desert on New Year’s Eve.
Agua Caliente Casinos are once again hosting NYE celebrations at properties across the Coachella Valley, with the theme of “Light It Up.” Agua Caliente Palm Springs will host a block party with music spun by Pop Vinyl and DJ Lady Kate, food trucks, fireworks, and more. Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City will Party Under the Stars with music from Haute Chile and Alf Alpha, food trucks, and drinks served all night from the outdoor bars. In Rancho Mirage, check out the Light It Up New Year’s Eve Dance Party in The Show, featuring Zowie Bowie, DJ Boba, and DJ Carlos spinning tracks to keep the night lively and fun. More information and tickets can be found on the Agua Caliente Casinos website.
If you are on the hunt for a retro twist to your New Year’s Eve celebration, head to Pretty Faces nightclub at Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs for the Gimme Gimme Disco New Year’s Eve Party. This giant disco dance celebration will groove to the music of the 70s and 80s, with period-appropriate attire encouraged. Get tickets here.
You can go all out for the New Year at AcriSure Arena for its inaugural NYE celebration. Celebrate the New Year with 3-time GRAMMY Award-winning, multi-platinum band Maroon 5. This will be the arena’s inaugural New Year’s Eve event, featuring an internationally renowned act, and surely a hot ticket around town. More information and a link to purchase tickets can be found on the AcriSure Arena website.
34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival
The global spotlight brightens the desert for the 34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Coachella Valley’s red carpet event. This premier festival attracts an international crowd starting January 5th through the 16th. The PSIFF is the first major film festival of the year, featuring acclaimed films from around the world and supported by an A-List cast of celebrities and entertainment industry icons.
In addition to the awards gala to start the festival, there are many film screenings that are open to the public. For more information, to purchase tickets and festival passes, and to check show times, visit the Palm Springs Film Festival website.