Thanksgiving has come and gone. With just one sleep we are ready to turn on Christmas mode! Between the Black Friday sales and bringing out the special decor, households and businesses alike start to feel more cheery as the temperatures get more crisp to match. I say “crisp” but in the valley that means the high 60’s during the day… but at night we get a little taste of that real winter spirit. The air gets as low as the 40’s and holiday lights illuminate the city.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, there is a wonderful feeling you get from looking at colorful lights that is just undeniable. We are lucky to live in a place that holds so much opportunity to take a look at that beauty. There are dozens of great stops to make over the winter to see some seasonal glow. If you’re ready to dive into the season head first, I’d recommend you check head over to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
Now through December 31st you can enjoy their property-wide holiday event. I went all out and actually booked two nights at the hotel as a mini-babymoon so I could take my time and enjoy everything, but all that isn’t necessary to get your fill of Christmas at the Princess. I’m just super pregnant now and waddle kind of slowly. Waddling and constant internal kicks to my kidney did not keep me from having a great time. Before you get your visit ready, I’ll go over what you can expect!
When we arrived, it was before the actual event started for the night. You can click HERE to see the official starting times for everything they are offering by date. Everything is in full swing by 5pm but some things are available before it starts getting dark. As we were escorted to our room, we were given a little tour of where everything is to help us get our feet wet. There are also maps everywhere so you needn’t worry about getting lost. Even in broad daylight, it was a spectacular sight to see. Several trees were trimmed with huge ornaments, Santa’s shop was ready to receive letters from kiddos, s’mores land was firing things up (literally,) and families were getting ready to hit the ice next to La Hacienda.
This is their 11th year going all out for Christmas and each year it gets better and better. Their newest addition was just steps away from my room, Twinkle Town! I’ll talk more about that in a second.
By the time I was settle into my room and ready to head out, it was dark out- the perfect time to hit the event to really capture all the work they put into it. Despite the fact that I had just walked by everything, I was blown away when I stepped out of the building. The difference the darkness made was incredible. Everything shined and the holiday music could be heard along the walkways.
Back to Twinkle Town. It’s a cute little mini-village they set up this year to add to their holiday experience. You can walk to Twinkle Town down two different pathways or take a look at it when you drive-by on the train. But once you take a peek, you’ll definitely want to walk into the area and see it up close. It’s a lawn-area complete with lights, fireside tables, cute photo spots, and of course, a place to get some drinks! My husband got to indulge in their holiday adult beverages and I took the mocktails they were more than to make me. If you got a go-drink in a bag, your straw was stuffed with a glow stick! At first I thought the lights were just making my drink glow and then I realized I had a glow stick making a little extra magic happen no matter where I walked!
As tempting as it will be, don’t spend all your time in Twinkle Town! The even has so much to offer. Make sure you check it all out. Grab a map that they will offer you to be sure you don’t miss anything.
My favorite spots where the ones where I had a little more space. As I approach my due date, obviously the pandemic is of concern to me. The Princess is following all CDC guidelines and guests did seem to following the mask policy! Most were even very conscious of spacing- which I appreciate. The places I felt like had the least amount of crowds were Twinkle Town, S’mores Land, and the private fireside seating that was at the skating rink. I will note that the skating rink is NOT included with your entry to Christmas at the Princess. You need to purchase that separately and if you want to have fireside seating while you indulge in some drinks while the kids hit the ice, then you need to book that in advance. Call for pricing. (480.513.6014.) It’s not cheap, but if you have the money to shell out because of a cancelled vacation this year, it would be a nice perk/fun way to spend.
I’ll also note that I went to all these spots on the earlier side of the night- I’m not sure what these spots looks like later into the evening. I imagine as we draw closer to Christmas Day that the event will have more attendees. I’d recommend going early in the month if you are worried about being in crowds! I want you to be safe too! 🙂
The best spots for family fun with kids on the younger side are going to be places like S’mores Land (there was more space in this area this time around than there was during Pumpkin Nights if you went to that,) which was complete with a ferris wheel, firepits to make fresh s’mores, hand sanitizer stations, vendors for kid’s light up accessories and fun lights.
Make sure you stop by Santa’s workshop with the kiddos too. You need to purchase your photo with Santa separately and I’d do that in advance too. You can access that through their website. This year photos with Santa look a little different to ensure everyone’s safety. You won’t actually make direct contact with Santa (so a stranger isn’t touching your child who has also been interacting with hundreds of other kids,) but they have it set up so it still looks like they are in Santa’s lap for the photo! And no, he’s not cardboard, so they will still get an experience with the Jolly man. Next to the photo line is an area where kids can send their letters to the North Pole. The Princess will make sure Santa gets them all. 😉
If you don’t have kids, Christmas at the Princess is still a great time! It might actually be more fun because you don’t have to wrangle someone from running away while you juggle your drinks. No kids yet for me and my husband and we had a lot of fun both nights we walked around! The spots you’re going to want to hit are Twinkle Town, The Lodge, and the Princess Express.
I already went into detail about Twinkle Town, but I haven’t yet talked about The Lodge. Located just past La Hacienda, next to the Wellness & Being Spa is a great place to snag an outdoor table and sip on drinks without kids pushing past you. Honestly, kids running around weren’t much of a problem when I went but I know some people have some serious fears of that when they go to events, so consider The Lodge your adult-zone. They have special holiday drinks and small bites to enjoy there.
When you’re done at The Lodge, you are just a skip away from accessing the Princess Express. This won’t be a child-free zone but it is a great stop for you and your boo. You will have your train car to yourself (to your group) so you can enjoy the lights together. The train (which is a dressed up golf cart situation) will take you all throughout the property! You will get a chance to see all the lights they have set up. I promise even if you walk the property, the train ride is going to show you spots you didn’t even know you could go see! It might be a good first stop if you’ve never been to the Princess before so that you can get a good look at the property and make note of where everything is. This isn’t your average light display, as you can probably tell from all these photos. This isn’t even all the lights and the pictures don’t do it all justice. Even if you aren’t easily impressed, this is worth your time. It’s the perfect thing to help you embrace the holiday season.
You are probably all ready to head over to the Fairmont Princess and get your experience started, right? Before you go, I want to go over some preparations you should do to make the most of your night! First, if you can afford to get a room for the night, do it! Especially if it’s a date night (or girl’s night out) where you want to have some drinks. It was really nice to have to worry about driving home after our fun filled night and the beds are SO comfy. I normally like to go home to my own bed but I melted into their mattress after our night around the property.
Second, make sure you are prepared for the various temperatures the night will bring. If you are fireside, it feels really nice. Wear a layer you can shed, but when you’re walking around or sitting on the Princess Express, it can get a little chilly. Being cold always ruins a good time, so don’t pretend you’re invincible. Bring a little coat. Shouldn’t need anything too heavy and there are plenty of spots to warm up both indoors and outdoors!
Speaking of indoor spots to warm up, the Princess has some yummy places to eat! That being said, everyone knows they are yummy… so make sure you plan your trip ahead of time and make a reservation the week before. La Hacienda is great if you want to sit outside and feel like you’re still in the event (they also have indoor available.) Bourbon Steak is a ritzy restaurant that has food to match. You’ll want to walk it off after! Their outdoor seating isn’t in the middle of the action so it was a more private vibe with the little fireposts to keep you warm. The Plaza Bar gets you closer to the action (but still not in the middle of it) with fireside seating that is first come first serve. And Ironwood American Kitchen it right by the Plaza Bar with indoor seating and american fare that is anything but average. They are also who provides the in-room dining if you decide to stay the night!
Lastly, make sure you’re prepared financially. It doesn’t have to be an expensive outings, but it can be. Take a look at all they have to offer on their site (or click HERE) and get an idea of what you’ll want to do. Drink prices are exactly what you’d expect. A little more than a bar, less than airport. The food throughout is standard pricing unless you’d like to make a reservation at one of the restaurants I talked about above, then you should be prepared for that spending. If you’re kids are going to want light-up necklaces etc, take that into account. The tickets themselves to get into the event is $60 per vehicle for self-park. That will get you 4 entry wristbands. You pay $15 for each extra. If you are just going to walk-up (rideshare) and buy a ticket, it’s $15 per person. They have special deals if you decided to stay the night or plan to dine at one of their restaurants beforehand. Click HERE for ticketing information! Buy them in advance!
If the pandemic has had you in a funk, this is just what you were looking for to get you in the holiday mood. It’s impossible to leave not feeling the spirit of Christmas in you. Both my husband and I had such a fun time and it made us excited to go back with a baby next year! There is much to enjoy to this year believe it or not. Take advantage of the local scene.
Happy holidays to you all no matter what you decide to do this year!