Desert Botanical Gardens
In keeping with southwest holiday traditions, the paths of the Desert Botanical Gardens glow each night with 8,000 luminaria bags and thousands of twinkling lights, part of Las Noches de las Luminarias 2016. The garden, which showcases desert plants, spreads out on 140 acres and features more than 50,000 plants. On the self-guided walking tour, stroll past huge acacia trees, mesquite thickets, and tiers of purple-tinged prickly pear cactus. Las Noches de las Luminarias takes place through December 31.
Get acquainted with southwestern art at the Heard Museum, known for its superb collection of Pima baskets, Navajo rugs, katsina dolls, pottery, beadwork, jewelry, paintings, and other Native American objects and art. During “Holidays at the Heard,” watch American Indian hoop and fancy dance and other musical performances. The event takes place December 26 through December 30.
Musical Instrument Museum
Music is a holiday staple. At the Musical Instrument Museum, experience cool Jazz, classic singers, hot Hip Hop, Salsa, Rock, and other rhythms from around the world. Touted as the “world’s only global musical instrument museum,” the facility’s cleverly designed exhibits – organized by region and also by topic – showcase the instruments and feature videos of people in their various countries playing the instruments. Headphones enable you to hear the music. In the hands-on Experience gallery, you can play a Burmese harp, beat African drums, and strike a huge gong from Thailand. On select evenings, the music hosts holiday concerts, including the Phoenix Boys Choir, December 11; Asleep at the Wheel, December 21; and Jim Brickman-A New Year’s Celebration, December 31.