© 2010 Jack D. Wilson


Governor Rose Perica Mofford issued an official proclamation that Prescott Arizona is indeed “Arizona’s Christmas City.” A governor’s proclamation is merely a piece of paper. What caused her to issue that proclamation is much more important.

Cities and towns all across Arizona spend lots of money on Christmas lighting displays, and yes, some are larger and grander than in Prescott. But if your soul longs for the essence of the old-fashion Christmas that you enjoyed as a child, then you need to come to Prescott.

Prescott Holiday Montage 2010

World’s largest gingerbread village

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe’s reservation is in the middle of Prescott. Their Prescott Resort and Conference Center is at 1500 Highway 69 as you enter Prescott and kicks off Prescott’s Christmas festivities with the grand opening of their 18th annual World’s Largest Gingerbread Village on November 20 at 10AM. It then continues through Sunday, January 2.

The Gingerbread Village is in the lobby of the Prescott Resort and Conference Center, 7 days a week. There is no charge to see the Village. The houses are made by children, chefs, businesses, families and individuals (several TV personalities typically participate). The creativity and originality of the displays is always amazing! Dozens of meticulously executed village homes and businesses are a backdrop to a circling train.

Feeling a tad jaded about the holidays and the economy? Come take a look at the Gingerbread Village, it is free and it just might revive your spirit and belief in this season of hope and giving. This event typically brings 50,000+ people to see this amazing display.

This annual Whimsical Village of over 100 houses is a fundraiser for Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters. They receive donations from the ‘lot sales’, gingerbread men cookie decorating and the donation house. And by the way, the Resort and Conference Center has just completed a spectacular multi-million dollar renovation with added amenities such as a new coffee shop.

Gingerbread Village Scheduled Activities

• Grand opening 10AM on Saturday, November 20

• Gingerbread cookie decorating for children of all ages: Dec. 4th, 11th & 18th, from 11AM until 2PM

• Santa Clause will be at the resort Saturday, Nov, 27 Noon-2PM

• Central Arizona Railroad Club will be at the resort on Saturday, December 4 from 9AM to 4PM for all train enthusiasts. Come see the finest model trains in the nation and the club will be giving away a train set to one lucky child.

• Saturday, Dec. 4th 7-9PM Light the Resort party in the Eagles Nest

• Friday, Dec, 17th join Santa from 6-7PM for a special reading in the Eagles Nest

For move information about these activities call (928) 776-1666.

Holiday Lights

What would Arizona’s Christmas City be without lots of lights?

15th Annual Prescott Holiday Light Parade


Photograph by Jack D. Wilson from 2008 parade

Prescott’s Holiday Light Parade occurs on Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 6:00 PM at the Downtown Courthouse Plaza. It is the second major festive event of the season. Come out and enjoy a parade of floats festively and creatively decorated with lights. Dozens of lighted floats circle the courthouse in this annual favorite. I have included a picture from the 2008 that illustrates that creativity with an airplane theme.

Yard and house lights

Some folks in Prescott really go all out doing exterior decorations. The local paper, Daily Courier, maintains a list of some of the best for drive around viewing.


Photograph by Jack D. Wilson

Courthouse Plaza Lights


Photograph by Jack D. Wilson

You can enjoy the Christmas lighting on the Historic Courthouse Plaza all through December after their festive lighting on December 4 (see below).

A Bevy of Christmas Events – Saturday, December 4

My best advice is to book your room early for these great festivities. You may want to come in a day of two early to take advantage of the unique shopping opportunities (see Antique Capital of Arizona) and visit our museums (see Spotlight on Prescott Arizona Museums). 

Christmas Parade at 1:00 pm


Photograph by Jack D. Wilson – yes, that is a calliope

Prescott is steeped in historic traditions and the annual Christmas Parade is one of those traditions. It winds around the Courthouse Plaza and lasts for about two hours. Spectators bring their lawn chairs down early to stake out prime viewing real estate.


Too cute!


Lots of vintage cars participate.


Patriot Disposal entry with co-founder Chris Kuknyo sitting in the brown jacket


What is a parade without bands?


Unique entrants!


Always lots of period costumes, many with Western or Territorial themes.

Photographs by Jack D. Wilson at 2008 Parade.

56th Annual Courthouse Lighting Ceremony 6:00 pm.


Photograph by Jack D. Wilson 2008 Courthouse Lighting Ceremony

The Courthouse Lighting ceremony is an old tradition in Prescott and is our signature Christmas event – the lighting of the Courthouse and Plaza. It includes children’s choirs on the steps of the courthouse, as Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett reads the story of the first Christmas just before the plaza explodes in the beauty of nearly one million Christmas lights. You should get down to the historic Courthouse Plaza early as this event always draws a very large crowd. Bring your camera to get some memorable pictures.


Prescott City Hall


Pretty light display


Plaza trees and Whiskey Row


Plaza trees and the Courthouse


Bronze cowboy at Christmas


Crowd on the Courthouse Plaza


Checking out the scene


The Courthouse in its glory

Photographs by Jack D. Wilson – 2008 Courthouse Lighting

Sharlot Hall Museum Annual Frontier Christmas Open House


Photograph by Jack D. Wilson at 2008 Frontier Christmas

Prescott got its start as a gold mining town and because President Lincoln wanting to ensure the Arizona Territorial capital was far away from the pesky confederates in Tucson. We are justly proud of being the territorial capital twice and of our frontier heritage. Come sample that heritage at the Frontier Christmas Open House features live holiday music, refreshments, cookies by a roaring fire, shopping, and living history presentations of holiday celebrations during Arizona’s territorial days.

When: Saturday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. immediately following the Courthouse Lighting

Where: Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley St., two blocks west of the Courthouse Plaza

Admission: $3 for Museum members; $5 for nonmembers; under 18 free

For more information about Sharlot Hall Museum’s Frontier Christmas Open House, call Jody Drake at (928) 445-3122 or visit the Museum’s website.

Acker Musical Showcase – Friday Dec. 10 5:30-8:30 pm


Chorus in St. Michael’s Alley


Banjos at Lamerson’s Jewelry


A little Western style music


Another Western style group

Photographs by Jack D. Wilson at the 2005 Acker Musical Showcase

This is truly a unique Prescott event. My advice is get downtown early to have an early dinner to prepare for this, it is usually mobbed. Insider tip: The “Jug Band” normally plays at the Elks Opera House and their songs are parodies that skewer the local politicals (they got me when I was the Prescott Mayor). Great fun and not to be missed! Festive luminaries lights will surround Courthouse Plaza and local merchants open their doors and host over 100 of the area’s entertainers for this downtown open house. Browse the various shops, galleries and boutiques while enjoying a variety of music and entertainment and indulging in delectable treats.

This magical holiday celebration is the primary fundraising activity of the J.S. Acker Music Park Association. The performers are all volunteering their time. Please give generously to the TIPS for Scholarships! bags that are staged with the performing act at each venue. Your contributions will be used to award Local Area Youth with Performing Arts Scholarships!

More at their website: www.ackershowcase.com


Prescott offers lots of opportunities for shopping. I have highlighted a couple where you can find unique and really special gifts.

Nov. 2-Dec. 23 Mountain Artists Guild Annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Show

Mountain Artists Guild & Gallery located at 228 N. Alarcon

Pick up some one-of-a-kind objects d’art at this popular annual holiday arts and crafts show at the Mountain Artists Guild & Gallery. Items go quickly, so be sure to make out your list now!

Formal reception on Friday Nov. 26, 5:00 to 7:30 pm.

Nov. 5 – Dec. 16 “Gifts Galore!”

Prescott Fine Arts Association located at 208 N. Marina St.

Prescott Fine Arts Galley is once again transformed into a glittering gallery of gifts for the discriminating shopper. Visitors look forward to this annual event where they can purchase one-of-a-kind art and handcrafted treasures. Our artists work year round to create only the best in unique, hand made gifts for your shopping pleasure. You’ll find fine art, sculpture, jewelry, textiles, glass, ceramics and several “Who would have thought of that” items.

Last-Minute Non-Profit Stocking-Stuffer Bazaar Dec. 18 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More than 50 nonprofit agencies selling low-cost, high-quality merchandise to raise money for their agencies. Live entertainment. Gifts from Santa for children with adults. Prescott Activity Center, 824 E. Gurley St. 928-778-3747. Get there EARLY for the best selection!


Photo credits

All photographs by Jack D. Wilson. Unauthorized use prohibited without prior permission.



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Jack D. Wilson first visited Prescott in 1995 and has been a resident since 2000. He took a sojourn into politics and was the mayor of Prescott Arizona from Nov. 2007 – Nov. 2009. He now writes a couple of blogs and is President of the Prescott Frontier Days Community Service Foundation.