Prescott is Arizona's Christmas City
Prescott earned the moniker "Arizona's Christmas City" primarily because of the series of cheerful, traditional holiday events that take place both in and around the municipality from late November through mid-December.
The Prescott Resort and Conference Center, 1500 Highway 69, kicks off Prescott's festivities with the opening of the "World's Largest Gingerbread Village" in late November.
Now in its 19th year, the village - which is a fundraiser for Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters - showcases at least 100 miniature houses made from items such as shredded wheat, licorice and gumdrops next to the resort's lobby.
Each winter, tens of thousands of people visit the display, which stays open 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the end of December.
In the beginning of December, the annual Prescott Light Parade marks the start of the season downtown, as decorated floats with brightly colored holiday lights wind their way around the courthouse plaza.
However, the longtime Christmas Parade and accompanying Courthouse Lighting are the most popular, luring tens of thousands to the plaza for a full day of celebration. This year, both events are scheduled for Dec. 3.
In the morning, the parade follows a short route downtown - featuring floats from several local businesses, city service groups and nonprofits, as well as school marching bands, among other contingents. Later on, the lighting ceremony features the first evening of that month's illumination of the decorated courthouse and select plaza trees, as well as the singing of carols on the courthouse's north-side steps.
After the lighting, participants are invited to Sharlot Hall Museum's Frontier Christmas Open House west of the Courthouse at 415 W. Gurley St. For a modest admission fee, adult patrons have the chance to do some holiday shopping.
Later in the month, on a Friday evening in mid-December, the Acker Music Festival pays its yearly visit. During the engaging event, more than 100 businesses around the courthouse plaza stay open and make live music available for a few hours.
The soothing sounds of carolers and musical instruments fill the air, giving residents and visitors alike the opportunity to stroll around the plaza while gazing at the lights adorning the courthouse.
Also in mid-December on the plaza is Dickens of a Holiday, which includes a Santa's toy workshop where children can make their own stockings and fill them. The event also typically includes food, ice-skating, vendors, games and prizes.
For more information about Christmas-themed events in Prescott, including dates and times, call the Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce at 445-2000 or visit its website at www.prescott.org and click on "Community Calendar" on the left side of the homepage under "Visitor Center."