• The BEST place to see Holiday Lights in Arizona
  • The Winterhaven Festival of Lights began in 1949
  • More than 60,000 people visit Winterhaven every year
Winterhaven Annual Festival of Lights in Tucson
There are so many creative displays throughout Winterhaven, like this one inspired by Dr. Who and Peanuts. // Photo by Val Davidson//TSM
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Winterhaven Presents the Festival of Lights

I can't remember the first time my family drove to Tucson's Winterhaven neighborhood for the Annual Festival of Lights. It became an annual tradition about the time my kids were old enough to walk.

Winterhaven Annual Festival of Lights in Tucson
Are you on the "Naughty" or "Nice" list? Find your name in this Winterhaven display. // Photo by Val Davidson//TSM
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The Winterhaven Festival of Lights began in 1949. Inspired by a similar display in Beverly Hills, California in the 1930s, CB Richards, the founder of Winterhaven, bought the first set of Christmas lights which he donated to the neighborhood.

Winterhaven's Long History

Winterhaven's annual light festival is the longest-running neighborhood festival of its kind in the country. It's been held continuously for more than seven decades and has only been dark for two years since its inception.

Winterhaven Annual Festival of Lights in Tucson
These custom-made yard displays are a fun part of the Winterhaven tour. // Photo by Val Davidson//TSM
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The first time was during the 1970s energy crisis when the residents of Winterhaven voted to stay dark to conserve power. And as you may have guessed, the second time was in 2020 when COVID shut everything down.

Visiting Winterhaven Over the Holiday

The residents of Winterhaven turn their street-facing yards into creative holiday displays and the community hands out awards in various categories.

Winterhaven Annual Festival of Lights in Tucson
One year, there was even a snow machine. The desert kids reveled in the falling "snow" in the middle of Tucson. // Photo by Val Davidson//TSM
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The annual displays come and go, but some residents go all out. We've experienced snow machines, light, and music displays that sync up, and one year a cellist played live music for everyone passing by.

Tucson Electric Power is an annual sponsor of the neighborhood tradition.

According to WinterhavenFestival.org, the Festival is free to attend...[but they ask] everyone to bring a donation of food or money, all donated to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

What to Expect if You Go to Winterhaven

Most visitors walk around Winterhaven in this self-guided tour, so be sure to wear good shoes and dress for the weather. We've had years with hats, scarves, and mittens, and others where we left our coats in the car.

Winterhaven Annual Festival of Lights in Tucson
The Grinch visits Winterhaven. // Photo by Val Davidson//TSM
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If you're not up for walking, you can take the tour on a hayride wagon, a bus trolley, or a pedal-powered group bike. The cost varies depending on which option you choose.  Advance reservations are recommended. See the website for links.

Winterhaven Annual Festival of Lights in Tucson
A display inspired by "Game of Thrones". // Photo by Val Davidson//TSM
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They often have places to purchase hot and cold beverages, plus food and snack trucks.

Dates and Times of the Winterhaven Festival of Lights

The Winterhaven Festival of Lights opens on December 9th and runs nightly from 6pm to 10pm through Christmas on December 25th. Gather your friends and family and start making holiday memories this season!

Winterhaven Annual Festival of Lights in Tucson
Val and her daughter in stop in one of our colder visits to Winterhaven. // Photo by Val Davidson//TSM
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