Winter Wanderland Offers a Full Day of Free Holiday Programming Across Downtown Phoenix

by Fara Illich
Arts & Culture Community Family Music & Events Fara Illich November 18, 2021

The “Candy Cane Corner” 2020 transformation at Arizona Center (pictured) offered socially-distanced activations and entertainment. This year’s theme, Downtown Toy Town, will offer similar holiday festivities. (Photo: Fara Illich)

A new holiday event aims to honor Downtown Phoenix’s rich tradition of performing arts during the holiday season – Winter Wanderland, a one-day celebration on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Hosted by Downtown Phoenix Inc., Winter Wanderland features free, progressive holiday performances, over-the-top holiday lights and décor, delicious food, drinks and merriment.

Each program is walking distance from the next, with performances at Arizona Center, CityScape Phoenix, the Phoenix Convention Center, Herberger Theater Center and more. There are also dozens of restaurants, murals and other attractions along the way, making it easy to enjoy live performances, try new places, and discover a beautiful piece of public art – all in one day.

Winter Wanderland was spearheaded by Paola Cicuttini, vice president of marketing and corporate communications for Parallel Capital Partners, owner of Arizona Center.

CityScape Phoenix is hosting “CitySkate Spectacular,” an ice skating performance at Winter Wanderland. The rink will be open to the public before and after the event. (Photo: Fara Illich, 2017)

“Downtown Phoenix was built on artistic expression,” she said. “Art helps unify our community, share cultural experiences, and creates a positive environment for everyone to enjoy. It’s a critical part in the growth and development of a vibrant city like Downtown Phoenix.”

Downtown Phoenix Inc. partnered with the Arizona Center to help create a singular, downtown-wide holiday event in the spring of 2021. Over time, other community members came onboard, ideas started pouring in, new partnerships were formed, and the first-ever Winter Wanderland was born just in time for the holiday season.

“This event combines so many things we love and advocate for as curators of downtown’s sidewalk experience,” said Devney Preuss, president and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “It’s walkable, inclusive, arts-forward, family friendly and best of all – it’s free!”

For Winter Waderland, Herberger Theater Center will be hosting a performance by the Phoenix Children’s Chorus on the plaza, followed by holiday drinks and sweets from Conceptually Social Catering. (Photo: Herberger Theater Center)

The strength of the arts is built on a mutual mission to meet the community’s needs through innovative and engaging artistic experiences like Winter Wanderland, according to Cescily Wiener, director of community engagement for Herberger Theater Center.

“Downtown Phoenix encompasses the rich cultural heritage of Arizona, and Herberger Theater Center is committed to showcasing that in every artistic facet,” she said. “This event is a wonderful opportunity to welcome the public back to the theater to enjoy a holiday concert on the plaza.”

It started with a desire to give the community something special after a really challenging year, according to Cicuttini, and has grown from there. From classical music to ice skating performances, there’s a little something for everyone at Winter Wanderland.

As an added bonus, attendees who are able to catch three or more performances will get a free, commemorative prize. Unique, location-based stickers will be available at all participating locations from a Downtown Phoenix Ambassador. Fill your “Wanderland Playbill” with three or more stickers to receive a beautiful DTPHX holiday ornament. Find out more at: