The weather outside is far from frightful, which means winter in Greater Palm Springs is oh-so-delightful. Here, we stuff our stockings with sunshine and deck the palm trees with twinkling lights. And even though we’re all celebrating the season a little differently this year, that doesn’t mean we can’t still fill our hearts with joy and holiday cheer. Be jolly and make merry at these festive events and experiences in Greater Palm Springs.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS AND DISPLAYS
WildLights at The Living Desert
On what fun you’ll have at The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, where even the wildlife gets into the holiday spirit. Each year, the zoo transforms into a dazzling winter wonderland as part of its annual WildLights event, complete with seasonally themed animal encounters and of course, lights! More than a million bulbs illuminate the park at night. Wander through twinkling tunnels that flash along to holiday music. Sip hot chocolate and treat yourself at the S’mores station. And don’t forget to snap a photo with Santa on his sleigh.
WildLights takes place select nights starting November 25 through December 28. In adherence with local health and safety measures, tickets are limited and advanced reservations are required. Buy your tickets in advance here.
Light Up El Paseo
El Paseo is kicking off their holiday festivities with Light Up El Paseo on December 4. The shopping district will be decked out in bright lights and jolly décor, setting the perfect mood for shopping, al fresco dining and checking off all the gifts on your list.
Palm Springs Neighborhoods
For a festive (and free) way to celebrate the holidays, pour yourself a thermos of hot cocoa, turn up the dial on the car radio and drive past all the beautifully lit midcentury modern homes in Palm Springs while listening to your favorite carols. There’s just something magical about seeing all the palm trees strung with lights and colorful front doors made even merrier with wreaths and boughs of holly.
HOLIDAY EVENTS & FUN FESTIVITIES
Tree Lighting Ceremony & Christmas Bazaar
Celebrate the festivities with a magical tree lighting at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage. Enjoy the ceremony as well as a Christmas Bazaar, where you can find a variety of precious holiday pastries, keepsakes and more. Reservations are required to attend.
Breakfast with Santa & Friends
Enjoy a delicious breakfast outdoors with Papa Noel this holiday season. The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage is hosting their annual Breakfast with Santa, a truly unique dining experience perfect for the whole family. Reservations are required to attend.
Palm Springs Cultural Center
This holiday season the Palm Springs Cultural Center is hosting a pair of events perfect for anyone looking to get in the holiday spirit. Join the Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus for their annual Christmas in Palm Springs event, drive-in edition, on December 19. Enjoy a socially distanced pre-show, film screening, auction and more.
On Christmas Day, RuPaul's Drag Race fans can enjoy a drive-in screening of contestants' Ben De La Creme and Jinkx Monsoon's brand new holiday special. Dance and sing along this holiday drag spectacular with a comedic twist.
Gardens on El Paseo
On December 5, the Gardens on El Paseo invites families to take a socially distanced photo with Santa in the shopping center’s common area, with 100% of proceeds benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert. Then, Santa makes his way back to the Gardens on December 12 for Paws ’N Claus, a fun photo-op for your furry, four-legged best friend that benefits the Bianca Rae Foundation. A pre-paid photo package reservation of $15 is required for both events—and you can’t leave without snapping a selfie inside the giant, illuminated ornament!
For the first time ever, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are jingling all the way through the year! Mr. Rex (the iconic, green tyrannosaurus rex that stands 65 feet tall and has appeared in such cult classics as Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Adventure) will don a Santa suit this year and flash his biggest smile for your family holiday card. Stroll through the outdoor dinosaur trail, decorated with colorful lights and garland. Jump in Santa’s sleigh, pulled by none other than a velociraptor. Then top it all off with dinosaur-themed ice cream treats at the “Wafflesaurus Truck” (available on select days).
Photos with Santa
Visit Westfield Mall in Palm Desert and grab a photo with the one and only Santa Claus! Cherry Hill Photos is giving little ones the opportunity to keep this amazing tradition alive, in a safe and fun environment. Photo sessions are available from November 27 to December 24. Make your reservation today and capture unforgettable memories this holiday season.
Alohana Holiday Tiki Marketplace
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright, Greater Palm Springs day. Add a little island inspo to your holiday shopping this year at Alohana, a celebration of all things Tiki taking place Sunday, November 29 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center. The outdoor marketplace will feature boxed lunches, Tiki cocktails, music and unique wares for sale and is a great way to support local artists.
Old Town Artisan Studios
Though Gingerbread Lane won’t be taking place this year at Old Town Artisan Studios in La Quinta, this local nonprofit will be selling gingerbread ornament kits for families to paint at home. Each kit includes four ceramic gingerbread people, four colors of acrylic paint and four brushes—plus ribbon for hanging the final masterpiece on the tree! And it’s all for a good cause, with proceeds helping to supply art kits to children throughout Greater Palm Springs.
“SNOW” WHAT FUN!
Grab your boots, mittens and gloves and hop aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a day of snow play. In late fall, when temperatures at the top of Mount San Jacinto start to drop, a shower of powdery, white snowflakes isn’t far behind; sometimes overnight, this alpine wilderness transforms into an ice-kissed dream. Build your own Frosty. Challenge the kids to a snowball fight. Rent snowshoes and go walking through a winter wonderland. Then head back down to the valley floor and swap your scarves for swimsuits and a dip in the pool.
The tram is currently operating under limited days/hours as part of its new health and safety measures. Pre-purchased tickets are also required and can be reserved here.