The ultimate guide to Christmas in the Coachella Valley

·17 min read

As the winter holidays arrive, the Coachella Valley will play host to an abundance of merry events for residents and tourists alike.

The Desert Sun has put together a calendar of Coachella Valley holiday events in December, ranging from tree lightings to special Christmas performances.

Related: Hanukkah events in the Coachella Valley: Celebrate the Festival of Lights with the whole family

Editor's Note: Repeated events will be marked with an *

Dec. 1

The City of Coachella Christmas Tree Lighting will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Coachella City Hall, 1515 Sixth St. The ceremony will feature Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, along with food samples and more.

Dec. 2

The City of Indio Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. at 100 Civic Center Mall. The ceremony will include the lighting of Indio's 14-year-old "Holiday Tree." There will be performances from carolers from Shadow Hills High School, the Academy of Musical Performance and the Desert TheatreWorks' production of "Winter Wonderettes." The Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus will also make an appearance. Attendees will be able to take photos with Santa Claus and enjoy holiday treats.

Dec. 3

The Lights on El Paseo will take place 3-7 p.m. at El Paseo Shopping District in Palm Desert. There will be an annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, carolers, activities for kids, Santa and Mrs. Claus and more. Free. For more information, visit bit.ly/LightsonElPaseo.

The City of La Quinta Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place 6-8 p.m. at Civic Center Park, 78-495 Calle Tampico, La Quinta. The event will include a visit from Santa, musical performances, trackless train, holiday cookies and refreshments, giveaways and more. Free. Visit playinlaquinta.com.

The Gallery Holiday Party will take place 5-7 p.m. at Desert Art Center, 550 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. There will be a new Winter Show in the Main Gallery, along with another special exhibit. The party will have music, a mashed potato bar, refreshments and a sweet-tooth table. For members only. For more information, visit desertartcenter.org.

Ben & Jerry's Toy Drive will be held 5-9 p.m. at the Ben & Jerry's at The River, 71-800 Highway 111 Unit A-124, Rancho Mirage. Donate a new, unwrapped toy for children up to age 12, valued at $10 or more, and receive a free scoop of ice cream. For more information, call (760) 779-1823.

Dec. 4

The Festival of Lights Parade will take place at 5:45 p.m. starting at Ramon Road before heading down Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. The parade will feature tractors and floats covered in lights, marching bands, performance groups and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Free. For more information, visit visitpalmsprings.com/events or call (760) 323-8299.

Merry Movie Nights at The Gardens on El Paseo is taking place every Saturday in December. There will be a screening of "Frozen" at 5 p.m. Tickets for children under 2 are free, under 16 years old are $5 and older than 16 are $7. For more information, visit thegardensonelpaseo.com/events.

Dec. 8

The Cathedral City North Pole Village and Mayor's Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place 5-7 p.m. in Downtown Cathedral City. The event includes holiday music, carolers, Santa Claus, the holiday tree lighting ceremony, candy canes, bike giveaways for kids and a free movie at the Mary Pickford Theatre. Free. For more information, visit discovercathedralcity.com or call (760) 770-0396.

Dec. 9

The Art of Music - A Smooth Jazz Christmas will take place 6-7:30 p.m. at Old Town Artisan Studios, 78-046 Calle Barcelona, La Quinta, featuring The Chase Huna Trio. Tickets are $10 per person. For more information, got to oldtownartisanstudios.org, or call (760) 777-1444.

Dec. 10

The Coachella Holiday Parade will take place at 6 p.m. and start at Cesar Chavez Street and Westerfield Way before eventually ending at Veterans Memorial Park at 1500 Fourth St. The parade will be followed by a celebration with an ice slide, carnival rides, live music and food vendors.

*Branden & James "A Christmas Gift" will take place at 6 p.m. at The Purple Room. Tickets start at $40, and attendees can purchase dinner for additional costs. The event will include classical covers of holiday music, such as "White Christmas," "Silent Night," "Mary Did You Know" and more. For more information, go to purpleroompalmsprings.com/entertainment, or call (760) 322-4422.

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 11

The Parade of Lights & Holiday Festival will take place at 5:45 p.m. with a parade beginning at Palm Drive and Mission Lakes Boulevard in Desert Hot Springs. The holiday festival will follow on Palm Drive and Pierson Boulevard. There will be free carnival rides, pictures with Santa Claus, face painting, cotton candy, live music, food vendors and more. Free. For more information, visit cityofdhs.org.

Paws n' Claus will take place 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at The Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert. Bring your dogs and/or cats to take photos with Santa Claus. Pets should be leashed, or in light-weight carriers, and be up-to-date on all vaccines. Cost is $15, which includes one 4x6 photo in a holiday folder. Proceeds benefit the Bianca Rae Foundation. For more information, visit thegardensonelpaseo.com/events or call (760) 862-1990.

The Holiday Craft Fair will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Indio Community Center, 45-871 Clinton St. The event will be hosted by Desert Recreation District and will allow kids (ages 4-12) to make up to four Christmas-themed crafts. Register for this free event at myrecreationdistrict.com/community-events.

*"A Christmas Carol" will be performed at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheatre, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. and the performance beginning at 7 p.m. The show is a free event, presented by the City of Rancho Mirage and Desert Theatricals. Attendees can purchase food and beverage from a local vendor, but outside food or beverage is not allowed. Register for tickets in advance at desert-theatricals.com/a-christmas-carol.

*Branden & James "A Christmas Gift" will take place at 6 p.m. at The Purple Room. Tickets are on sale starting at $40, and attendees can purchase dinner for additional costs. The event will include classical covers of holiday music, such as "White Christmas," "Silent Night," "Mary Did You Know" and more. For more information, go to purpleroompalmsprings.com/entertainment, or call (760) 322-4422.

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 12

*"A Christmas Carol" will be performed at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheatre, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. and the performance beginning at 7 p.m. The show is a free event, presented by the City of Rancho Mirage and Desert Theatricals. Attendees can purchase food and beverage from a local vendor, but outside food or beverage is not allowed. Register for tickets in advance at desert-theatricals.com/a-christmas-carol.

Dec. 15

The Flight to the North Pole, benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation, is from 7-9 p.m. at Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail. The event will cost $100 per person and will include a traditional holiday meal, special holiday drinks, live entertainment, caroling and fun surprises. Reservations required. For more information, call (760) 327-7701.

The Santa Fly-In and Snow World event at Palm Springs Air Museum will take place both Saturday Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019
The Santa Fly-In and Snow World event at Palm Springs Air Museum will take place both Saturday Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019

The Holiday Sparkle Concert will take place at 7 p.m. at the Palm Canyon Theatre, 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. The concert is one night only, hosted by Virginia Sulick, and will feature Morgana Corelli, Ronald Coronado, Jaci Davis, Nikki Hock, Se Layne, Christian Quevedo, Eric Stein-Steel and Ben Reece. The theater is also hosting a food and toy drive for Toys for Tots and The Community Food Bank @ The Center. Donations can be dropped off at the theater anytime through Dec. 15. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit palmcanyontheatre.org, or call (760) 323-5123.

Dec. 17

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 18

*Santa’s Miracle on the Tarmac will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail. Santa Claus is comin' to town for this socially distanced, drive-thru event featuring holiday sounds and lights, aircraft and a goody bag from Santa for each car (which includes two McDonald’s sandwich coupons). Note: This is a drive-through event only. Do not exit the vehicle at any time during the experience. Masks are required for the driver and passengers. $25 per car. Visit palmspringsairmuseum.org for more information, or call (760) 778-6262.

Santa Paws 5K and Lil' Elf Dash will take place at 9 a.m., beginning at 332 W. Alejo, Palm Springs. This runner, walker, stroller and dog-friendly race will benefit Guide Dogs of the Desert and participants will wear a 5-piece Santa suit, included in registration cost. The price to register starts at $15. For more information, visit runpalmsprings.com.

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 19

*Santa’s Miracle on the Tarmac will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail. Santa Claus is comin' to town for this socially distanced, drive-thru event featuring holiday sounds and lights, aircraft and a goody bag from Santa for each car (which includes two McDonald’s sandwich coupons). Note: This is a drive-through event only. Do not exit the vehicle at any time during the experience. Masks are required for the driver and passengers. $25 per car. Visit palmspringsairmuseum.org for more information, or call (760) 778-6262.

Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour 2021 will take place at 7 p.m. at the McCallum Theatre, 73-000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. This holiday tradition will feature Dave Koz, Jonathan Butler, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and Rebecca Jade. Tickets are starting at $60 per person. For more information, go to mccallumtheatre.com, or call (760) 340-2787.

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 20

*Santa’s Miracle on the Tarmac will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail. Santa Claus is comin' to town for this socially distanced, drive-thru event featuring holiday sounds and lights, aircraft and a goody bag from Santa for each car (which includes two McDonald’s sandwich coupons). Note: This is a drive-through event only. Do not exit the vehicle at any time during the experience. Masks are required for the driver and passengers. $25 per car. Visit palmspringsairmuseum.org for more information, or call (760) 778-6262.

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 21

*Santa’s Miracle on the Tarmac will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail. Santa Claus is comin' to town for this socially distanced, drive-thru event featuring holiday sounds and lights, aircraft and a goody bag from Santa for each car (which includes two McDonald’s sandwich coupons). Note: This is a drive-through event only. Do not exit the vehicle at any time during the experience. Masks are required for the driver and passengers. $25 per car. Visit palmspringsairmuseum.org for more information, or call (760) 778-6262.

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 22

*Santa’s Miracle on the Tarmac will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail. Santa Claus is comin' to town for this socially distanced, drive-thru event featuring holiday sounds and lights, aircraft and a goody bag from Santa for each car (which includes two McDonald’s sandwich coupons). Note: This is a drive-through event only. Do not exit the vehicle at any time during the experience. Masks are required for the driver and passengers. $25 per car. Visit palmspringsairmuseum.org for more information, or call (760) 778-6262.

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 23

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 24

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 25

A special Christmas Day screening of the 1954 holiday musical classic "White Christmas" will take place at 7 p.m. at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2100 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. There will be a Social Hour at 6 p.m., which is included in the $12 ticket. For more information, go to bit.ly/WhiteChristmasPSCC.

Dec. 26

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 27

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 28

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 29

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Dec. 30

*Wildlights will take place 6-9 p.m. at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Enjoy this holiday display, which was recognized as one of the Top 5 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today. Experience a herd of life-size animal lanterns, newly added pathways and a tunnel of lights flashing to holiday music. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for members and $12 for children ages 3-12. Advanced registration is required. For more information, visit livingdesert.org/events/upcoming-zoo-events/wildlights, or call (760) 346-5694.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story with more events added as they are finalize

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: The ultimate guide to Christmas in the Palm Springs area

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting