Looking to get into the holiday spirit this December?
Valley residents have been working tirelessly over the past few weeks preparing some incredible light displays for all to see.
Here are some of our favorites around town:
Birkett Family’s Winter Wonderland
8414 East Valley Vista Drive, Scottsdale
Chris Birkett’s Winter Wonderland boasts everything one could ask for in a holiday attraction: lights for days, a Disney-esque flair (complete with a majestic fairy tale castle), quaint miniatures, multimedia shows, and a whimsical slogan (“Believe in Magic”).
Birkett is making special considerations this year in light of the pandemic. He’s staying open an hour past the normal closing time to allow crowds to thin out and provide unobstructed views from the street for people in vehicles. He’s also requiring face coverings and will provide free PPE masks to those without one. Individually wrapped snacks are for sale, and hand-sanitizer is available.
One new addition to Winter Wonderland this year is more comedic than cautionary: Birkett splurged on an inflatable that depicts the Griswold Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It cost more than a membership to the “Jelly of the Month Club,” but was worth every penny. “That movie’s become a holiday classic,” Birkett says. “I had to get it.”
Dates and times: Dates and times: Nightly, 6 to 11 p.m., from December 7 through 31.
11330 North Sundown Drive, Scottsdale
Kyle and Sammy Pratt started planning this year’s edition of Christmas Forever with a few goals in mind, like redesigning their gingerbread house facade and revamping their multimedia showcase of lights and music. In recent months, they’ve added another: minimizing the spread of COVID-19. To that end, they’ve installed hand-sanitizer dispensers, eliminated possible touch-points, and aren’t giving away hot chocolate or cookies like in years past. Masks are also heavily encouraged.
“We didn’t want everyone coming to our house to have to worry about [COVID],” Sammy says. “That way, they can just lose themselves in the spectacle.”
And the Pratt boys indeed have plenty of spectacle planned, including more pyro and fog effects, new lighting schemes and video projections, and an improved music mix. They’ve also added more scent-emitting “smellitizers,” which will fill the air with an aroma of gingerbread each night. “It kind of immerses you into a holiday environment,” Kyle says.
The pair also have a few other tricks up their sleeves, but they’re staying tight-lipped about them. “Our biggest [thing] has been the element of surprise,” Kyle says. “So we have some new special effects that will blow people away.”
Dates and times: Runs nightly, 7 to 10 p.m., from November 28 to December 31, excluding Christmas Eve
4415 East Calle Tuberia
It wouldn’t be the holidays in Phoenix without this legendary display outside the Arcadia home of Lee and Patricia Sepanek. And the couple say they aren’t scaling back because of COVID-19. “We’re up and running already and haven’t changed anything for this year,” Lee says. All of the crowd-pleasing hallmarks will be there, including a vast collection of decorations, more than 250,000 lights strung through trees and covering the property, and various window displays featuring miniatures and dioramas. While you’re in the area be sure to stop by Buck & Rider or Chelseas Kitchen for great food and drinks!
When it comes to safety, Lee estimates that “around 99.8 percent” of people stopping by have been wearing masks and keeping their distance. “Everybody’s being really careful and we haven’t had any issues yet,” he says.
Dates and times: Operates nightly, 6 to 10 p.m., through January 3.