Few events in Sedona can boast 45 consecutive years of overwhelming success and holiday magic. Get ready for Tlaquepaque’s Festival of Lights, the beloved signature Sedona event — perfect for the whole family, happening this year on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 3 to 8 p.m.

Marvel at the arts village, beautifully lit with 6,000 luminarias, creating a warm, golden glow flowing over every courtyard, balcony and walkway. ’Tis the season and the Festival of Lights will warm hearts and ignite the holiday spirit in everyone who participates.

For holiday shoppers’ pleasure, the shops and galleries will stay open until 8 p.m. Admission is free — and so is the hot cider. For convenience, take the free trolley from the Uptown municipal parking lot to and from Tlaquepaque from 3 to 8 p.m.

Also, consider bringing an unwrapped toy for kids who could really use some holiday cheer. Drop them off at the Toys for Tots station located in Patio del Norte. Everyone is warmly invited to play their part in the lighting of 6,000 luminarias at the stroke of 5 p.m.
Santa and Mrs. Claus visit children during Tlaquepaque’s Festival of Lights. This year, the festival will be Saturday, Dec. 9 from 3 to 8 p.m. ON THE COVER: Live music by a variety of bands brings the Festival of Lights to life each year.The entertainment lineup is, once again, first rate. Enjoy nonstop live music that includes time-honored holiday favorites, high-energy Latin beats with a seasonal theme, fusion flute renditions, an enchanting violinist in the Chapel, a violin quartet like has never been seen, gypsy jazz and swing, and for tons of laughs, an over-the-top vaudevillian musical and dance act. Those attended are asked to be sure to stick around for the perpetual crowd favorite, the thunderous, no-holds-barred, Phoenix-based, Ron Tolson’s River of Life Tabernacle Choir.

Come early and bring the kids for photos with Santa and his elves, as traditional Christmas carols are sung in Patio del Norte. Then, starting at 5 p.m. sharp with the tolling of the bell tower, light a luminaria and watch Tlaquepaque transform into a Festival of Lights.

As an additional fun activity for the kids, head to Patio de las Campanas where Tlaquepaque Toy Town will be sponsoring a kids craft table from 3 to 5 p.m. for youngsters to be super creative painting their special porcelain Christmas ornaments. There is one ornament per child while supplies last, and any age is welcome.

Along with all the holiday cheer, the season is a time of remembrance and hope. A heartfelt and moving aspect to the festival is the sponsoring of a luminaria honoring a loved one lost to cancer or someone who is fighting the disease. Each person who sponsors a luminaria can write a message of hope or remembrance, placing the lit luminaria around the fountain in Patio del Norte.

“For just $10 you can make a difference fighting cancer,” said Wendy Lippman, resident partner and general manager of Tlaquepaque. “We all have someone in our lives who has been affected by this terrible disease. It’s an opportunity to pause and honor them.”

Proceeds support the American Cancer Society, and the luminarias can be purchased on site or in advance for $10 by calling 282-4838.

Don’t forget that during the Festival of Lights, Tlaquepaque’s world-class art galleries and specialty boutique shops will be open until 8 p.m. All decked out and brimming with one-of-a-kind gifts for that special someone, be sure to see what treasures await.

Those who get hungry know that any of the exceptional restaurants in Tlaquepaque offer a range of cuisines from fine continental dining at Rene Restaurant to a casual grill and brewery menu at Oak Creek Brewery, scrumptious Mexican dishes at El Rincon, excellent dinner fare at the Secret Garden, and the new Pump House Eatery and Urban Market in Tlaquepaque North. Reservations are recommended.
Luminarias honoring loved ones light up Tlaquepaque every year during the Festival of Lights.
Home to more than 45 shops, world-class galleries and five restaurants, Tlaquepaque, the art and soul of Sedona, now in its 45th year, is at 336 State Route 179 in Sedona. It is open daily at 10 a.m. Call 282-4838 or visit tlaq.com for more information.

Festival of Lights Schedule

Noon to 2 p.m.: Ron Tolson and pianist Bryan Pace. Enjoy the beautiful vocals of tabernacle choirmaster Ron Tolson with piano accompaniment in the Tlaquepaque Chapel.
2:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Flutist Sherry Finzer. Known for her bold musical style, she brings together a new fusion sound, blending New Age, Latin and classical music in the Tlaquepaque Chapel.
3 to 5 p.m.: Porcelain ornament painting just for kids, sponsored by Tlaquepaque Toy Town, where youngsters can paint and keep their special porcelain Christmas ornaments. Patio de las Campanas.
3 to 6 p.m.: Gather the kids for a visit with Santa while enjoying all the traditional Christmas carols. Holiday favorites will be sung by Sedona’s favorite dynamic duo, Tom and Shondra Jepperson, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Purchase personalized luminarias to honor cancer survivors and family and friends lost to cancer. Patio del Norte.
5 p.m. sharp: Lighting of 6,000 luminarias throughout the entirearts village. Listen for the tolling of the bells to signal the lighting.

3 to 5 p.m.: Guitarist Tommy Rocks plays fun numbers with his deep-fried acoustic rock sprinkled with a dash of blues. Tlaquepaque North.
3 to 5:30 p.m.: Enjoy the get-down sounds of Andres y los Guapos featuring the vocals of Andres Martinez, acoustic guitar, saxophone and Latin percussion. These crowd-pleasing guys bring it with lots of energy and passion. Get ready to bust a move or two. Patio de las Campanas.
4 to 6 pm: Michael Kollwitz on Chapman Stick. For those who have never heard a Chapman Stick, it’s one of the most expressive musical instruments ever created. Kollwitz is a Chapman Stick virtuoso with 39 years of experience. Don’t miss its amazing sounds. Patio de las Rosas.
5 to 7 p.m.: From classical to hip-hop and lots in between, the gifted violinist and composer Jonathan Levingston is sure to enchant and delight everyone in the Tlaquepaque Chapel.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Phoenix-based River of Life Tabernacle Choir. For those who want to be moved to their core, don’t miss the straight-from-the-heart performance directed by Ron Tolson. Inspiring and uplifting, enjoy their huge sound as they sing seasonal hymns and holiday favorites in Plaza de la Fuente.

5 to 7 p.m.: Violinist Jonathan Levingston enchants his audiences with a wide-ranging and versatile repertoire. Tlaquepaque Chapel.
6 to 8 p.m.: Gypsy jazz, infectious swing and improvisation combine to help ring in the season, performed by the unforgettable Zazu in Patio de las Campanas.
6 to 8 p.m.: Check out the Swingtips, hailed as one of the hottest nostalgia pop/swing acts around. Their highly entertaining, vaudeville-era-inspired interactive show gets everyone on their feet and dancing till they drop. Tlaquepaque North.
6 to 8 p.m.: Urban Electric String Quartet. You will marvel at their moves and amazing repertorial diversity, from rock to cutting edge electronic music. Patio del Norte.