The holidays are here, which for many means it is time to drive the family around in the car, looking at amazing lights around the Valley. There might be incredible lights displayed on random homes but in downtown Glendale, there is the Glendale Glitters Spectacular Weekend.
It is an annual holiday event beginning on Friday, Nov. 29, marking its 26th year of Glendale Glitters. The downtown area celebrates the holiday season by flipping on the switch, having the whole area shine with tons of light.
“We are excited to kick off the holiday season with Glendale Glitters throughout the weekend,” said Heidi Barriga, Special Events administrator at Glendale. “It kicks off the holiday season and it also kicks off 1.6 million holiday lights in the downtown area.”
The festivities will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The lights will be up for display from 5 to 10 p.m. each night through Jan. 11.
“That way families who don’t have the opportunity to make this weekend,” Barriga said. “They do the opportunity still come down and enjoy the downtown area, stroll through Murphy park which is the centerpiece of the holiday lights.”
On opening night of the Spectacular weekend, there will be a 30-minute lighting ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. on the amphitheater stage. The mayor, council and a special guest for the evening will flip the switch to light the 1.6 million lights in the downtown area. The special guest is Eduardo Escobar, third baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks. After 6:15 p.m., visitors can enjoy performances on the amphitheater stage.
Not only will there be music, but there also will be food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, a petting zoo, visit with Santa Claus and a 16-foot walk-through holiday ornament. It will be a great photo opportunity for everyone to take a picture inside the ornament.
New this year is a 30-foot RGB technology tree in the downtown plaza.
Plus, the Glendale Library will be hosting storytime and there will be a free children’s snowfield. Another free event for children will also include the Home Depot kids workshop area which will be in the Catlin Court area.
“It is free of charge where kids come and build a reindeer and sleigh,” Barriga said. “It is first-come, first-serve. Home Depot donated a specific amount; so, when we run out, we are out.”
If all of the parking spots close to the event are full, there will be a free shuttle service at Glendale Community College, which is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
“That shuttle service starts at 4:30, pick up at GCC and the last one will depart downtown at 10 p.m.,” Barriga said. “We are excited to have them again as a sponsor this year for that.”
In the past, Glendale Glitters would have festivals programmed where there would be vendors and music every weekend. Barriga mentioned there will no longer be festivals but downtown will still be open during the holiday season. Although, on Friday and Saturday nights in the first three weekends of December, there will be programming on the amphitheater stage.
“There will be no street closures and no vendors in the park,” Barriga said. “We are really encouraging people to come stroll, enjoy the lights in downtown Glendale area. To shop in the local stores and local restaurants. That is what we are encouraging in December.”
Organizers promise it is going to be a fun event, originally created by former Mayor Elaine Scruggs. The first holiday light show started on Nov. 25, 1994, where close to 10,000 people attended the very first year.
“It is really a spectacular thing,” Barriga said. “You don’t understand until you see it for the first time.
“To be standing in Murphy Park when the lights are about to come on, to see all of a sudden, the park turns into something so beautiful and magical.
“It is really amazing to see all the families and the little kids going ‘ooh’ and ‘aww.’ That is the best part.”