From Dec. 3 to 5, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix lines its paths with 7,000 luminarias, and a dozen musical groups will perform. Rawhide, the 1880s-style Western town in Scottsdale, hosts a Winter Wonderland show from Nov. 27 through Jan 3. And at Gardener’s World in Phoenix, two football fields’ worth of poinsettias will be showcased at the 13th annual Poinsettia Festival on Dec. 5. For more information, contact the Arizona Office of Tourism, 2702 N. 3rd St., Suite 4015, Phoenix, AZ 85004; telephone (602) 230-7733.
The National Finals Rodeo, Dec. 4-13 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, draws fans from all over the country to see the top performers vie for $4.1 million in prizes. Events include steer wrestling, bareback riding, barrel racing and bull riding. Side events include cowboy and Southwest Indian gift shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The rodeo is usually a sellout; advance tickets suggested. For more information, contact Las Vegas Events, Inc., 770 E. Warm Springs Road, Suite 140, Las Vegas, NV 89119; tel. (702) 895-3900.
Celebrate a 19th century holiday at the 38th annual Christmas Market in Georgetown, one of the state’s best-preserved Victorian communities. Market days are Dec. 5, 6, 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to dusk. At noon each day is the St. Lucia parade of lights. There’s a crafts fair as well as holiday foods. Georgetown is less than one hour west of Denver. For more information, contact the Georgetown Promotion Commission, P.O. Box 426, Georgetown, CO 80444; tel. (800) 472-8230.
Old Salem, the restored Moravian town settled in 1766, celebrates the holidays on Dec. 19 in a simple country manner with trees decorated in paper roses, apples and cookies; visitors learning how to make candles and Nativity figures; and the playing of traditional Moravian hymns along with carols. This is the only night of the year when the historic buildings are open for candlelight tours. For more information, contact Old Salem, Box F, Salem Station, Winston-Salem, NC 27108-0346; tel. (336) 721-7300.
Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane, now through Jan. 2, offers a small-town holiday experience. The park is decorated with more than a million twinkling lights; some of the most elaborate displays are seen on the steam train forest ride. Other attractions include strolling carolers, a holiday song and dance revue, nine live reindeer and carriage rides. Hershey is 100 miles west of Philadelphia. For more information, contact Hersheypark, 100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, PA 17033; tel. (800) 437-7439.
Despite the balmy weather, Aussies take the holidays seriously. On Dec. 21, 100,000 carolers will converge outside Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales. The same night, 30,000 carolers are expected at Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl. Three holiday events take place in Sydney’s Darling Harbour: the Christmas Pageant Dec. 12-14, the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yachting Race on Dec. 26 and the New Year’s Eve fireworks display. For more information, contact the Australian Tourist Commission, 2049 Century Park East, Suite 1920, Los Angeles, CA 90067; tel. (800) 333-0262.
Oaxaca holds several December fiestas, including the Festival of the Radishes on Dec. 23: Radish carvers from the area converge on the zocalo (central plaza) to set up booths and display their wares. Other booths sell local foods, and musicians perform in the bandstand. For more information, contact the Mexican Government Tourism Office, Mexican Consulate, 2401 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057; tel. (213) 351-2069.
Events appears monthly.