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Brighten Your Holiday Season at this Oro Valley Staple

Home to breathtaking views of the Santa Catalina and Tortolita Mountains, Oro Valley’s natural beauty, warm climate, and community events make it a superb spot for an Arizona vacation. Outdoor enthusiasts will be enamored with the selection of outdoor activities at Canada Del Oro Riverfront Park, Honey Bee Canyon Park, and Naranja Park. Art enthusiasts can partake in guided public art tours which highlight a variety of public art projects. These one-of-a-kind art pieces adorn buildings, public trails, and various locations around town.  


The Holiday Festival of the Arts & Oro Valley Tree Lighting is one of the most significant art events in Southern Arizona, and it will take place December 2-3 at the Oro Valley Marketplace. This art extravaganza features more than 150 artists and exhibitors from the area, region, and beyond. From concrete furniture to glass jewelry, the artists and exhibitors represent a variety of artistic mediums. The Holiday Tree Lighting will feature the lighting of a 35-foot tree that towers over the marketplace, plus, live entertainment by local students, kids activities, free refreshments, and more. Tuba Christmas will also take place during the tree lighting and include holiday music performed with instruments from the tuba family. Don’t miss the Chalk Art Area that showcases custom holiday murals made by local artisans. Proceeds from the event will go to the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance plus a variety of local arts and health care programs. We interviewed Kate Marquez, Executive Director of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, to learn about this local holiday staple.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

KM: This is the 7th annual Oro Valley Festival of the Arts and Holiday Tree Lighting


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

KM: We expect between 20,000-30,000 attendees.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?  

KM: A diverse cross-section of the community, with a primary focus on families.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

KM: Join the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance and the Town of Oro Valley for the largest community celebration of the Arts in Southern Arizona.   


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

KM: The Oro Valley Holiday Festival of the Arts & Tree Lighting Celebration is the true essence of Creative Placemaking, cultivating the arts as an essential part of Oro Valley’s identity. The two-day festival is one of Southern Arizona’s largest community arts celebrations, with over 150 artisans, over 30 performances by student and local musicians, family art activities, food trucks, and the TUBA CHRISTMAS holiday play-along. Festivities culminate in the lighting of the Oro Valley holiday tree. The festival brings the community together, stimulates the local economy, enhances surrounding non-arts businesses, and provides opportunities for local artists to promote their work. SAACA, in partnership with the Town of Oro Valley and the Vestar Oro Valley Marketplace, produce the event, which is sponsored by local businesses and organizations.


Here is a breakdown of the activities:

  • Arts & Crafts - Browse over 150 artisans to find that perfect one-of-a-kind gift for your family & friends

  • Holiday Tree Lighting - Children's activities, pictures with Santa, live entertainment

  • Tuba Christmas - Music concert held in cities worldwide that celebrates those who play, teach, and compose music for instruments in the tuba family

  • Live Music

  • Food Vendors

  • Chalk Art - Featuring multiple Holiday themed custom murals, from local artists, as well as a community participation mural


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

KM: We have a variety of lodging options in the area. Follow the link for some great local options.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

KM: Cultural activities are an essential component of quality of life. The arts add to our lives in many tangible and intangible ways.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

KM: The arts are, indeed, a significant segment of the economy, with complex linkages throughout. An analysis of this chain of economic activity reveals the breadth of the economic linkages centered on the cultural industry.


The cultural industry entails a variety of direct impacts on the economy. For example, an artist may purchase supplies from a local business. These expenditures by the artist increase the output of the supplier, and hence of the economy. Similarly, visitors to the art festival will inject spending into the local economy supporting, for example, activity at hotels and restaurants. These various direct impacts are merely the beginning, however. The total multiplying effect and impact on the economy are higher than the initial immediate impact.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

KM: All proceeds benefit the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, and our community placemaking, arts education, and healthcare programs.


For more information about the Holiday Festival of the Arts & Oro Valley Tree Lighting, please visit the event website.