Happy Father’s Day

Holiday Nights at Tohono Chul: Enjoy an Oro Valley Tradition

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Christmas can be a little strange in Oro Valley. It could be 80 degrees outside, the sun bleaching hills of dead grass and creosote. We have pink sunsets and cactus everywhere–dust instead of snow, but it’s still beautiful, and it’s still a place where families sit under the Christmas tree and open presents. We put out milk and cookies and tell children about Santa. And the desert has its own wonders.

Winding through those hills, hidden in holes, and growing amongst the bushes, we’ll find treasures, strange wildlife, rare herbs and fungus–things that don’t exist anywhere else, and a culture, partially lost to time, but still hanging on, celebrated in small communities.

There’s a richness to the sparse beauty of the desert–and yes, it has a rough edge; it doesn’t match the traditional Christmas scene, with sleigh bells and mountains of snow. But it’s ours, and there’s so much to understand, learn, and see. Shouldn’t we take some time to appreciate it? And isn’t Christmas time the perfect time to do so? It’s festive and chilly; nights are long, and magic and excitement flow through the air.

Spend an Evening at Tohono Chul

In 2008, Travel+Leisure magazine named Tohono Chul one of the Great Botanical Gardens of the World. It’s not a typical garden, where you’ll find vibrant blossoms, giant green trees, and moss–though it does have plenty of plant life. It’s also an art gallery, a market, a cultural center, and an event venue. There’s a small restaurant and bar, which serves a modern fusion of local, Native American recipes, Mexican, and American cuisine. You can take classes, do yoga, decorate gourds, and learn tai chi.

For the kids, they have Desert Discovery Saturdays with themed events, where they can do activities, listen to stories, and go on nature walks. They even have a course called Christmas Memories in the Old Pueblo where you can learn about old traditions of the past and how they’ve woven into modern times.

It’s a space devoted to Tucson, the essence of where we live, our history, and our unique environment. They want to showcase its beauty, and help grow awareness about the people that grew up here.

They keep things wild, encouraging discovery and exploration. The park is 49-acres, and it’s centered around the migratory tracks of several species of native fauna, giving visitors a chance to observe the magic of the region for themselves.

Holiday Nights

Normally the park is a quiet space, dominated by works of art, garden displays, and simple seating areas. On Holiday Nights it lights up, covered in what amounts to roughly a million Christmas lights. You can enjoy hot cocoa, stroll down illuminated pathways, and watch musicians and artists performing throughout the garden.

There will be colorful displays and interactive games, all based on a Christmas in Tucson theme. The idea is to provide an entertaining walkthrough with something different around every corner. It’s great for the family, a couple’s night out, or simply an evening alone. Everyone will love it.