text by David Phillips

The Datebook Picks highlight ten of the many events, performances and exhibitions going on in the Valley this month. Before making plans, please confirm detailed information by connecting with the appropriate website.

Through December 31
Noches de las Luminarias
Celebrate the spirit of the season at Desert Botanical Garden. Thousands of flickering luminarias line the trails and courtyards, casting a magical glow on the exquisite plants. This year’s event is enhanced by Wild Rising, an exhibit of more than 1,000 animal sculptures made from vibrant, recyclable plastic. Along the way, guests will be entertained by a variety of musical groups.

December 7
Starry Night Gala
Roll out the red carpet for SMoCA’s 20th anniversary! Under the combined beauty of the night sky and a pulsing new SMoCA light installation, guests will be treated to music from award-winning performers, tasty appetizer bites, thirst-quenching mixologist libations and ‘foodie-approved’ dishes, all culminating with dancing under the stars, paired with an international dessert extravaganza.

December 7 and 15
Speed Sisters
A film by Amber Fares, the Speed Sisters are the first all-woman race car driving team in the Middle East. Grabbing headlines and turning heads at improvised tracks across the West Bank, these five women have sped their way into the heart of the gritty, male-dominated Palestinian street car-racing scene. Weaving together their lives on and off the track, Speed Sisters takes you on a surprising journey into the drive to go further and faster than anyone thought you could.

December 9
ACI Holiday Luncheon
Arizona Costume Institute (ACI), an affiliate group of Phoenix Art Museum, welcomes Tonne Goodman, author of Point of View and former Vogue fashion director, as its guest of honor and keynote speaker for this annual fundraiser. A champagne reception, lunch, a book-signing with Goodman, and a raffle are highlights of this event. All proceeds benefit the Museum’s fashion exhibitions and education programming.

December 10
Jonas Brothers
The powerhouse trio of Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas will take centerstage for an encore concert in support of Happiness Begins, its first new studio recording in a decade. Fans will be singing along to such hits as “Sucker,” Burnin’ Up” and “Lovebug.” Jordan McGraw will be opening the concert.

December 13 – 24
Ballet Arizona’s The Nutcracker
Celebrate the joy and wonder of the holidays with Ib Andersen’s acclaimed production of The Nutcracker. With 150 performers, 100,000 Swarovski crystals and Tchaikovsky’s cherished grand score performed live by The Phoenix Symphony, this seasonal classic will dazzle both the young and the young-at-heart.

December 14
The 12Ks of Christmas
Either run or walk on a 12K, 6K or 1.2K route as choral groups serenade participants with Christmas carols. Pet adoptions, a Christmas bazaar and jolly old St. Nick will be onsite to spread cheer. Proceeds benefit local animal rescue groups. 

December 17
Il Divo
The standout for pioneering the unique genre of “operatic pop” or “popera” in classical crossover music, the male quartet returns to the Valley with Il Divo: A Holiday Song Celebration tour.

November 18 – February 16
Million Dollar Quartet
Go behind the music to that December day in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis cut a record together at Sun Records Studios in Memphis. 

December 28 – January 5
ArabHorse Farm Tour
Several of Scottsdale’s premier Arabian horse facilities host open-barn tours and presentations, allowing visitors a chance to see and touch magnificent Arabian horses and learn about the versatile and family-friendly breed. Visit the website for the complete schedule and locations.