Cerca country welcomes the holiday season with a variety of festive activities, from Polar Express train rides to Dickens characters and cowboy poets.
Through Dec. 22, Ivins, Utah: Christmas in the Canyon features a live Nativity, holiday music on the plaza, Old Salty Train rides, light show and a visit from Santa Claus. Thursday through Saturday evenings. Tuacahn Center for the Arts, 435-652-3300. www.tuacahn.org.
Through Dec. 29, Ely: Polar Express. Head to the North Pole and visit with Santa Claus and his elves. On the way, there will be a reading of the children's classic "The Polar Express." Santa will present a silver bell to all believers. Cookies and hot chocolate will be offered. Fridays through Sundays and Dec. 18-20. 866-407-8326. www.nevadanorthernrailway.net.
Through Jan. 1, Prescott, Ariz.: World's Largest Gingerbread Village. More than 100 locally constructed gingerbread houses are displayed in the lobby of the Prescott Resort. 928-776-1666. www.prescottresort.com.
Through Jan. 5, Williams, Ariz.: The Polar Express. Listen to the children's classic "The Polar Express," by Chris Van Allsburg, while taking a magical journey to the North Pole, where Santa and his reindeer will greet passengers. Hot chocolate and cookies will be available. A silver bell will be presented to children. Reservations are needed. 800-848-3511. www.thetrain.com.
Wednesday through Saturday, St. George, Utah: Dickens Christmas Festival. Get a jump on Christmas shopping while strolling through village streets featuring shops from 19th-century England and being entertained by a cast of Dickens characters such as Tiny Tim, Scrooge and Queen Victoria. Dixie Convention Center. 435-688-2990. www.dickenschristmasfestival.com.
Saturday, Lake Havasu, Ariz.: 30th annual Boat Parade of Lights. More than 50 decorated boats will parade under the London Bridge Channel and tour the lake. The host is the London Bridge Yacht Club. 928-854-5292. www.lhcboatparadeoflights.com.
Saturday, Prescott, Ariz.: 30th annual Christmas Parade and 58th annual Courthouse Lighting. One of the city's most popular annual events celebrates with a parade, a visit by Santa Claus and an evening lighting. Prescott Courthouse Plaza. Parade is at 1 p.m. and lighting at 6 p.m. 800-266-7534. www.visit-prescott.com.
Saturday, Prescott, Ariz.: Frontier Christmas Open House features costumed revelers, storytelling and period entertainment with carolers. Hot cider and cookies will be offered. This event takes place immediately following the courthouse lighting. 6-8:30 p.m., Sharlot Hall Museum. 928-445-3122. www.sharlot.org.
Saturday and Dec. 2 and Dec. 8-9, Kingman, Ariz.: Santa's Hualapai Wonderland. Visit Santa Claus and take a hayride and enjoy holiday treats. Hualapai Mountain Park. 1-5 p.m. 928-681-5700. www.kingmantourism.org.
Saturday and Dec. 2 and Dec. 8-9, Virginia City: V&T Railroad's Candy Cane Express. Travel the rails in a festively decorated and fully restored antique passenger car. Christmas music will be featured and hot chocolate and cider will be served by elves. 775-847-7500. www.visitvirginiacitynv.com.
Dec. 3, Cedar City, Utah: Christmas at the Homestead. This evening program features candle dipping, paper-chain making, popcorn stringing, carolers and a visit to Santa Claus. Held at Frontier Homestead State Park Museum. 435-586-9290. www.scenicsouthernutah.com.
Dec. 6, Zion National Park, Utah: Thursday Trek. Join a field institute naturalist on hikes to discover the geology, flora, fauna and cultural history of the park. Zion Canyon Field Institute. Reservations recommended. 800-635-3959. www.zionpark.org.
Dec. 7-8, Zion National Park, Utah: Winter Photography. Join photographer and field institute director Michael Plyler for this two-day workshop. Learn tips about composition, depth of field and camera equipment. Zion Canyon Field Institute. Reservations needed. 800-635-3959. www.zionpark.org.
Dec. 7-9, Wickenburg, Arizona: Annual Cowboy Christmas Poets Gathering. Cowboy poets, singers and musicians gather to celebrate the old West at various venues around town. 800-942-5242. www.wickenburgchamber.com.
Dec. 14-16, Prescott, Ariz.: Elves Weekend Downtown. Carolers, musicians and elves can be found strolling around the downtown shopping and dining area of town. Special promotions and refreshments are offered in some of the shops. Prescott Courthouse Plaza. 928-445-2000. www.visit-prescott.com.
Dec. 31, Brian Head, Utah: Fireworks and Torchlight Parade. This New Year's celebration features skiers making their way down the slopes carrying a torchlight, followed by a fireworks display and party. Brian Head Resort. 435-677-2035. www.scenicsouthernutah.com.