Things to Do This Week in the Desert, Nov. 21-28

WildLights illuminates the holiday season starting this week, experience the desert at 8,500 feet on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and have your dog pose for that special holiday-themed photo for a good cause.

November 20, 2022
Story by Jim Powers
wildlights the living desert

More than one million lights illuminate The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens starting this week.

WildLights: Nov. 22–Dec. 30

When night falls, more than a million twinkling holiday lights animate The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. Every winter, after the park’s usual closing time, WildLights ticketholders ring in the season with festive activities and photo-ops at this beloved annual event, now in its 29th year.

The whole family will marvel at the impressive light installations at WildLights. You’ll wander through string-lit tunnels that flash to the tune of classic carols and have a chance to take selfies with larger-than-life glowing animal lanterns. Even the carousel and 3,300-foot model train receive seasonal makeovers, complete with wreaths, bows, and, of course, more lights.

While most of The Living Desert’s real residents will be headed to bed when WildLights begins, guests have a rare opportunity to glimpse nocturnal creatures prowling in the moonglow. And if your little one’s begging for a pony — or a cheetah or an emu — this holiday season, they can stop by Santa’s workshop to tell jolly old St. Nick himself.

Hit the beverage booths for a hot cocoa to beat the evening chill at WildLights. (Grown-ups who want to kick things up a notch with a splash of Bailey’s are in luck: They serve alcohol.) For a small fee, you can also cozy up to a fire pit to roast marshmallows and make a few tasty s’mores.

WildLights is open on select evenings, from Nov. 22 through Dec. 30. Tickets may be purchased in advance online.

Movies in the Park: Nov. 23

The Palm Springs Cultural Center is bringing its outdoor film series back to the Downtown Palm Springs Park for the 2022-23 season. The season will kick off with the classic 1960s rom-com Pillow Talk, starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

Blues for the Soul: Nov. 23

Kick off the long holiday weekend at Agua Caliente Casino in Palm Springs with blues greats Hope Diamond and Shea Welsh.



Thanksgiving Weekend at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: Nov. 24-27

Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, stroll the majestic forests of Mt. San Jacinto State Park, and then dine while enjoying spectacular Coachella Valley views. The attraction will operate a special holiday schedule during Thanksgiving weekend,. The first tram up each day will be at 8 a.m., the last tram up will be at 8 p.m. and the last tram down will be at 9:30 p.m.

Fortem Financial Thanksgiving Day 5K: Nov. 24

Work up your appetite for turkey and mashed potatoes by joining 4,000 or so fellow fitness buffs in a 5K race down El Paseo in Palm Desert. Entry fees support the nonprofit Martha’s Village & Kitchen.

Desert Art Center Big Black Friday Event: Nov. 25

Bid on your favorite artist-made holiday wreath, watch artists demo their passion, shop the huge gallery for that unique gift, and sip hot spiced cider. In Palm Springs.

Desert Art Festival: Nov. 25–27

Festival organizers hand-select 100 artists to present their paintings, etchings, sculptures, crafts, and other pieces at this free event at The River at Rancho Mirage outdoor shopping and entertainment complex.

Rain: Nov. 25–27

This tribute to John, Paul, George, and Ringo at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert showcases renditions of the most beloved Beatles tunes, including those from their legendary 1969 concert atop a London rooftop.



Cabazon XXXIX Indio Powwow: Nov. 25–27

The Cabazon Band of Cahuilla Indians will host their annual powwow at the Special Events Center at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. The community is invited to attend this beloved, family-friendly event. Admission is free.

Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City Turns 2: Nov. 26

The second anniversary bash includes a free performance by Liquid Blue, America’s most prolific party band, at the Agave Caliente Terazza. Guests can enjoy photo opportunities, raffles, games, prizes and food all night long. Doors open at 7 p.m. This event is open to the public and is 21 and older.

Enanitos Verdes: Nov. 26

Argentinian rock trio Enanitos Verdes (whose Spanish name shares the same connotation as “little green men,” or aliens) land their spaceship at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage.

Melissa Morgan Fine Art Opening Reception: Nov. 26

The Palm Desert gallery showcases the work of Lisa Bartleson, Kelly Berg, Anthony James, Leo Marmol, Andy Moses, Elizabeth Orleans, Ruth Pastine, and Norton Wisdom with a interactive public performance by Andrea Stanislav, Reflect – Palm Desert.

Merry Movie Nights: Nov. 26

Every Saturday night for four weeks, take in a holiday theme movie at The Gardens on El Paseo. Sit on the lawn area in front of Saks Fifth Avenue and watch Elf starring Ed Asner, Will Ferrell, and James Caan on Nov 26.


Ninety-one-year-old Jack Elliott takes the stage at Pappy & Harriet’s.

Nutcracker & Holiday Favorites: Nov. 26–27

Dancers of all ages — some as young as 2 years old — perform ballet, tap, lyrical, and hip-hop numbers at this annual holiday production presented by local studio Dance With Miss Lindsay at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott: Nov. 27

The King of Folk turned 91 over the summer. Hailed as one of the best storytellers in country music, he has been revered by greats including Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. “Don’t Think Twice” about seeing the rambler live at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.

Stars: A Galaxy of Song: Nov. 27

Modern Men Coachella Valley Men’s Chorus will perform a one-hour preview of its holiday concert at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert.

Paws & Claus: Nov. 28

Your furry friends can remind Santa what a good boy (or girl) they have been at this holiday-themed pet photo-op at Eight4Nine in Palm Springs. Proceeds benefit the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert.

A Prairie Home Holiday: Nov. 28

Garrison Keillor hosted “A Prairie Home Companion” on Minnesota Public Radio for more than three decades. Joined by Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard, he shares holiday songs and stories at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert.