Our insider’s guide to Thanksgiving events in Palm Desert

Visiting for Thanksgiving? Welcome! Wondering what to do besides eating turkey and watching the kids swim in the pool? Whether you’re visiting for a week or the long weekend, we’re here to fill you in on what’s open and what’s not, plus give you a give you a quick wrap-up on special holiday events.

First off, rest assured that there is plenty to do. Many of the Coachella Valley’s attractions, including The Living Desert, Palm Springs Aerial Tram, Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon will all be open on Thanksgiving Day. Each one represents a different way to get out and experience our desert environment (or escape the relatives if it’s all getting to be too much).

One notable closure is VillageFest, a Thursday evening tradition in downtown Palm Springs. If it’s shopping you’re after, though, you have plenty of Thanksgiving Day options in Palm Desert. Macy’s, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Target, Ulta and Best Buy will all open by the evening hours if not earlier. Come Black Friday itself, Westfield Palm Desert, El Paseo, and shopping centers throughout Palm Desert will be all be open and ready for your shopping pleasure.

Event-wise, we’ve got you covered. For visitors arriving on the weekend before Thanksgiving, a few notable highlights to put on your calendar are A Miracle on El Paseo, the Props and Hops Craft Beer Festival at the Palm Springs Air Museum, the Cathedral City Hot Air Balloon Festival, and McCormick’s Classic Car Auction. A Miracle on El Paseo, held on Saturday, November 23, always strikes the right festive note by pairing up holiday ambience with desert chic food, drink and entertainment. Add a 60-foot Christmas tree, a five-story Ferris wheel and a life-size snow globe, and that’s a party!

Right here in Palm Desert, the McCallum Theatre has a full schedule of entertainment to add some ho-ho-ho to your holidays. They’ll present A Christmas Story: The Musical on November 26-27; Mannheim Steamroller Christmas on November 29; an Acoustic Christmas with John Tesh on November 30; and The Beach Boys: Holiday, Harmonies and Hits show on December 1.

Five participants of the Martha's Village 5k posing for a picture.

Fortem Financial Thanksgiving Day 5K

For a change of pace, register for the Fortem Financial Thanksgiving Day 5K benefiting Martha’s Village. Held in Palm Desert on El Paseo, this flat and fast course is suited for serious athletes looking for a personal best time as well as people who just want to bring out the kids and walk off those Thanksgiving Day calories in advance. You’ll also be supporting a worthy organization that helps support the less fortunate in our community. Over in downtown Palm Springs, Running Wild’s Wild Turkey Trot benefits the Mizell Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program.

If you prefer to saunter rather than sprint, plan to visit WildLights at The Living Desert. They’ll be open on Tuesday, November 26 for members only, and then open for the general public starting Wednesday, November 27 and continuing on select dates through December 28. You’ll be dazzled by the more than one million twinkly lights that illuminate the ground of the zoo, and enjoy favorite activities including visits with Santa, live entertainment, arts and crafts, carousel rides, and more!

The Indio Pow Wow is a great way to get out and enjoy Native American song, dance, food and crafts. Held at Fantasy Springs Special Events Center

WildLights at The Living Desert

from Friday, November 29 through Sunday, December 1, the event is free to the public and everyone is welcome.

Lastly, Art on Main Street is your opportunity to buy original artwork by 70 artists, including paintings, photography, ceramics, glass, sculpture, jewelry and textiles. It will be held on Saturday, November 30 from 10am-4pm in Old Town La Quinta.

Regardless of when you visit Palm Desert, there’s always something to do. For even more events, or to check out what’s happening on different dates, be sure to visit the Events page of our website.

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73510 Fred Waring Drive
(Inside the North Wing of Palm Desert City Hall)

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Closed Weekends and Major Holidays

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