Illumination: Drive-Through Holiday Show to Light Up North Phoenix

illumination trailers
Semitrailers are lined up to block the view from I-17 just north of Jomax Road. In&Out Staff Photo

When the lights go on at Illumination just east of I-17 in North Phoenix, it’ll fulfill a decade-long dream for Simon Kreisberger and—he hopes—it will herald the beginning of a new holiday tradition for the entire Valley. Illumination’s main event will be a mile-long, roughly 20-minute drive through a display of lights synched with music tuned in on car stereos.

“It will be an experience that people have never been immersed in before,” Kreisberger told In&Out, promising the lights and music will appeal to both kids and adults.

Construction of the project—ambitious in scope and schedule—began just last month on 14 acres of desert north of Jomax Road. It is slated to open Nov. 15 and run daily through Jan. 14. Kreisberger’s crews are scrambling to create an entire destination from scratch that celebrates Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and other religious holidays.


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illumination sphere tree
Among the features on Holiday Boulevard will be this giant sphere tree. Note the human at lower right, for scale.

Adjacent to the light show, along Holiday Boulevard, visitors will find food vendors and themed areas, including:

  • Troop’s Tribute section with toy soldiers
  • Post Office for sending letters to troops
  • Santa’s Village (with photo ops, of course)
  • Areas celebrating diversity and coexistence
  • Celebrate Arizona section with horses, horseshoes and cacti
  • Selfie section with a walk-through ornament and a giant snowman

Plus, no surprise, Winter Jumpland, which will be full of inflatables for the kids. Kreisberger has a long history with bouncies. In 2004, he opened Jump N Play in Anthem, which led to his launching of a similar kids’ fun place, Play Factory, open since 2009 in Desert Ridge Marketplace.

With Illumination, Kreisberger is building something he envisioned years ago when he first saw ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo, which spurred an idea for some sort of drive-through Polar Express. “This has been on my bucket list for about 10 years,” he said.

The lights are not expected to be directly visible from I-17, though “there will probably be a glow from the attraction,” said marketing director Sallyann Martinez.

Kreisberger is partnering with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to market the project, and a percent of proceeds will go back to the hospital. He’s also working on a way to bus patients up from the hospital, kids who might otherwise not be able to experience the show.

He plans to make the show bigger next year, he said, and possibly open a second location elsewhere in the Valley. “It’s not a one-off,” he said. “Our slogan is ‘a new holiday tradition is born.’”

Illumination: Symphony of Light
27701 N. Black Canyon Highway
www.illuminationaz.com
602-567-3618
info@illuminationaz.com
$32 (check website for possible deals)

illumination construction
An empty lot north of Jomax Road is being transformed. In&Out Staff Photo
Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels.


Robert Roy Britt on Email

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels.

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