Christmastime in Utah

This year will be my first year ever not spending Christmas in Los Angeles! It’s been a roller coaster of emotions thinking about it because I’m really excited to be with Matt and my in-laws and join them in their traditions and maybe have my first ever white Christmas (!), but I’ll definitely miss the family and friends I’m used to seeing each year. Matt is fully aware of his responsibilities though since it’s also my birthday so I’m sure it will turn out great. Plus Utah during Christmastime is one of my favorite times of the year. As soon as the leaves are all gone and it starts to feel like winter, it’s suddenly December and lights are up everywhere and the snow makes it feel magical.

I’ve put together a list of all my favorite things I was able to do last year during Christmastime (in order of least expensive/free to most expensive), and one thing I was able to cross off my list to-do this season! (I would have more checked off but it’s finals week and until this Thursday, I’ll be just trying to survive my tests.) Hope some of these things can bring more the Christmas spirit to you!

Christmas lights at Temple Square

Every year, Temple Square in Salt Lake City takes Christmas lighting to a whole new level. The grounds (35 acres!) are covered in beautiful lights and special events are held such as performances by Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (formerly Mormon Tabernacle Choir), a Christmas Devotional by the church and live nativities. I would also encourage you to go to the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for the best view of the square and to donate to “Light the World” through one of the vending machines in the main lobby.

temple square

Pioneer Village

This actually just ended last night so put it on your calendar for next year, or even in the summer when it opens again because Pioneer Village is seriously one of my favorite places to visit in Provo. During three nights in December, they open it up at night. It feels like you’re walking back in time and can imagine how pioneers lived back in the 1800s. The village contains original structures including an elementary school, a woodshop, cabins, a general store and a blacksmith shop. Plus, Santa might make a surprise visit ;)

pioneer village

Christmas tree picking

This was one of the most exciting Christmas things I had only ever seen in movies – last year, I went with my friends Noelle and Kelly and some of their friends to drive out and pick out a Christmas tree! Kelly got a permit and they have different pieces of land that those with a permit can cut down a tree on. Even though at the time it was early December, it was weirdly dry and still felt like fall. It ended up being a good thing we didn’t have to trudge through snow though because climbing up the mountain to find a good tree was hard enough. After browsing through many trees, Noelle and Kelly found the perfect one. We chopped it down and hauled it out.

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Christmas in the wizarding world: Harry Potter at south town

This is such a magical set-up in the South Town Mall and worth a stop by while shopping – it’s almost like they took a piece of the Harry Potter theme park set in Los Angeles and put it in the middle of this mall. If you love Harry Potter this would be really fun for you since they have a lot of Harry Potter merchandise and a wand shop that makes magic come to life. This is open through January 21st!

harry potter

Spanish Fork Light Festival

This was one thing I wanted to do last year, but ran out of time, so I was really excited to go through this drive-through Christmas light experience a couple weeks ago. It’s in Spanish Fork, and takes about 10-15 minutes to drive through and is definitely worth the $8 cost per car to enjoy. There’s a couple light tunnels and a lot of animated light scenes. We sang to Christmas songs as we went through and loved the surprises of what was to come next around every curve.

Spanish Fork Light Festival
Spanish Fork Light Festival
Spanish Fork Light Festival

This is the Place Heritage Park candlelight christmas

I’ve talked about how great This is the Place Heritage Park is in the warmer months, but it’s got a special kind of warmth and experience in the colder months. It’s a much larger version of Pioneer Village and features carolers, dancing, the best doughnuts, a print shop, a candy shop, and a live nativity. It was the first time last year that it really began to feel like Christmas to me. It’s only $5 a person, so definitely worth a trip back in time. Also, at the end of November/beginning December, they have a Christkindlmarkt. I’m making it a priority to go next year!

thisistheplace

Festival of trees

This event came and went quickly at the beginning of December, so also mark your calendar for this next year – groups decorate Christmas trees and create incredible displays that are auctioned off with proceeds going to Primary Children’s Hospital. There is also a gingerbread “house” component — one person last year made a Death Star! Tickets are $7/person, located in Sandy, UT

tree festival

Luminaria

Luminaria is it’s own category of light show. It’s located at Thanksgiving Point and is a mile walk through all different sections of Ashton Park. The animation below shows one part of the journey where you’re able to listen to music that corresponds to 8,000 luminarias that create images as the song plays on. There’s also a gingerbread house display that could be an event itself. One of my favorite parts of the experience was the Light of the World Garden that had a more spiritual aspect to it and used sculptures to show Jesus Christ’s story as told through the New Testament. Tickets are $17 (ages 2 and under do not require a ticket)

luminaria

I’m sure I’ll be adding more to my list (and checking it twice) to share with you even more great things to do for next year!