As the home of the “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” Utah makes a picture-perfect Christmas destination. The state’s legendary hoodoos, rugged Wasatch Mountains, and red-rock arches glisten under sparkling snow in December, creating a stunning backdrop for your family’s holiday photos. Utah vacation rentals in these seven cities take Christmas to the next level, showing off Utah’s festive spirit and famous family culture.
1. Salt Lake City
Christmas is a month-long event in Salt Lake City, a clean, beautiful city tucked into a bend of the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains. Start your visit with a stroll through the iconic Temple Square, where more than a million Christmas lights illuminate living nativity scenes. In early December, watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s annual three-day Christmas concert in the 21,000-seat Conference Center Auditorium. As snow falls softly, put on hologram glasses and walk through the lighted tunnel at the Hogle Zoo’s Zoo Lights event, or wander through an old-fashioned wonderland in the historic villages at This Is the Place Heritage Park’s Candlelight Christmas. Bring little ones to Santa’s Grand Afternoon Tea in the Lobby at the Grand Hotel, or listen to carolers in period dress at the Victorian Afternoon Tea. In the evenings, sing along to Handel’s Messiah with the Utah Symphony.
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2. Park City
Step into a classic winter wonderland in the mountain town of Park City. In December, a canopy of twinkling lights extends over Main Street, while brightly-lit trees gleam against ornate historic buildings. The Christmas season kicks off with the Electric Parade, and continues with the family-favorite carol singalong at the Park City Holiday Spectacular. After a day on the slopes at Park City’s three world-class resorts, watch Santa as he rides into downtown on the Town Lift. Put a magical spin on your vacation on December 24, when Park City Mountain comes to life with the annual Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade.
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3. St. George
With its spectacular red-rock cliffs, warm desert temperatures, and over-the-top Christmas light displays, St. George is one of southern Utah’s best holiday vacation destinations. During the day, climb through the lava tubes in Snow Canyon State Park or hike to the dizzying Angels Landing in nearby Zion National Park. As darkness falls, grab a hot chocolate and head for Town Square, to walk among a forest of brightly lit trees. At the Dickens Christmas Festival, wander through Old English shops, visit Father Christmas, and shop for last-minute gifts from vendors in period dress. The highlight of the St. George season is Christmas in the Canyon at Tuacahn Amphitheatre. Watch a live nativity complete with live camels, take a ride on the Holiday Train, visit Santa, and enjoy Christmas carols around a fire on the plaza.
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As Utah’s most popular outdoor-adventure location, Moab is the perfect place for an active Christmas vacation. Spend your days hiking past delicate sandstone formations in Arches National Park, mountain biking along the Slickrock Bike Trail, and backcountry skiing in the La Sal Mountains. In the evenings, the compact downtown shines with elaborate Christmas light displays. Join the crowds of locals at the Electric Light Parade, which features bikes, vehicles and floats decked out in thousands of lights. Get into the spirit at the community tree-lighting ceremony, where you can warm up with a hot cocoa as local choirs sing carols.
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5. Heber City
In December, a dramatic blanket of snow covers the Heber City valley, while the snow-covered Wasatch Mountains rise dramatically just outside of town. Kick off your Christmas vacation with a ride on the North Pole Express train, where elves deliver hot cocoa and lead carol singalongs. At the end of the line, step into the North Pole to meet Santa, who boards the train for the return trip. Throughout the season, the valley celebrates with annual events such as The Christmas Festival for the Children and a Messiah Sing-In with the Timpanogos Valley Orchestra and Chorus. Head to nearby Midway to see the interfaith Creche Exhibit and the family-friendly Swiss Christmas.
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If you’re heading to Utah for Christmas with the kids, look no further than family-oriented Provo. Get into the spirit with a drive through a mind-boggling light display at Christmas in Color, where more than one million lights move in time to popular holiday tunes. At the traditional German Provo Weihnachtsmarkt, warm up with hot cocoa as you watch live dancers, shop for artisan goods, and wait for Santa to make a trip down Main Street. Bundle up for an evening riverboat ride down the Provo River to sing carols as you glide past Christmas scenes on the shore. If you’re in the mood for music, check out the BYU Celebration of Christmas, Tuba Christmas, or the themed celebration at the Provo Pioneer Village.
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Celebrate Christmas with a view of the snowy Wasatch Range in Ogden. The season starts with the Electric Light Parade, when extravagantly lit floats glide down Washington Boulevard. The parade marks the opening of the downtown Christmas Village, the heart of Ogden’s holiday activities. All through December, Municipal Gardens glow with awe-inspiring light displays, and Santa holds court in a fanciful castle. Tour the snow-capped village cottages aboard the glow-in-the-dark Polar Express Train, and grab a snack from the onsite vendors. When you’re ready to head inside, enjoy holiday music at the Weber State University Choir Christmas Concert.
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