With impressive mountains, white winter snow, and holiday-centric attractions, Utah is the perfect place to be immersed in Christmas cheer and enjoy festive light displays. Twinkling strings of lights drape the historic Salt Lake City downtown areas and parks, taking center stage during winter festivals. Many of these gorgeous holiday displays are situated near numerous Utah vacation rentals. Here are a few of the best places in Utah to see Christmas lights.
1. Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City boasts the most Christmas lights in the state, making it a great place to stay in a vacation home over the season. Temple Square, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s headquarters, undergoes a massive lighting for the holiday season with the trees, grounds, and buildings artfully draped in lights and holiday decorations. Make sure to stop at the Cedar of Lebanon, brought as a seed from the Holy Land. This 75-year-old, 70-foot tree burns like a flaming bush with over 75,000 red LED lights. Along with this light display which visitors can view free of charge, there’s a life-size nativity, the Christus Statue in the visitor’s center, and a giving vending machine at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. While in the area, head over to the City Creek mall, which offers more than shopping. There are festive holiday displays, visits from Santa, and delicious baked goods from Kneader’s. Salt Lake City’s This is the Place Heritage Park hosts a few holiday events from Candlelight Christmas–a pioneer-era event–to the annual German Christkindlemarkt and St. Martin’s Lantern Parade with authentic European goods.
Lehi is the home of Thanksgiving Point featuring Luminaria in its Ashton Gardens, a 55-acre space with one of the best holiday light displays in the Utah valley. Luminaries cover one of the 40-foot hills, forming moving shapes from reindeer to poinsettias. A lit 120-foot tree is the centerpiece of this display. After enjoying the blinking images, explore the rest of the garden lights such as the Light the World Garden. This section, dedicated to Jesus Christ features gentle lanterns, a giant nativity, and dozens of sculptures that walk visitors through the Savior’s life. Warm up at the fire pits with hot chocolate and s’mores. While in Lehi, stop at the Travers Mountain Outlet stores for some last-minute holiday shopping, and then get some grub at the Village Baker and Cubby’s, both of which are original Utah restaurants.
Provo has almost as many holiday light displays as Salt Lake City from the Lighting of Riverwoods to Christmas in Color. The Riverwoods is a Provo outdoor shopping area that just doesn’t clothe itself in festive lights and decorations during the Christmas season. The shops turn into a Santa’s village with giant nutcrackers, Santa himself, live performances, and fire pits to warm you up. Christmas in Color, located at the Provo Towne Center is one of the state’s few drive-thru light displays. Covering acres and using over a million lights, this show features light tunnels and giant holiday displays synchronized to music. If you want to enjoy the lights from a different angle, hop on board a boat through CLAS Ropes Course for the Lighted Christmas Cruise on the Provo River. The combination of twinkling holiday lights dancing in the water adds a little extra magic to the season.
4. Spanish Fork
Spanish Fork is a good-sized town south of Provo along the banks of Utah Lake. It’s just small enough to have that hometown feel and a cute downtown, and big enough to put on a truly magnificent Christmas light display. For more than 20 years, Spanish Fork’s Canyon View Park becomes ground zero for the Festival of Lights, a Christmas light display that you can drive through with your family. The 3-million light display features gingerbread houses, well-illuminated trees, and giant holiday shapes. Each year has a different theme, so each Festival of Lights is new and unique. Afterward, stroll down Main Street. The annual Winter Boutique on Main has festive decorations, door prizes, cute shops, goodies, and surprise visits from Santa. While in town, be sure to dine at Los 2 Potrillos for Mexican fare, the Italian Place for your favorite pasta, and comfort food favorites at the Amber Family Restaurant.
Draper is home to the Tree of Life, a large willow tree lit from the bottom of its trunk to the tippity-top of the smallest twigs in glowing white lights. Taken from the Book of Mormon, the Tree of Life is a burning symbol of the love of God. The city of Draper replicates this effect with 1,000 strands of lights and upwards of 100,000 bulbs. The tree and surrounding Draper City Park is officially lit during the Tree Lighting Ceremony, and guests are welcome to visit the lit grounds and admire the tree free of charge. The lighting celebration includes a visit from Santa, live music, and treats. While in Draper, go to Draper Historic Park’s Candy Cane Hunt, an activity for children that combines an Easter Egg hunt with the Christmas season. Not only do kids find the hidden candy, there are also toys to be won, music to be enjoyed, and Santa and Mrs. Claus to greet.
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