We can almost hear silver bells ringing and before we know it, it will be Christmas time in the city. Temple Square has been gearing up for the holidays since August and we are excited for another inspiring season filled with stunning lights, wonderful performances, and people from all over the world enjoying the most magical time of the year. Make the most out of your Christmas at Temple Square with our top 5 tips.
#1: Watch a free holiday performance
Temple Square is famous for its weekend concerts in the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall, but during the month of December five more venues enter the events’ calendar – the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Church Office Building, North Visitors’ Center, Conference Center and the newly-renovated Church History Museum. There are about 14 free performances happening every day from 12:00 pm to 8:30 pm, so the chances of you being able to attend one of them is high! Check out the schedule to see when and where the various groups are playing.
#2: Walk the Temple Square grounds to see the lights
Every season on Temple Square is beautiful, but Christmas time is particularly special. The Christmas lights turn on the day after Thanksgiving each year at 5:30 pm (or dusk) and stay on until 10:00 pm. The lights schedule will stay consistent throughout the season, except on the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert nights (December 17-19, 2015 until 11:00 pm) and New Year’s Eve (until 12:30 am). Make sure you check out the enormous Cedar of Lebanon tree by the Main Street gates of Temple Square – the tree is lit up every other year, so this year (2015) it will be.
#3: See the Nativity scenes
Another must-see Christmas attraction on Temple Square is the life-sized Nativity set on the lawn in front of the North Visitors’ Center, where you can gather to listen to the story of the birth of Christ. Other enchanting Nativity sets on Temple Square include one at Main Street Plaza in the middle of the reflection pool and the ethnic nativities on the Church Office Building plaza. Besides the twinkling lights on the trees, the ethnic nativities are surrounded with paper lanterns that have the word “Peace” printed on them in several different languages.
#4: Check out the Christmas decorations inside the buildings
Each building at Temple Square receives individual attention when it comes to Christmas decorations. Themed decorations, dazzling trees, and pretty much everything to set the right mood for the celebrations. While you’re checking out the indoor decorations, make time to visit Temple Square’s 2015 additions – the Book of Mormon interactive exhibit and the Missionary display at the North Visitors’ Center, Meet the Mormons movie and the Discovery Center at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and the newly-renovated Church History Museum.
#5: Downtown Parking and Other Options
Because of entertainment, shopping and dining, evenings are extremely busy in the downtown area during December. As you plan your visit for scheduled events, make sure to allow extra time for travel and parking. You can find inexpensive parking at City Creek, just across from Temple Square (first 2 hours free, $2 for each additional hour) and the Temple Square restaurants offer 3-hour validated parking for the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Also, the Parking SLC app is a good way to find parking downtown and pay for the meter through your phone. If you want to save the headache, there are many public transit options to get downtown – both Blue and Green TRAX lines stop just half a block from Temple Square and many bus routes can drop you off at North Temple. Check out UTA’s trip planner to find out the best public transit option for you.