The people of Salt Lake celebrate the holiday season like no one else. For us, the holidays are a time for giving, singing, eating, and celebrating with friends and family. There are many great opportunities to enjoy the season with events around Salt Lake. Enjoy the holiday decorations, listen to your favorite holiday music, and watch spectacular performances. Read our list of family-friendly events taking place in Salt Lake this month and let us know how many you attend.
1. Enjoy the Sounds of the Holidays
There are several ways to celebrate the holidays with music. For example, The Cathedral of the Madeleine once again presents its Christmas Carol Service performed by the children of the Madeleine Choir School. There’s also the annual Christmas Carole Sing-Along performed by the West Valley Symphony, as well as musical performances at Temple Square. Check out the brilliant light display at Temple Square while you’re there. It’s another one of Salt Lake’s inspiring family holiday traditions. For another uplifting evening of music, be sure to check out Handel’s Messiah at Abravanel Hall as well as Here Comes Santa Claus performed by the Utah Symphony on Saturday, December 18.
2. See The Nutcracker
One of the best-loved and most popular ballets in the world is the holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. The Ballet West will once again host its performance of The Nutcracker at the Capitol Theatre from December 4th through the 26. Dancing mice and toys, and the Sugar Plum Fairy have been delighting audiences for over a century thanks to Tchaikovsky’s incredible musical imagination and the brilliant choreography of Willam Christensen.
3. Have Breakfast with Santa
What could be better than breakfast with Santa? Join jolly Saint Nick at the Grand America Hotel for orange juice, coffee, or tea and feast on omelets, pancakes, applewood smoked bacon, link sausages, and breakfast potatoes between singing, photos, and storytelling. If you’re not a morning person, stop by for the afternoon with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. While you’re there take a walk through the hotel’s hallways to view fabulous gingerbread creations including the Grand Gingerbread House that stands 15 feet tall. It’s a great way to spend time with the family, but adults can also enjoy the Gibson Girl Lounge for a cocktail.
4. Witness the Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees celebration hosted by Intermountain Healthcare is a holiday tradition in Utah. This four-day fundraiser makes raising money festive thanks to the hard work of volunteers and fantastic decorations. Gingerbread houses, wreaths, and, of course, trees draw people from around the state who come to the festival to drink hot cocoa, see Santa Claus, shop for holiday gifts, and bid on a tree. All proceeds benefit the Primary Children’s Medical Center. The Festival of Trees takes place December 1st through the 4th this year.
5. Skate at an Outdoor Ice Skating Rink
There’s always something exciting happening at the Gallivan Center and the holiday season is no exception. Bring the family to the public ice rink in downtown Salt Lake and practice up on your pirouettes as you skate to great pop music! Visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays for $5 skate rentals. After you’ve had your fill of ice skating there are so many more fun activities and shopping opportunities nearby, you can make a whole day out of it.
6. Watch A Christmas Carol
Did someone say, bah humbug? Must be Scrooge. If you’ve never enjoyed a live performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, you should rectify that this year. Every year the Hale Center Theater’s annual puts on a wonderful production of this Christmas classic that runs through December 27th.
7. See the Zoolights at Hogle Zoo
It’s all happening at the zoo! Be sure to visit this year’s annual Zoolights event, Lights That Gleam While The Animals Dream! Walk along brightly lit walkways and through the gorgeous 135-foot tunnel of lights in one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. Other family-friendly activities include crafts, ice carving displays, and the chance to meet some animals. Stop by with the whole family any day of the week from 5:30 pm to 9 pm and you might see a polar bear, seal, and a sea lion or two.
8. Shop Christkindlmarkt at This is the Place Heritage Park
Head to Salt Lake’s Foothill District and visit the annual Christkindlmarkt. Walk around and enjoy the costumes, decorations, arts and crafts, and food. The kids will enjoy the parade and gnome festival. The park also hosts its Candlelight Christmas from December 7th to the 23rd. The event features homemade gifts, carolers, and Father Christmas himself at this annual Candlelight Christmas event hosted by This is the Place Heritage Park.
9. Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point
You haven’t truly experienced the holidays until you’ve taken in the beauty of the Luminaria light display at Thanksgiving Point. Over 6,000 lights make up the display that follows you down a mile-long one-way path through Ashton Gardens. Check out the 120-foot tree and witness illuminated reindeer as you listen to music. You might even spot a Yeti in the Himalayan Heights section of the display. Other opportunities to see holiday light displays in the area are the Holiday Electric Light Parade in Ogden City, the Holiday Tunnel Drive-Thru Light Show at The Shops at South Town Plaza, Lite Brite Nite at University Place, and Christmas in Color in South Jordan.
10. See Santa Many Times
There are so many opportunities to see Santa Claus in the Salt Lake area, that it boggles the mind. Santa is one busy guy. Bring the kids, along with their Christmas lists, to see old St. Nick at The Sugar House Santa Shack, Santa & Friends at University Place, Breakfast with Santa at Mill Plaza – Gardner Village, Donuts with Santa at The Shops at South Town. There’s also Winter Wonderland at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum and Polar Express Celebration at the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum.