Ever since Christmas was advented, Utahns have been drumming up new ways to celebrate the season. Here’s a helpful list of holiday activities along the Wasatch Front & Back — one for each December day leading to Christmas.
(Check for specific times, dates, costs & availability. Utah.com will not be held liable for ruining your holidays.)
1st: Festival of Trees | Southtowne Expo Center | November 30 - December 3
A worthy tradition going on 44 years. Immaculate and innovative Christmas trees decorated by individuals/families/businesses/groups are sold to the highest bidders. All proceeds are donated to Primary Children’s Medical Center.
2nd: Light the Night | South Jordan City Plaza | 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
City tree-lighting ceremony with hay rides, crafts, cocoa, gingerbread houses and candy windows. Oh, and Santa. (You’re going to be seeing a lot of him at these events. Best to make any requisite naughtiness reparations ahead of time.)
3rd: Swiss Christmas and Cottages for the Children | Heber | December 2 (10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.) and 3 (10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.)
Balance bold Christmas colors with neutral politics. This old-world celebration features food & craft booths and a silent auction that benefits the Wasatch County Children’s Justice Center.
4th: Zoo Lights at Hogle Zoo | SLC | December 1 – 31
A lot of lights and a lot of Santa at the events on this list — and this one has both — but you’d be hard pressed to find another one with African Pancake Tortoises.
5th: Holiday Sing-a-Long | Herriman City Hall | 6:30 – 8:00 p.m
Tune up your carolizer with the Herriman Harmonyx. It’s free, so if you get kicked out for being off-key, at least you won’t be out any money.
6th: Storytime with Santa & Mrs. Claus | University Place Orem | December 5 – 8 at 5:00 p.m
Put kids (3+) in their pink bunny PJs and let the pros do their thing. Fifteen bucks gets them a meal, crafts, a gift, a photo and some QT with the Clauses.
7th: Family Hayride Through the “Lights Before Christmas” | Layton City | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
See the lights display at Layton Commons Park (up all through December) as it was meant to be seen: from a hay bale on a flatbed trailer, with free snacks.
8th: Provo River Christmas Cruise | December 1 – 23
Hayrides a little mundane for your taste? See Christmas lights FROM A BOAT.
9th: The Forgotten Carols | Cottonwood High School | December 12 – 21
Christmas doesn’t get any more Utahn than this. Their 25th anniversary tour includes 22 shows between Phoenix and Rexburg.
10th: Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point | Lehi | November 25 – December 31
Lights, s’mores, treats at the gift shop and a 120-foot tree.
11th: Holiday Ice Skating at Station Park | Farmington | Noon – 6:00 p.m.
Nothing breaks up a long day of holiday shopping like a few turns around the ice rink.
12th: Elf Displays and Scavenger Hunt | Gardner Village | December 1 – 24
A little more interactive than your average Christmas walk-through, this lets your sugared-up kids hunt down the crafty little helpers right in their workshop. Burning some energy might prevent a tragic last-minute demotion to the naughty list.
13th: Willard Bay Christmas Lights | November 24 – December 31
Lights at the water’s edge with a sunset view of the northern mountains.
14th: Pond Town Christmas | Salem City | November 25 – January 2
We’ve seen lots of combinations of lights and water so far, but this is the first with Christmas lights floating on a pond. Quite a sight at the southernmost point on this list.
15th: Spanish Fork Festival of Lights | November 24 – January 1
Christmas lights of the drive-thru variety. (You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to show your frost-bitten mettle this Christmas season, no doubt; just take tonight off and crank the heat up in the car.)
16th: Christmas Carol Service | Cathedral of the Madeleine | December 16, 19 & 24
File this one under, “Christmas celebrations that could just as easily be taking place in Medieval Europe.” Can be tough to find a seat but it’s well-worth the effort.
17th: Santa Comes Down Town Lift | Park City | 5:30 p.m.
Waiting for Santa to come to town (via ski lift, cuz it’s Park City) is a lot easier when there’s a plaza full of Christmas fun to distract you.
18th: Temple Square Lights | November 25 – January 1
This is the big one. The annual pilgrimage to literally millions of lights. Your Instagram followers will start to worry if you get any deeper into December without posting a Temple Square pic.
19th: A Christmas Carol at Hale Center Theater | West Valley City | December 9 – 24
Tickets go fast for this classic at one of the most popular community theaters in America.
20th: Candlelight Christmas | This is the Place Heritage Park | December 9 – 23
Christmas makes us nostalgic for days gone by. Maybe even days we never experienced. Visit this 19th-Century village for a live nativity, caroling, warm fires and timeless charm.
21st: Santa Sleigh Ride at the Homestead Resort | Midway | December 2, 3, 9 – 23
It’s fun to stand in line and see Santa sitting in a chair in the mall, but it’s pretty unforgettable riding a horse-drawn sleigh all the way to his home at the North Pole.
22nd: North Pole Express | Heber Valley Railroad | December 3, 5, 10, 12 – 16, 19 – 24
Between The Polar Express and toy trains buzzing around the Christmas tree & department stores, railroads have become associated with Christmas. Get literal with a yuletide ride on the Heber Creeper. Elves, chefs and presents handed out by Santa himself come standard.
23rd: Ballet West’s The Nutcracker | Capitol Theatre | December 2 – 22
As good a production as you’ll find anywhere, in our humble opinion.
24th: Torchlight Parade | Snowbird Resort
If you choose to spend Christmas Eve at Snowbird, you’ll need to make sure to announce that fact to Santa Claus so he knows where to deliver the presents. This massive fireworks display should do the trick.