Advent Calendar of Utah Activities

Advent Calendar of Utah Activities

By Jake Wilhelmsen
November 22, 2016 | Updated March 01, 2024

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 and Back — one for each December day leading to Christmas.

(Check for specific times, dates, costs and availability. will not be held liable for ruining your holidays.)

1st: Festival of Trees | 9575 State St, Sandy | Early December

Mountain America Expo Center displays immaculate and innovative Christmas trees decorated by individuals/families/businesses/groups that are sold to the highest bidders. All proceeds are donated to Primary Children’s Medical Center.

2nd: Light the Night | 1600 W Towne Center Dr, South Jordan | Early December

City tree-lighting ceremony at the South Jordan City Plaza, 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: Cottages for the Children | 165 S 100 W, Heber City | Early December

Handmade gingerbread houses made by local bakers are auctioned off to benefit the Wasatch County Children’s Justice Center and Timpanogos Valley Theater Company. Think you could do better? Donate your own to show off and sell for a good cause.

4th: Zoo Lights at Hogle Zoo | 2600 Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City | December

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: LHM Christmas Carol Sing-along | 301 S Temple, Salt Lake City | Early December

Tune up your carolizer and sing at the Delta Center with soon-to-be friends. It’s free, so if you get kicked out for being off-key, at least you won’t be out any money. There’s usually a celebrity guest and holiday treats.

6th: Storytime with Santa & Mrs. Claus | 575 E University Pkwy, Orem | Mid-December

Put kids (3+) in their pink bunny PJs and let the pros do their thing. The tiny tots will get a meal, crafts, a gift, a photo and some QT with the Clauses at University Place Mall.

7th: Holiday Lights Drive-through | 437 N Wasatch Dr, Layton | November through December

Lights in the trees, on the ground, in mid-air … it’s the ultimate glow-up. You can do a drive-by, take a walk or hitch a ride on a hay bale. Free.

8th: Provo River Christmas Cruise | 3606 W Center, Provo | December

Hayrides a little mundane for your taste? See Christmas lights FROM A BOAT. The 20-minute cruise gives you more sparkle than a fireworks display. You may even run into Santa.

9th: The Forgotten Carols | Various Locations | December

Christmas doesn’t get any more Utahn than this. Guaranteed to banish any humbug from your heart.

10th: Luminaria | 3003 Thanksgiving Way, Lehi | Mid-November to January

Walk past millions of lights set up by theme and all at once, everything is different. S’mores and treats at the Thanksgiving Point gift shop and a 120-foot tree.

11th: Holiday Ice Skating | 5662 Cougar Ln, Kearns | December

Nothing breaks up a long day of holiday shopping like a few turns around an Olympic-sized ice rink.  

12th: Elf Displays and Scavenger Hunt | 1100 W 7800 S, West Jordan | December

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 at Gardner Village. Burning some energy might prevent a tragic last-minute demotion to the naughty list.

13th: Fantasy at the Bay | Willard Bay, Willard | Thanksgiving through December

Live all your candy dreams at once in your jaunt through Toy Land, the North Pole and Candyland. The beaches of Willard Bay State Park never felt so sweet.

14th: Pond Town Christmas | Middle of Town, Salem | Thanksgiving through December

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: Festival of Lights | 3300 Powerhouse Rd, Spanish Fork | Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day

Christmas lights of the drive-through 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 Services | 331 E S Temple, Salt Lake City | December

File this one under, “Christmas celebrations that could just as easily be taking place in Medieval Europe.” Hear the voices of angels, aka the Cathedral of the Madeleine choir school. Can be tough to find a seat, but it’s well worth the effort.

17th: Santa Comes Down Town Lift | 825 Main St, Park City | Mid-December

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 | 50 N Temple, Salt Lake City | Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day

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 | 9900 Monroe St, Sandy | Thanksgiving to Christmas

You could probably see the play in lots of places, but the winner of most iconic production goes to Hale Centre Theatre. Tickets go fast for this classic at one of the most popular community theaters in America.

20th: Candlelight Christmas | 2601 Sunnyside Ave, Salt Lake City | Mid-December 

Christmas makes us nostalgic for days gone by. Maybe even days we never experienced. Visit This is the Place Heritage Park; this 19th-Century village has a live nativity, caroling, warm fires and timeless charm.

21st: Santa Sleigh Ride | 2002 Soldier Hollow Ln, Midway | December

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 | 450 S 6th W, Heber | December

Between “The Polar Express” and toy trains buzzing around the Christmas tree and department stores, railroads have become associated with Christmas. Get literal with a yuletide ride on the Heber Valley Railroad. Elves, chefs and presents handed out by Santa himself come standard. Tickets go on sale in June.

23rd: The Nutcracker | 50 W 200 S, Salt Lake City | December

Ballet West puts on a production as good as you’ll find anywhere, in our humble opinion.

24th: Torchlight Parade | 9385 S Snowbird Center, Snowbird | Christmas Eve

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.