Salt Lake City UT USA: Temple Square Lights at Christmas

Most major cities across the USA have something unique that they do for the holidays. New York has the Rockefeller Tree and Chicago puts holiday lights all over the Chicago Zoo. Salt Lake City has their own thing too. As you know, Salt Lake City is the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church. The original Temple is in Downtown Salt Lake City surrounded by other historical buildings, and this area has become known as Temple Square.

During Christmas, they decorate Temple Square with an abundance of Christmas lights and nativity scenes. It is really unique and worth seeing for a few reasons:

Hundreds of Thousands of Lights

This is not an exaggeration. Unfortunately they don’t have an exact number of bulbs today, but the last time they counted in 1997, it was around 800,000 individual bulbs. It’s probably close to 1 million today. It’s a lot of lights, and you have to see it to believe it.

Not only are there a lot of lights, there are a lot of different colors of lights too. If you go to one part of temple square and observe the lights, they will have different colors than another part of temple square.

Large Area to Explore

Temple Square is not a very small area, if you walk every side walk around temple square, it will likely take you an hour to two hours to see everything. It is crowded most nights during the month of December at Temple Square, so it will probably take you a couple of hours to walk around the whole square.

Nativity Scenes from Around the World

If you think looking at Christmas lights can get boring fast, take heart, they also have Nativity Scenes and lots of them from around the world. They have standard Nativity Scenes, an African Nativity Scene, a couple of Asian Nativity Scenes, a Native American Nativity Scene, and many more. They also change them every year, so next year they may have Nativity Scenes from countries and continents I didn’t list here.

Temple Square Events

On top of all the lights and Nativity Scenes, they also have several events that take place on various nights throughout the holiday season. Most of them are musical events. They have the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, the Bells on Temple Square, the Orchestra at Temple Square and many more.

If you step into the Tabernacle Thursday nights, you will get to see the Tabernacle Choir practicing, and they are so good that the practices themselves are performance worthy.

If you go into the Assembly Hall, you will often see guest singers performing there or you may find someone playing Christmas music on the pipe organ.

Also, just by walking around Temple Square you will often find people singing and playing musical instruments such as the bag-pipe.

If you want to get specific events taking place at Temple Square, just google “Temple Square Events” and you will find interesting events. This way you can plan what night you want to go.


  • Dress very warm. Salt Lake City has really cold winters, if you heard that Utah is a desert, you heard correctly, but it’s a desert at 4400 feet above sea level, so winter nights get really cold.
  • Be prepared for crowds, weekend nights are the busiest, but even week days can be insane. The best way to avoid crowds is to go after Christmas, but before New Years.
  • Drink lots of fluids as you will be walking around a lot. Yes, it’s possible to dehydrate in the cold
  • Take your camera and be prepared to take a lot of pictures
  • Visit City Creek Mall across the street before or after seeing the lights.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to find parking
  • Eat at one of the fine restaurants in Salt Lake City such as Red Iguana

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