Lights shine on Temple Square, welcoming visitors from near and far

To shouting and cheering from hundreds of people gathered to watch, the Christmas lights on Temple Square were lit for the first time this season on Nov. 24. This annual tradition brought families and visitors from near and far to witness the event on a brisk autumn evening.

“I grew up here, but I think it’s still inspiring. I’d come here every year if I still lived here, but I’m in Texas now so I can’t,” Mike Nakata said. He and his family unexpectedly met up with some friends while viewing the lights on Temple Square. “You always see people you know from around the world you didn’t expect to see. And when there’s a crowd, there’s a good chance Heavenly Father’s Spirit is here too. There’s lots of good people.”

“It’s beautiful. It’s my first time here,” Heavena Bristow said. “I liked the reflecting pond and how the trees are lined with lights instead of just wrapped around.”

Gardeners of Temple Square worked for months wrapping thousands of LED lights around tree branches, turning Temple Square into a brightly lit wonderland for the winter holiday season. The cedar of Lebanon, a large tree to the south of the Salt Lake Temple, was lit up with red lights this year, and nativity scenes featuring cultures from all around the world could be found on the east side of the Main Street Plaza.

Brad and Anna Whiting traveled with their family to Park City, Utah, from Las Vegas last week since their children had the week off of school. To complete their trip, they came to Temple Square to see the lights turn on the day after Thanksgiving.

Calling the entire display beautiful, Brad Whiting said, “It’s just amazing how they get all these limbs and the attention to detail. That’s what’s most impressive.” The only thing that could have made it better, he said, would be a countdown to flipping the switch on.

Seeing the lights and the nativity scenes was a fun family activity, Anna Whiting said. “I like looking at the lights up against the temple from far away. That’s probably my favorite part is to see that contrast,” she said.

Every night until Jan. 3, the lights on Temple Square will turn on at dusk or about 5:30 p.m. and stay on until 10 p.m. On Dec. 14-16, the lights will stay on until 11 p.m. for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas concert, and on New Year’s Eve, they’ll stay lit until 12:30 a.m.

In addition to the Christmas lights, Temple Square will host many free holiday performances throughout December. They will be held in the Assembly Hall, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Conference Center, North Visitors’ Center, Church Office Building, Tabernacle and Church History Museum. Visit for more information.

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