Grab the Hot Cocoa and Immerse yourself in Utah’s Christmas Lights, 7 places to visit this holiday season
Lynn “Quadman” Blamires
Christmas Lights of Utah
Many families visit some truly incredible Christmas lights displays, here are some of the breathtaking displays in northern Utah that maybe your next visit.
Children often find that December is the longest month of the year. It seems like Christmas day, with all its joy and anticipation will never come. Adults, too, find it difficult to squeeze everything they want to do in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Families looking for activities to bring them together and build memories for their children.
One activity sure to please is a visit to one of the dazzling holiday light displays that Utah has to offer. Combining cocoa and a treat with a trip through a wonderland of lights will make an excellent family tradition. One of these will be sure to please:
Layton Lights in the Park
This light display began in 1986 with three deer outlined in lights. It has grown to include 200 brightly lit animals, trees, and scenes. A drive-through tunnel and a pedestrian passageway use 28,000 lights to brighten the way. Children will enjoy annual visits to the Layton Lights in the Park to find their favorite action features – a giant spider, a spouting whale, a frog jumping into a pond, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a helicopter flying in the trees. Layton has enhanced the adventure with a program for kids called, “The Elf on the Shelf.”
Each day the park staff puts a small elf in one of the displays. Each child who finds the elf gets a treat. Unique to the Layton display is the option of driving through the lights or to take a walking path that brings you up close and personal. Entrance to Layton’s Lights in the Park is free and the lights will be on until December 31.
This yearly commitment to the community begins in September as the work begins to put this display together and taking it down in January is no small task. I have driven through this spectacle during the daytime and while there was no line, it was lackluster. It is best to see it at night.
For more information visit the Layton City event page.
Fantasy at the Bay Christmas Lights
Put on by Utah State Parks, Willard Bay is ablaze with a creative array of Christmas lights and creations until December 30. The campground has been turned into an adventure through a Christmas wonderland. The roads you would normally take to find a campsite, now wander through a brightly illuminated fairyland.
Kandi with an “i”, who is an Office Specialist at the park, helped me with information about this event. I thought her name was close enough to “Candy” to be appropriate for a Christmas display filled with lighted sweet treats. One of the upgrades this year is an extension of the tunnel of lights. The lengthened tunnel creates a dynamic effect as you are enveloped in color as you pass through.
To enhance your experience of this Christmas spectacle, 3D snowflake glasses are available at the entrance for a nominal fee. Children will enjoy the views of the lights through these magic lenses.
A van is a good choice to drive through this display because there is one charge per vehicle for up to eight people – $10 on weeknights and $15 on the weekends. Closed Christmas Day, the lights will go dark on December 30.
Fantasy at the Bay is located off I-15 at Exit 357. Turn west under the freeway and turn left to enter the park.
Find more information check out the Facebook page.
Luminaria – Thanksgiving Point
The people at Thanksgiving Point describe the Luminaria this way, “An enchanting walk through Ashton Gardens transports you to another world with all of the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of the holidays. A one-way path guides you past a brand new light and music show on 6,500 programmable luminaries blanketing a hill, with each luminary a pixel in a moving picture of flying reindeer, ombré waves, and other signs of the season. All new songs and shows will be even better with the iconic 120- foot tree (already on top of a 40-foot hill!) incorporated into the show.
Also new in 2020, the Legend of Yeti is becoming part of Luminaria. Spot him throughout the event until you find him at home in the brand new Himalayan Heights section of Luminaria. Looking for a quiet moment of spiritual reflection? View the nativity scene before entering the Light of the World Garden. Glowing lanterns and peaceful music accompany this space featuring 35 monument-sized bronze sculptures depicting scenes of Jesus Christ from the New Testament. Continue your holiday stroll while indulging in special touches like s’mores at glowing fire pits, hot chocolate and sweets from the gift boutique, interactive game areas, and more!”
Find more information check out the Luminaria event page here!
Christmas in Color
“Drive through millions of lights perfectly synchronized to holiday music you’ll hear right through your radio. Drive-by giant candy canes, snowmen, arched pathways, and more. Take your time enjoying this lighting extravaganza – we won’t judge you if you join the kids with your face pressed against the window!”
The Salt Lake County Fairgrounds in South Jordan at 2100 W. 11400 S is one of six locations around the country hosting this holiday event. Fees are $30 per car and reservations are required.
For more information visit the Christmas in Color site here.
ZooLights at Hogle Zoo
Described as a “bright, sparkling and festive family-fun light event,” the ZooLights return to Hogle Zoo for its 14th year. “Over 200 lighted animal and holiday-themed displays will glisten in the December night as you make your way through the Zoo grounds.”
“Walk along lit pathways and through our popular 135-foot lighted tunnel – it’s a crowd favorite! Take a spin on the Conservation Carousel (weather permitting) and then stop in to see the Jolly Old Elf at Santa’s Station. S’make a s’more at Oasis Plaza, keep warm with hot chocolate, and you can finish up your holiday shopping at one of the best gift shops around, Wild Zootique!” Funded by the Utah Legislature through the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, this year’s event is free to the public. Reservations are required but are sold out for the season. It is suggested that people check back often for tickets available through cancellations. This event ends on January 3.
More information is available on the Hogle Zoo website.
Festival of Lights
Spanish Fork is hosting its annual Festival of Lights through January 1. Displays lit up with millions of lights will dazzle visitors as they drive through Canyon View Park. Listen to holiday music on FM 99.7 as you enjoy your light tour. Having its beginning in 1992, it has gotten bigger every year. “The display is grouped into different themes, including winter sports, toy land, prehistoric times,
Victorian village & Nutcracker, North Pole, cowboys, sugar plums & goodies, animals, nativity, and more.” Fees are $8 per car, $22 for a large passenger van, and $30 for a bus.
More information is available here on the Spanish Fork event page.
The Lights on Temple Square
“The seasonal lights on Temple Square…will be turned on in the evenings after Thanksgiving. The lights on Temple Square will only be viewable from surrounding roads and exterior city sidewalks as the plaza will be fenced off and the gates will be closed at 4:30 p.m., with no public access to Temple Square. The lights will turn on at 5 p.m. Those walking by are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing.
No public parking will be available in the Conference Center or Joseph Smith Memorial Building parking lots.”
More information is available here on the Temple Square website.
For 2020 the temple lights will be a virtual event check here for additional information.
My wife and I visited Layton Lights in the Park and Fantasy at the Bay. We love the lights of Christmas – they seem to lighten the dark days of December. Consider putting one or more of these light displays on your Christmas calendar to brighten your holidays.