Whether you start preparing for Christmas as you put away ghosts and goblins of Halloween or you wait until Turkey Day is over, Christmas is officially upon us and that means enjoying the sights, sounds and even tastes of the season.
Our Ultimate Holiday Bucket List has a wide variety of ways to celebrate the season, but there are some events, displays or projects that are iconic to Utah County this time of year, ones that everyone should try at least once.
“Luminaria” is entering its fourth year at Thanksgiving Point, and has grown since its inception in 2016.
To call Luminaria a light display wouldn’t do it justice. The event includes a mile-long walk decorated with lighted luminaries, and includes The Grand Allee’s 6,500 programmable luminaries along a hill that together depict a movie picture of the symbols of the season.
Along with the luminary displays, the event has a 120-foot Christmas tree, a nativity scene with glowing lanterns, peaceful music and 35 monument-sized bronze sculptures depicting the life of Jesus Christ.
Each year that “Luminaria” has been held, additions have been made to the event, and this year is no exception. New to “Luminaria” is the Aqueous display by the Jen Lewin Studio, which is described as an “interactive landscape of meandering pathways of light.”
Spanish Fork ‘Festival of Lights’ One of the longer-standing Christmas traditions in Utah County is in Spanish Fork where you can visit the “Festival of Lights.” The event is in its 27th year and features a drive-through display of Christmas lights.
The decorations change year-to-year so that annual visitors can see something new each season, but the displays every year include large-scale figures made from Christmas lights. The display is also set to coincide with music on the radio station 99.7 FM.
Spanish Fork Mayor Steve Leifson said last Christmas that, “It is one of the most popular Christmas light drive-thrus in Utah County due to its consistency and always affordable admission. With more than a million lights, the ‘Festival of Lights’ is sure to become one of your favorite holiday traditions.”
‘Pond Town Christmas’ In Salem, you can see an almost magical sight with the city’s annual “Pond Town Christmas” lights. The display features Christmas trees floating on the pond at Knoll Park, and runs each year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
Daily Herald records show that the tradition started in 2000 with the first lighted pond display.
For 16 years, locals have flocked to Alpine to see the Alpine Living Nativity, which has grown tremendously in popularity since its inception. The first year, the event had about 300 visitors and grew to more than 20,000 each Christmas season.
This year, though, the iconic event will not be held. According to the group’s website, they were in need of a new location to host the nativity scene — and they found that location.
“But with the move we still have a lot of work ahead of us and will be unable to finish by December,” the website said. The group plans to be back up and running for Christmas in 2020.
But not to worry, there are other living nativities that you can check out in Utah County in its absence, and one — “A Babe is Born,” located in Lehi — is helping by donating funds to charitable organizations sponsored by The Alpine Living Nativity this year while it is closed.
So, whether you participate in one of these events, or one of the others on our Ultimate Holiday Bucket List, may you be able to enjoy the spirit and feel the magic of the season.