In a typical year, thousands of people would migrate to Temple Square in Salt Lake City the day after Thanksgiving for the annual lights on ceremony and concert. But this is no typical year.
This year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is preparing for a holiday season of virtual performances for the public.
“The virtual celebration of the Savior’s birth will be different than what visitors to Temple Square have experienced in the past, but organizers say it will once again be a beautiful and inspirational experience,” a church statement said.
Public access to church buildings and to Temple Square has been limited since last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the renovation of the iconic Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues.
The seasonal lights on Temple Square and at the temples in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles will be turned on in the evenings after Thanksgiving,” according to the church. “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, with no public access to Temple Square.”
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.
In Washington and Los Angeles, the lights will be viewable only to those driving by in cars.
President Nelson video on hope and peace
President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will share a special video message with the world at 11 a.m. on Nov. 20.
This 11-minute video will focus on ways we can find hope and healing through Jesus Christ during this time of significant global fracture and instability. It will be published on President Nelson’s social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and on the church’s main YouTube channel in 31 languages. The video will be available immediately afterward to watch on demand and to download on Newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org and in the church’s Gospel Media.
Celebrating the Light of the World
Christmas on Temple Square traditionally includes a kickoff performance in the Tabernacle when the lights are turned on.
This year, people from around the world can enjoy a special Temple Square event and its messages from the comfort of their own homes. Sister missionaries serving on Temple Square will host a virtual event and guide viewers on a virtual tour of Temple Square and the Christmas lights, according to the church.
People are able to view this broadcast live at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1, on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and on the Temple Square Facebook page. The event will be published in 11 languages and also will be available for viewing on demand after the live broadcast.
‘The Christmas Collection’ Concert Series
Christmas performances submitted from around the world will be broadcast nearly every night originating from Temple Square in Salt Lake City, according to the church holiday schedule.
Concerts will be broadcast in English but will include songs in other languages as well. Concerts will run at 6 p.m. from Dec. 2–23 on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and on Tuesday and Friday evenings on the Temple Square Facebook page.
First Presidency Christmas Devotional
The First Presidency Christmas Devotional will be broadcast from Temple Square at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6. The program will include Christmas messages by General Authorities and General Officers of the church. Music will be from previous Christmas devotionals by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. View a livestream at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Light the World: Social Sing and Serve
Sing along with talented musicians as they perform new renditions of traditional Christmas favorites. Those joining in also will be prompted with fun, simple ideas on how you can serve friends, family or others in your community, according to the church.
The special holiday experience will premiere on the Come Unto Christ Facebook page and YouTube channel at 6 p.m. Dec. 14. The full video also will be available on the Temple Square Facebook page and at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square
Viewers will be able to enjoy the annual Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir holiday specials featuring Tony Award-winning star Kelli O’Hara and renowned actor Richard Thomas. Visit the choir’s website for viewing information during December. The special Christmas broadcasts were filmed prior to pandemic restrictions during The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square’s Christmas concerts in 2019.
Tabernacle organists will continue their live concert series, “Piping Up: Organ Concerts at Temple Square,” several times a week during December. The concerts are streamed live at noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on YouTube, ChurchofJesusChrist.org and the choir’s website.
In addition, “Music and the Spoken Word” airs every Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. on Tabernacle Choir channels, with Christmas specials each Sunday starting Nov. 29 and airing through Dec. 20.