It has become a holiday tradition for many Utah families. Bundle the kids up, pack them into the car and head out in search of the twinkling lights that decorate homes, parks and businesses. Salt Lake County has a wealth of places for those seeking Christmas lights for Christmas card backdrops, with suburban displays doing their best to outdo larger commercial setups.
This is the Place Heritage Park: Those who have never visited the living history museum at the mouth of Emigration Canyon could do worse than the Candlelight Christmas event that runs through most of December. The lights are not the coordinated technical masterpieces to be found in modern displays, but the beauty of the low-key Christmas traditions of a time gone by create an unforgettable atmosphere. The historical village features a live nativity scene, carolers and visits from Father Christmas and his live reindeer. The village is outdoors, so visitors will want to bundle up.
Dickens' Christmas Festival: A touch of Victorian-era London comes to life in Salt Lake City for the two weekends of the Dickens' Festival. Various booths and shops are decorated with myriad trees and light displays, and the numerous Dickensian characters will be wandering about in full costume. The Festival runs December 8-10, 15-17, 2011 at the Utah State Fair Park, and tickets are already on sale.
Temple Square: No Christmas season would be complete without a visit to see the millions of lights, luminaries and other decorations on display in the plazas at downtown Temple Square. Literally thousands of hours of maintenance training and labor have been spent on this display, and it's a must-see for locals and visitors alike. The trees, bushes and fountains are all covered in lights, with the reflecting pool as the centerpiece. Not only is it a free activity, but the Square is one of the most impressively illuminated Christmas light displays in the world. The lights will be on through the end of the year.
Christmas Utah Light Show: One of the most impressive holiday lights displays is not downtown, but in the suburbs. In the heart of the valley, thousands of visitors come to see the creative do-it-yourself displays of Christmas Utah. An incredible number of lights have been squeezed onto such a small spot of ground, with everything perfectly synchronized to a musical soundtrack. Photos and videos of past years' displays are available on the Christmas Utah website. Parking is limited, but visitors can walk the neighborhood and stand on the sidewalk to view the display.
Zoo Lights at Hogle Zoo: The impressive grounds of Utah's Hogle Zoo come to life with a brilliant display around Christmastime. Many of the animals are still out on display, and a little hot chocolate will keep the kids warm. The Zoo Lights event runs in the evenings from December 3rd to the 31st. Animated lights in animal form delight the children, and Santa Claus is out for a visit with his reindeer as well. The Reindeer parade begins at 5:40 pm, and visitors can join the march as two of Santa's reindeer walk up to visit him.
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