5 Festive Activities to Brighten Your Utah Holiday

Written By Visit Utah

Luminaria   |  Courtesy of Thanksgiving Point

Snowy mountains and cozy lodges make Utah the perfect winter escape. But during the holidays, things feel particularly festive. So if you’ll find yourself on a holiday ski escape in Utah this season, we’ve got a few ideas to brighten your travels and raise the bar on holiday spirit. 

1. Delight in the Twinkling Lights

Holiday lights displayed on the darkest of nights can bring a sense of wonder to the season. And there’s no shortage of displays for visitors in Utah. Luminaria, at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, features millions of lights and themed displays across the 50-acre Ashton Gardens. Alongside the displays, you’ll also find their Fire & Ice show, an eight-minute program featuring 20-foot flames and twinkling lights set to holiday music. 

If you’re near Salt Lake City, the Lightwalk at Tracy Aviary and ZooLights at Hogle Zoo are two terrific annual displays that are a big hit for families. And if lights seen from the comfort of your warm car sounds more inviting, don’t miss the holiday light drive throughs at Christmas in Color in South Jordan or World of Illumination: Candy Rush in Salt Lake City. The Temple Square Christmas Lights are also an annual rite of passage for many visitors. But due to ongoing renovation of the Salt Lake Temple, please note that access will be limited for the 2023 season. 

In the northern town of Ogden — near Powder Mountain, Snowbasin and Nordic Valley — the city hosts a free Christmas village display in the Municipal Gardens. If you’re staying slopeside, many of Utah’s ski resorts also host torchlight parades and fireworks to ring in the new year.

Holiday lights on a dark night are sure to brighten your evening.

Photo: Courtesy of Thanksgiving Point

Luminaria, at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, features millions of lights and themed displays across the 50-acre Ashton Gardens.

Photo: Courtesy of Thanksgiving Point

Ice skating at Gallivan Center.

Photo: Steve Greenwood

2. Take a Glittery Glide Across the Ice

Utah ice skating includes Olympic rinks, county complexes and magical light-strung rinks spinning the sounds of the holidays. Perhaps the most well-known location is the Gallivan Center Ice Rink in downtown Salt Lake City. Open mid-November through February, it’s easy to get some fresh air, exercise and a little hand holding during the cold winter months. And while you're there, don't miss Gallivan’s free annual "GLOW" art installation, featuring 25 illuminated art sculptures.

You can find additional indoor and outdoor skating options across Northern Utah. In the southern part of the state, there’s also a rink in Brian Head, and an ice ribbon at Ruby’s Inn just outside Bryce Canyon National Park.

3. Dash Aboard a Horse-Drawn Sleigh

Picture this: you're nestled snugly aboard an open sleigh, dashing through a snow-covered forest on a starry night. “Oh what fun it is to ride!” You’ll find a number of horse-drawn sleigh ride opportunities around Northern Utah. In Jordanelle State Park, just outside of Park City, Rocky Mountain Outfitters guides sleigh riders through a light show in the woods, with hot chocolate and s’mores available to help fend off the cold. You can also reserve a horse-drawn sleigh ride with Broken Arrow Sleigh Rides at Deer Valley Resort or a Western-inspired sleigh ride and dinner via Snowed Inn Sleigh Company at Park City Mountain Resort. And at Thurston Farms in Morgan (about 30 minutes southeast of Ogden), Clydesdales lead the way for a historic exploration of the 100-year-old farm. 

In Jordanelle State Park, just outside of Park City, Rocky Mountain Outfitters guides sleigh riders through a light show in the woods.

Photo: Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Outfitters

An open sleigh in a snow-covered forest is pure winter fun.

Photo: Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Outfitters

4. Delight in a Holiday Performance

In Salt Lake City, the Utah Symphony hosts holiday inspired performances throughout December (Read: Salt Lake City: A Place to Play). And it may surprise some visitors, but Salt Lake City is home to America’s longest-running production of The Nutcracker. Performed by Ballet West at the Capitol Theatre, shows run from Dec. 8 to 27. If you’re in Park City, the Egyptian Theatre on Historic Main Street hosts a Holiday Spectacular & Sing-a-long from Dec. 8 to 17. And if an immersive event is more your style, Evermore Park just north of Provo presents a Dickens village and Christmas carol adventure. And for travelers heading south, don’t miss the holiday performances at Tuacahn Amphitheatre near St. George, including “A Christmas Carol” and “White Christmas.” For a full listing of holiday performances, visit our partners at nowplayingutah.com


Salt Lake City is home to America’s longest-running production of The Nutcracker, performed by Ballet West.

Photo: Luke Isley/Visit Salt Lake

Nothing beats an après ski, especially during the holiday season.

Photo: Mike Schirf

5. Get a Taste for the Season

The holiday season in Utah is a delight for all the senses, and taste is no outlier. Après ski or “after ski,” is a cherished tradition rooted in the enjoyment of good food and drinks. And while there is always no shortage of après experiences in and around Utah’s ski resorts, you can also find some holiday-inspired treats come December. In Salt Lake City, both Flanker Kitchen & Sporting Club and ACME Bar Co host holiday pop-up bar experiences. And beyond the bar scene, there are other festive dining experiences to explore. Near to Park City, Homestead Resort and Zermatt Resort host breakfast with Santa events through December. And Taste 117 in Provo offers holiday chocolate and tea tastings at their Provo location. Whatever dining experience you're after, just remember to get your reservations in early.


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