Cliché holiday movies, slightly overly spiked eggnog in hand, hints of pine and cinnamon wafting in the air. That time of the year when twinkle lights fill the streets and all of Northern Utah somehow resembles a fantastical North Pole. It’s enchanting. But what does that really mean for us this year? You may instead feel like we’re in the middle of a Dr. Seuss book. The Grinch sneaking around in the middle of the night, stealing Christmas right from under us by swapping presents for face masks and sabotaging favorite holiday traditions. As we all try to adapt to the new normal, we have some good news. Christmas and the holiday season aren’t canceled and the Grinch didn’t steal it. With online markets and drive-thru laser shows, there are new ways to celebrate the holidays in Salt Lake City while still keeping our holiday spirit alive, even amidst COVID-19.
For the Gift Givers and Holiday Market Goers
Your lederhosen will have to stay in the storage closet a little longer, but you can still get your Bavarian fix with Christkindlmarkt’s virtual marketplace. The famous German-themed market typically held at This Is The Place Heritage Park brings in considerable crowds every year. So although the in-person Chriskindlmarkt will be closed due to the pandemic, their online vendors are still selling unique gifts you’d find in years past. Ranging from authentic wooden schwibbogens (German candle arches), locally made candles, jewelry from around the world, to Utah-themed gifts, there’s probably something for even the pickiest person in your family.
Typically the Hanukkah Market is a social event at the I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center, consisting of food vendors, live music, and crafts for the entire family. But to keep everyone safe this year they’ve turned the event completely virtual. November 16 through December 17, the Hanukkah online market will include Hanukkah-themed gifts, glass art, handmade ceramics, and stylish fabric face masks all the hipsters will be jealous of. We even hear there’s a cocktail/mocktail infusion shop with jars filled of dried rhubarb and hibiscus. You may come out as the best gift giver in the family.
City Creek Center Shopping
If your spouse is too nosy and online shopping isn’t a viable option, City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City will still be open for holiday shopping from 10 am to 9 pm. Monday through Saturday. Since Santa has to take extra precautions with coronavirus, he unfortunately has to skip City Creek this year. For a more socially distant atmosphere, the indoor/outdoor mall will instead feature storybook lanterns throughout the space, a photo-op with their oversized Christmas tree, holiday décor strewn from block to block, spots for festive selfies, and the beloved annual Macy’s candy window displays.
We all want some sort of normalcy, and we vote giant floating candy ornaments as that normalcy. The candied displays carry on as a tradition dating back to 1972, when ZCMI occupied the space that is now Macy’s City Creek. Besides a five-year gap back in 2007, the annual tradition continues at the west exterior windows of Macy’s this year. The impressive candied displays also promote Macy’s Make-A-Wish Believe program. For each letter addressed to Santa that Macy’s receives (in person or online), they’ll donate $1 to Make-A-Wish.
For the Twinkle Light Fanatics
With a tree light measuring four stories high, sparkling castles, illuminated snowmen, and interactive glowing swings, Lumaze will be a complete twinkle-light immersion that should satisfy the fanatics in the family. November 27 through January 2, at the Utah State Fairpark, there will be plenty of photo ops with lit up photo frames, a bouncy farm, train rides, LED covered playground games, and Santa’s arrival. Guests will be required to sanitize their hands if they choose to partake in the interactive portions of Lumaze, and masks must be worn at all times (except when briefly eating). After experiencing each light display, there’ll be food vendors to choose from, live music, and a holiday market to purchase gifts.
Hogle Zoo will continue to put on their annual lighting display made up of over 200 illuminated displays and a 135-foot tunnel of lights. From December 4 through January 3, you can roam the zoo at night while listening for a possible lion roar in the distance. Also, little ones and little ones at heart can still find Santa at Zoo Lights, but his visits will be socially distanced at six feet. For additional safety precautions the zoo will require masks to be worn at all times and will provide various hand-sanitizing stations. As a bonus (let’s take all the wins we can this year), the event will be completely free to the public, with a reservation, thanks to a grant funded by the Utah legislature.
2020 Holiday Lights Tour
The Holiday Lights Tour might be the closest you’ll get to a home that could possibly compete with Clark Griswold’s lighting display in “Christmas Vacation”. Sigh of relief…hundreds of glowing bulbs without any responsibility of the electric bill. The entire tour will encompass South Salt Lake, Millcreek, Midvale, West Jordan, South Jordan, Bluffdale, and Herriman, but you can also pick and choose from the map, creating your own route and plan of action. And to vote for the homes that impressed you the most, you can vote on the tour website (voting ends December 22). Nothing like some neighborly competition.
Temple Square Lights
We had to include the iconic lighting display at Temple Square, while sharing a bit of bad news. Due to construction and the pandemic, the gates will be closed to spectators, but you can still walk/drive along the perimeter to catch a glimpse. For a better view, you’ll find the virtual lighting tour on The Temple Square Facebook page and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website.
Festival of Trees
From December 1st through 5th, the Festival of Trees will be going virtual this year. Boasting hundreds of uniquely decorated trees, wreaths, quilts, and nativity scenes, all the virtually auctioned items and donations will go toward the Intermountain Healthcare’s Primary Children’s Hospital. With live performances airing on December 4 and a detailed 360-degree view of every adorned tree, you can tune in and help a good cause without having to leave the house.
Drive-in Holiday Laser Spectacular
If you’re going for an unconventional, exciting holiday tradition, might we suggest a drive-in laser show in the Maverick Center parking lot every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 6 pm or 8 pm, December 10th through January 2nd. Colorful lasers will synchronize to holiday music emitting from your car radio...every kid’s dream. You can purchase tickets online, and then you’ll be all set to watch the laser show in your car with your quarantine bubble and maybe some popcorn.
Ballerinas and Fighting Mice
Ballet West’s The Nutcracker
As an effort to slow the effects of COVID-19, Salt Lake County temporarily shut down all of their performing arts facilities–among them, the Capitol Theatre. Before you panic, KSL-TV however has donated airtime so the 65th annual Nutcracker ballet can continue to put smiles on our faces and immerse us into a magical world of sugar plum fairies, even if just for a moment. Performed by the famous Ballet West, The Nutcracker will air on KSL-TV December 24, 25 and January 1 at 5:30p.m. Black tie optional.