Festival of Lights at the Washington, DC Mormon Temple

Washington D.C. Mormon Temple Christmas lights

L. Toshio Kishiyama / Getty Images

The Washington, D.C., Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Temple, is open to all during the Christmas season. This impressive church and its surrounding grounds shine brightly with more than 450,000 sparkling Christmas lights. Each night, a different local musical group usually performs a live concert in a state-of-the-art theater.

Visitors are typically welcome to explore the Washington, D.C., Mormon Temple grounds and the Visitor Center and check out the live outdoor nativity scene, an indoor exhibit of international nativity scenes, and a selection of Christmas films. In 2020, some events are altered or canceled, so be sure to check with the official website for final details.

Visiting the Festival of Lights

The Festival of Lights takes place every night from December 11–28, 2020, from 6–9 p.m. However, due to renovations at the temple and health protocols, the 2020 event has new guidelines in place. Most importantly, it's a completely drive-through event. Visitors can pass through and see the displays from their vehicles without getting out. By tuning your car radio to the designated radio station, the whole family can listen to holiday music that's choreographed with the light show around you.

The Festival of Lights is completely free to drive through, and the impressive backdrop of the church makes it a fun display for all people to see.


Because of health guidelines, the musical concerts and temple tours are all suspended for the 2020 holiday season. The Visitor Center is also closed until further notice.

Getting There

The Washington, D.C., Mormon Temple is located in Kensington, Maryland, about 25 minutes outside of downtown D.C. (depending on traffic). The driving route for the Festival of Lights is a set path and cars are required to continue moving the entire time; parking and getting out of your vehicle is not permitted in 2020. Volunteers are on-site to direct visitors.

Weekends and the days leading up to Christmas are the busiest times to visit, so consider visiting on weekdays at the beginning of the season or right after Christmas to avoid the worst of traffic.

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