Many people dig deep into their pockets during the holiday season—for gifts, dining out, and entertainment—but holiday cheer doesn't have to be expensive. There are lots of affordable holiday events and activities in the Salt Lake area that will bring joy to the season without breaking the bank.
Christmas concerts on Temple Square and nearby locations begin with "Bells on Temple Square" on November 16-17, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle and continue almost nightly until December 30. Some events require tickets obtained in advance; others do not require a ticket. Most events are free, but "Savior of the World," performed in the LDS Conference Center, is $10 for evening and matinee performances.
The Gateway will kick off the holiday season with its Winter Walk nights, held every Friday evening in December. Rio Grande street will be closed down from 6-8 p.m. for live holiday musical performances, holiday photo booths, pop-up artist shops, and Christmas light displays. There will also be huts serving mulled wine, hot toddies, hot chocolate, and more. Buy one of the official Gateway Winter Walk mugs, and you can fill it at any of the booze booths.
The lights at Temple Square, the Gallivan Center, City Creek Center and Gateway are one of Salt Lake City's best holiday traditions, and best of all, they're free! Temple Square and downtown Salt Lake City are lighted with more than a million lights from November 23, 2018 through January 1, 2019.
School groups and church choirs perform daily at six different venues. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert and the LDS Church First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional are some of the most popular performers.
Thanksgiving Point has many special holiday events, but the main one is Luminaria. Running from November 19, 2018 through January 5, 2019, Luminaria is a mile-long light display that you can walk through in Ashton Gardens. Around 6,500 programmable luminaries come together to create moving images of poinsettias, flying reindeer, and seasonal symbols. The centerpiece—a 120-foot Christmas tree—stands at the top of the hill.
You'll also find a nativity scene with 35 bronze sculptures and glowing lanterns at the entrance to the Light of the World garden. When hunger strikes, nosh on some s'mores around the fire pits and sip hot chocolate.
The Utah Governor's Mansion is decked out for the holidays, and free tours are available to the public throughout December. Tours are available on Thursdays in December from 1-4 p.m.
Parking is available east of the Governor's Mansion behind the Utah Arts Council building. The lot is accessible from H Street.
Red Butte Garden's annual free open house event features local handmade gifts for sale, free cider and hot chocolate, and acres of winter garden to explore. The Orangerie will be filled with 19 artists selling jewelry, glass art, pottery, and more. The event will be open December 1-2, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This lively and festive concert is a crowd-pleaser sure to get all of your friends and family in the spirit. Holiday classics and some lesser-known pieces are featured in the annual Holiday Celebration Concert.
Admission is free, however donations are accepted and encouraged. The concert will be held on Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.
The Larry H. Miller Family and Robert C. Bowden present the annual Christmas Carole Sing-Along featuring The Bonner Family. Come and experience the sights and sounds of the season. Guests will receive a special gift package including a holiday treat while supplies last. The free concert will be held on Monday, December 17, 2018 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
The Cathedral Choir's annual Christmas Carol Services feature music of the Advent and Christmas seasons, including plainchant, choral works, and traditional carols. Performances are held on December 17, 18, and 24.
There will also be a free family series concert in the Cathedral of the Madeleine on Thursday, December 6, 2018. At 11:30 a.m. there is family holiday ornament making and at 12:30 p.m. the Choristers of the Madeleine Choir School will sing carols and recite a story of Saint Nicholas.
The Utah Museum of Fine Arts will host a holiday market on December 1-2, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The market will showcase scarves, leather journals, pottery, handmade soap, books, jewelry, and textiles from local artists.
Admission to the holiday market is free, but regular gallery admission is required. Free parking and complimentary gift wrapping is provided.