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Temple Square
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Temple Square lights turn on tonight to kick start the holidays

SALT LAKE CITY — The Temple Square lights are set to turn on Friday night at dusk, signaling the beginning of the holiday season.

Thousands are expected to fill the 35 acres of Temple Square Friday night for the 54th time to watch the annual lighting ceremony. The Christmas light tradition began in 1965 after Deseret News publisher E. Earl Hawkes proposed the idea to then-Church President David O. McKay.

A decorated Temple Square gate greets the crowd of thousands attending the lighting ceremony and Christmas opera. Deseret News archives


In addition to the countless number of lights, there will be handmade paper lanterns, with the word peace in many different languages, multiple nativity scenes, and a variety of local musicians and choirs who will be live until Saturday, December 23.

The church also says they will have movies running every 30 minutes in the Legacy Theater at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Films and showtimes can be found here.

The lights on Temple Square will run until New Year’s Eve from 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm and in the morning from 6:00 am to 7:30 am.

This kickoff to the holiday season comes before the historic Salt Lake Temple will close for renovations for the next four years. The church expects the holiday light tradition to continue, though to a smaller degree, throughout the construction.

Hundreds of people are expected to be there when the switch is flipped on Friday night, including Bonnie and Richard Poillucci, who are visiting Salt Lake City from Florida this week.

When asked whether they were worried about being cold outside, Richard laughed and responded, “That’s why they make winter clothing.”

“We brought plenty of clothing,” said Bonnie. “I even have my galoshes on, and I bought those in Florida!”

They have not seen the lights before.

“This is our first time here in Salt Lake City for a visit to spend any time,” said Bonnie.

Some families say it’s a tradition to come see the lights at least once every year. But others who KSL talked to downtown say the cold, the crowds, and parking have kept them away recently.