Ongoing construction at Temple Square will not stop The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 58-year-old tradition of lighting up Temple Square for Christmas; however, it will alter where people can see them again this holiday season.
Church officials said this week that they plan to flip on the lights for the first time Friday afternoon, although there will be no formal ceremony again this year. Instead, there are four "Lights On at Temple Square Concerts" that will be held at the Tabernacle this weekend:
• "Christmas Is Here" with vocalists Melinda Kirigan-Voss and Brian Stucki, accompanied by Jared Pierce (6 p.m. Friday)
• "The Gift of Christmas" with Thurl Baily (7:30 p.m. Friday)
• "¡Feliz Navidad!" featuring Senxao playing Christmas classics in Spanish (6 p.m. Saturday)
"• Season of Light" featuring Lark & Spur (7:30 p.m. Saturday)
All four concerts are free to attend.
The lights will illuminate the area from 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. every evening and from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. every morning between Friday and New Year's Day.
For those looking to view the lights this year, the immediate area outside of the Salt Lake Temple remains closed or has limited access, which is the case for most of Temple Square, according to the church’s latest closure map.
A section of the plaza between the Church Office Building and the Church Administration Building is open, as is a portion of the complex by the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall. Plazas outside of the Conference Center, Church History Museum, FamilySearch Library and Church History Library — all areas traditionally lit up — are also away from any closures this season.
The church first began lighting up Temple Square in 1965. It's estimated that close to 15,000 gathered to watch church leaders turn some 40,000 lights during a ceremony that year, according to the church.
It's been a popular tradition by downtown Salt Lake City's northern end ever since, even if the project to renovate the Salt Lake Temple, the plaza outside of it and other parts of Temple Square has caused some disruptions since the last uninterrupted display in 2019.
When construction whittled the amount of open space down to about 30% of the normal area last year, construction crews jumped in and wrapped lights over their cranes to celebrate the holiday. Crews ultimately left those lights on about every night since.
Jay Warnick, grounds manager at Temple Square, told KSL.com last year that keeping the lights on through the construction is a way to keep the spirit alive from the first ceremony nearly six decades ago, which is to reflect on Jesus Christ.
"That's why they're there. It's not about me … and we're not trying to outdo any other light show or compete with any other display. That is the sole purpose, that's why we do this ... to bring the spirit of Christ and peace."
The church announced earlier this year that it expects to complete the massive renovation project in 2026.