Salt Lake Temple Christmas celebration goes virtual for 2020

2015 file photo of Temple Square during the Christmas holiday, Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 6, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — A holiday tradition for many in Utah will be altered this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2015  file photo of Temple Square during the Christmas holiday, Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 6, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday that their annual “Christmas on Temple Square” event will be held during the holidays but only virtually.

In a press release, officials from the church said the seasonal lights are installed and musical performances are being recorded for the 2020 Christmas season on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The virtual celebration will be different than what visitors to Temple Square have experienced in the past, but organizers say it will once again be a beautiful and inspirational experience.

The seasonal lights on Temple Square will be turned on in the evenings after Thanksgiving but will only be viewable from surrounding roads and exterior city sidewalks, as the plaza will be fenced off and the gates will be closed with no public access to Temple Square.

Christmas on Temple Square traditionally includes a kickoff performance in the Tabernacle when the lights are turned on. This year, the event will be broadcast live on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. on LDS church website and on the Temple Square Facebook page. It will also include a virtual tour of Temple Square and the Christmas lights.

In the reflecting pool just east of the Salt Lake Temple, the baby Jesus; Mary, His mother; and Joseph appear to be floating on the water. Due to precautions associated with COVID-19, Temple Square visitors will be able to drive by or view the traditional Christmas light display from the sidewalk. | Photo by Cache Valley Daily, St. George News

“The Christmas Collection Concert Series” will also take place online instead of inside the church’s Conference Center. The performances will take place each night from Dec. 2-23 and include holiday performances from around the world.

On Dec. 6, The First Presidency Christmas Devotional will be broadcast at 6 p.m. with messages from General Authorities and General Officers of the Church.

Musicians will hold the “Light the World: Social Sing and Serve” event on Dec. 14.

The annual “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir” was filmed in 2019 before pandemic restrictions were put in place and will be shown throughout December. The choir’s website has a schedule of performances that include those featuring Tony Award-winning star Kelli O’Hara and actor Richard Thomas.

Written by WILL FEELRIGHT, Cache Valley Daily.

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