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'Limited' Temple Square Christmas lights to return; vaccine required for holiday programs

The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pictured at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 29, 2019. The lights will return in 2021 with a "limited" display due to ongoing construction.

The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pictured at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Nov. 29, 2019. The lights will return in 2021 with a "limited" display due to ongoing construction. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Let there be lights.

The beloved Christmas lights display at Temple Square will return — albeit with a "limited" display — this holiday season, along with other programs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday.

While in-person attendance will return after a year away, church officials added that attendees of any Temple Square events this season "are required to wear masks and be vaccinated if in the eligible age categories." The COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for ages 5 and up.

The church outlined its holiday schedule, which will include a Christmas devotional and Christmas lights. No decision has been made yet if the popular Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square Christmas program will return this year.

The lights at Temple Square will be turned on during a ceremony on Nov. 26. There will be much fewer lights this year as a result of ongoing construction around the Salt Lake Temple and at the plaza outside of the church headquarters. The Salt Lake Tabernacle, Conference Center and reflecting pool outside of the Salt Lake Temple are among the areas that remain open during the construction.

This map shows Temple Square closures, as a result of ongoing construction. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it's annual Christmas lights display will be more "limited" this year.
This map shows Temple Square closures, as a result of ongoing construction. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it's annual Christmas lights display will be more "limited" this year. (Photo: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Last year, as a result of COVID-19, the lights were turned on during the Christmas season but there was no access inside Temple Square.

Church officials say an animated nativity presentation called "Peace on Earth" will debut this holiday season. It will be projected on the ceiling of the Salt Lake Tabernacle using "shadow graphics, narration and musical underscore to tell the Christmas story in a child-friendly way that adults will also enjoy."

The new four-minute presentation will also debut on Nov. 26 with translations alternating between English and Spanish. The program will continue daily, every 15 minutes, from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and will also be available online. International nativities will be located near the Assembly Hall.

"Crowd sizes, as well as COVID-19 conditions, will be monitored during the season and adjustments may be made to these announced plans," the church wrote in a news release Friday.

On Nov. 28, there will be a musical presentation called "Witnesses of Christ" that will be streamed on the church's website. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will include "thought-provoking messages and new arrangements of favorite carols performed by the Truman Brothers, the Utah State University Chamber Singers, Daniel Beck and many others," according to the church.

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will also host its annual Christmas devotional broadcast at 6 p.m. MST on Dec. 5, featuring Christmas messages from general authorities and music by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. It will be livestreamed at that time online, on the Church YouTube channel, BYUtv and on Facebook, instead of having in-person attendance. Video and audio recordings of the devotional will also be made available following the event.

Meanwhile, the Light the World Giving Machines that the church debuted in 2017 will be available at the City Creek Center this year, beginning Nov. 24.

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