Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
As the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, you might be tempted to hunker down at home in your pajamas with your favorite streaming series on repeat. But wintertime is when Salt Lake City shines.
It's that time of year when downtown comes alive with twinkling lights, decorations, concerts, performances and more — and you won't want to miss any of it. This year, make the most out of your winter break by checking out these fun, festive (and mostly free) events happening right in the heart of the city.
Winter Farmers Market
As you're making your dinner and party preparations for the holiday season, don't miss the chance to grab some fresh produce, baked goods and more at the Downtown Winter Farmers Market. This popular indoor event happens every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Gateway, so mark your calendars — and make sure to get there early! It's free, it's open to the public and it's a great way to support local farmers and artisans while you're checking off your shopping list.
There's no better way to ring in the New Year than by going to the Last Hurrah — Utah's biggest New Year's Eve celebration. Sponsored by The Gateway, Downtown Alliance and The Blocks, the Last Hurrah is a free event that's open to the public on New Year's Eve from 8 p.m. to midnight. Festivities include live music on an outdoor stage, buskers and pop-up bars with draft beer, hot cocktails and hot chocolate.
GLOW at the Gallivan
The Gallivan Center downtown has long been a favorite winter destination for families thanks to its ice rink, concerts and light displays. But it was only a couple of years ago that the Gallivan became the home of a unique and inspirational art exhibition called GLOW. The illuminated art pieces are made of upcycled and repurposed materials and focus on joy, hope and love.
"Salt Lake City — especially in the winter — is the perfect place for these pieces because it is famous for being an absolutely astonishing place," Nicolosi says. "The GLOW installation is a celebration of the winter magic of Salt Lake City, and our pieces are there to reflect just that."
"The Nutcracker" at Capitol Theatre
"The Nutcracker" ballet is a classic holiday tradition that dates all the way back to the 1890s. But only Salt Lake's Ballet West can claim the distinction of being "the best 'Nutcracker' in the United States," according to the New York Times. Be sure to snag some tickets to this beloved performance, which runs from now until Christmas Eve at the Capitol Theatre.
Holiday Window Stroll at The Grand America
There are several reasons why you'll want to add the Holiday Window Stroll at The Grand America to your downtown winter itinerary. Aside from offering a welcome refuge from the cold, you get a family-friendly activity in a gorgeous setting — and a chance to win a free stay at the five-star hotel. The theme of this year's display is holiday traditions from around the world. You can follow a Utah field mouse named Fig from window to window as he learns about German Christmas Markets, Scandinavian Winter Solstice feasts and more. Find Fig, scan the QR code at each window display, answer all 14 questions correctly and you'll be entered into a drawing for a one-night stay at the Grand America Hotel.
Macy's holiday window display
Speaking of window displays, Macy's famous candy windows downtown are always worth a visit. Even on a chilly night, you can warm up afterward with a hot drink at the City Creek shopping center.
Daily Christmas concerts on Temple Square
The Christmas light display on Temple Square traditionally draws in droves of visitors from around the globe each year. Although things look a little different due to the ongoing temple renovation, the area still offers plenty of ways to celebrate the season. One thing Temple Square offers is daily Christmas concerts featuring local school choirs and community groups. These performances happen nearly every day at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, the Plaza Lobby at the Conference Center, the Food Court at City Creek Center or the Church History Museum. For the full performance schedule, visit The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints events page.
Cathedral of the Madeleine Christmas Carol Service
Finally, the annual Christmas Carol Service at the historic Cathedral of the Madeleine is a beloved holiday tradition that's free and open to the public. Though two of the performances require passes for admission, you can try your luck in the standby line if you missed the chance to snag your seat online. The Christmas Eve performance does not require passes, but it's first come, first served, so the Cathedral recommends arriving at least an hour early.
Whatever you decide to do downtown this winter, bundle up, stay warm and have fun!