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Temple Square Christmas lights downsized this year due to ongoing renovations

Visitors walking around Temple Square in Salt Lake City, looking at the annual Christmas light installation
Clayre Scott
Visitors walking around Temple Square, looking at the annual Christmas light installation

Families and youth groups cluster together as they walk around Temple Square in Salt Lake City, braving the cold for a look at the annual Christmas lights. Jessa Holme joined the crowd with a group of young women before heading off to the "Savior of the World" performance.

“I love looking at Christmas lights,” Holme said. “They just make me feel so happy inside.”

Groups of people walking amongst the twinkling trees is a familiar sight for this time of year, but the walls encircling the Temple are not. Something that visitor Noah Fonoimoana pointed out as he and his wife, Tealani, strolled through the square.

“The lights were really nice, but I totally forgot that there's no lights really,” Mr. Fonoimoana said. “Not anywhere compared to how it used to be.”

The Salt Lake City Temple has been under renovation for about three years. With these new walls enclosing much of the square, only 30% of the area usually decorated in Christmas lights is accessible. Though a drastic downsize in space for visitors and lights, Molly Williams said the experience is the same as any other year.

“It just brings me joy to see like, Salt Lake City lit up,” Williams said. “People took the time to like, make it look pretty out here. So people could come and enjoy themselves and think about the Savior.”

Renovations are expected to last until 2025 – so, for the time being, visitors appreciate the areas they can walk through, and are looking forward to when the walls are down and the rest of the square is open.

“All that section was so pretty, you know, so it was nice to look at. But I mean, when it's done, all the lights will be back,” Mr. Fonoimoana said.

“We can't wait to see it when it does come back,” added Mrs. Fonoimoana. “I think it'll be even more beautiful, if that's possible.”

Even though they aren’t at their full glory, the twinkling lights are still up. Gardners spent months working on the open areas, getting the space ready so that people like the Fonoimoanas could come together as friends and families and feel the Christmas spirit.

“Christmas, for sure, is the best holiday,” Fonoimoana said. With a laugh, his wife agreed.

“And I’m getting there,” she said. “I’m getting there for sure.”

A long time lover of NPR and radio reporting, Clayre Scott joined UPR in August of 2021 as the producer of the weekly podcast UnDisciplined. She began reporting in 2022 and now enjoys telling stories through sound and getting weekly texts from her family after hearing her on the radio. Along with her work at UPR, Clayre is attending Utah State University to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism, with time on the side to study Political Science and Art History.